Employee engagement
Thomas Paris
January 17, 2020
5

5 Out-of-The-Box Event Engagement Ideas for 2021

Get more tips and tricks on office management when you join our mailing list.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get more tips and tricks on office management when you join our mailing list.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get more tips and tricks on office management when you join our mailing list.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Get more tips and tricks on office management when you join our mailing list.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Was this article helpful?

5 Out-of-The-Box Event Engagement Ideas for 2021

Thomas Paris
December 8, 2020
5 Out-of-The-Box Event Engagement Ideas for 2021

Event engagement has long been the holy grail for event organizers and marketers. It has become even more crucial as events go virtual. In addition to being a critical customer or employee touchpoint, events are among the most effective brand-building channels.

While event engagement as a concept has been around for a while, the transformation of the event environment has also changed the rules of engagement. With shorter attention spans and more distractions, engagement at virtual events has emerged as a key concern.

You can have great content and a stellar speaker line-up but still fail to drive meaningful engagement. According to a 2020 survey by Markletic, 49% of marketers believe that engagement is the most important element for a successful event. So, what makes an event engaging?

5 Ways to Drive Event Engagement in a Virtual World

The structure of events – how audiences attend and how they interact with others – has been upended by the pandemic. The attendee behavior shifts we see today are not a blip. They are here to stay, likely forever. Some of these changes have been in motion for years, and the pandemic has accelerated many.

Leading organizations have adapted to the new event landscape by designing events around experiences that combine the best of virtual and in-person events to drive higher engagement ultimately.

So when it comes to your virtual event, how can you get creative with your event engagement strategy? Here are our top five tips on building engagement for your virtual event:

#1 Offer Virtual Gift Bags Your Attendees Can Use During the Event

An experience-first pre-event promotion plan is one of the most effective ways to get your attendees excited about the event and drive awareness. Branded merchandise and gifts that attendees can use during your virtual event can help you integrate elements from the physical event experience and make your audience feel included. Have the bags delivered to attendees in advance or offer a virtual gift bag with unique games, tools, and virtual experiences personalized to attendees' preferences. Think event wellness kits and vouchers, branded stationery and gadgets, or something that augments the event experience like 3D VR boxes. 

A photo of an event gift bag by TED containing snacks, sponsor goodies, and stationery
Design an experience-first event with virtual event gift bags

Virtual event fatigue is real and providing your attendees' with something they can actively use or consume during the event, provides you with an edge and makes for a more immersive experience. Including virtual event gift bags in your promotion strategy can open up an exclusive engagement channel for your attendees and add to your sponsor engagement plan.   

You can also take this up a notch by introducing pre-event sweepstakes and contests where attendees can win exclusive gifts and prizes by registering their interest. Collaborate with Hoppier to decide on the experiences you want to offer - gift choices, food and drink options, and spending limits – let us take care of the logistics so you can focus on your event plan.

#2 Expand Sponsor Engagement with New Opportunities

A lot of companies think of engagement as a two-dimensional concept. However, there’s more to event engagement than just attendees. Engaging sponsors is also a crucial step to generating higher event ROI and better experiences for attendees.

With most virtual event sponsorships centered around driving traffic to sponsor spaces and lead-generation, you can engage your sponsors by offering attendees exclusive gifts and giveaways on visiting sponsor spaces and share richer first-party data based on attendees’ interest in different reward categories. For instance, you provide your attendees with a sponsored virtual photo booth experience by collaborating with vendors like SnapBar. A virtual photo booth experience also offers excellent branding opportunities that are likely to drive better brand recall and retention. 

Virtual photo booths offer great sponsor engagement opportunities
Source: SnapBar

You can stand out as a partner of choice for sponsors, vendors, and exhibitors by helping them maximize the ROI of their investment in your event.

An image of a virtual event's lobby marked by sponsor spaces and advertising
Scenes from Intrado's Digital Media sales kickoff lobby

#3 Deliver Unique In-Event Experiences

In-event experiences are a powerful driver of event engagement. You can offer meditation breaks as a way to help attendees relieve stress and regain focus during the event. Earlier this year, Symphony Talent introduced experience boxes for attendees during its Transform event which included bonus breaks like a guided meditation session in the morning. The company provided attendees with gourmet coffee, a pair of comfortable socks, and an essential oil made by the meditation expert. Participants were asked to get comfortable and stretch out on their chairs while the meditation expert showed everyone how to use the oil before guiding the participants through a five-minute meditation session. 

Similarly, companies are also experimenting with live virtual magic shows to engage attendees and improve overall participation. 

A screenshot of a live magic show at a virtual event
A live virtual magic show
Source: Matt Parro

#4 Offer Free Lunches, Dinners, and Drinks

A photo of a packed meal spread out on a work desk for in-event refreshments
Free meals and drinks deliver a more immersive event experience

With most attendees participating from home, distractions like meal prep or cooking can keep them from truly engaging with your event. You can win your attendees’ undivided attention by creating an event environment that minimizes the likelihood of such distractions creeping up. Providing attendees free meals and drinks during the event, especially at longer events, will enable you to ramp up engagement and hold their attention longer.

Solutions like Hoppier can help you coordinate meal deliveries during session breaks or informal luncheons and dinner. It also allows you to go beyond geographical limitations and engage attendees wherever they are.

#5 Provide Better Networking Opportunities  

One of the key challenges with virtual events is creating effective post-event networking opportunities. While using live interaction tools like Remo.co, Rally.Video or LetsLunchPool.com can help you improve accessibility, improving participation requires thoughtfully designed virtual social experiences. Foster better networking by hosting virtual happy hours, cocktail dinners, or dedicated speed networking lunch sessions.

With events moving from hotel banquets to attendees’ screens, social experiences like networking can be difficult to replicate. A hybrid approach to combining physical experiences with virtual ones can help you drive better post-event engagement and create a memorable event.

A screenshot of a virtual lunch with employees displaying their meal on screen
A virtual lunch networking session can dramatically improve attendee engagement
Source: Secret Whisper

Conclusion

The events landscape is still evolving as we write this, and to succeed with event engagement you will need fresh thinking and to put your attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors first. With virtual events becoming a staple for companies as we head into 2021, engagement is no longer just the marketers’ and event organizers' domain. It is an enterprise-wide priority everyone needs to contribute towards. Your investment decisions and event partners will play a much larger role in creating engaging events next year and beyond.  

Explore how Hoppier can help you engage your audiences better. Get 20% off on your first event with Hoppier.

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
arrow point to CTA

Get our best content on culture management
in your inbox 2 times a week

Join 10,000 event organizers for insights, tips, and best practices delivered to your inbox.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Related content

Free money start for free

Get started for free

Try out our free plan, no commitment required!

Book a demo