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Gamification at Your Event: It’s About More Than the App

Written by Catherine Reed

The concept of gamification has certainly gotten a lot of attention recently, but many misunderstand what this buzzword is actually all about. Often, people assume it refers to a technology when gamification is actually more of a mindset. And it t isn’t all about using an app.

Event apps are popular, and it is easy to see why. They are excellent resources for attendees, providing them methods for organizing their experience and collecting valuable information. But, as an event professional, your goal isn’t to have everyone walking through the space with their noses in their phones. Instead, you want to encourage them to have fun while they learn and network, and gamification can help. Here are some tips to get you started.

Offline Activities

If you want people to interact at your event, then gamification is a way to encourage your attendees to do just that. There are a variety of offline approaches that can get people working together and talking to each other, and many are easy to add to your experience.

For example, a scavenger hunt can give you the ability to make learning more active. It encourages participants to move through the entire event space to find key items or signs to complete the list. Simply tie the target destinations to learning objectives and attendees can have fun scouring the floor for these pieces of information.

If you want to add an app-based component, give them the ability to scan QR codes for more details or have the scavenger hunt require posting pictures to social media with the event’s hashtag. That way, you have your attendees engaged beyond the digital level, but still allow technology to be part of the experience.

Another activity to promote the forging of new connections is networking bingo. The game features cards with various objectives that require participants to talk to one another. This can be an excellent icebreaker during coordinated meal times and can be a fun way to get some conversations started.

Gamification is Not a Magic Bullet for Fun

Since the term gamification refers to games, it sounds like it’s a natural way to make your event fun. While it’s true that these activities are meant to be enjoyable, your event needs to be engaging as a whole regardless of whether you use these approaches.

To host a successful event that is fun in the eyes of attendees, you need to make sure your other areas are on point. Make sure you bring in speakers that are as entertaining as they are informative. Create a range of networking opportunities throughout the course of the event to get people talking naturally. And don’t forget to have variety in regards to the session, speaker, and panel options people can attend.

Gamification can be an excellent way to guide people to certain portions of the floor or specific opportunities, but it isn’t a magic way to make the entire event entertaining.

Don’t Make Everything About Marketing

Some event professionals think gamification activities are an ideal way to get attendees involved with sponsors and vendors. While an activity can bring participants to specific locations and may require them to submit their information, that doesn’t mean you’re sponsors will get improved results.

When you force people to provide their information as part of the game, it does increase the number of individuals who sign up. However, since these attendees aren’t submitting their details because they are actually interested in what the sponsor offers, most of the leads gathered this way will result in dead ends.

This means pursuing these participants is actually wasting the sponsor’s time and resources, and that doesn’t necessarily make the best impression.

If it’s all about marketing, many of your attendees will simply bypass the activity. Most people are wise to these techniques and, if they feel manipulated by the game, they’ll stop playing. They may even form a negative opinion about the experience, leading them to be less likely to come to an event in the future.

Instead of using that approach, consider making the game more of an information hunt. For example, you can award points to attendees for going to posters and answering questions about the content. This encourages them to read the details about the product or service but doesn’t require them to provide personal details unless they want to be contacted in the future.

Gamification is a Tool and Nothing More

Ultimately, gamification is simply a tool at your disposal. It will engage some attendees, but not others. It may increase lead generations for sponsors, or it might not. It can add a level of fun, but won’t make up for other shortcomings in critical areas.

To get the best results, gamification can’t be your only approach. Combine it with other features like live streaming, networking activities, and high-quality learning experiences. This can increase the total level of engagement and give every attendee something to look forward to, regardless of their preferences.  So, consider gamification one step in your efforts to have an outstanding event and leave it at that.

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Catherine Reed

Catherine is a content creator, article writer, and web copy specialist who has translated her professional and educational experience into a full-time writing career spanning categories as diverse as technology, education, finance, and staffing. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and has nine years of experience working specifically in the mobile device field.