September 21, 2021 Captello

14 Ways Show Organizers Can Increase Attendee and Exhibitor Engagement at Live, Virtual, and Hybrid Events

We’ve been working with show organizers as they navigate changes in the events industry. We understand the challenges they face putting together live, virtual, and hybrid events. Many show organizers have different needs; however, when you search for the common thread across all organizers, we found engagement to be the number one need. The other need is creating additional revenue streams (see our other blog post titled “15 Ways Show Organizers Can Create New Revenue Streams at Live, Virtual, and Hybrid Events”). 

If you’re a show organizer reading this article, you’re in the right place! We decided to consolidate the top 14 ways show organizers can increase engagement with attendees and exhibitors. Here’s the list:

1. Digital treasure hunt

In the “olden days” show organizers would hand out physical, paper cards that attendees would bring with them as they searched for key items throughout the event. When they found an item, a staff member would use a rubber stamp to stamp the card. When the attendee filled in the entire card, they’d return the card to the front desk to claim their prize. Modern technology has eliminated the need for paper. Now, attendees use their mobile phone to scan QR codes, reducing reliance on resources required to staff the station and the use of raw materials. Attendees can traverse the event floor or virtually hosted environment to find the treasure hunt items. When found, the attendee scans the QR code on their phone, receives points, then proceeds to search for the next item until all items are discovered.

2. Exhibitor tour 

This concept is similar to the digital treasure hunt; however, exhibitors are the treasure. When we attended ExhibitorLive, our main event, it was interesting to see their “Tech Tours”. As an exhibitor, we paid $1,500 to be part of the tech tour. Exhibitors would pay a premium to be a stop on the tour. A QR code posted in their booth could have a uniquely branded message or look on the QR code, indicating the stop number on the tour. For example, there might be a total of 10 stops on the tour, one for each exhibitor, and the signage with QR code represents “Stop #2” on the tour.

3. Experience getaway

Waypoints (stylized QR codes) represent a way to get attendees to do what you want them to. This might include a visit to a specific location, downloading a brochure, a conversation with a particular representative, attending a presentation…just about anything you can imagine. Consider having pavilions or zones at your event. To get your attendee to visit all the pavilions/zones, use Waypoints!

4. Speaker polls

With all your educational sessions, keynote speakers, or anything similar consider having a poll / survey for your attendees. Speakers, or an assistant to the speaker, can control what questions are asked and when they are displayed. The audience can launch the questions via a QR code and view / answer the questions on their personal device. Data is collected on the backend to give show organizers a better understanding of what the audience thinks of whatever it is that is being presented.

5. Live photo booth

Show organizers can present a photo booth at live events running in a few modes. The photo booth can be launched on an attendee’s personal device from a branded QR code, or displayed in the lobby on a physical device. A customizable Gallery can be displayed on a computer screen or on the wall using a TV or projector.

6. Virtual photo booth

Similar to the live experience, a photo booth used on a virtual platform can work in combination with a live event (hybrid events). The photo booth can be embedded in a virtual event platform, such as Bizzabo, Swoogo, etc. or accessed via a customized QR code (for mobile). Using the attendee’s web browser or mobile device, their photo can be posted to a Gallery, which they can share with friends and team members.

7. Touchless attendee gamification using QR codes

In an environment where safety is a concern, games can be launched via customized QR codes spread out throughout the live or virtual event. Instead of hauling hardware with you, attendees can play games on their mobile device.

8. Educational opportunities

Trivia and Quetrix (spin off of “Jeopardy”), among other games, present great educational opportunities for show organizers. Attendees engage with these activations by being challenged with questions that can also deliver specific messages about your event.

9. Participation awards

Encourage attendee participation on initial attendance or at individual sessions. The more sessions an attendee joins, the more “points” they get, resulting in higher participation levels and a chance to be atop the leaderboard.

10. Digital prize drawings

The various types of attendee engagement that we’ve alluded to above can be scored using points. Points can be rolled up into a master leaderboard. Winners can be selected at the end of the day or at the end of the event. Winners can be rewarded with digital gift cards. I like to think about this like an online shopping spree. For example, if the first place winner (the attendee who was the most engaged) won $500, then they can spend the $500 across more than 150 brands such as Nike, Dunkin’, Airbnb and many more.

11. Fundraiser for charity

Many events enjoy raising money for charity… and why not? It’s all for a good cause! Attendees like to be part of these giving opportunities, and it often serves as a breath of fresh air outside of the pandemonia of the event.

12. Casino-based networking event

Use a suite of casino games, such as roulette, spin to win, three cups, blackjack, roll doubles, and more to create a unique experience that like-minded attendees can participate in. Create a leaderboard dedicated only to this experience to connect attendees to others with similar interests.

13. Hold team competitions

Break audiences into groups or use companies to automatically create teams. Companies and groups can compete against each other for a chance to be placed atop the leaderboard.

14. Clue

Use Waypoints with tips to create a game based on clues. Who killed who? With where, and what? Waypoints support the clues as each attendee scans the Waypoint and receives a clue for where they should look next.

If you’re a show organizer looking for ideas to increase engagement at your event, let us know! We’re happy to ideate with you to increase engagement at your next event.


To see how Captello’s growing library of digital activations (games), universal lead capture, and reward-based solutions can help your company generate more leads at your trade shows, contact us today!

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