Events for the Senses
Each year meeting planners and destination management companies around the world are challenged to impress an increasingly savvy clientele. In the age of information, your guests’ minds are constantly stimulated, but what about their physical senses? Building events and experiences to awe your clients by seeking creative ways to activate all five senses will differentiate your meeting in a crowded market and give your attendees something to connect with through sight, taste, scent, sound, and touch.
Sensory experiences are only as vivid as the memories they leave behind. Photo booths offer guests visual mementos of their fun. We often recommend syncing a photo booth with social media Web sites so that guests can instantly upload their photos and videos to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For a new twist on the photo booth, slow-motion video offers a visual treat. Guests can star in their own short films, with their antics heightened by suspenseful slow motion, capturing their reaction as a handful of colorful confetti rains down on them.
To document an event, start-to-finish time-lapse photo-graphy, for instance, will allow your guests to relive the memories even after the party has passed. Originally used to capture natural events like cloudscapes and sunsets, time-lapse photography packs an emotionally powerful punch. Give your guests fresh insight into the efforts that created their experience with a time-lapse video that begins with the transformational setup process and ends with the last person leaving the venue.
Most event planners are familiar with craft beers, which have taken the nation by storm, but craft cocktails are also gaining in popularity, especially among those who prefer to sip something lighter than the latest double IPA. Talented mixologists can design custom cocktails just for your event, or one-of-a-kind beverages based on each guest’s individual tastes.
Additionally, while the use of natural and organic ingredients is a trend that’s here to stay, sugary indulgences are always appreciated. Across the country, local candy boutiques have impressed us with custom-flavored candies, cupcakes, and other treats that attendees can’t help but sample, like Vanilla Rum “Twinkies” or dark-chocolate-dipped sea-salt potato chips.
The aroma of local, farm-fresh cuisine is a crowd pleaser at almost all events. For instance, at one of our recent events, we included a design-your-own-gourmet-grilled-cheese station. The rich aroma had guests clamoring for a taste. Alternatively, scratch-and-sniff stickers are making a comeback. The new version of this nostalgic technology offers interactive scratch-and-sniff wallpaper, which can be customized to showcase the scents of your choosing. When we introduced the wallpaper at an event in San Diego, we featured the local fragrances of fresh green grass, salty ocean waves, and smoky beach bonfires.
Because of the deep connection between sound and emotion, a live performance can set the tone of your event. As technology expands the virtual reach of musicians and entertainers, a new respect has emerged for live performances. From the comedy acts of Chicago to the glee clubs of Las Vegas, live performances are integral to keeping your guests engaged and entertained. We find that local talent is especially well received. To modernize the live performance, try incorporating mobile apps into your events so that guests can send real-time song requests to the live band on stage.
Engage your guests by incorporating a pampering touch and give them an opportunity to relax. For instance, at a recent event we set up a VIP green room, where guests were treated to makeup artists, manicurists, shoe shiners, hair stylists and old-time barbers offering straight-razor shaves. The personal touch not only enhanced moods, it gave guests some much-appreciated time to unwind.
In finding creative ways to activate the five senses, you’ll see that the key to producing a truly great event is engagement. Whether you are planning a small VIP reception, a corporate social responsibility program, or a large-scale gala, try designing a number of different sensory elements into the event. These elements will truly engage attendees in what’s going on around them and, when brought together successfully, leave an impression even bigger than the sum of its parts.
Candace Bisconte, DMCP began her destination management career in 1978. In 1989, Candi and her husband Greg purchased the office where they worked in Orange County, California, and continues to serve as a founding partner of Access Destination Services. The company designs and delivers exclusive and unique group programs, and has offices in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Orange County, Northern California, San Diego, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Chicago, and Las Vegas.
Photos: Andrews Shafer Visuals, Access Destination Services, AVSD Production, Dallas.