When it comes to event design, the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell) I collaborate closely in a travel and meeting experience. When sensory strategies are consciously expanded to include the brain, new impressions of a brand can be forged and customer relationships strengthened by immersing meeting participants in a fun and memorable experience.
Begin by visually creating excitement about the meeting destination with invitations and teaser campaigns; form a more lasting memory via meeting gifts and awards. Review the social media strategy for your meeting to ensure your message is fresh and consistent with your brand. Utilizing popular apps such as Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram build social currency during your meetings. Stream live events and share with a broader audience to increase engagement.
Maximize your pre- and post-conference outreach by embedding music strategically to keep listeners engaged. Consider adding creativity to your meeting speaker line up with storytellers or DJ’s with individual headphones. Ted Talk formats, 17 minutes or less, encourage fresh and focused communication.
Create food and beverage experiences to align with your location and demographic by adding interactive elements such as culinary competitions and demonstrations. Events in venues such as spice bazaars, food halls and farmers markets are colorful ways to engage.
Host a beverage night where attendees create bitters and cocktails with mixologists in distilleries. Add gifts for attendees with the details of a competition or photo opportunities with guest chefs, sommeliers and mixologists. Autographed books, aprons, cocktail shakers, individual craft cocktail barrels and flasks are a few more ways to bring the event home.
Physical examples of your products in a meeting increase connection to your brand and in some cases an empathetic response. During a recent medical meeting, “suits” were created for meeting attendees to wear to provide an experience whereby they could face the same limitations of their patients. The lasting effects of an emotional connection to product or purpose live long past your meeting dates.
New product launches where attendees can touch and feel the product in an atmosphere curated with music and food can also be multi-sensory. Walk meeting participants through your products in a unique location. Destination Management Companies can help recommend unexpected venues to optimize interaction.
Scent is one of the most commonly engaged senses via a meeting’s physical location and food served. Events hosted in an outdoor setting with the smell of water or trees engage the senses. Cookouts, barbecues, fresh fruit, coffee or baked pastries also elicit a response.
One of my personal favorite event examples of sensory crossover was the “Whatever USA” campaign created by Bud Light. The goal to generate excitement, content and brand loyalty was created with audience insights about what they valued to create an innovative experience. The 500 attendees (out of 200,000+ applicants) were fully immersed in an experience of the product in a highly interactive setting. The social currency of this event attracted even more followers who wanted to be a part of an amazing experience and was actively shared via social media platforms. It’s been dubbed a “content factory” with thousands of brand content pieces created by attendees each year.
While traditional marketing includes new sales, customer retention and technology to measure results, an event experience can facilitate conscious collaboration via multi-dimensional communication. Push the envelope with your suppliers and seek creative event service partners to provide experiences that engage meeting participants through interactions across five senses to support meeting objectives and attendee experience goals.