Meeting expectations is great–who wouldn’t want to deliver on what they’ve promised, whether in a work setting or in interpersonal relationships? If expectations are met, your audience will be satisfied and report a positive experience…right? Not necessarily. As exclusive WSB speaker and best-selling business author Dan Heath argues in his forthcoming book The Power of Moments, meeting expectations doesn’t create a memorable experience. That can only be achieved by what he calls “building peaks”–offering those exceptional moments that will create the lasting impression.
The concept can easily be applied to the world of events. Frequent conference-goers may recall their experiences as meeting expectations — swag bag, trade show, decent venue. They didn’t have a negative experience, but they certainly weren’t overwhelmed. How do you “build the peak” for event audiences?
5 Ideas to Take Your Event to the Next Level
1) Think Instagram. Attracting millennials to major events is a challenge to many event professionals. One way to make your event memorable among the younger generation? Find ways to make it “Instagram worthy”. Offer a beautifully decorated (and well-lit) photo booth or room where attendees can take selfies and share your event hashtag far and wide. Put up a glitzy backdrop and offer funny props. Add in Instagram-compatible printers so users can instantly print out a souvenir to take home, or project images from the event onto a hashtag-enabled Instagram wall.
2) Incorporate the hottest food trends. Food at events has branched out far beyond the traditional boxed lunches. From protein-packed power snacks to beautiful craft cocktails for evening networking, younger event audiences are drawn to the latest food trends. Cash in on older millennials’ nostalgia by offering classic “comfort” foods like tater tots and mac-n-cheese, but with foodie twists to bring them into 2017, or get in on the local food craze by partnering with the best restaurants in your host city to offer signature cuisine.
WSB Pro-Tip: Classic comfort foods may have made a major comeback lately, but don’t forget that health still rules. By offering gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan, and other healthy options, your health-conscious attendees will feel the love, and return the favor with positive feedback for your event.
3) Swag you can actually use. Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest impression. Too often, swag bags at events can be filled to the brim with promotional materials that end up dumped in the trash. Make your attendees’ day by offering swag they can use–portable phone chargers and selfie sticks are popular options, and higher end items such as laptop bags and step counters will save your swag from a trip to the trash bin.
WSB Pro-Tip: Instead of the usual gift bags, why not offer a unique experience? Host a group fitness class, a local wine tasting, or an adventure–indoor skydiving anyone? Experiences are generally more memorable for attendees than even useful gift bag items.
4) Location, location, location. Unconventional venues are a growing trend for meeting professionals who want to create a different experience for guests beyond a hotel ballroom or convention center. For some events the convention center is unavoidable—but if you’re in a flexible situation, it might be smart to consider some offbeat choices. From museums and historical sites to outdoor locations like the beach or a vineyard, hosting an event in a creative venue will leave your attendees energized and ready to engage–and book their registration for your next event.
5) Smart technology. Event tech is growing more sophisticated with each passing year, and playing a huge role in creating memorable event experiences. We all know that virtual and augmented reality and even using holograms can create a wow factor at events. What are some of the other smart technologies out there that can leave a lasting impression and provide functionality? Among our favorites are “smart badges.” High-tech conference badges using location-based beacons can provide valuable information on event attendee activity to planners, and can also help attendees by offering data on everything from organizing meetings to navigating a busy trade show floor.
One way to ensure a next-level event? Work with an amazing speaker. Contact WSB today to start your search.