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
Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact