It’s About Time
Why "Designing the Time" is the Way Forward for Attendee Experiences
When it comes to brand experience, many marketers are looking for a solution to create deeper,
better engagement with their audiences. However,
what worked in the past doesn’t work to reach
audiences today—they are new faces, demanding
new experiences. To be successful, we must know
what our audience needs and wants. The evolution in audiences requires an evolution in our
approach to experience design as well.
In a world where there never seems to be
enough hours in the day, time is where real value
lives. When people attend an event, they’re paying in more than just cash. Attendees are giving up precious time and attention that cannot
be squandered. As such, it’s key for us to give
attendees an even better return on that time and
attention by putting their wants and needs first.
It’s not enough to entice them to attend—what
really matters is what happens once they’re there.
We must think about how to design the attendee
experience in an authentic way that validates their
Let attendees be in control
Attendees are different than they used to be.
They come to events knowledgeable, not just
about what they know, but what they want to
know—and how they want to learn it. There
is an expectation of a deeper, richer experience where they don’t just sit back and
listen, but are engaged in contributing to
and helping to shape event content. In order
to meet this new demand, audiences must
be given the control and trust necessary for
them to personalize and customize their
Look at events such as Maker Faire,
which invites attendees and their expertise
to add to the show itself simply by attending. Or take a page from SXSW, which takes
content submissions and crowdsources a
vote to see what will really resonate with
its audiences. Once they’re on site, the
tracks are flexible and allow for the event
to be what individual attendees make of it,
whether they’re learning about social justice,
virtual reality or storytelling for the movies.
Create content and connection
People are looking for ways to make meaningful,
deep connections with one another, searching for
what is missing from interactions in the mobile
age. That’s why the face-to-face environment is
so important, allowing people to find that elusive
connection in context of a shared experience.
Content is one of the big ways you create that
context—it’s where the rubber meets the road.
Design content that allows attendees to learn in
flexible ways, letting them concentrate on what
they find important. Provide ways for them to network and have the conversations they’re craving.
If time has value, then content and social connections are currency.
Understanding what your audience is looking
for is the only way you can provide them what
they need. When you keep attendee needs at the
forefront of your strategy and use that to inform
the solution, you’re designing for the human experience, maximizing time and creating the kind of
priceless experience that stays with your audience
long after the event is over.
By Anne Houghton