Americans are attending more live events than ever before. But while four out of five people in the U.S. attended an event last year, the demand for live experiences also means more competition.

So if you want your event to stand out, you need to offer attendees an engaging, interactive experience.

Get started — and inspired — with these 9 interactive event ideas worth trying.

Interactive event idea #1: Social photo booths

A century after the first selfie was taken, smartphones and social media have transformed the photograph into a cultural phenomenon. And thanks to social photo booths, your event can stay relevant in the age of Instagram.

Social photo booths make it easy for event-goers to take stills, videos, or GIFs, and share the images straight to their social media accounts.

Interactive event idea #2: Campfire session

A room full of people quietly listening to a speaker drone on doesn’t resonate with today’s event-goer. That’s why many events are turning to new speaking formats to satisfy attendees.

One such format is campfire sessions. These sessions are led by a facilitator who guides the discussion with one or more experts. Lasting about 30 minutes, these real-time conversations are more engaging and laid-back than formal presentations.

Interactive event idea #3: Interactive food and drink stations

Imagine the delight attendees will feel as they discover multiple interactive food and beverage stations dotted throughout your event. From a customizable champagne cocktail bar to a live stir-fry station to a wall of donuts, there’s plenty of creative ways to feed your attendees and wow them at the same time.

Unlike traditional catering options, interactive food and drink stations give attendees an opportunity to interact with one another. The connections they make can live beyond your event and improve attendee satisfaction.

Interactive event idea #4: Cirque show

Thanks to acts like Cirque du Soleil, circus performances have become an art form. And more recently, they’ve helped event creators add some mystique to their attendee experience.

Hire mimes and magicians to engage your attendees on the ground. Then let the death-defying acts of contortionists, acrobats, and aerial performers give them something to talk about and make it easier to break the ice when networking.

Interactive event idea #5: Cover band

Live performances give your attendees an opportunity to get up and groove to the music. If your event is using a decades theme, then hire a cover band (or if your budget allows it, the real band). Attendees will love being immersed in a throwback to their favorite songs and the energy will stay high, thanks to the live act.

Work with the band to develop a setlist that will meet or even exceed everyone’s expectation. And make sure they’re willing to engage your audience during the performance — that way their fully immersed in the experience.

Interactive event idea #6: Customizable swag stations

People love free stuff, but only if it’s actually something they want. Most giveaways end up in the trash can because they’re not useful. A customizable swag station is a surefire way to send them home with swag they’ll keep.

For example, a caricature artist who captures your attendees’ likeness is more likely to help them remember their experience than a branded fidget spinner.

Interactive event idea #7: Contests

A little friendly competition can liven up your event in no time. Some fun ideas include a scavenger hunt, caption contest, or even a pub-quiz-style trivia game focused on questions about your event’s focus or theme. Weave the contest into your event for maximum impact.

Consider using an app like Sli.do, which lets attendees answer from their smartphones and see their answers on a screen in real time.

Interactive event idea #8: Virtual and augmented reality

For years, many have predicted that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will be the next big things for events. But according to a recent survey, these technologies are poised for mass adoption in 2018.

Both technologies have become increasingly more affordable and allow attendees to test the limits of their imagination. A virtual skydiving simulator, for example, gives people the experience of skydiving without them leaving your event.

Interactive event idea #9: Responsive flooring

How often do people look down at the floor they’re walking on? It’s one of the most overlooked surfaces at an event venue. Use a responsive flooring at your event, such as LED, to interact with attendees in unusual and delightful ways. If LED floor tiles are beyond your budget, though, you can also consider using projection.

Offer a truly unforgettable event experience to attendees

When event creators decide to focus on their event experience, they often skip straight to the most glamorous elements — and fall behind on fundamentals. Make sure nothing fall through the cracks with The Director’s Guide to Event Experience. It will teach you how to truly forge a connection with your attendees.

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