5 Strategies for Event Planners to Meet Growing Attendee Expectations

August 3, 2022

In the past two years, there’s been a significant shift in the way consumers approach life. They’re more invested in physical and mental health, more focused on the planet’s future and more aware of how they manage their time due to working from home, among other things. As a result, consumers are reprioritizing what they buy, where they go and what they do.

This reprioritization has affected how consumers view brands. Why? At the core of it all is community. Enforced separation and digital isolation made people realize how important it is to stay connected to each other and their communities. Brands that fail to provide meaning and purpose while bringing people together don’t align with the current consumer sentiment. 

People are eager to get back out there and engage with brands and other consumers. But the same old tactics aren’t going to draw people in—or keep them engaged. That’s why event planners must focus on product value and drive excitement now more than ever. According to a 2020 Bizzabo report, more than 80% of marketing professionals regarded attendee engagement as a key metric for determining event success. 

5 Strategies to Keep Event Attendees Engaged

The importance of great production value can’t be understated. Everyone wants that “wow!” moment when they walk into an event. Here are five strategies event planners can use to create engaging experiences for attendees.

1. Aim to surprise and delight.

This might not be a new tactic, but bringing elements of joy and whimsy to an event is one of the greatest ways to engage attendees. Creating an environment where consumers feel something and want to share that feeling on social media can amplify the brand’s footprint. 

For instance, when “The Lego Movie” was nominated for an Academy Award for best song in 2015, performers distributed Lego Oscar statuettes to the celebrity audience. According to Amobee Brand Intelligence, Lego’s stunt resulted in about 47,000 social mentions, accounting for 44% of real-time discussions and totaling approximately $7.5 million in free advertising. 

2. Use technology to bring new dimensions to real-life experiences.

Event planners can use lighting, projection mapping and other tech elements to bring brands to life. Virtual and augmented reality are two effective tech tools that can elevate an experience.  

For example, virtual reality gives brands endless chances to increase engagement. Consider Asos’ virtual catwalk or Italian wine brand Barone Fini’s “Flight of Fini,” a virtual reality experience at select hot-air balloon festivals in the U.S., where attendees can virtually “ride” a hot-air balloon over the brand’s Italian vineyard. Indeed, the possibilities are only limited by human imagination. 

3. Address a ‘human’ problem.

What problem does the brand solve? What is the consumer experience with the brand? Event planners should take a moment to put themselves in consumers’ shoes and develop experiences grounded in empathy. This can help people feel seen and understood, evoking an emotional response in attendees.

4. Prioritize interactivity.

No one wants to just stand and look around at an event. Planners can foster engagement by using sensory elements to create fully immersive experiences. Physical involvement imprints in memory, so allow consumers to be hands-on and create opportunities to participate at whatever level they feel comfortable. 

For example, our team at Inspira Marketing Group helped National Geographic create a multisensory, 3D experience where attendees could “visit” a coral reef and interact with sea creatures via chatbot technology. 

5. Keep the momentum going.

How do events come to life digitally on a brand’s website and in follow-up email communication? What is the social strategy that will continue to keep consumers engaged? Planners should create an integrated experience that lives beyond the event itself. 

The 2019 Met Gala Vogue video booth is a prime example. Guests filmed videos throughout the night that coincided with the event’s “camp” theme, each with a unique look and feel. The clips were edited and posted on Vogue’s and participants’ Instagram pages during and after the event. 

Boosting engagement is the key to ensuring event success. By using these five strategies, event planners can exceed expectations and impress modern-day consumers.

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.