What Exactly is an Experiential Event?

850 550 Next Level Event Design

The other day, like any typical professional, I was asked what I do for a living. My response was “Corporate Event Planner focusing on experiential events”. Then, of course, came the question of “what exactly is an experiential event”? This isn’t a new term and it gets thrown around a lot in our industry. As planners, we focus on the full experience and immersion in a culture, bringing a product or brand to life.

In my mind, there is a distinct separation of these types of projects versus standard events. Any event planner can put together an event that’s tasteful, hits all the expected marks, and stays on budget (ideally). But what if you don’t want to throw “just another” holiday party? What if you want your product launch to do more than simply showcase your company’s logo? What if you want to surprise your attendees with that wow-factor and have them be part of the event instead of just attending the event?

In that case, you need experiential event planning. (And as I mentioned, that’s exactly what we do!)

The experiential events we design are about creating a must-attend event that people will talk about for years to come. The goal of an experiential event is for your attendees’ expectations to be defied in a way that is both memorable and emotionally satisfying. We really strive to hit all the senses that make a lasting impression.

Beyond the logistics, budgeting, and planning, the real trick of crafting experiential events for companies and brands is gaining an understanding of the company’s unique personality and bringing those individual qualities to life in an unforgettable event.

Designing Moments that are true to a Company’s Brand

When we partnered with one particular creative organization to produce experiential events, we helped bring their fun vision to life. Elements we have used range from a punk marching band performance, Beetlejuice’s Attic, desserts delivered by hot air balloons and flame dancers for an element of surprise. All of these features allowed attendees to participate in the events, making them part of the experience rather than bystanders simply watching the event unfold.

Of course, hot air balloons aren’t appropriate for every company and wouldn’t fit all cultures. The most important aspect of designing an experiential event is sculpting the event defined by the wants and tastes of the intended audience. The event, whatever it may be, should be crafted to excite and engage everyone in attendance. Whether it be a large tech company, a blossoming non-profit, or a start-up business conference, we strive to give everyone that same feeling of awe. That goal often guides us in creating a wow factor which will have the most impact on their attendees.

Another fun collaboration we did with the University of Chicago, we constructed an elaborate space for a scientific research building opening on campus. We used different components throughout various scientific fields to highlight the incredible research that will happen in the building. By incorporating different decor pieces with a custom bar featuring the table of elements, a large chalk mural showcasing DNA double helix, and rock candy compounds – the event was inviting and exciting for all attendees, but catered to that specific clients taste.

At a building dedication for QTS Data Centers the focus was community, connection, and patriotism. To that request, a 40-foot American flag was revealed as a permanent installation while the National Anthem was performed. Afterward, a WWII veteran spoke in front of the flag about his time serving our country. The occasion was reverent, but also celebratory. This experience was quite different than the previous examples but definitely created a lasting impression for the guests and pulled some major heartstrings. Overall, mission accomplished!

Understanding the Client’s Needs and Creating Alignment

Experiential events are most successful when they are tailored to the client and their event goals. It’s not just about coming up with a fun experience and then matching that to a client. It’s about considering the client’s objectives, brand, attendees, and budget, and then creating a unique, unexpected experience that fits the bill.

Well-planned and executed experiential events can unify teams through bonding exercises, celebration, and shared experience. They help build brand awareness, strength, and loyalty, by putting your company in the spotlight. Events where you can engage your employees and/or customers by embracing your company culture, can help build a lasting relationship with everyone involved. Great experiential events leave attendees with a smile and a great story to tell their friends, but they also leave everyone involved with a strong impression of your company’s ideals, its values, and its identity.

To learn more about how Next Level Event Design can work with your company to create an engaging, memorable experiential event, please contact our team.