Hybrid events that integrate both in-person and virtual participation are becoming increasingly popular in the post-pandemic era. As an event organizer, hybrid events allow you to expand your reach and provide more options for attendees. However, running a seamless hybrid event that engages both online and offline audiences can be challenging. This article will discuss how you can use gamification and interactivity to boost engagement across all attendee touchpoints.
Hybrid events give participants the flexibility to join either in-person or virtually. This format allows you to attract a wider audience across geographies. It also enables attendees to customize their experience based on personal preferences and constraints. However, organizing a cohesive hybrid event requires careful orchestration to ensure all attendees feel included.
Gamification and interactivity are two powerful techniques to heighten engagement and create a unified experience for both physical and virtual attendees. Gamification employs game-design elements to motivate actions, while interactivity allows attendees to actively participate across digital and physical platforms.
In this article, we will explore best practices to gamify and add interactive components across your hybrid event. Successfully incorporating these elements will lead to better networking, higher satisfaction scores, increased event app usage, and greater content retention.
What Are Gamification and Interactivity
Gamification involves applying game mechanics into non-gaming contexts. This could include rewards, leaderboards, badges, countdown timers, progress tracks, etc. These elements tap into people’s competitive instincts while making tasks more enjoyable.
Some examples of gamified experiences at hybrid events include:
- Earning points, badges, and leaderboard positions for asking questions, participating in polls, visiting exhibitor booths, and completing challenges.
- Unlocking exclusive perks like giveaways, discounts, and access to premium content based on attendee activity levels.
- Website scavenger hunts where attendees complete puzzles to win prizes.
- Trivia quizzes and games to reinforce learning.
On the other hand, interactivity allows attendees to directly impact and participate in event activities, often in real-time. For hybrid events, interactive elements facilitate two-way conversations between online and in-person audiences.
Examples of interactivity at hybrid events include:
- Q&A sessions where virtual attendees can submit questions to speakers along with live audience members.
- Live polls and word clouds aggregating responses from both remote and physical attendees.
- Virtual whiteboard activities for collaboration across onsite teams and individual remote participants.
- Backchannel group chats between session speakers and virtual/onsite attendees.
The key is to think creatively about blending these digital and physical interactions to prompt engagement across the hybrid event.
To create a successful gamification and interactivity strategy for your hybrid event, you need to have a clear and realistic event marketing timeline that covers both the digital and physical aspects of your event.
Best Practices for Incorporating Gamification and Interactivity
Here are some tips to integrate gamification and interactivity seamlessly into your next hybrid event:
Start planning early – Brainstorm creative ways for both in-person and virtual attendees to participate. Identify relevant technologies and use cases. Develop wireframes and test critical interactions well in advance.
Align to event goals – What actions do you want to encourage and incentivize? How can interactivity support session content and extend learning? Tie gamification mechanics and participation opportunities directly to these objectives.
Personalize experiences – Provide multiple options for attendees with different preferences to engage. Virtual attendees may favor real-time chats while physical participants prefer live trivia games. Offer choices.
Incentivize participation – Make activities rewarding by recognizing top contributors and handing out enticing perks like giveaways, discounts, and first access to exclusive content.
Simplify participation – Overly complex games and confusing technology frustrate users quickly. Keep instructions clear, actions simple, and UX intuitive. Extensively test from an attendee’s perspective.
Choose compatible technology – Select event platforms that tightly integrate gamification, polling, Q&A, and networking features with minimal friction across web, mobile, and onsite touchpoints.
Drive excitement pre-event – Promote lead-up activities like social media contests,website badge unlocks, speaker AMAs, and gamified quizzes to pique attendee interest early.
Prompt real-time participation – Send notifications, triggers, and reminders during the event to encourage responses. Make current leaderboards, last-chance calls, and scarcity visible across devices.
Track analytics – Monitor participation rates, gamification funnels, feature usage metrics, and Event ROI attributable to interactivity to guide optimization.
Blending creative and technology seamlessly to enable two-way interactivity before, during and after sessions is key to audience engagement. With preparation and continual testing, your hybrid event can deliver a truly immersive gamified atmosphere for all attendees regardless of location.
Success Stories and Examples
Here are some real-world examples of events that successfully incorporated gamification and interactivity features:
UNLEASH – The leading hybrid innovation event activated their mobile event app with achievement badges, live interactive workshops, innovation startup pitch competitions with real-time voting, AR experiences and mini-games for networking. These features unified the experience for 30K+ virtual and in-person innovators while achieving stellar engagement and satisfaction scores.
Adobe Summit – The premier creativity conference engages 30K+ attendees every year across virtual and physical venues. Their mobile-first approach features social leaderboards, live trivia battles, digital treasure hunts with physical giveaways, creativity challenges, points systems and creative soundboards for real-time audience interactions during keynotes and sessions.
Lean Startup Conference – The summit optimized learnings and networking for 650+ startup founders and investors in their hybrid environment with panel Q&As, virtual whiteboarding, Alien Mafia scavenger hunts, Pitchcon battles, mentor video meetups, Slido live polling and TED-style 5-minute lightning round talks. These interactive elements translated seamlessly across virtual and in-person modes.
- Successful hybrid events take an integrated approach with interactivity woven across every attendee touchpoint.
- Personalized gamification keeps people engaged in business-focused events by tapping into innate needs for competition, achievement and reward.
- Blending collaborative tools like shared whiteboards and chats in addition to competitive elements like leaderboards provides options for different attendee motivations.
- Companies like Adobe and UNLEASH build communities and drive deeper networking with creative audience participation mechanisms before, during and after sessions.
The cases above showcase how inventive hybrid events are using gamification, personalization and real-time interactivity to immerse attendees regardless of physical location. Use these examples to inspire your own fresh interactive concepts optimized to your audience, venue capabilities and event goals.
Hybrid events are complex – building a cohesive, interactive journey for both remote and onsite audiences requires foresight and creativity. Start by focusing on attendee actions andtouchpoints you want to enhance, then explore technologies and mechanics to activate those experiences.
Purposeful gamification and interactivity mötivate people intrinsically by satisfying needs for achievement, influence, connectivity and meaning. By blending collaborative and competitive participation opportunities before and during your sessions, you guide attendees to become active – not passive – engagers.
Empower people to shape personal adventures tailored to their interests and preferences. While satisfying your core business goals, put audience experience front and center. Use data, feedback and observing usage patterns to continually optimize engagement mechanics.
If done thoughtfully, gamification, personalization and interactivity don’t just feel like empty bells and whistles. These elements can heighten immersion, deepen insights, enrich attendee connections and anchor learning for everyone no matter how they attend your next hybrid event.