Experiential events are about taking risks, thinking up new, creative formats, and engaging your audience. But why should they be part of your event marketing strategy?
Well, today’s audiences look for immersion and interaction. They don’t want to sit in a stuffy boardroom as someone reads off a PowerPoint presentation. Connecting with attendees on a deeper level is the goal, and as marketers, using experiential events can help us deepen the engagement with our audience. But that's easier said than done.
To give you some inspiration, we’ve gathered 14 creative examples of experiential events that provide meaningful, unique, and memorable event experiences.
An experiential event provides attendees with a unique and immersive experience that promotes a brand, product or service.
These events are designed to create a memorable and emotional connection between attendees and the brand, often through interactive activities, sensory stimulation, and storytelling. The goal is to engage attendees in a way that leaves a lasting impression and encourages them to become loyal customers or brand advocates.
Experiential events push boundaries. They go beyond traditional event marketing tactics with interactive, hands-on experiences, and allow attendees to interact with your brand, products, and values in a fun, exciting way.
Experiential events can take many formats, and while the goals of each event will differ, the overarching goal is to generate buzz, build brand awareness, and drive customer loyalty.
Here are a few elements shared by experiential events:
Active engagement: These might include hands-on activities, interactive installations, workshops, and gamification.
Innovation and creativity: Experiential events favour novel formats, technologies, and unconventional strategies.
Uniqueness and memorable experiences: Unique or experiential event design, layouts, and activities make these events interesting and memorable.
Risk and adaptability: Experiential events mean taking calculated risks, testing new concepts, adapting to change, and embracing uncertainty to create something fresh and impactful.
Audience engagement and involvement: Attendees can contribute ideas, participate in co-creation activities, and influence your event elements.
Outcome and impact: The aim is to achieve specific outcomes, spark new ideas, collaborate, and wow your audience.
Experiential events come in many shapes and sizes, including:
Brand activations: This is an event, campaign, or strategy designed to create direct engagement and interaction between your brand and your target audience. These experiences are all about bringing your brand, its values, and personality to life.
Innovation summits: These events showcase new technologies, trends, and innovative solutions within an industry.
Product launches: These events are designed to reveal your latest product or solution to prospects and customers.
Partner collaboration events: These events bring businesses together to co-create and explore partnership opportunities between their offerings.
Interactive workshops: These are interactive sessions where businesses can explore and learn about specific solutions, often involving hands-on demonstrations and practical use cases.
1. Cvent CONNECT Europe
A whole host of immersive experiences
Cvent CONNECT Europe, one of the largest events for event professionals, offers a unique experience that goes beyond traditional conferences and trade shows.
This annual event includes experiential event experiences like virtual reality, where attendees can explore immersive experiences, and product showcases, which allow attendees to interact with the latest product features. Interactive workshops are another way in which attendees can gain hands-on experiences to help them learn new skills.
2. Adobe MAX The Creativity Conference
Providing hands-on experience
Adobe MAX’s Creativity Conference introduced the Creative Park, an interactive area to explore new tools and features. Attendees could test emerging Adobe software in a hands-on environment, fostering creative experimentation and providing instant feedback to the developers.
3. Salesforce TrailblazerDX
Immersive learning experiences
Salesforce's TrailblazerDX is an immersive learning and networking experience. Attendees could earn badges through workshops and interactive challenges, emphasising skill-building and practical learning within a dynamic environment.
4. Lululemon Sweatlife Festival
Bringing your brand to life
Lululemon's Sweatlife Festival is a great example of bringing your brand to life. It featured a full day of yoga classes, workout sessions, wellness workshops, and interactive experiences. The event brought together fitness enthusiasts, wellness experts, and brand ambassadors for a day of physical activity, learning, and connection.
Regular tickets also allowed attendees to attend two sweat classes, including boxing, spinning, or trampolining.
5. IBM Think's Cognitive Studio
IBM Think featured the Cognitive Studio in 2016, an interactive zone showcasing AI and cognitive solutions. Attendees could explore real-world AI applications through interactive demos, discussions, and expert-led sessions, bridging the gap between theory and practice.
6. HubSpot INBOUND's Deep Dive Workshops
HubSpot INBOUND’s is a mainstay of the marketing industry's events.
Its intensive ‘Deep Dive’ workshops allowed attendees to explore specific marketing or sales challenges through collaborative problem-solving and direct application of strategies.
