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Is Your Event Missing These Immersive Touchpoints?

Originally published on Eventbrite.

Imagine stepping foot outside a conference: You’re greeted with ambient wilderness sounds and surrounded by real trees, woodland creatures, and even a small mountain range — but inside four walls.

This 40,000-square-foot “campground,” which Salesforce brought to life at the 2018 Dreamforce Expo, is the definition of an immersive, experiential event. Over the last few years, brands have begun creating immersive experiences for customers in an effort to build human connections — and drive to robust bottom lines.

And attendees want more human connection, whether that’s through face-to-face conversations or shared experiences. That’s why, at Bluewater, we believe in deploying “immersive touchpoints” — opportunities, similar to that of Salesforce’s, for audiences to use their own sensory perception and creativity to experience an event in a unique way.

Ultimately, immersive touchpoints — which build and enhance live, experiential marketing events — help create a community around a shared experience. Check out these five examples of immersive touchpoints and consider how they could take your event to the next level.

1. Social media moments

You can’t just put interesting things in front of people and expect attendees to post about them. If you want your event to trend, you need to make interacting with and sharing your creations part of the attendee experience.

For example, at the Essence Festival, Walmart placed a plush, blue velvet throne in front of an LED wall that displayed the hashtag #ReignItOn. Women of color took to the throne — even donning a special crown for the event — and posed like a queen for quite the Instagram-worthy moment. This space supported the theme of the event while drawing a crowd to Walmart’s station.

Newer social media channels, like Instagram Stories and Snapchat, have made user videos as popular as photos. Put moments at your event into motion with eye-catching lighting and digital backdrops that encourage viewers to share unique videos.

2. Interactive projection mapping

Projection mapping takes real-life objects or settings — think a building layout or an ocean scene — and, without distortion, projects them onto four walls for an ultimate immersive experience.

Some brands are taking it a step further by making the projections interactive. Tech design company Tellart pulled this off at London’s V&A Museum with a projection-mapped table that transformed a large sandpit into an interactive landscape full of valleys, mountains, and lakes.

Audiences love when settings come to life through the magic of projection — especially when they’re the ones bringing them to life. Let the audience use their phones to contribute to the show, or construct stations where passersby can control the action you’re projecting.

By putting control of the images in the hands of viewers, you can transform a pretty picture into an incredible cinema of light and immersion. The more input viewers have, the more engaged they feel.

3. Creative scenic design

Staging is due for an update. The standard stage is old and boring, especially when we have so many better ways to set the scene like separate platforms, curtains, lights that add depth — possibilities abound.

Custom scenic elements, like massive high-resolution displays or stages that include the audience, break down traditional boundaries and boost engagement. If you feel creative (and if you have the logistical strength to pull it off), you can even spread touchpoints throughout a city, turning an entire metro area into a stage filled with excited players.

The best part? Great stages don’t have to be expensive. At Bluewater, we recently worked with a utilities company that sought to make a smaller event a bit more memorable and intimate: A little creativity with stage design went a long way. The event was intended to be a fireside chat, so a cozy backyard was the perfect setting. We added green carpet over the stage deck, a full LED wall backdrop, and a garden shed on stage for presenters to enter from. The content on the screen was a colorful backyard that transitioned from day to night.

4. Direct participation

When you want the audience to engage with the event, just ask. Direct participation simply means inviting the audience to try something new, and most people are willing to give it a shot.

This is why I love “brain dating.” It’s like speed dating for businesses — but an incredible, tech-fueled version. The first time I tried it, I had so many great conversations that I spent all my free time at the event chatting with more strangers.

Again, you don’t need a big budget to ask audiences to engage. Game show formats, for example, are always a hit. Invite people to join the fun, and they’ll happily climb aboard.

5. Bespoke activations

Everyone loves cool experiences, but people really love once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Fear of missing out is a powerful motivator, so if you create something audiences will never see again, prepare for big crowds.

Take inspiration from brands like Bud Light, which invited attendees to participate in a real-life Pac-Man experience for a Super Bowl ad. Another example: to promote its new Boost technology, we worked with Adidas to create a pop-up experience that traveled the country. Attendees could try on shoes, play games, and take unique photos. And once it was gone, it was gone forever — only the social shares and product buzz remained.

These immersive touchpoints can be as elaborate or simple as you need. Audiences love gorgeous displays of new technology, but they love laughing with strangers and playing simple games, too. Give them what they want by putting the action in their hands.

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