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How to engage sponsors with event gamification

people using a phone
people using a phone

Gamification has been a hot topic in events for some time now. And for as long as attendees get a kick out of a leaderboard or thrills from a scavenger hunt, it will continue to be that way. In fact, gamification was worth $5.5 billion in 2018 and that figure is expected to grow by more than 30 percent in the next five years.

Using event gamification helps make events more personalized, immersive, and memorable. It’s a win for attendees who have a better time and for event managers overseeing events that go from strength to strength.

Gamification can be key to boosting sponsor engagement too. In fact, sponsor engagement should be central to your gamification strategy for several reasons.

Firstly, engaged sponsors create better events for attendees. Just look at SXSW activations from the past few years for insight into how sponsors can create superior attendee experiences when they are engaged.

Video game publisher Activision hosted an actual house of games at this year's SXSW
Video game publisher Activision hosted an actual house of games at this year's SXSW

Secondly, the more engaged your sponsors are, the less transactional your interactions with them tend to be. Build a relationship-based partnership with high levels of engagement and reap the rewards of more loyal sponsors.

Finally, your sponsors need to quantify the return on investment (ROI) of their involvement in your event. Engagement activities like gamification are the perfect way to increase the number of data points they can analyze.

Here are three tried-and-tested ways to delight attendees — while also boosting engagement from sponsors — with gamification.

1. Gamify booth check-ins

Adding game elements to your event is a good way to promote the actions you want attendees to take and sponsors benefit when the objective of the game is to draw visitors to their booth.

An in-app game that offers incentives to visit different sponsor areas, combined with beacon-in-a-badge technology that records time there, is a powerful way to both boost and measure a sponsor’s performance at your event.

There are ways to ensure that productive conversations happen during the course of the game, too. For instance, each sponsor could have a codeword to give out that unlocks new challenges for participants.

Alternatively, attendees could have to answer a question about the sponsor to proceed in the game. By giving attendees and sponsors a reason to start talking, you can use event gamification to facilitate the connections your event depends on.

Whatever form this extra level of engagement takes, the key, according to Endless Events, is to “work with sponsors or exhibitors to see what works for them and customize it to their goals.” Decide together, stick to the plan, and then “see how this extra layer could make a real difference to the results exhibitors get.”

2. Use gamification to create lasting event memories

It’s been said that "gamification is 75 percent psychology and 25 percent technology". With this in mind, focus on how to use gamification to generate the emotional responses you want from attendees and sponsors.

Taking part in games gives us a sense of trust, unity, and of being part of something. Coupled with that, we experience a strong sense of optimism that comes from thinking we may win. Your sponsors will benefit by virtue of being associated with these emotions, which all have a role to play in brand building.

Encourage sponsor engagement by offering sponsorship of the games or prizes for winners. Not only will this boost awareness of the sponsor, it will also contribute to longer-term brand affinity.

The Advertising Specialty Institute measured the positive impact of promotional products on brand memorability and found that people hold onto them for a year on average. Describing the benefits of gamification in such terms engages sponsors because it prioritizes what’s in it for them, putting their broader business objectives at the heart of your strategy.

3. Incentivize data capture

Events are commonly one of the biggest line items in a CMO’s budget – on average, they account for about 24 percent of the marketing pie. Yet the number of event marketing professionals that can accurately calculate ROI is just 23 percent.

Encourage attendees to post about their interactions with sponsors to generate more qualitative data points
Encourage attendees to post about their interactions with sponsors to generate more qualitative data points

Event managers need ways to leverage technology and the data it generates to give the sponsors the stats they need to prove value and secure their budgets in years to come.

Again, gamification comes to the rescue. Encourage in-app actions like check-ins and social posts by rewarding them with game badges. Doing this helps to ensure participants play for longer, and also creates a larger and more varied data set is created that can be shared with sponsors.

This is a goldmine for sponsors looking to quantify how long attendees spend interacting with their brand and how that translates to sales. Having such invaluable statistics makes securing sponsorship that much easier next time around. At the same time, attendees can enjoy the feeling of competition and camaraderie that gamification generates.

Discover more ways to engage attendees with gamification in the ebook, The Attendee Journey: Creating Personalized Experiences for Conference Attendees.


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