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How Experiential Meetings Are Redefining Connections for Teams

By: Inn at Virginia Tech / 22 Mar 2024

Think about a recent event you loved attending. What elements made it unforgettable?

We'd guess there were interactive elements that made it stand out. Are we right?

Perhaps it was the lively music, the fun of a photo booth, engaging games, or thrilling activities.

Maybe it was the allure of free samples, captivating demonstrations, or the excitement of a potential prize.

The reason this event remains etched in your memory is simple: you enjoyed yourself!

The fact of the matter is attendees are craving something more; they seek to be captivated, to interact deeply with the content and each other, rather than simply being fed information in one-directional streams.

The solution? Experiential meetings.

Through interactive sessions, hands-on activities, and immersive experiences, experiential meetings breathe life into what was once a static (some would say forgettable) affair.

Director of Sales and Marketing Lauran Dangler recently shared how adopting this strategy revitalizes attendee engagement and significantly enhances meetings' overall effectiveness and memorability.

Let's explore experiential meetings, why they're so popular, how to plan one, and some trends and takeaways.

Beyond the Basics: What Makes a Meeting Experiential?

At its core, an experiential meeting aims to immerse attendees in activities that are far from the mundane.

Lauran explains that these meetings are crafted to engage attendees actively, transforming them from passive listeners to active participants.

Experiential meetings are designed to energize attendees and enhance their memory retention, whether it's a unique general session presentation, an interactive coffee break, or an optional offsite event.

"It's all about giving attendees a platform to be involved, to partner with others, and share ideas, making the meeting an unforgettable experience," Lauran remarks.

The Driving Forces Behind Their Popularity

The shift towards experiential meetings can be attributed to various factors.

Younger attendees crave more dynamic and less traditional communication methods, a trend accelerated by the pandemic's push for in-person interactions after prolonged virtual engagements.

In the era of information overload, experiential meetings provide a refreshing respite.

"Our attention spans have evolved," Lauran observes, pointing out that traditional, lecture-heavy sessions no longer captivate audiences as they once did.

Venues and locations differentiate themselves by promoting unique activities and experiences, aligning with this growing demand for engaging and memorable meetings.

Tips for Crafting an Experiential Meeting

When planning an experiential meeting, understanding the overarching goal and your audience's preferences is crucial.

Lauran advises being creative, even when budget constraints exist, and suggests consulting with venues for potential activities that can make even a coffee break interactive.

"Focus on active participation," she emphasizes, highlighting the importance of involving attendees in ways that engage their senses and encourage movement.

Incorporating short, engaging activities into general sessions can also maintain momentum and keep attendees interested throughout the event.

Trends and Takeaways

Experiential meetings are not just a passing trend; they represent a significant shift in how we approach gatherings.

Lauran notes that volunteerism, wellness, and outdoor experiences are among the top trends, reflecting a broader desire for meetings that contribute to personal growth, community service, and connection with nature.

Culinary experiences that highlight local culture and specialties also play a vital role in creating memorable meetings.

Experiential meetings represent a transformative shift towards more engaging, unforgettable, and impactful gatherings.

As we move forward, the ability to innovate and create meaningful experiences will define the success of meetings and events.

By embracing the principles of active participation, creativity, and a deep understanding of attendee preferences, organizers can craft experiences that resonate long after the event concludes.

We would love to work with you to craft an engaging and inspiring meeting or event! Reach out to us here.

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