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4 Min Read

Attendee Experience Designed with Science

We focus a good amount of our discussions on the importance of creating an experience for events. Whether that experience is focused on the exhibitors at your show or the attendee’s, one thing is for certain: it’s the experience that will create a lasting impression.

Experiential marketing is a “newer” concept that has hit the events industry and exploded. We believe that focusing on the attendee’s encounter with your brand will help a message resonate. Let’s introduce another term to the mix: experience design, your brand, be it an event, business, or product, interacting with your consumer, allowing your company to come alive for them.

How do experiential marketing and experience design differ? With experience design, we strive for interaction, while experiential marketing seeks to engage. There’s a bit of difference between hands-on and getting someone’s attention.

Designing an experience for your attendee’s is no easy task. Consider all of the different demographics that will be in attendance at your event. Each person has a different set of preferences, likes, and dislikes, perceptions, and the way they interact with social media can vary greatly. With the capabilities that marketing automation brings us, the level of personalization that we compete with has increased as well. So how do we create a personalized, interactive experience for the entirety of our audience?


It all relates to the fundamentals. We’ve shown you a comparison of how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be applied to the events industry, but there is more to the psychology of it. The study of neuroscience, the functionality of the brain and nervous system, have a significant impact on an experience as well.

Memories are typically categorized into three different segments: immediate memories are the shortest, only lasting milliseconds. Those that last about a minute are working memories, and long-term memories can last anywhere from an hour to years.

Human memories are exceptionally complex- very unlike the computer you’re reading this on. If you needed a friend’s phone number, the computer would simply present the data while the human mind would associate a face, conversations, plans, emotions, etc. Memories are based on associations.

Influencing Long-term Memory

We’re not at the mercy of each individual to deem our messages as a working memory. As event planners, we have the power to influence this process. Memories that are rooted in a sense or emotion are more likely to be recalled.

Our senses can also be referred to as receptors: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. The most common senses that are often associated with a live event are sight and sound. Once your receptors capture an experience (often referred to as emotional arousal), it is processed through the three following stages.

  1. Encoding – Where the interaction takes place, the information that is being received is encoded as a memory. Immediate memories don’t reach this stage as the brain doesn’t even process it as a memory, for example, you look across a room from point a to point b, never concentrating on the in between, but your brain processes it as more of a panorama.
  1. Storage – It takes a strong message for the brain to process a memory as long-term. If it is deemed as a short-term memory the likelihood of being forgotten increases and it will never reach the next stage.
  1. Recall/Retrieval – The memory can be recalled even if a longer period of time has passed.

Building Sensory Experience

Although this is but a brief overview of the study of the human brain and memory processing, it should give you a better understanding of how these key attributes of humans play an essential role in the planning of your events. In order to create an experience, we must have the ability to tap into both psychological needs and biological requirements of our attendees.