5 Program Design Tips to Engage Attendees

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Tips for attendee engagement from Rudy Garza, Brightspot Incentives

Rudy Garza, Brightspot Incentives, on how program design can foster purposeful engagement and personalization.

As face-to-face meetings and incentives move forward, program design has evolved to foster attendee engagement and experiences, said Rudy Garza, CITP, IP, VP-Operations Brightspot Incentives & Events, in an interview with Prevue. “Now that we are back to gathering and meeting face-to-face, we strongly encourage and see more meetings designed with shorter meeting times and longer breaks that allow for attendees to reconnect with colleagues and network with new connections. A perfect example is how webinars have been shortened from one hour to 30-45 minutes in length.”

Garza’s top 5 program design tips to foster purposeful engagement:

1. Incorporate more TED Talks-style presentations followed by short, small group discussions and long breaks.

2. Use event mobile apps to capture attendee attention and create engagement. “Because we are tied to our devices, we are all easily distracted in every moment, but especially during meetings and events,” noted Garza. “Whether it’s through push notifications, gamification, real-time voting polls or social feeds, event apps are a great way to engage attendees and move them from the sidelines of the event to actually participating.”

3. Create experiences. “People don’t want to just attend a meeting or event, they want to experience it,” said Garza. Program design can achieve this in many ways, such as with activities that get attendees outside the four walls of a meeting space, themed welcome receptions, local shopping experiences and local gifting.

4. Integrate unique food and beverage. Who among us isn’t a foodie? “One of the best dining experiences I have ever had was at an event that included a nine-course gastronomical food tasting dinner that evoked all five senses,” said Garza. “Years later I still talk about it.”

5. Personalize room amenities. Instead of providing a one-size-fits-all traditional fruit and cheese tray, Garza recommends asking attendees whether their preference is sweet or salty, then surprise and delight them with a dessert amenity or a salty trail mix amenity based on their stated preference.

“Personalization is a buzz word that’s been around for a while within the events industry but it’s still important, and can be utilized in simple and creative ways with program design,” concluded Garza.

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