The goal of any event is to provide an engaging, valuable, and memorable experience for attendees. The strategy that event planners and organizers use to achieve that is called event activation, or experiential marketing. While event activations typically happen during an event, industry professionals use the tactic in pre-and post-event marketing too.

Read on for creative ideas and tips for event activations that increase engagement, boost the value of your event, and ensure attendees enjoy a positive and noteworthy experience.

An introduction to event activation

In short, an event activation strategy is a series of coordinated activities put together by an event organizer or planner to increase and maintain engagement before, during, and after an event. Event marketing falls under the broad umbrella of event activation, and includes tactics for promoting an event, attracting participants, and generating buzz. But event activations aren’t just for pre-event marketing.

During the event, activation strategies focus on the attendee experience and involve a host of activities that encourage guest participation—from virtual reality and networking to contests and giveaways. After the event wraps up, activation techniques persist to facilitate post-event engagement. That could mean sending out a survey to event attendees, providing a community platform for them to connect even after the doors close, or engaging with event-goers on social media about their experience.

Event activation benefits

Event activation allows you to connect with your target audience on a more personal level. This approach to event marketing is designed to be personalized, meaningful, and, most importantly, fun.

Through an activation strategy, an event organizer can enable the success of events of all formats and sizes, helping to:

  • Boost event ROI
  • Improve brand awareness and recognition
  • Maximize attendee engagement

10 outstanding event activation ideas

Activation is the key to success throughout all stages of the event process. Gain inspiration from these 10 ideas to help create unforgettable event experiences for attendees.

Before the event

Picture of person typing on phone with blue background with emojis and speech bubbles around the phone

1. Create an event hashtag and promote it on social media

Using social media provides an opportunity to engage attendees pre-event. Event planners can start a hashtag campaign to create buzz, answer questions, and engage in conversation with potential attendees.

Creating social media content surrounding your event is a great way to gain attention while not seeming too sales-y. To generate excitement, post about some of the activities that you have planned, tease keynote speakers, and share behind-the-scenes style content as your event starts to come together. For an even more engaging and natural feel, leverage influencers to create social media content for you.

2. Interact with your target audience

Launching a social media marketing campaign is a good start, but interacting with your target audience on those platforms is even better. Make it a point to respond to any mentions or questions you receive on social media leading up to the event. This can help increase brand recognition before showtime and funnel more people toward your registration page.

3. Offer exclusivity to early birds or VIPs

Try offering deals and personalized experiences to attendees who register early or purchase tiered, VIP-type tickets. This could include early access to the venue on event day, discounts on tickets for early birds, or a VIP lounge experience for attendees who are willing to spend a little more to support your event.

During the event

Webex Events booth activation at trade show or conference event

4. Offer interactive experiences

Interactive experiences, such as virtual reality, workshops, or photo booths, help attendees create fond and lasting memories of your event. That’s valuable in and of itself. Plus, when attendees are having a great time, they may be more likely to share what they’re getting up to on social media, tell their friends about it, and paint your organization as one that hosts top-notch events.

5. Use live streaming

We live in a hybrid world, so any tools or techniques that provide value to both in-person and virtual audiences are worthwhile. Live streaming allows you to deliver an in-person event experience to attendees tuning in from afar. For this activation idea, set up live streams for a keynote speaker or product launch, host a live Q&A, or have someone conduct a live tour of the venue amid all the hustle and bustle.

These strategies help create a sense of community among virtual attendees. Plus, using the right event software, live streams can be saved and distributed after the event to provide attendees with even more value.

6. Make it easy for attendees to connect with each other

Networking is a large and important part of most corporate events. And for networking events specifically, providing a platform for audience engagement during the event and afterward extends the potential for connection beyond the bounds of the venue.

With an event app that offers community features and networking functionality, it’s easy for attendees to connect with fellow event-goers, share ideas, and talk about their experiences.

7. Design the event around a theme

Themes help put extra emphasis on events, make them more fun, and encourage attendee participation. Showcase your event theme through food, decor, or planned activities. Hosting an event in the summer? Make it barbecue-themed! Is your event centered around emerging tech? Put a fun spin on it with a futuristic theme.

After the event

person asking question at an event

9. Post about the event on social media (and use lots of pictures)

Everyone loves a good success story, and posting about your event on social media when it’s all said and done is a great way to increase brand awareness and get ahead of the marketing for your next event.

On event day, make sure to take lots of pictures and videos that you can share on social platforms afterward. Tag sponsors, engage with attendees, and ask for feedback from people who got the chance to attend.

10. Send out a survey to collect data

This last event activation idea is integral—especially for ROI reporting and planning a future successful event. Surveys help event managers learn what guests liked and didn’t like and provide actionable insight about how to plan for the future.

Maybe a particular event activation idea didn’t resonate with your guests as much as you’d hoped. Surveys help to decipher those hiccups, so you can tweak the activities and experiences to make an even more significant impact.

Making events exciting with activation strategies

Event activation is what enables planners and organizers to host a truly memorable experience. By implementing even just a few of these strategies, you can set your event up for success. And, by choosing event technology that offers end-to-end management, event activation options are limitless—and easy to implement.