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Attendee Experience, Event Technology & Apps
1 July 2024 

The Ultimate Guide to Gamification at Your Next In-person Event

Bizzabo Blog Staff
Bizzabo Blog Staff
The Ultimate Guide to Gamification at Your Next In-person Event

Leading events teams are always looking for ways to enhance the event experience. To that end, more and more organizers are incorporating gamification into their events to increase engagement and make the experiences more interactive. 

By integrating elements like points, badges, leaderboards, and challenges into your event strategy, you can create more dynamic and immersive conferences that encourage participation and foster a sense of competition among attendees. This improves your odds of keeping your attendees engaged, ensuring they remain interested, active, and invested throughout your event.

If you’re looking to learn more about event gamification, you’ve come to the right place. This guide covers everything you need to know about in-person event gamification, including benefits, challenges, event gamification tech, and specific steps you can take to gamify your next event.

Why Gamify Your Event?

Event gamification can uplevel the end-to-end event experience, enhancing engagement and making it more interactive and enjoyable. Here are some of the key reasons why events teams are increasingly incorporating gamified elements into their events:

  • Increased attendee engagement. Gamification captures attendees’ attention and encourages them to actively participate in event activities, making their experience more enjoyable and memorable. 
  • Enhanced networking opportunities. By incorporating team-based challenges and interactive games, gamification encourages attendees to connect with each other and collaborate. This leads to valuable networking opportunities — something attendees crave — helping guests build relationships and expand their professional networks.
  • Better retention of information. Gamified elements — like quizzes and interactive sessions — make learning more enjoyable, which helps attendees retain key information. By actively participating in gamified activities, attendees are more likely to remember and apply what they’ve learned.
  • Data collection and insights. Gamification tools often include features for real-time data collection and feedback, giving events teams valuable insights into attendee behavior and preferences. This immediate feedback allows for in-the-moment adjustments and improvements, enhancing the overall event experience. 
  • Improved event satisfaction and feedback scores. The interactive, enjoyable nature of gamified events leads to higher attendee satisfaction and positive feedback. This increases the likelihood that attendees help you draw a bigger crowd next year via word-of-mouth recommendation.

What Attendees Like and Dislike about Gamification

In order to ensure a positive, inclusive experience for all participants, organizers need to balance the likes and dislikes of attendees when incorporating gamified elements into events. If you include too many elements that attendees don’t like, the gamified segments of your event can cause frustration. On the flip side, by focusing on elements that attendees enjoy, you can increase their engagement and strengthen their overall experience.

Striking the right balance between likes and dislikes starts with understanding what, specifically, attendees like and dislike about event gamification. As you begin planning your next event, juggle these likes and dislikes to ensure your event remains accessible, enjoyable, and valuable to a diverse audience with different preferences. 

Common likes

  • Interactive, fun experiences
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Competitive elements and leaderboards
  • Instant gratification
  • Lasting impressions
  • Social interaction 
  • Stress relief

Common dislikes

  • Overcomplication
  • Lack of real value or relevance
  • Technical glitches or failures
  • Intrusiveness (i.e., takes away from the event)
  • Inadequate rewards
  • Lack of interest
  • Distractions

Tips for balancing likes and dislikes

1. Set clear objectives and goals.

Establishing clear objectives and goals ensures that the activities you gamify align with the event’s overall purpose and desired outcomes. For example, if your event’s goal is to educate attendees and promote learning, consider including a trivia quiz related to session content to reinforce key points.

2. Understand your audience and their preferences.

By customizing your registration flow and/or conducting pre-event surveys, you can gather insights into attendees’ interests and preferred types of engagement. If your audience enjoys competitive elements, include a leaderboard to track progress as they complete various event challenges.

3. Keep games simple and intuitive.

Nobody is going to participate in gamification experiences if they need to read a thick book of rules to figure out how to play along. By designing games with straightforward rules that are easy to use — like a scavenger hunt with clear instructions and an interactive map — you can encourage participation without overwhelming attendees.

