Crazy ideas for events: 9 tips to surprise your attendees

There are different ways to hook a crowd. One of the most powerful of them all? The element of surprise.

Which is easier said than done. Wowing a crowd can be tricky, especially when it comes to the done-it-all-seen-it-all types that populate the event industry, but at the same time, that’s why it is so satisfying when you actually pull it off. It is that type of rush that most event managers like to chase.

Here are some ideas brands have used to take their promotional activities to the next level. And we’re not talking about giveaways like personalised bags here (a lovely idea, but they’re just a start).

Embrace new Technologies

Mixing fun and with something new is always an enjoyable experience. Nowadays technology offers so many affordable options that the difficult part is actually choosing which one is the best for the occasion. But what we propose right now is augmented reality (AR). Visa did an awesome experience where they used AR technology to record users in real time and then project them along computer-generated animals on a screen. In the end, adults and children alike interacted with the projections and in extension, the brand.

 

 

Shake up the Ticketing System

We live in an era where just about everyone loves selfies. Even if you say you hate them, chances are you’ve snapped a few in your spare time while you’ve been bored at home (admit it!). But did you know you can use them to let guests into an event? You can replace QR codes with selfies to give the occasion a more personalised touch.
How does it work? The attendees download an app to snap their selfies when they decide they want to attend. One of these apps is TicketLeap. Check it out — it sounds wacky but can be a lot of fun and get people chatting.

Note: You may also enjoy reading ‘10 of the best online ticketing platforms for event planners.’

Challenge Attendees to do something different

At the launch party of Kate Spade’s St. Louis shop, guests were greeted with an entryway covered in colourful tiny envelopes and as people came in, they were asked to “Take a Chance” and select one off the wall. Inside, there were suggestions for fun things each guest could do like “crash a party”, “eat cake for breakfast” or “sing outside the shower” — they were living on the edge, I tell you. Sarcasm aside, giving attendees small tasks to carry out whether you hold them to it or not, is definitely a cute way to break the ice.

 

Envelopes design at Kate Spades St. Louis Shop Opening

Giving attendees unexpected tasks to accomplish can be a good way to break the ice.

 

Design a USEFUL App

How many events have you been to that had their own, specially designed app? Only to download it, open it once, and then have it occupy precious memory on your phone? Exactly. There’s no point in developing an app just for the sake of it. If you’re hopping on the smartphone bandwagon, make sure it actually goes somewhere before purchasing a ticket.

For their 2016 shows, ABA (Allied Beauty Association – not the Swedish band) designed an app for their beauty shows that would let attendees not only know what was going on but also suggest activities they might be interested in. The result? 80% of the people that downloaded the app registered and completed their preferences and over 750 messages were sent to 1500 users.

 

ABA's beauty events in Canada

Source. ABA’s 2016 Show at Calgary. The organisation used the app to guide guests through the event.

 

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Give Rewards for participating

There are two things people love: social media and feeling like they belong — and guess what, they’ll love it even MORE if you give them a reward for doing it.

For their annual Oscars after party, Vanity Fair installed in 2015 a “Twitter vending machine” that would reward users with points each time they mentioned the magazine on the social platform. People could then redeem those points for prizes like cocktail shakers and jewellery.

You probably don’t have Vanity Fair’s kind of budget and if you do, then I’d imagine you’d be thinking something like: “Twitter Vending Machine”? HA! That’s nothing compared to my FACEBOOK LASER-FIRING SPACESHIP!
Yes, I know. It doesn’t make any sense. What I’m trying to say is that you can still hand out a reward with little budget. How about free drinks?

 

Vanity Fair's social club at the Oscars

Vanity Fair’s social club at the Oscars 2015

 

Live Stream is your Friend

Photo booths, yes, we know. Everyone and their mother has done it, but they’re still effective — especially if you give them a twist.

Try connecting your booth with a live stream of pictures on screens placed around the venue to show everybody what people are sharing. Chances are when other guests see these pictures they’ll want to add theirs, too. Rebel Mouse and Sharypic will both get you started here.

Note: Learn hot to live stream an event here.

Create a Snapchat Geofilter

Snapchat can be a fantastic tool for live events, (you know, if you want to like get down with the kids) but there are still a lot of people who are either a bit baffled by the technology or just don’t know what to do with it (us, old people). For instance, are you aware that you can create your own custom overlay that is locked to a certain geographical area? That’s called a geofilter, and brands can buy their own for specific occasions. It’s instant branding and a fun way to get people chatting. Those crazy teens!

Event Manager Blog has a simple guide to getting a custom on-demand geofilter ready to go for your next project.

Use light to create a new Space

Light art can be a brilliant way to get your guests feeling like they’re immersed in a space they normally wouldn’t be in. With a bit of visual trickery, you can transform just about any Ibis into a Ritz. You’ll need to work with somebody who knows what they’re doing here (you wouldn’t let just anyone perform plastic surgery on you, now would you?), but great lighting can be amazing.

Check out this campaign Nike did ahead of the Rio Olympics to get people extra inspired about exercise and sport. With just some lights and a couple of screens, they turned a regular venue into a multi-sensory spectacle.

 

This light installation was part of Nike's 2016 Olympics campaign

Nike’s “pop up” gym was a multi-sensorial experience.

 

Summing it all up

It’s essential to know your audience and take their feelings into account when you make every planning decision. These ideas may or may not work for everyone, so gather your data before making any crucial — and potentially expensive decision. Not everybody will be interested in using a Snapchat geofilter, for instance (us, old people). Think about your goals and what kind of personality you want the event to have.

And remember, authenticity drives success.


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