The Inside Scoop: How Expert Planners Gamify Their Events

November 27, 2018

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Have you ever wondered how other successful meeting planners use the newest event tech? This series takes you behind the scenes to see how your peers use features like gamification, augmented reality, and facial recognition to take their events to the next level.

At Stova, we talk to meeting planners of all kinds every day, brainstorming new ways to make the most of the latest technology. One of the most asked-about event app features is gamification – planners ask us how to gamify a conference all the time. Often, they don’t know exactly what kind of game they want, or why they want to go this route – they just know it sounds fun, or they’ve seen it done elsewhere.

There are plenty of fun games you can roll out at your next event, from bingo to trivia to scavenger hunts or a photo contest. But the most successful planners know that event gamification is about more than fun and games.

How top planners choose a game

All planners gamify their events to boost engagement and get that ‘wow’ factor, but the best planners choose their game because they want to make a specific behavioral change.

Competition drives new behaviors. Successful planners harness this intrinsic human motivation and use it to get selected groups interacting, connecting, and networking with one another. Often, a game is designed to draw attendee and sponsor interaction – and produce new leads for the sponsor.

For expert planners, the conversation starts with a goal. Before we discuss a specific type of game, planners share what exactly they hope to accomplish, whether that’s increased leads for sponsors or networking between certain groups. Expert planners always choose their goals and strategies before they choose a game.

Gamify a flat event back to life

Once a specific game is chosen, the next step is the timing. Seasoned planners understand that events have a life cycle of their own. For example, everyone is pumped up for an event on day one, but interest fades as the hours and days tick by. Events can be exhausting. There’s a lot to learn and see (which is great), but it can be mentally taxing. Plus, as people start to notice emails piling up, their attention begins to fade as they start thinking more and more about what’s waiting at home or back at the office. Gamification helps draw people back in, introducing new challenges and rewards as the hours and days tick along. A well-designed game helps you work toward your goals while injecting new energy into your event.

Types of Games

The most common games you’ll see at events include:

However, you can customize a solution that matches your event goals and atmosphere perfectly. Below are a few examples of how we enhanced these games for clients.

The Holiday Party, Gamified

A top client came to us for help with an event that they hold every year: a casino-themed holiday party. At the event, employees play different types of games and use their winnings to bid in an auction. Previously, this process was done manually, and there was a huge bottleneck at the end of the night when everyone cashed out. The planner’s goal was to streamline the process and demonstrate that the company was up-to-date with the latest state-of-the-art event tech.

Using gamification, the planner provided each attendee with digital “money” for gaming. When attendees finished gambling, they exchanged winnings into the digital, in-app currency, which could be combined with any points they earned previously with other app features. Participants could then use their points to enter to win 16 different prizes. At the end of the night, we used a custom report to randomly select the winner of each prize. Then, the event organizer posted the list of winners on the event app’s conversation wall.

By adding gamification to their app, this client was able to eliminate hours of counting, game management and energy-killing downtime using our conference gamification ideas. Most importantly, the event was a huge success. Attendees raved about the improvement and how much they loved the digital upgrades. For this client, the game itself was the reward, since it was a company holiday event, and the process was streamlined for both the company and attendees so that it was more enjoyable all around.

Gamification, Vegas-style

Another client held an event in Las Vegas and asked us for help brainstorming something different for a scavenger hunt. To take advantage of the location, we suggested a unique reward feature: anyone who completed the game got to play a digital slot machine.

To play the slot machines, attendees scanned their name badge at one of our live engagement displays, and rolling slots became visible. These displays are huge and attract a lot of attention, which takes the whole experience to the next level.

For this client, networking was paramount. So the scavenger hunt included a lot of connecting with other attendees and with client partners to bring about this specific behavioral change that they were looking to impact. In addition, they wanted their event to showcase a level of technology consistent with the mission of the company. So this was not only a cool new tech experience. It aligned with what the company is trying to be.

Stay tuned for the next posts in this series, focusing on how expert planners use augmented reality and facial recognition. If you’re ready to talk to a Stova expert about how to gamify your conference, contact us for a demo today!

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