As a tike, did you own a book that had (in addition to brightly colored images) little patches of wool-like fabric incorporated into the animal images, images that you could scratch and sniff, and buttons that made squeak or chime sounds when pressed? If so, the author/publisher of that book was on to something. They knew that if you used your senses of touch, smell, and sound in addition to your sense of sight, you would enjoy reading that book more than a book with only words and pictures. They offered you a multi-sensory experience.
Children aren’t the only ones who find multi-sensory experiences more enjoyable. Adults (consumers) also appreciate them, and brands would be wise to keep this in mind when planning marketing campaigns and trade shows. As your clients, these brands will rely on you, the event manager, to ensure attendees have the most pleasurable experience possible. Therefore, the more senses your attendees can engage during your events; the more positive and memorable their experience will be. Your objective should be to design your events in emotion- and thought-provoking way.
1. Benefits of Multi-Sensory Events
Not only do our senses affect mood and influence activity, but it’s a scientific fact that the senses of smell, sight, and sound tend to store memories in the brain when engaged. This means that the likelihood of attendees thinking about your event in the future increases if you incorporate elements that tap into one or more of these senses. And, of course, you want them to remember your event and your brand message, and that’s the reason you’re holding the event in the first place.
Here’s how you can create a multi-sensory experience and increase engagement at your events:
2. How to Host a Multi-Sensory Event
Depending on your budget, there are two ways to create a multi-sensory experience for your event attendees. If you’re working with a limited budget (or don’t want to overstimulate attendees), you can create focal points by adding small elements of sensory interest to your event. If done right, these small moments of delight can make a significant impact. Think stimulating fragrances, stunning table décor, and upbeat music between speakers.
If your budget is less constrained, you may want to immerse your attendees in a multi-sensory experience fully. Attendees will use multiple senses throughout the event, not just at focal points. This approach provides a more significant impact on memory and will engage attendees on a much larger scale. They’re more likely to remember and share details of the event for years to come. If you’re considering this approach, take a page from Essence and Toyota’s playbook.
3. Essence & Toyota Show How It’s Done
In December 2017, ESSENCE magazine partnered with Toyota to create #SensoryWonderland, a multi-sensory event that celebrated Afrofuturism while simultaneously generating buzz for the new 2018 Toyota Camry. The event brought attention to Toyota’s Sensations campaign, which focused on drivers’ emotions and sensations when driving.
The event offered six spaces that represented buzzwords from the campaign and was designed to stimulate multiple senses: Lust, Hunger, Throb, Boom, Pulse, and Drool. Afrofuturistic imagery from the magazine was placed throughout the event, as well as performers that fit the concept.
In the Lust space, attendees were instructed to feel around the velvet-draped environment with their hands. The Drool room offered a virtual reality experience from inside the new Camry, and the Pulse room contained a representation of the inside of a car engine that revved at full speed. In each room, there was a placard that described the experience that attendees could expect to have.
Toyota aimed to show that they valued multicultural consumers and, along with Essence (a publication with a predominantly African American readership), created a multi-sensory experience that did just that.
4. Know Your Audience
In addition to your working budget, your decision to either implement the focal point approach or fully immerse attendees in a multi-sensory experience should depend on their needs and interests. Will they respond to an immersive, multi-sensory approach, or would they prefer something more sedate. Are you catering to a younger demographic who are used to lively, trendy events? If yes, they would likely appreciate the fully immersed approach. If your demographic is older and prefers more calm experiences, engage their senses on a smaller scale. Here’s where doing your research and knowing your audience pays off.
In the world of corporate events, there’s a growing trend toward full-scale immersive experiences, and audiences have come to expect that. If you’re not meeting those expectations, you’re likely to receive less than favorable feedback and see a decrease in registrations for future events.
But, creating an event with high production quality can be challenging. Among the most common reasons for event managers to forgo making immersive, multi-sensory events are the lack of budget and time. Although an immersive experience may require a heftier budget, budget constraints shouldn’t stop you from giving your attendees what they’re looking for.
If you’re working with a smaller budget, take the focal point approach and pepper small points of interest throughout the event. If (after doing your research) you find that your audience would prefer an experience that tantalizes the senses but your budget can’t keep up, consider sponsorship. Companies with interests and a target market similar to yours may welcome the opportunity to help cover the costs of your multi-sensory production in exchange for promotion.
However you decide to engage your audience’s senses, you’ll need a partner to help you deliver a memorable experience. Make your role as an event manager easier by partnering with eShow. We keep our finger on the pulse of the event industry and offer clients creative and innovative ways to bring their ideas to fruition – all within budget. With our fully comprehensive event platform, we can help you not only delight your audience through multi-sensory events but also manage all aspects of your event, from vendor management to data collection and analysis.
Contact us today for a no-obligation demo.