7. Microsoft Ignite and Inspire’s Immersive VR Experience
Incorporating virtual reality
Microsoft Ignite introduced mixed reality to their event with immersive VR experiences. Attendees used VR headsets to explore Microsoft's technologies virtually, bringing complex concepts to life tangibly and memorably. Keynote speakers also appeared on stages as 3D holograms.
8. Splunk .conf
Splunk .conf featured interactive workshops—from educational game shows to team problem-solving—to engage and delight attendees.
These sessions allowed attendees to discover product use cases, walk through real-life scenarios and demo as they went. Their ‘Hands-on labs’, hosted by Splunk instructors, also divulged their products’ best tips and tricks.
9. IKEA’s sleepover event
Thinking out of the box
In honour of World Sleep Day, IKEA announced a sleepover event available only for IKEA family members. Members could choose their own bed linen, and then experience immersive sleep-themed activities like ASMR experiences, a silent disco, sleep workshops, and more.
As a B2B brand (and without access to large shops full of furniture), hosting a sleepover probably wouldn’t work. However, why not treat your most loyal customers to exclusive, themed experiences?
10. Qualtrics X4 Dream Team
Interacting with attendees
Qualtrics X4’s Dream Team was a group of Qualtrics employees dedicated to making the X4 an experience to remember. Using their software, they took over 2,000 requests from attendees to improve their experience. These requests covered a range of things, including:
Delivered a birthday cake to an attendee celebrating their birthday
Helped a customer get their skateboard signed by Tony Hawk
Got prescription glasses for an attendee who forgot theirs
11. Dell Technologies World
Interactive experiences and training
Dell Technologies World brought its brand to life with hands-on labs and training courses, educational and interactive experiences, and 1:1 interaction with engineers in live Ask the Expert sessions.
But that’s not all. The immersive Solutions Expo gave attendees an interactive experience of their latest products. Attendees could even turn themselves into a video advertisement using Dell technology.
12. Juniper NXTWORK 2019
Panellists were scored on their contributions to the conversation, resulting in a final winner. Filmed in a professional studio, this experience allowed attendees to submit questions and comments during the livestream.
13. ServiceNow's Knowledge
Giving attendees the chance to unwind
ServiceNow's Knowledge event featured arcade games throughout the Expo hall floor, giving attendees a wonderful chance to unwind. Attendees could explore engaging mini-games related to IT, HR, and customer service solutions, making learning more interactive and enjoyable.
14. LinkedIn Talent Connect Innovation Lab
LinkedIn Talent Connect, an in-person and online event, included an Innovation Lab. Attendees explored emerging talent solutions through interactive tech showcases, discussing how AI and automation impact HR practices.
Understand your audience
Before planning your event, thoroughly understand the needs, interests, and pain points of your B2B audience.
Consider their industry, roles, challenges, and goals. This understanding will help you tailor the event experience to resonate with their preferences and provide meaningful solutions.
Set clear objectives
Define clear and measurable objectives for your experiential event. Are you aiming to showcase new technology, foster partnerships, generate leads, or educate attendees? Having well-defined goals will guide your event planning and help you evaluate its success afterwards.
Prioritise engagement and interaction
The essence of an experiential event is interaction. Incorporate interactive elements such as workshops, hands-on demonstrations, group activities, and networking sessions. Encourage attendees to participate actively, collaborate, and engage with your offerings and content.
Innovate and think creatively
Embrace innovation and creativity throughout the event planning process. Experiment with unique event formats, technologies, themes, and activities that differentiate your event from traditional gatherings. Offer attendees experiences they wouldn't find elsewhere, and push the boundaries of what's possible within your industry.
Use technology to enhance the attendee experience
Technology is a vital part of creating an immersive attendee experience. You could use artificial intelligence or augmented reality to create interactive brand activations or product demos.
Or connect directly with your audience through a mobile event app. Give them easy access to content, networking, and important information all in one place. Chat, Q&A, polls, and surveys also bring another level of interaction to sessions.
Experiential events: Plan memorable experiences
Remember: The success of a B2B experiential event doesn't just come down to attendance numbers. Think about the quality of engagement, connections made, and the long-term impact on attendees' perceptions of your brand.
Focus on creating memorable moments that resonate with attendees long after the event ends. Incorporate elements like immersive installations, surprise guest speakers, interactive challenges, and opportunities for hands-on learning.
Consider how attendees will feel, what they'll learn, and the overall impact the event will have on their perception of your brand.
With careful planning, creativity, and a genuine commitment to delivering value, you can create an event that stands out and leaves a lasting positive impression.
Interested in learning more about creating in-person events your attendees love? Download our Ultimate Guide to In-Person Events.