4. Ensure seamless technology integration and plenty of support.

In an age where folks increasingly expect seamless experiences across platforms, it’s critical to look for gamification tools that work with your event app. Since at least some attendees are likely to encounter problems with technology (such is life), be sure to have plenty of tech support personnel and resources available to troubleshoot and fix issues.

5. Provide meaningful rewards and incentives.

If you want folks to participate in the gamified elements of your event, offer prizes that resonate with your audience — like exclusive access to future events, Amazon gift cards, branded merchandise, and professional development opportunities. For example, you might reward the top three finishers on a quiz with free tickets to your next conference or a one-on-one Zoom session with a keynote speaker.

6. Continuously measure and optimize the gamification strategy.

No matter how good your gamification experience is, you can always improve. Use analytics to track participation rates and gather feedback on gamified elements during the event. If possible, adjust activities in real-time based on data — like making quiz questions harder if attendees are getting every one right or adding more interactive elements if engagement is low.

7. Build gamification opportunities for different types of attendees. 

For the best results, aim to be as inclusive as possible, catering to all different kinds of attendees. For example, you can create a mix of team-based challenges for extroverts and solo activities for introverts. While the former group might like a team-based escape room challenge, the latter group might prefer to work on individual puzzles or trivia games they can complete at their own pace.

To learn more about how to serve various types of attendees at your next event, read our blog: “How to Create Engaging Event Experiences for Eager Learners and Reluctant Participants.” 

Leveraging Technology for Event Gamification

Making the most out of in-person event gamification starts with utilizing technology to enhance the experience and make it convenient for attendees. 

Mobile apps

An event gamification app can help you deliver superior gamification experiences by giving attendees the resources they need to track their progress and understand what’s next. With an event mobile app, you can roll out gamified experiences quickly and easily: 

  • Send push notifications to attendees to keep them engaged. 
  • Display in-app leaderboards and relay real-time updates so attendees know where things stand at any given moment.
  • Enable attendees to easily access game rules, locations, progress, and other relevant information. 

Smart badges

Wearable tech like Bizzabo’s Klik SmartBadge™ (more on this in a bit) provides a great way for events teams to track participation and understand how attendees are interacting with one another throughout the event. 

Additionally, these devices can help facilitate networking games — like encouraging attendees to get their badges scanned by as many different vendors as possible for points. Using the data you collect from the badges in real-time, you can also surface actionable insights that are valuable for adjusting the event experience in the moment.

Other technologies

As you continue adding tools to your event tech stack, here are three other technologies you shouldn’t overlook:

  • Virtual reality and augmented reality, which you can use to create immersive scavenger hunts of treasure hunts where attendees navigate the event space to find hidden items or complete challenges. These technologies can also host VR competitions, allowing attendees to earn points based on their performance in themed games or simulations, enhancing engagement and excitement while making the event more memorable.
  • Social media integration, which can gamify events by encouraging attendees to use a specific event hashtag for posting, with points awarded for the most creative or engaging content. Live social media feeds displayed on big screens can showcase these posts during the event, recognizing and rewarding active participants.
  • Interactive kiosks and screens, which can offer educational games or quizzes related to event content, rewarding attendees with points or badges for their participation and knowledge. Additionally, digital leaderboards on large screens can display real-time rankings of top participants for ongoing event engagement.

How to Gamify Your In-Person Event

Looking to gamify your next in-person event? You don’t have to wait until the big day arrives to kick things off.

Pre-event gamification

Pre-event gamification can include teaser campaigns and challenges to build excitement and anticipation, such as clues or mini-games that reveal details about the event. Social media contests and engagement — like using a specific hashtag for a chance to win prizes — alongside early registration incentives and games that reward attendees for signing up early can drive participation and boost overall event engagement. 

During the event

Once the event kicks off, it’s time to incorporate elements like scavenger hunts and treasure maps that encourage attendees to explore the venue and complete tasks for rewards. Interactive sessions and workshops, networking games and icebreakers, and live polling and Q&A gamification can further enhance engagement by making learning, networking, and participation fun and competitive. 

