How Dreamforce Engages Attendees

5 Attendee Engagement Ideas from the World’s Biggest User Conference

Dreamforce is the world’s biggest technology user conference, produced by Salesforce.com. Since it’s inception in 2003, the event has grown to more than 170,000 attendees and spans the entire of city of San Francisco. This year, event venues included the historic Moscone Center, the Marriott Marquis, InterContinental Hotel, the Palace Hotel, Hilton Union Square and The Park Central. And that doesn’t even cover attendee housing. The event organizers at Dreamforce actually charted massive cruise liners and docked them in the port of San Francisco to meet housing demands.

Software giant, Salesforce uses the event as a platform to talk about upcoming products, educate customers and prospects, and create an environment where attendees can learn more from each other. In the spirit of education, we flew Rachel Dobroth and Ray Miller from Social Tables out to San Francisco and asked them to report back on exactly how Dreamforce got attendees to engage using event tech. Watch the video below to find out.

How Did Dreamforce Engage Attendees?

1. Campfire Story Theater

This year’s Dreamforce took attendees back to camp. Every venue had a totally different look and feel, but they kept the same overall theme across the entire conference. One series of education sessions was set around a “campfire” which served as a perfect analogy for costumers sharing stories and insights related to the product.

2. Event Scavenger Hunt

One of the biggest challenges for an event of this scale is getting attendees to see as much  of it as possible. The planners behind Dreamforce wanted to encourage attendees to check out new installments or experiences that they typically wouldn’t have in years prior. To do this, Dreamforce staged a massive city-wide scavenger hunt. Once you arrived at a new venue or a new area in the convention hall, you could pick up a piece of flare or trinket to prove your conquest. By the end of the conference, attends were brandishing their accolades and trading buttons as if they were Pokemon cards. Seems like some events are taking cues from the Pokemon Go phenomenon.

Find venues, manage events and win clients with  free event planning tools.

3. Snap a Picture Grab a Print

We’ve talked about this many time before on this blog. One thing every event should strive to do is collect user-generated content from attendees. In this case, the team at Dreamforce encouraged conference-goers to take Instagram photos and share them with a specific hashtag to Dreamforce. Once the photo is published, attendees could pick up a real print and post it to a photo wall if they chose to. This strategy works on two levels. First, attendees are rewarded with a hard copy of their photos and second it’s a good way to spread FOMO (fear of missing out) across their social channels.

4. Event App #appycamper

No modern event of this scale is complete without a custom event app. So what made the event app at Dreamforce stand out? For one it made it simple to manage wifi from location to location. Nothing is more annoying to an attendee than having to figure out the wifi password and re-connect as they jump from building to building. The #AppyCmper event app solved all of that and made it possible for attendees to enter on password and stay connected everywhere in the city.

Additionally, with an event so big most of the keynotes and education sessions will reach capacity (and fast). That’s why Dreamforce set multiple times for the most popular sessions and used the event app to send timely push notifications before the most popular sessions. Attendees that missed a session the first time could set a quick reminder to catch the re-run. Right in the app.

5. Cloud Expo Hall

The Cloud Expo Hall is where Salesforce’s software partners and associated companies can show off their latest tools and drive some serious leads. This year the expo hall was as big as ever but there was one common thread that linked the ways each company tried to engage. Social Validation. Companies like Slack, the business chat app, created a “chat wall” where anyone on the show floor could have their message displayed on a big screen. It makes attendees feel more like a part of the brand, as show-goers walk around the show floor, it’s impossible for them to miss seeing their colleagues names and faces projected across the room.

Come see what the hype is about.. #followmetotrailhead #df16

A photo posted by Aishwarya Narra (@nominarra) on


Overall, Dreamforce did a really good job engaging people at different levels. It’s layered, it has a lot to offer to people that go every year, or even it’s just your first time. How do you engage attendees at your events? Join us on Facebook and let us know. 



David Budimir

David Budimir is the Content Marketing Manager at Social Tables. He’s probably enjoying a messy burrito at this very moment.