Innovative Ways Events Are Providing Touch Points

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"Audiences have an innate want to be a part of something. They don't want be on the sidelines anymore, they want to be a part of something bigger."

Nina Gomez, head of operations, Singapore, CWT Meetings & Events

Gomez's team redefined the "elevator pitch" by having start-ups deliver their pitches 50 meters off the ground on the GMAX Extreme Swing at Clarke Quay.

That's from an excellent article titled Why You Should Keep Up With the Festivalization Trend, posted last week by a Haymarket Media publication called Campaign, which covers the Asian events industry. (Haymarket is a Connectiv member, another division here at SIIA.)

Festivalization doesn't literally mean adding "festival" elements to an event, said Darren Lim, senior VP at Pico+. "The essence of it—the idea of providing a range of touch points and experiences to choose from, and for them to be enjoyable and appealing—can be applied to any kind of event."

With SIPA Annual 2019 just two weeks from today—see who else is attending here—let's take a look at what some events are doing to help attendees "be a part of something."

Give a behind-the-scenes look. "Subscribers tell us all the time that they love getting behind the scenes of our journalism—they love our journalists and getting to know who they are," said Ben Cotton, New York Times executive director of retention and customer experience. "So [when we can] connect our subscribers with them, either in person or via a conference call or some other form of digital connection, we get really fantastic feedback. We've seen in testing that those kinds of things help with our retention."

Build a "bridge." "It's where the captain of the ship is, where all the information is stored," events expert Robyn Duda said. "It's an actual place at your event where attendees can mingle with speakers, exhibitors, staff. Everybody at UBM was required to spend time in that area—people from creative, sales, business—and talk to attendees. There would be guided conversation and ice cream."

Test drive technologies. At Columbia Books and Information Services' Learnapalooza earlier this month, the agenda included a Demo Daze—"Test drive the latest innovative technologies in the learning space!"—and a session on How to Practically Use Artificial Intelligence to Enhance Your Online Learning Experience.

Offer meet-and-greets. At Informa's Food Funded Enrtrepreneurship and Investor Fair—one of their many Esca Bona events throughout the year—an Entrepreneur Lab includes a hands-on workshop and a Food Investor Showcase provides a forum for investors to meet 24 curated food entrepreneurs and see pre-screened investment opportunities. The American Alliance of Museums has their annual meeting this week in New Orleans with scheduled meet and greets with authors. "Curious about publishing? Want to know more about their work? Looking to collaborate? Stop by any time between 10 and 11 am! Drinks and treats will be on sale."

Try an innovation lab crawl. (Again from the article in Campaign.) "The recent Singapore Fintech Festival at SingEx saw a cozy Sandbox presentation, an innovation lab crawl, a Hackcelerator competition, Open Stage pitches, and industry networking events co-existing within the larger festival." You can get a feel for the lab crawl with this video. They had about 30 participating labs. Another one is coming up in Copenhagen in June—"Along the way it will be possible to experience paying for beer with your face, building Natural Language Processing solutions, and utilizing design thinking to create user-centric tech solutions."

"I think people don't care if there's a rock band, for instance, but they want to feel it," said Slush Singapore event head Anna Ratala. "They want to feel like they were there, and they want to tell people that they were there. And I think events that are going to be leading the way are start-up and tech events because of the nature of [those industries]."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…