Gamification is the idea of getting people to perform desired actions by making it fun or turning it into a competition. This is not a new concept: you might say it goes back to the days of Napoleon, who gave out medals (which he related to trinkets) in order to award obedience. In more recent history, your parents may have used gamification to keep you quiet on a long road trip – did they ever invite you to play the ‘silent game’? With the rise of social media in the 21st century, we are seeing more and more of this, from Facebook telling you how many people ‘liked’ your post to Foursquare awarding you as the ‘Mayor’ of your bagel shop.
It’s only a matter of time before the event management industry begins to use gamification in order to get conference participants to take desired actions. What are some ways we could use gamification to encourage participation or solve problems at our events?
Encourage participants to visit vendors or exhibitors
Your exhibitors have paid good money to connect with your attendees. Help them increase traffic to their booths with a game or scavenger hunt activity. This can be as simple as printing up a card with a list of the booths for them to visit and asking vendors to checkmark the card of everyone who visits them. You can then award the participants with a small prize for visiting so many booths, or enter them into a raffle for a larger prize.
Get participants to stay until the end of your conference
Let’s face it – the last session at any conference is always the hardest one to get people to attend. Is there a way to use gamification to encourage people to stay until the end? The rewards from gamification do not need to be expensive. Call them out on your social networks (your Twitter or Facebook page), or give them recognition on your website with a special title for attending the last session of the last day.
In order to successfully use gamification in your event or conference, please remember:
Gamification should be fun
If the game is fun and encourages a little healthy competition, the game can be a reward in itself and provide additional advantages, including increased networking opportunities among participants and greater enjoyment of your conference as a whole.
Awards do not have to be expensive
Many of the social networks that use gamification simply give recognition as an award for participating. If the reward is too great, what was meant to be a fun game could degrade into an intense competition with people arguing over technicalities about who won.
You need to promote the game
Keep the game in front of your participants through all means available. Keep people informed with the progress of the game, whether through a simple announcement or over your social networks covering the event. The more people that hear about the game, the more people will participate, the more fun they will have, and the more people will complete the actions you desire as the organizer.
Mobile technology is very conducive to gamification and makes presenting rewards easy and instant. As the events industry becomes more mobile, it’s likely that we will see more and more gamification integrated into mobile apps. How can gamification be a solution at your next event?