Do you remember early ads for booking.com, the vacation travel hotel booking service? In those ads, their tagline, “booking.yeah!,”was coupled with a dramatization of a people walking into their ideal vacation rental and having a massively joyous emotional reaction. You would think that this level of positive reaction or the ”dot yeah!" effect achieved by booking.com, is something everyone in the event business would like their audiences to experience. But not all planners do or know how to do it.
Focus on the positive emotions that these two individuals are exhibiting from one of booking.com’s earliest ads. For the sake of this discussion, try to imagine these two people are not actors in a hotel ad. Instead, try to imagine them as attendees at one of your events.
If you can achieve this level of joy and positive connection, it means you hit the proverbial nail on the head. Your meeting content and/or experience design delivered an event beyond their expectations.
Even if your event just achieves momentary exhilaration, as a result, attendees are going to post like crazy and tell everyone they know (in your industry) just how great your event was. They will make it a point to check out other things you are doing, as well as increase the chances of returning next year. Essentially, eliciting this level of positive emotion is like money! Or put another way, it’s real currency for you to measure success.
But for some reason, not all event professionals are shooting for this level of emotional connection. Or they view creating a powerful connection via fun, to be way down on the list of ‘serious’ priorities for their next event. It’s not clear to me why designing for emotional impact isn’t the priority. In some cases, there’s a perception that serious content, like product demos for example, can’t be trifled with due to their importance to future profitability. If this is what you are thinking, please refer to the picture above one more time. Effective experience design can handle serious content while creating an overall event that surprises and delights.
Here are a few proof points to help anyone on the fence about how much to commit to designing for emotional impact at their next event.
91% of planners measure the success of their events on attendee satisfaction. 61% measure according to their specific event objectives and 60% determine results based on staying within budget. Since we’re talking about creating an emotional connection, it would seem at least 91% of all event managers should be interested in designing for maximum emotional impact. EventMB 100 Events Statistics 2022 Edition
Traditional Advertising is on the rise after years of decline to digital. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article published in April 22, one of the reasons CMO’s are rebalancing their marketing portfolios to include more spend on traditional ads, is because broadcast TV is a trusted medium and continues to offer an ideal platform for emotional storytelling.
Research further illustrates the power of emotional advertising. Fast Company reports that "in an analysis of the IPA dataBANK, which contains 1,400 case studies of successful advertising campaigns, campaigns with purely emotional content performed about twice as well (31% vs. 16%) as those with only rational content (and did a little better than those that mixed emotional and rational content)."
As you can see, data supports the case for embracing the pursuit of emotional impact, even above other important priorities. The reason being is that success is assured if your event garners a true emotional connection to your audience. And scale applies here as well. If you strive for, and achieve, massive emotional impact, you’ll receive an equally positive connection with your attendees. Poet Maya Angelou said, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
All audiences want to be thrilled, or at least made to laugh or cry, or make some emotional connection, even at corporate events. Make it your business to deliver it to them. If you add generating an emotional impact to the top of your event’s list of objectives, you won’t be sorry. Those of us in the business of designing events for emotional impact are ready to help you to thread the needle with serious content, and creating an event that your attendees will feel ".awesome!" about.
Footnote: Today booking.com has evolved its brand campaign to focus on being an authentic recreation travel partner (and authenticity is a good subject for another article).
By John Newcomb
John Newcomb is Executive Vice President, Creative Strategy at Velocity XD.
Velocity XD is a, full-service creative agency that designs award-winning experiential programs for corporate, trade association, and non-profit organizations. You can reach John at email@example.com