Simple as 1-2-3: Increasing Attendee Engagement at Your Next Corporate Event

December 11, 2017

Pam Donnelly

Pam has worked in the events industry for 20 years creating extraordinary experiences and overseeing all aspects of event management and production. She is currently Senior Sales Executive for Events at Hargrove Inc. Her impressive Hargrove portfolio includes the International Monetary Fund, Democratic Governors Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as well as Hilton, Google, WBENC, the 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Convention and 2012 NATO Summit.

Corporate events have the potential to be interactive meetings where industry leaders share new ideas and products with their colleagues, fostering discussions and increasing engagement. From conferences to team building events and quarterly board meetings, a number of simple factors can make a big impact on guests’ engagement and satisfaction. When planning your next corporate event consider repurposing some ideas from the most exciting social events you’ve been to. Rethinking the design or adding interactive elements will create new excitement and offer them a more memorable experience.

What does your audience want?  

Successful corporate events must captivate their attendees. One of the simplest ways to do so is to incorporate experience mapping (aka human-centered design). You want to make sure the space planning and layout make sense for the people who are actually coming. “We’ve always done the room this way and it works,” isn’t wrong; it just may not be the best way to create energy in the space. Re-imagine how you want guests to experience the event and create a new flow that offers elements of surprise and delight. For example, when planning a corporate conference perhaps include a newly –designed welcome lounge that includes registration options- manned, self registration via custom kiosk and / or concierge assistance. Incorporate elements from contemporary boutique hotel lobbies like a coffee bar, communal tables that offer charging and networking opportunities. By making simple alterations like changing the lighting during conference sessions, you can make a big difference in keeping your attendees energized. At team building events, keep your colleagues stimulated with breaks that incorporate high-energy music and include healthy, interactive food options like power smoothies and Greek yogurt bars. Think local. Consider what’s trending in the area or look for experiential ways to include your event sponsors. 

Technology is your friend.

Don’t be afraid to incorporate technology. Integrating virtual reality stations into meetings and conferences is a trend we can expect to see much more of in the upcoming event season. VR technology can act as an extension of programming.  For example, providing interactive visual components at breakout sessions can help keep your audience engaged. Touchscreens peppered throughout the event space that allow guests to easily view sessions and maps allow them to customize their experience, increasing their satisfaction. Finding authentic ways to incorporate technology can be as simple as creating an event hashtag with visual branding reminders that encourage your attendees to share event news and engage with one another on social media. Using AI – technology like custom event bots can introduce a new level of customer service too.

Stay Authentic.

One of the most important trends for 2018 is authenticity! This means providing a truly unique, immersive experience that resonates with your audience while still communicating your core message. This can be as simple as creating a beautiful lounge space that incorporates real plants and outside elements that encourage networking, or giving a useful gift to your colleagues at a team-building event. Staying true to your organization’s message and mission is important – take the time to design an event that reflects your organization. If green initiatives are part of your corporate mission, celebrate that.  Use recycled materials and weave factoids about the materials into the event. Let your guests know that the event t-shirts your brand ambassadors are wearing are made from recycled plastic bottles. Companies that are creatively translating their brand message and differentiators build brand loyalty for their authenticity. People want to do business with people and companies they find like-minded. Finding innovative ways to increase participation also matters. By considering interactive art installations and experiential activations at your next event, you’re encouraging guests not only to be present but to take action.

We’re all focused on captivating attendees, creating a memorable experience that they share on and offline. Today it’s more important than ever for companies to show increasing return on their event dollars and to build brand loyalty, which is why engagement at these events is crucial. It ultimately helps the company’s bottom line to invest in events that break through the clutter and offer something new.   

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