Create experiences, not meetings: Events in the age of the experience economy

published on 07 17 2018
Tourisme Montréal: News and People
Trends and Technology
Working Smarter

The concept of “the experience economy” first gained popularity in the early 2000s and it changed the face of meeting and event planning. Recent polls suggest the vast majority of American Millennials would rather spend money on live experiences vs. material goods. How can event professionals leverage this thirst for memorable experiences into unforgettable meeting and convention programs? In this age of augmented reality, VR and AI, the experience is a product in itself and there has been a marked shift toward creating events that are so stimulating and original that they are unforgettable.  We’ve gathered together a few tips and ideas to inspire you to infuse your next meeting with rich experiences that will live on in the memories of you attendees long after your event is over. 

GIVE THEM A ‘YOU HAD TO BE THERE’ EXPERIENCE

We’ve posted recently about the innovations and experiences of this year’s C2 conference on Montréal’s Lachine Canal. From the rotating entrance way (designed to shake attendees up from the moment they arrive) to hidden secret speakeasy open only via password in the back of a cute on-site flower shop, C2’s organizers created an event in which pretty much defines FOMO

GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO POST ABOUT

Making sure your event’s social media presence is on point is key, but getting the social media generation posting about your event has become doubly important. A posting attendee is an attentive and engaged attendee! Once you’ve got them hashtagging, you’re golden – check out these recent posts for Montréal’s #C2M18 and #Startupfest events for some great ideas to get them posting. 

“HERE WE ARE NOW, ENTERTAIN US”

Attention spans in the Experience Economy need continual stimulation, and events like the ever-growing Pecha Kucha series of speaking evenings (each given 20 slides to speak to, with an automatic timeframe of 20 seconds each) keep experience seekers interested and on their toes. We spoke recently with Neuromarketing specialist Dr. Carl Masi, who pointed out the importance of, “[getting] the adrenaline going,” for both presenters and attendees. Check out some of Montréal’s most thrilling and inspiring teambuilding activities that would put an unforgettable exclamation mark onto any event. 

ACCESS IS GOLDEN 

Giving your guests the ability to share a moment and exchange an idea with speakers, or behind the scenes VIP access is another vital component for the experience seeker. Once the talk is over, earn bonus points with an intriguing way to give direct access to attendees to ask questions directly, gain entry to more intimate sessions and even give feedback to organizers on an event’s success moment by moment. Montréal’s Yulism brings visitors directly into professional ecosystems in exciting and meaningful “human collisions” in spaces otherwise off-access, while innovations like Slido, just one example of many apps available to the modern event planner, can make setting up these exchanges a snap.

SOMETHING FOR ALL THE SENSES

Planning an experience means creating something for each of the five senses, from locally-sourced specialities to thrill the taste buds, to carefully-curated musical soundtracks or performers that don’t hinder conversation. The best-planned venues even offer on-site scents for guests, and on-location massage therapists and barbers have been big hits at recent meetings we’ve attended. 

ATTENDEES THAT CREATE TOGETHER, MAKE MEMORIES TOGETHER

We all know what they say about idle hands, so take it further with some hands-on creativity that gets attendees working together. The popular Hackathon model brings coders together to solve a certain task, which not only adds to the experiential moment but also lets attendees use their creativity and skills in a tangible way amongst their peers. We’ve seen everything from cookie baking to group filmmaking at recent events here in Montréal, and without doubt these types of add-on activities leave a lasting impression.