by Brenna Adkins , , , October 12th, 2023

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In the world of corporate events, creating memorable and impactful experiences is not just a trend – it’s a necessity. Activations, the ingenious blend of creativity and strategy, have emerged as the cornerstone of a successful event. Whether you are planning a product launch, an incentive trip, or a milestone celebration, the power of a well-executed activation can transform a mundane gathering into an immersive, unforgettable event. 

Event activations provide attendees with a needed break from standard sessions and meetings, and they also have a positive impact on your audience. Using activations conscientiously, you can craft compelling brand narratives and promote meaningful connections, all while leaving a lasting impression on your guests.
DIY Flower Crown Activation at Bishop-McCann ProgramDIY Flower Crown Activation at Bishop-McCann Program

What Is an Event Activation?

An event activation is a strategic and interactive approach to event planning that involves creating an immersive experience that allows participants to connect with a brand on a personal level. These activations can take various forms, such as live demonstrations, social media walls, celebrity or influencer engagements, interactive art installations, or customized experiences that are tailored to an individual's preferences by offering personalized merchandise or custom product samples. The goal is to create memorable, immersive moments that captivate the essence of your overall program messaging. 

By providing a hands-on experience, activations enable brands to showcase their unique selling points, demonstrate products or services, collect customer feedback, or create social media-worthy moments. These interactions not only enhance brand visibility but also help build positive associations with the brand. 

How Do Event Activations Improve Corporate Events?

Think of a time when you were in a conference or training session that consisted of one person at the front speaking to a room full of people. If it was a high-quality session, you likely remember how that person made you feel. Were you laughing? Intrigued? In contrast during a shoddy session, you may have seen more disengaged people than active participants.

You’ve undoubtedly been at a session that seems much more lively than others. What was the difference? The instructor, trainer, or session leader likely found a way to “activate” attendees via projects, tasks, or even discussion questions. Maybe humor or a fascinating story. Thankfully, much like learning situations, where the benefits of active learning are well documented, event activations can have the same impact.

(The Price Is Right Game Show Activation at Bishop-McCann Program)(The Price Is Right Game Show Activation at Bishop-McCann Program)

So how exactly can event activations improve your next corporate event?

  • Increase engagement and participation
  • Improve employee morale 
  • Increase teamwork, connection, and collaboration 
  • Enhance your reputation
  • Encourage attendees to step outside their comfort zone 
  • Increase creative thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Create lasting memories

One thing you’ll notice about all of these is that the impact is significant. Participating at the event helps immerse attendees in the moment, but the benefits last long after the event has ended. 

Creative Ideas for Event Activations

So you’re trying to engage your guests and get attendees involved in a way that creates lasting memories, but it’s not clear where to start. Thankfully, we have a few ideas for you.

1. Tap into attendees’ creative sides
Corporate events don’t need to be a series of sessions or workshops, followed by food and drink, followed by entertainment. In short, they don’t need to be passive with attendees shuffling from event space to event space. Providing opportunities like something as simple as a social media wall displaying posts that use your hashtags (and ask attendees to take creative photos) or something as interactive as a group art project can all be great ways to engage guests, build community, and get creative. (We loved the way attendees were able to express themselves with the glow-in-the-dark paint sculpture at a previous Adobe Max!).

  •  DIY Vinyl Albums at Bishop McCann Event
  •  DIY Vinyl Albums at Bishop McCann Event

2. Create keepsakes
Some of the most successful event activations at corporate events are ones that allow attendees to create keepsakes. We’ve seen everything from t-shirts and hats to vinyl albums and more. Not only does this provide an activation that taps into creativity, but it also helps provide a lasting memory of the event experience (and all that goes along with it).
(Painted Vinyl Keepsake at Bishop-McCann Program) (Painted Vinyl Keepsake at Bishop-McCann Program)

3. Consider celebrity or influencer engagement
Inviting celebrities or influencers associated with the brand or industry to interact with attendees, take photos, or host sessions creates excitement for the event. Be sure to select an individual whose audience aligns with your target demographic. Once selected, work closely with the celebrity or influencer to create engaging content ideas to highlight your brand and event. Make sure you organize interactive sessions, so your attendees can get face time with the individual. This could include Q&A sessions, meet and greets, or live demonstrations related to your brand. Be sure to create unique photo opportunities by designing visually appealing setups or backdrops featuring your logo. 

4. Provide interactive opportunities throughout the event
Often, we consider event activations outside of the normal course of corporate events as something extra, but some of the most successful event activations are actually incorporated into existing event activities. For example, your sessions and speakers should have Q&A sessions that allow your attendees to get involved. Similarly, skip entertainment one night and include an opportunity for attendees to be the star of the show, such as a karaoke night or 70’s dance party. Some businesses have turned these into annual competitions that generate considerable excitement leading up to the event.

5. Harness technology
We’ve talked about virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in our tech blogs, and activations are a great way to utilize them. VR and AR have the potential to create amazing experiences for your attendees and provide a quick escape. A VR/AR lounge, especially in the lobby or a centralized area, is a great way to engage your attendees and provide an exciting, immersive virtual experience or a location-based treasure hunt that places digital elements in a real-world setting. 

6. Include volunteering or other socially responsible activities
Incorporating volunteering into your event not only serves the community you are in, but it also stimulates teamwork, boosts morale, and enhances your brand’s image. In addition, you activate attendees and reap the other benefits of socially responsible activities. There are a wide variety of options, even on incentive trips. Start by asking your employees to nominate organizations they are interested in or involved with and vote on an appropriate activity to assist that organization. It can be anything from putting together care packages to cleaning roadsides.

7. Incorporate giveaways, games, and promotions
Few things get attendees more excited than games and giveaways. These also come with a social media opportunity as they provide great photo ops. You can award the person who gets the most social engagement, or even the winner of your karaoke night, with a special swag bag. Plus, if you have vendors or sponsors, this is an excellent opportunity to loop them in beyond your standard gifting.

8. Create something unique
Whether it’s an opportunity to create activations related to your event theme or the location of your incentive trip, unique activations make a powerful impact. Be sure to design activities that captivate attendees, promote brand interaction, and create memorable experiences. From celebrity interactions to immersive VR environments that transport attendees, event activations allow your attendees to become active participants, not just spectators. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and do something that’s never been done before! Those can be some of the most memorable aspects of your corporate event. 

So no matter what type of event you are hosting, embrace the power of interactivity, the magic of immersive experiences, and the potential of connection. While some event goals may differ, one goal holds true among them all: create a memorable experience. 

Looking for a team to help you do just that? That’s Bishop-McCann. We’ve created memorable events for decades, and our team is ready to tap into the transformative power of activations for your next event. Get in touch!
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