12 Ideas to Invoke the Senses at Events
From snaps and ‘grams to tweets and posts, you’ve likely seen the buzz from this year’s Coachella Music & Arts Festival – from the nostalgic *NSYNC reunion (sans Justin Timberlake) performing with Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish’s Coachella debut and of course, numerous surprise celebrity appearances.
However, festival vibes weren’t always positive. Many performers battled audio issues – including Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj during their Sunday night duo – leaving many festival goers feeling frustrated and gypped.
Of course, at a music festival like Coachella, it’s expected that the sense of sound is engaged. But the other senses – sound, taste, smell, and touch – play a role in delivering memorable and creative event experiences too.
In research about multisensory events by London & Partners and CWT Meetings & Events:
- Only 27 percent of respondents believe all five senses are being used effectively throughout the event industry
- 78 percent of surveyed planners believe multisensory events deliver more memorable and creative experiences for attendees
- 42 percent believe sensory activations can help events stand out from the competition
Here are 12 ideas for event and meeting planners to implement in order to invoke all of your attendees’ senses.
In the London & Partners and CWT Meetings & Events study, about 75 percent of event planners said “sight” is the most widely used sense.
Try these additional ideas for a fresh take on incorporating the “sight” sense:
- During event design and planning, use immersive walkthroughs to showcase the room set-up and layout.
- Pre-event, showcase tablescapes, place settings and buffets in scaled 3D.
- University of Hawaii researcher Kalyan N. Meola has found color has an effect on both physical and psychological well-being. Use color to set the mood and build visual lighting cues. Red light is stimulating, while blue light has the opposite effect.
- Go beyond the traditional stage design by styling the set with shapes and dimensional designs for more eye appeal.
Sound consultant Julian Treasure says sound affects us four ways: physiologically, psychologically, cognitively and behaviorally.
- A broad range of neural networks is engaged when we listen to music. Hearing live music can add staying power to the experience.
- An event “soundtrack” can be as simple as music to set the tone at the walk-in to a more elaborate sound-based exercise like having the entire group participate in a drum along.
- Publish an event playlist that allows attendees to take the experience home with them – and relive their favorite moments.
Beyond the traditional items like furniture, linens, seating and more, encourage interaction on other levels too.
- Whether it’s cooking together or working on a CSR-related project like packing school backpacks, personal hygiene kits or baby-care bags, get attendees involved hands-on.
- STEAM or art-based activities like a maker space for tinkering and building or interactive paint lounges creatively invoke the sense of touch.
Taste isn’t just about great tasting food – though of course, that’s important too. Fully invoking the sense of taste is also about how you integrate food into the event itself.
- Serve up unique and complimentary food and wine combinations.
- An edible garden not only incorporates the senses of sight, touch, and smell but sampling freshly picked salads provide a unique first-course experience.
According to the Scent Marketing Institute, “smell is the only one of our five senses that goes directly into the limbic system of our brain…where our emotions are housed and where our associative learning and memory is housed.”
- Aromas contribute to a more immersive and enriching event experience. Add a subtle scent to your event that supports the overall design and experience. Lemon increases concentration, lavender and orange help reduce anxiety and vanilla is relaxing.
Stimulating all senses simultaneously creates more immersive and memorable events.
Click here to explore and learn how AllSeated brings the visualization of events to new levels with our operational tools and virtual reality technology.