They’re looking for something new, exciting, and unexpected, from the overall event down to the individual interaction they might have with an exhibitor.
If we as event organizers, meeting planners, exhibitors, and corporate marketers want to keep attendee attention, we must offer them something that speaks to those needs and shows off innovation, creativity, and care. That’s why new event formats are a trend that is shaking up the status quo, delivering what attendees crave in every aspect of an event.
Turn your event into an adventure
With the rapid pace of change that our industry is facing, the old rules are meant to be broken. The best events have grown past their walls into artfully arranged adventures that deliver key content in exciting, engaging ways. Attendees are hacking, jamming, and raving at events with a focus on problem solving, innovation, networking, and creativity.
Attendees come to us with so much content and knowledge already in their back pockets, so anything that encourages their natural curiosity and stimulates interaction is key. Thanks to technology, the sky is literally the limit, enabling instant communication, An attendee could play a 360° virtual reality game with one exhibitor, then go to the next booth and participate in an immersive, interactive theater experience. Technology closes the gap between what we once only dreamed of doing and what we can realistically—and affordably—accomplish.
And when you’re feeling adventurous, think not just outside the venue, but about every inch inside the venue, too. Getting creative with how you use your space, whether it’s an exhibitor spot on the show floor or a larger area for gatherings or general sessions, can unlock potential you’ve never even dreamed of before.
Communicate with all the senses
Events are all about the face-to-face connection, something we crave in our ever-connected digital world. And having attendees in a face-to-face environment lets us engage them on a number of levels, utilizing a variety of senses to create a fully immersive experience that’s more impactful and, quite frankly, more interesting.
Designing your event experience to communicate using all the senses, from the environment up through the content, allows you to control and guide attendee responses and emotions toward your desired outcome, even on the smallest level. Imagery and video can be used to dazzle the eyes and get audiences in a certain mood while music and sound create the right ambiance to set the scene. Smell, touch, and taste can evoke powerful memories and correlations that you can harness to create an unforgettable brand experience.
One of the biggest differences in where we’re heading versus where we’ve been is that attendees want—even expect—to be in the driver’s seat. They want to control the flow of content they receive, from the frequency to the medium to the areas of interest they want to hear more from.
Your event format must take this into account by personalizing the experience as much as possible. Creating different but consistent pathways throughout an event, or during the journey an attendee takes through your booth, lets them digest your message in their own way and shows that you understand their wants and needs on a deeper level.
Don’t be afraid to utilize technology to help you here, too. Not only can it help you deliver on personalized experiences, but it can also provide valuable intel that helps you personalize on the fly and at future events. And the personalization doesn’t have to end when attendees go home from your event or leave your booth—extending the conversation and providing attendees with more content that they’re specifically interested in deepens your relationship and primes them for future engagement.
Blowing the doors wide open on event formats doesn’t just benefit your attendees—it benefits you too. This is an opportunity to communicate your message in the most creative and genuine ways, to craft an event experience big or small that is true to your brand and resonates with your target audience. That creates big long-term benefits for your organization and makes your event or exhibit a future must-see for impressed attendees.