21 May Want to Create a Memorable Event? Think: 5 Senses
Remember the last time you entered a room filled with a familiar scent and suddenly a warm, pleasing memory washed over you? Maybe it was an outdoorsy smell that reminded you of a favorite adventure as a youth. Maybe it was the scent of something cooking that reminded you of a favorite family meal. Maybe it was that distinctive, “unused” smell that reminded you of your first new car or new home. Whatever the aroma, it brought back a vivid memory and a good feeling that made for a better day.
That same kind of experience can inspire participants at an event. And that’s the mindset event planning companies use to design a memorable event: focus on the user experience.
An experiential event goes beyond lining up chairs and inviting a speaker to stand up at the front of the room. It’s about creating an experience that connects with participants and inspires them to talk about, utilize, or deploy the information gathered during the event.
One way to create an experiential event is to consider the five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. Memories are made when the senses are triggered, and smell can be one of the most powerful. According to a study by the Sense of Smell Institute, people recall a scent with 65 percent accuracy a year after encountering it.
When it comes to events, however, most appeal to the senses of sight and sound. Why? According to a survey by London & Partners and CWT Meetings & Events, limited budgets were a primary factor. But lack of time for planning and inability to find content that appealed to the senses were also cited as reasons that planners don’t create multisensory events more often.
It’s also interesting that lack of a budget is cited among respondents: Experiential events don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. But it takes thoughtful preparation to design a meaningful event—memorable experiences don’t just happen by chance.
Think about the purpose, goals, successes, and intent of the event, then put yourself in the participants’ shoes. Consider what they will experience from the time they arrive onsite to the time they leave the event. Even small touches can appeal to one of the senses and embed a memory to last well beyond the closing ceremony.
Jennifer D. Collins is the founder, President, and CEO of JDC Events. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), Digital Events Strategist (DES) and well known events industry thought leader. She is Vice Chair of the Board for WBEC Metro NY and WBEC Greater DMV, a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization (WPO), and the Author of Events Spark Change: A Guide to Designing Powerful and Engaging Events.