The Sensory Experience

The Sensory Experience

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Participant experience has become a central part of the events industry’s focus, particularly when engaging all five senses of the attendees. Sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste are all relevant and varied means of creating a rich and entertaining environment that captures and holds an attendee’s attention.

Along with the five senses, event planners must also consider the internal thought process of each participant and the level to which an event may stimulate or activate their thinking. An enthusiastic participant, whether involving themselves in an activity or simply paying attention and thoughtfully considering the event’s progress instead of just sitting through it, will develop a better impression of the event experience.

Experiences Can Turn an Audience of Observers into Active Participants 

The Event Manager blog highlighted the value of the organized moments that occur during an event, which tap into the audience’s general desire for experiences and crafted engagement. While not every part of an event can or should focus on participation and involvement, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Simple changes like adding an interactive Q&A or hosting breakout discussions after a keynote address can shift an audience’s attitude and easily get them more involved.

Technology’s Role in the Modern Audience Experience

Now more than ever, there are forms of technology that can enhance an event and create positive, enjoyable, informative and memorable event experiences. Some of the most innovative technologies being used in events for sensory experiences are on the cusp of becoming everyday encounters.

Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented reality uses a digital overlay, typically via a smartphone, tablet screen, or special glasses to enrich the physical environment surrounding the audience with additional information and opportunities for interaction. Previewing products and sharing demos is one popular and effective method that can stretch across a variety of industries and events, although it’s far from the only application of this technology.

For trade shows, the overlay can share information about each booth’s presenter and contents. Speeches and discussions can include points where a custom-designed AR app shares complementary or background information that enhances the overall presentation and boosts engagement. There are also opportunities to incorporate audience feedback, questions, and comment requests into AR as well, further enhancing participation. For example, an attendee could solicit questions through an AR app as well as display them on the screen while presenters answer, making sure audience members feel engaged and remain on topic.

Sensory Experiences

Taste, smell, and touch aren’t as central to communicating the types of information commonly shared at events as sight and hearing, but they can have a major influence on the experience and attitude of the audience.

Scents have an impact on people at work, at home, shopping, and on all types of live events. As Scientific American pointed out, scents elicit a response based on past experiences. Plenty of retail stores use commonly enjoyable scents to keep customers happy and engaged, and there’s no reason events can’t use a similar strategy. Picking a signature scent also helps attendees associate that smell with your organization and brand going forward, allowing you to use it in other contexts to further increase positive recognition.

Taste is tied to smell, as the aroma in foods and drinks contribute to the flavor of those items. While taste cannot be pumped into a room the same way scent can be, you can incorporate foods and beverages into your event and create similarly positive associations. Factory 360 highlighted an event for the CW’s new show iZombie that created edible candy shaped from a scan of the participant’s brain. Although each audience is different, offering widely enjoyed choices and taking care to tie them back into your brand and the event itself can prompt strong responses through sensory engagement.

Touch is another sense that’s hard to replicate on a large scale – even more than taste, touch is often an individual or small group experience. However, something as simple as a stress-relief toy, uniquely designed water bottle or event ID badge can encourage attendees to interact with these items and associate the conference with a unique and novel memory. Even furniture can become an element with which touch can impact an experience. Take, for example, the giant lego furniture we found at TSE which are available for endless forms of use. Most times, luxurious and high-tech seating alone can make a big impression.

Although audiences are quickly growing more sophisticated and expectations regularly rise, companies hosting events have a variety of participatory tactics with which they can effectively engage attendees. Utilizing the five senses can go a long way in creating the experiences and environments that fully represent your company’s brand and event’s mission.

If you have any questions or would like to incorporate some of these sensory experiences into your next event, contact your Alford Account Manager or contact us here.

Alford Media