Post-event gamification

After the event, your gamification efforts can involve feedback and survey games where attendees earn points or rewards for completing evaluations and sharing their experiences. Follow-up challenges and engagement activities, along with reward systems for participation, keep the event’s momentum going — which can increase event engagement and encourage folks to participate in future events.

15 Ideas for Gamifying Your Next Event

How exactly might you gamify your next event? Here are 15 ideas to get you thinking in the right direction:

  1. Digital scavenger hunt: Organize a scavenger hunt where attendees search for specific items or complete tasks around the venue.
  2. Networking bingo: Create bingo cards with networking tasks (e.g., meeting someone from Seattle or meeting a software developer).
  3. Interactive live polling: Use live polls during sessions to engage attendees and reward points for participation.  
  4. Sponsor booth badge scanning: Encourage attendees to get their badges scanned at as many sponsor booths as possible, with rewards given to folks who meet with the most companies.
  5. Industry trivia: Host quizzes related to session topics or industry knowledge, with points awarded for correct answers. 
  6. Product demo punch card: Reward attendees who check out a certain number of demos.
  7. Easter eggs: Hide things and challenge people to find them.
  8. Daily challenges for multi-day conferences: Mix up challenges for a multi-day event to keep things fresh and exciting for attendees.
  9. Track completion at a conference: Reward attendees who attend every session within a certain track.
  10. Skill-based challenges: Set up activities that test attendees’ skills (e.g., a speed typing contest).
  11. Puzzle challenges: Incorporate puzzles related to the event’s theme that attendees can solve throughout the event. 
  12. Spin-to-win wheels: Have a prize wheel that attendees spin after completing tasks or attending sessions. 
  13. Social media engagement: Reward attendees who write posts about your event and receive high social media engagement.
  14. Audience choice awards: Let attendees vote on their favorite sessions, speakers, and activities, with awards given based on the results.
  15. Interactive exhibitor booths: Encourage exhibitors to create interactive booth experiences that allow attendees to earn points or rewards.

Gamify Your Next Event with Bizzabo!

If you’re looking to incorporate gamified elements into your next event, Bizzabo can help. The Klik SmartBadge provides an easy path toward gamification — and a fun way to incentivize attendees to participate.

Klik is super customizable. To give you a better idea of how Klik can transform your event experience, here are three ways you can use SmartBadges to gamify your in-person event:

  1. Gamify contact exchange. Every time an attendee connects with a person, give them x points. You can also award more points when attendees connect with someone outside their own attendee type or when they’re able to meet all five members of the executive board at a company’s internal event, for example. Even better, you can assign certain individuals negative points just to make things more exciting!
  2. Gamify session attendance. Similarly, attendees can earn more points for each session they attend, all of which is tracked with Klik. You can also gamify different tracks; when an attendee goes to each session on a single track, they get more points.
  3. Gamify interacting with Touchpoints. Attendees can also earn points by interacting with Klik Touchpoint devices, which are spread out across the venue. Folks can earn points for connecting with any Touchpoints, or you might decide to only reward them when they find specific Touchpoints (e.g., those related to gold sponsors). 

Transform the Event Experience with Gamification 

Gamification can transform the way your audience experiences your events. Not only does it increase attendee engagement and offer great networking opportunities, but it also makes event experiences more fun and memorable. By incorporating gamified elements — like scavenger hunts, social media contests, and trivia games — into your event strategy, you can create fun and exciting activities that will make your event stand out. 

As you begin gamifying your events, it’s important to experiment with different gamification techniques to find out what best resonates with your audience. Don’t be afraid to take chances and iterate accordingly. By sending out post-event surveys, you can find out what gamified elements were best received — and which you might not want to incorporate again.

Ultimately, events teams are all focused on creating engaging event experiences that leave a lasting impression. By sprinkling gamification into your event strategy mix, you can delight attendees and increase the chances they return next year. After all, who couldn’t use a little more fun in their professional lives?

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