Turning Attendees into Participants

January 9, 2015

I read a tech crunch article recently about Microsoft buying Mojang (makers of Minecraft) for the mere sum of $2.5 billion dollars. If you have a child in the tween age bracket, I don’t need to explain what Minecraft is. This popular video game was founded with the understanding that gamers want to contribute and participate, not simply consume the game. I thought about it and believe there are some parallels that are applicable to the live events industry.

How does this relate to our industry? We’re seeing this same shift with attendees.

Here’s the trend that stuck out to me the most (and related back to the tech crunch article):

1. The transition from “attendee” to “participant” continues- The combination of social media and mobile technology has provided a wide range of attendee engagement options. The entire dynamic of meetings is changing; instead of “top-down” it is “bottom-up.” Attendees aren’t passively sitting at events watching a talking head, meeting participants are demanding a greater say and expect active engagement. This is playing out in several ways:

• Social media apps are used to recruit and engage participants before, during and after events.

• Highly mobilized social media tools (Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, etc.) are seeing strong use at events.

• Social media hubs and moderated live event social walls such as TweetWallPostanoHashcaster andSocialWall are seeing greater use.

• Gamification is being tightly integrated into many mobile event apps to increase participant engagement and appealing to peoples’ “fundamental needs and desires for reward, status, achievement, self-expression, competition and altruism,” via bunchball.

• Matchmaking and networking options are being built into many mobile event apps.

• Meeting designers are moving to shorter sessions and placing a high priority on audience engagement skills when choosing speakers.

• Meeting designers are moving away from passive theater-style seating to alternate room sets to facilitate discussion and participation.

• Event participants are expecting personalized communication and choices tailored to their desires.

• There are many specialized participant engagement apps and web tools which can be used by speakers (Conferences i/oCrowd MicsEvenium ConnexMeMeetingPulsePollEverwhere,Social Q&A,Klowd and UberMeetings).

• Many “Swiss army knife” mobile event guide apps are building in polling, survey and other engagements tools as well.

It’s not only interesting to see this transition in our society, but in our industry as well. With it happening, we need to be mindful when event planning and empower attendees to feel like they’re active participants.

Are you trying to turn your attendees into participants in 2015? Let us know if you think this mindset will stick and how you plan to adjust your strategy to it.

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Partner Voices
Dallas already boasts 35,000 hotel rooms, award-winning global cuisine, and a walkable downtown. But we are just getting started. Visit Dallas is thrilled to announce that the city of Dallas is doubling down with a massive new convention center and entertainment district. Featuring 800,000 square feet of exhibit area, 260,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and 170,000 square feet of ballroom. The center will connect business travelers with dining and shopping options in the popular Cedars District means more places to get down to business, and even more ways to unwind. “Dallas is already a great meetings and conventions destination, with the accessibility of two major airports, affordable labor, and an outstanding hotel product,” said D. Bradley Kent, Visit Dallas senior vice president and chief sales officer. “The new center and Convention Center District will enhance Dallas’ competitive position and are exactly what our customers’ need and have been asking for." What’s New – AT&T Discovery District Located in the heart of Downtown Dallas, this new district on the AT&T corporate campus is tailor-made for groups of all sizes. It boasts a multi-sensory experience, including outdoor event space, the AT&T Theater, and multiple dining outlets including JAXON Beer Garden and The Exchange, a bustling food hall. Hotels Coming Soon Names like the JW Marriott (Downtown), lnterContinental Dallas (Uptown), and Hotel Swexan (Uptown) are adding luxury amenities and bountiful event spaces. The projects will debut in 2023 and beyond. JW Marriott This new, 15-story, 283-room hotel will open in the heart of the city’s downtown Arts District this year. The property features a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom, as well as a spa, restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center, and a rooftop pool deck and bar. InterContinental Dallas  Located in Cityplace Tower in Uptown, InterContinental Dallas will feature sweeping panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. Guests will enjoy spacious, high-end rooms and amenities, including more than 21,000 square feet of event space.   Hotel Swexan Hotel Swexan, a new, 22-story luxury property, is rising in Uptown’s Harwood District and will make its mark on the Dallas skyline. Opening this year, it is a sculptural building with cantilevered upper floors, as well as a 75-foot rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and a hidden underground lounge.