According to an Eventbrite survey, 65% of millennials are driving the “Experience Economy”, preferring to spend their hard-earned cash on real experiences that create moments of connection, rather than material goods.

But how can you foster that sense of connection?

Don’t just rely on big-name entertainment or a trendy venue to impress your attendees. Here are some ways you can create those special moments that make attendees identify with your event — moments that encourage them to come back each year and bring their friends.

1. Offer more ways to share ideas and build community

Events aren’t just about networking, seeing a big-name speaker, or tasting the most recent food trend. Events are a way to share ideas and build a sense of community.

Here are some ways to get the creative vibes flowing at your event.

  • Make it experiential. In 2017, Benefit Cosmetics used experiential marketing at Glastonbury to build awareness of the brand — and to bring attendees together. At ‘GlastonBrow’ 2017, festival-goers could try out the new BeneBrows at a ‘brows and beauty drive-thru’. There was also a competition to win a lifetime supply of Benefit products by posting an Instagram with the Benefit hashtag. Through the campaign and competition, Benefit found a creative way to engage the attendees and build a community.
  • Offer more ways to meet the experts. Your attendees crave a chance to meet the people behind the scenes, but static booths and stages can create little to no interaction between attendees and other experts. If you are hosting a flower expo, for example, rather than having sales reps at the booths, arrange for the florists themselves to provide onsite flower arrangement demos.
  • Extend the learning after the event. Create a Facebook group where attendees can continue to connect and share ideas all year round. To keep the conversation going, you can create prompts to spark engagement.

2. Create a mobile app that connects attendees

Feature-rich mobile event apps aren’t only a replacement for printed handouts. When done right, they help your event attendees network with like-minded individuals, interact with experts, and become active participants in the event experience.

If you’re new to event apps or haven’t seen much success with yours in the past, here are three ways you can drive meaningful engagement.

  • Connect attendees with each other in real life. Let attendees build a personalised schedule for your event and share it with their friends. Then, create meetup spots and send messages through your app to encourage attendees to get together in real life.
  • Gamify your event. The New York Comic Con uses a mobile app to generate hype with exclusive contests to win NYCC merch. Create contests at your event for attendees who check out all your vendor booths and “check in” on your app. Make it a game so each time they check in, they win something from your supplier, like a coupon or free gifts.

3. Use influencers to build relationships

Influencers can help you connect, and stay connected, with fans. Because they already have a relationship with loyal fans, associating with influencers will make those people fans of your event too. They are also gifted at turning those fans into attendees. Consumers are likely to trust an influencer more than an advertisement or national celebrity endorsement.

Use these tips on how to use influencers to connect with your ideal audience.

  • Get attendees excited through contests. Contests are a cheap way to keep your attendees, and influencers, engaged. Contests also don’t have to cost you anything. How about giving away tickets onsite for a lucky attendee to meet your influencer in the VIP tent?
  • Partner up on social media. Another way to connect your attendees and influencers is through social media. Partner with a sponsor to offer some type of promotion that gets both the influencer and the attendee involved on social media. Then, ask your influencer to repost some of your attendees’ posts. This will keep everyone engaged in your event.

4. Invest in RFID so attendees can focus on the fun

When your event is equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, everything from entry to payments gets people talking — in a good way. Not only does it speed up entry, but RFID technology also provides more opportunities for event-goers to connect with your event and with each other.

If you’re already using RFID or are considering it for your next event, here are two ways the technology can engage your event attendees.

  • Make onsite payment a breeze. If your payment processing is slow, you won’t just frustrate attendees — they’ll buy less merchandise. Use cashless payments, via either phone or RFID technology, to make spending easy for your attendees. Keep them happy — and coming back for more purchases.
  • Make your event interactive. For example, RFID-enabled photo booths allow event attendees to automatically email their pictures to themselves with a swipe. Make it easy for them to share these photos with their friends and drive FOMO for anyone who isn’t already at your event.

Check out the Eventbrite Complete Guide to Audience Engagement for more information.

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