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Before the pandemic, attending events in person was just the natural order of gathering. But a lot has changed in the last few years. As event tech quickly evolved to meet the demands of at-home attendees tempted by the internet and personal distractions, keeping guests engaged became vital to the survival of the industry.

While the return of the in-person experience was momentous and, for some, emotional, the paradigm of expectation has shifted. There’s risk associated with traveling and gathering, so if people are attending live events—they want it to be meaningful.

How do you create an event your attendees will value? Here are the rules of event attendee engagement for 2024:

1. Make it Inspirational

Whether you pack your roster of speakers with individuals who offer diverse and unique worldviews or provide educational moments through dynamic content delivery, your attendees want to walk away feeling inspired. This could include creating one-on-one opportunities between attendees and your speakers for deeper engagement.

Virtual and hybrid events have taught us that engaging attendees means thinking like a television producer. Sessions resembling skits or interview-style shows will spark interest, while creating interactive experiences through gamification and in-app engagement can be done both in-person and virtually.

2. Look to the future

Tackling events like a futurist has taken on new meaning since the pandemic, and tracking how the world has changed and how that impacts your events is integral to any good strategy.

This could mean experimenting with technologies like holograms or virtual reality to create immersive experiences and introduce new ways for attendees to interact with content.

Another way to look into the future is through a lens of compassion and awareness. Ensure your event follows sustainable practices and is socially responsible, involving your attendees in a cause they can support.

Ask yourself: What matters to my attendees? And then, be ready for change.

3. Create incentive events

By launching an incentive program, you can inspire your employees by showing them you care about and appreciate all that they do. This is especially important with so many people working from home. By bringing your employees together for an event, you can reconnect them in a physical space. Wellness retreats or fairs are a great way to foster work relationships while also prioritizing attendees’ mental and physical health.

4. Let your attendees connect

One of the main reasons people attend events is to network. If they’re too busy attending session after session, that leaves little room for making those connections.

What does this mean? Don’t jampack event schedules. In between sessions, create opportunities for people to meet, share ideas, and engage. Utilize innovative ways for people to connect with one another.

By embracing event tech during the pandemic, we now have new tools to encourage and amplify attendee connections. Using in-event apps to bring attendees together based on similar interests is one example of how technology can help foster event networking. By being mindful and creating experiences that bring people together through games, geocaching, or more intimate one-on-one meetups, you’re being inclusive of different personality types while also helping to build relationships.

5. Embed accessibility into all events moving forward

This means your event should be accessible to all your attendees. Implement closed captioning and ASL interpreters during sessions, provide ramps, venues with elevators, and space in crowded conference rooms for attendees with reduced mobility. Also consider those who are visually impaired, provide gender-neutral restrooms, and address dietary restrictions.

6. Keep Safety in Mind

Everyone has different levels of comfort, so even with pandemic restrictions easing, you need to ensure your attendees feel safe. People now assess their level of risk differently and with more awareness. To accommodate this, offer socially distanced event seating for individuals who still aren’t comfortable sitting in a packed room. Ensure hallways don’t get packed by creating different entryways into a session or plan for different entry phases. Digital check-ins are another great way to avoid pileups that make social distancing difficult. Hand sanitizer stations should be an event mainstay, or fun-sized bottles can be given out to guests when they arrive.

7. Don’t Forget the Lessons Learned

The corporate event industry had to adapt quickly in the face of shifting priorities, advancing event tech, and a world where sustainability and social responsibility have become increasingly important to recognize and implement. Now more than ever, engaging your audience means you must be thinking about what your attendees want to experience, and how you can deliver it in a way that’s profound—now and into the future.

For additional support on your event engagement strategy

Call us at 800-290-0311.