Pictured above: An underwater wonderland from the Mosaic Foundation’s Annual Benefit Dinner, which Linder managed and produced.
Events are powerful vessels for telling stories through awe-inspiring guest experiences. The power of an event often stems from a client’s mission to protect the environment, provide scholarships or educate a younger generation. However, that power can be further manifested through an event design that ignites all five senses of the attendees. Combining the elements of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch can impact guests on an emotional level, lingering in their hearts and minds long after they leave the venue. Having a multi-sensory event will ensure that your audience is fully immersed and present, resulting in an unforgettable event experience.
At the Event Innovation Forum in Los Angeles, Executive Creative Director of Multi Image Group, Barry Ross Rinehart, called upon his audience to at least “do the minimum” when it comes to event design. The “minimum” includes components such as comfortable seating, appropriate lighting and quality A/V effects. But the “minimum” isn’t necessarily memorable. Rinehart explained that an audience is at least 70% more likely to remember something if it activated three or more senses. When an event appeals to the maximum number of senses possible it establishes itself more fully in the mind and body of the attendee as something they have experienced. Below are some examples of sensory activations that Linder Global Events has been a part of designing and producing.
Touch: Often times décor is designed for aesthetic purposes, not necessarily for interaction, and therefore may be
expensive, fragile, or dangerous to interact with physically, by nature of their intended function. However, providing guests with a tactile experience can take the form of furniture, through its textures and level of comfort, as well as with hands-on activations such as games, interactive displays, or artwork – or both a display and artwork as exhibited by the mural wall featured at the Trust for the National Mall’s tent at the Landmark Music Festival (Pictured: Up and to the right). The sensation of touch can also take place via temperature. For example, holding a hot cup of coffee, smelling its aroma, and tasting the familiar bitterness can trigger feelings of comfort and trust, or perhaps energy and excitement for what’s to come. Consider your event goals and where these types of feelings might make sense in the story of your attendee’s experience.
Smell: Catering often supplies pleasant aromas that can fill an event space, but it is important to consider the olfactory stimulation even when food is not being served. Fresh floral arrangements are multi-dimensional sensory experiences in their own right because of their colors, textures, and smell. To the left is an example of a woodsy, fall centerpiece reminiscent of a camping trip, and to the right, a pail of s’mores ingredients summon the fun and sweet smells of a picnic or campfire. Both of these table settings played a role in triggering nostalgia in guests, and a fondness for the outdoors and national parks, which the National Parks Conservation Association works tirelessly to protect.
However, while a fresh bouquet may smell nice, it is not necessarily the defining point of an event. It is important to keep in mind the adverse effects of sensory activations, too. A pungent scent can leave a greater, negative impression on an attendee and distract from all other aspects of the event. It is critical to be equally as aware of offending the senses as you are of pleasing them.
This post was written in collaboration with Haley Alexson, a former Linder intern.
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