Elevating Experiences

Key Takeaways from EMS 2023

Elevating Experiences and Fostering Authenticity

EMS 2023 brought together industry experts and professionals to discuss the latest trends and strategies for creating impactful experiences. With a focus on empathy and authenticity, the conference provided valuable insights for event planners and marketers seeking to enhance their approach. Here are some notable takeaways from the event.

Empathy: Remembering the Power of Experience Design

Keynote speaker Brian Solis emphasized the importance of adopting a people first attitude when planning events. “Experience design starts with empathy” according to Solis, Author of “X: the Experience Where Business Meets Design.” It is crucial to consider the emotional impact of an activation, as people primarily remember the positive and negative experiences. By creating memorable experiences, event organizers can leave a lasting impression and stand out from the crowd.

Data and KPIs: Strategize with Qualitative Data

Investing in smart data collection is essential for effective event strategy. While quantitative data provides valuable insights, it is the qualitative data that reveals how an experience will be remembered. Melissa Meloro, Vice President of Strategy at Sparks, offered a different perspective on KPIs: “Keep people interested. Keep people inspired. Keep people involved. And keep people informed.”

Experiential marketing empathy
Experiential marketing swag

Swag: Premium, Custom, and Usable

The era of cheap and unsustainable swag is over, as evidenced by the variety of swag activations on the show floor. Integrating giveaways as part of the overall experience, such as through swag vending machines or interactive activities like a custom baseball hat activity, enhances the attendee experience while aligning with your brand’s image. Venita McLemore, Senior Manager of Public Relations Events at AWS, advises event managers to hold on to leftover swag when a surplus is ordered. Not only will it help in your sustainability efforts, but it can also come in handy for smaller or last-minute events.

Digital Footprint: Embrace the New Normal

Michelle Aragon, Vice President of Brand Marketing and Strategy at Spectrum Reach, warned against reverting to pre-pandemic norms for in-person events. While face-to-face interactions remain valuable, maintaining a digital reach is crucial. Leveraging the tech investments made during the pandemic, including digital events, social media engagement, and on-demand content, ensures continued engagement and audience satisfaction.

Partnerships: Expand Market Reach and Foster Inclusivity

Strategic partnerships can expand market reach and audience segmentation while aligning with shared values. An excellent example is the partnership between LinkedIn and Dove to address race-based hair discrimination in the workplace. Laura Parkinson, Global Head of Enterprise Brand Experience at LinkedIn discussed how the two brands partnered on initiatives such as free access to LinkedIn Learning Courses, the co-commissioned CROWN 2023 Workplace Research Study, and amplification of Black women professionals’ voices through the #BlackHairIsProfessional hashtag. Together they aimed to promote inclusivity and combat discrimination while staying true to their individual brands.

Values: Inclusivity and Sustainability Matter

Companies increasingly seek inclusive and sustainable event vendors. Adopting a partnership perspective can foster new ways of being inclusive and sustainable. For instance, Workday partners with vendors throughout its supply chain and planning process to ensure sustainable practices during their annual Workday Rising conference. They rely on their partners’ expertise to help maintain their commitment to environmental consciousness during events.

Experiential Marketing Partnership
Authenticity in experiential events

Authenticity: Engaging the Genuine Generation

Gen Z possesses a keen sense for detecting inauthentic content. Suzette Ford-Duffus, Head of Global Events at Taco Bell, emphasized the authenticity of this generation and their ability to spot ingenuine content from a mile away. She stated, “[They are an] extremely authentic generation, and they will call you out.” Michael Barclay II, Executive Vice President of Experiential at Essence, advised event planners to “leave room for magic.” It is important not to over plan. Instead, allow for unexpected moments, as they often lead to the most authentic experiences.

EMS 2023 offered event planners and marketers a wealth of knowledge on how to elevate experiences and foster authenticity. By incorporating these insights into their event planning strategies, professionals can create memorable and meaningful experiences that resonate with attendees and leave a lasting impact. As the industry continues to evolve, prioritizing empathy and authenticity will be crucial in creating successful and impactful events in the future.