We were delighted to welcome event planners from so many different industries at our London workshop on Friday 10th February. It was a lively and interactive session. After the networking lunch, all attendees were asked to vote on the topics covered that they would like to explore further on a round table.
The three top topics selected for the round tables were paperless events, gamification and attendee networking. Here are some of the key points discussed.
The group agreed that sustainability at events has become something attendees now expect and that they actually evaluate events on the basis of how sustainable they appear. An event app is an easy way to eliminate an expensive and unsustainable paper guide and it gives attendees a clear signal that the organisers are committed to sustainability.
Of course not all attendees are tech savvy so the group brainstormed ways to assist. One suggestion was to have an app concierge at registration or at the exhibition. Another was to include an app introduction video in the pre-event communications.
Freedom from a guide that’s instantly out of date once printed was cited as huge relief for busy event planners in attendance. The group also agreed that an event app offers so much more than a digital version of the paper guide. Use of video content is a good example. Video teasers for sessions, added to speaker bios can really bring the bios to life. Sponsors and exhibitors can also include video in their profiles.
There was also a lot of discussion around encouraging exhibitors to reduce paper by adding brochures to their profiles in the app. Given the ability to issue self edit links, this can be easily managed without extra workload for the organiser.
The personalised agenda is a really useful tool for complex agendas. Its takes an app far beyond a simple digital event guide. This tool should be highlighted in pre- event communications and allocated a prominent position on the event app’s home page.
Using gaming within an event app to replace the exhibition passport was also discussed. The conclusion was simple. An event app game offers the ability to include questions specific to exhibitors that encourage valuable conversations and this should be leveraged instead of using the game as a purely electronic version of the passport.
Scientific meetings often include posters and the move to eposters as a way to save paper was also discussed. The group also brainstormed some clever ways use the event app to manage the process of uploading and housing the posters.
Event App Gaming
No surprise that gaming made it into the top three topics as this is subject we are often asked about. A few good suggestions came out of the round table discussion.
Gaming offers a range of challenge types, each one designed to achieve a specific event outcome, from learning to attendee-to-attendee networking, to engaging with exhibitors. Some organisers fill their game with a single type of challenge but a better strategy is to include a variety of challenge types.
This makes the game a lot more fun. And fun is critical to ensuring the game is successful. Some organisers feel either their audience or content is too serious to have fun! But the group agreed that it’s better to err on the side of fun when choosing the challenges.
A problem with gaming can be that 2 or 3 competitors race ahead and quickly earn far more points than all the other competitors, making the others feel like they can never catch up. A few great suggestions were made to ensure competition and interest in the game remains high. One was to have day specific challenges and another was to give speakers the ability to give out points as rewards to valuable contributions or questions.
The point was made that when gaming is used to facilitate face-to-face networking, attendees are often simply required to meet another attendee and enter the code printed on their name badge. If it is a big event, networking can turn into a race to enter codes without a lot of valuable conversation taking place. The antidote is a good one; give a selection of delegates more than one code equalling a different number of points. They then give the higher value codes to delegates who network and engage with them in a meaningful way.
Networking with other attendees is often the most important aspect of attending an event in person and this topic generated a lot of discussion during the workshop and at the round table.
The event planners at Virgin Holidays shared how they populated the attendee profiles for each delegate themselves and how added a fun fact for each attendee. They then used these fun facts as the basis for challenges in the game to encourage attendee networking with great success.
A number of event planners also shared that having senior staff make contact with delegates via the chat facility in the app has worked really well to get the attendee networking ball rolling.
This round table also discussed how networking is now used as a way to disseminate key messages at corporate events. One way this works is by members of the leadership team encouraging attendees to join and contribute to discussion groups.
Another interesting idea was enabling attendees to connect on the basis of shared interests outside the content of the event. This can be achieved by setting up discussion groups on extracurricular activities. Think running/walking or free evening socialising groups.
We regularly run workshops and webinars on a variety of event topics. To find out more about any of the topics discussed here or to register your interest for future workshops send me an email at [email protected]