There are fewer more popular buzzwords floating around the event world right now than gamification. It’s on every event planner’s wish list. But what exactly does gamification mean? In this case, to gamify means to apply the typical elements of a game (competition, scoring points, and a set of rules) to a nongaming activity such as a meeting or event. We are competitive and social beings. We like to collect points, gain access to limited areas, and connect with like-minded individuals around a common goal. Gamification works by accessing these motivations. It has the power to transform your event from a run-of-the-mill affair into one that delights your audience.
But adding gamification can add more complexity to planning an event, not to mention added expenses. It can cost thousands of dollars to build an exclusive app or hire a digital company to bring a leaderboard and other technology to your event. If you don’t have that much budget to work with, here are six ideas on how to add elements of gamification to your next event at a relatively low cost.
Create a Gaming Corner
Find a quiet corner of your venue to set up some rented or borrowed home gaming systems with comfortable soft seating. Stock the area with a selection of popular games. Invite attendees to take a break during your event to play solo or to compete as a group. This small interlude offers a nice break from the busy day and keeps your attendees’ minds and hearts engaged.
If you are already developing an app for your event or conference, adding gamification elements into your planned features may not add a tremendous amount of cost. Or if it does add cost, implement the simple fundraising idea of underwriting the game with a sponsor. For example, if you are developing a map of the city, including an easy trivia or travel pop-up game to help attendees learn about the city as they navigate it. If you are planning a map of your venue, incorporate a treasure hunt in which attendees who visit a certain set of sponsored exhibits and check in via the app will be eligible for a prize. The new Eventzilla Mobile Event App is a great place to start researching an app for event management.
Be sure to stock your exhibit hall with vendors who will offer interactive demonstrations and contests in which attendees are involved in the selling process. Ask exhibitors to think creatively about how they can challenge and engage your attendees in order to sell their products. Have them set up AI or VR demonstrations featuring their products or host non-digital games such as prize wheels. The more interactive, the better!
Use Your Social Media Platforms
Just the act of sharing a hashtag is a form of gamification. Create a competition around shared experience by incentivizing attendees to post, like, share, and comment on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, tagging your accounts and using your hashtag. The most shared posts can win prizes or incentives. Use this as a marketing tool by starting the challenge on your event ticketing page when tickets go on sale and continue through event day.
Survey the Crowd
There are several inexpensive web-based polling tools that can be used during a breakout session or seminar in order to gain crowd feedback on the spot. All that is needed is a phone. These tools will record attendees’ feedback in real time as they log it in through their phone. Attendees and presenters will see the results on the site. Presenters can then react to the results and engage attendees with more research or insights.
Go Old School
In the days of digital engagement, there is still a lot of value in nostalgia. One of the most memorable conferences I ever attended featured an old-fashioned game night in which attendees played ping pong, board games, and charades. It was an evening of bonding, laughter, and fun. When attendees are given the opportunity to connect over a childhood memory, more memories are made. Gamification is more than just a buzzword. It can be the difference between just another conference and the best event ever. If you’re interested in creating a memorable experience for a relatively little budget, give gamification a closer look when planning your next event.