I promise, it is the last time this year I will talk about New Year’s resolutions, but January is after all the month to dwell in these (the resolutions that is). And if you have thought of making 2017 the year you think about incorporating experience management elements in your conferences, I will be happy to provide you with some tips and tricks.
Previously (check out the blog post Experience, the Revolution), I have talked about the four prerequisites you need to meet in order to create an ‘experience’: 1. you have to put all five senses into play, 2. it is not just a question of entertainment (not just communication to a passive recipient), 3. the participant has to be able to recount the event, and 4. it has to include a novelty or something unpredictable.
While these four elements are important, an experience is sculpted out of many details – but I believe it is worth the time and the effort. So this blog post is about the ‘softer side’ of experience…the more intangible elements you need to create an experience.
First of all, experience is not an element you add to the program between 10.00 and 10.30. In order to form an experience, you have to integrate the experience elements to the entire event – and both before, during, and after it…not just during the event!
Tailor your event to each delegate
Moreover, the experience has to be tailored to each event and delegate, which means that we cannot reuse a nice concept over and over again (unfortunately) as this will not keep being unique and an experience.
But can you tailor an event to each delegate! Yes, you can. In experience management we talk about the delegate being a ‘co-producer’, which you can support in a number of ways:
- By making a conference program that gives the delegates the possibility to choose which presentations, networking activities, etc. he/she wants to attend
- By involving the delegate during the conference, which makes him/her part of the program
- By creating communities around the conference –places where the delegates can share their insights, ask questions to the event planners or speakers, etc. If you do this before the event, you automatically have your ‘before the experience element’.
Enhancing learning, motivation, or loyalty?
When you add experience to your conferences/events, you create a platform for enhanced learning as we know that if you for example stimulate the senses, you sharpen the delegates’ memory. Specific smells stimulate the memory, and some people remember input best if they are presented visually, while others remember them better if they are presented auditory.
If the purpose of your event is to keep your employees motivated or your customers loyal, you can enhance this by giving them a little something to take home – a memorabilia, i.e. an object or experience to remind him/her of the conference or event. Today, as we talk a lot about sustainability, this memorabilia could very well be part of the overall experience (an add-on, if you like) as many people don’t need yet another bag of brochures or thingymajig to decorate your office.
Do it, but do it with your heart
The work with ‘experience’ in your event has to be authentic – otherwise it has the opposite effect of positive. You can easily feel if a story and atmosphere is not genuine: We want the story, but it has to be real, not faked.
So, when you start working on the experience for your next event, remember that it is not about finding as many stories about your company, product, etc. etc. It is about finding THE story that underlines the experience in your event.
I know that this is kind of fluffy and might take a little practice to make perfect, but we all live and learn, and I am a firm believer in incorporating experience in events.
And if at first you don’t succeed, don’t hesitate to keep trying. This is also new to your delegates and there might be one or two who thinks this is crazy. In this case you have to remember that we can only create the possibility for an experience for the delegate! If he/she has a bad day, we cannot necessarily change that even if we have met all criteria for creating an experience. And each experience is different for each person.
After all that is what makes an experience an experience.