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What is immersive event technology? Imagine stepping outside a conference: You’re greeted with ambient wilderness sounds and surrounded by natural trees, woodland creatures, and even a small mountain range — but inside four walls.

This is what immersive event technology can sound, look, and feel like. Immersive touchpoints put a person into a life-like environment. The moments these types of executions create are not easily forgettable for the person experiencing them. If you want to have a memorable event and one that leaves a lasting impact on your brand, immersion is a great way to accomplish that.

This 40,000-square-foot multi-sensory experience “campground,” spoken of above, which Salesforce brought to life at the 2018 Dreamforce Expo, is the definition of an immersive, experiential event. In recent years, brands have begun creating immersive experiences for customers in an effort to build human connections — and drive to robust bottom lines.

And attendees want more human connection, whether that’s through in-person conversations or shared experiences. That’s why, at Bluewater, we believe in deploying “immersive touchpoints” — opportunities similar to that of Salesforce’s, for audiences to use their own sensory perception and creativity to experience an event in a unique way.

Ultimately, immersive touchpoints — which build and enhance live, experiential marketing events — help create a community around a shared experience. Check out these five examples of immersive touchpoints in event design and consider how they could take your event to the next level.

1.Social Media Moments

You can’t just put interesting things in front of people and expect attendees to post about them. If you want your event to trend, you need to make interacting with and sharing your creations part of the attendee experience. Immersive event technology needs a call to action most of the time and leveraging a complementary social media activation is a great way to force attendees to engage or at least encourage them.

For example, at the Essence Festival, Walmart placed a plush, blue velvet throne in front of an LED wall that displayed the hashtag #ReignItOn. Women of color took to the throne — even donning a special crown for the event — and posed like a queen for quite the Instagram-worthy moment. This space supported the theme of the event while drawing a crowd to Walmart’s station.

Other social media channels, like Instagram Stories and Snapchat, have made user videos as popular as photos. Put moments at your event into motion with engaging experiences like eye-catching lighting and digital backdrops that encourage viewers to share unique videos and content. Events are the perfect place to activate, engage and create content that can live on far beyond the day or days of the event itself.

2.Interactive Projection Mapping

Projection mapping takes real-life objects or settings — think a building layout or an ocean scene — and, without distortion, projects them onto four walls for an ultimate immersive experience.

Some brands are taking it a step further by making the projections interactive. Tech design company Tellart pulled this off at London’s V&A Museum with a projection-mapped table that transformed a large sandpit into an interactive landscape full of valleys, mountains, and lakes.

Audiences love when settings come to life through the magic of projection — especially when they’re the ones bringing them to life. Let the audience use their phones to contribute to the show, or construct stations where passersby can control the action you’re projecting.

By putting control of the mixed reality images in the hands of viewers, you can transform a pretty picture into an incredible interactive experience of light and immersion. The more input viewers have, the more engaged they feel.

3. Creative Scenic Design

Staging is due for an update and is the perfect place for immersive technology to be inserted. The standard stage is old and boring, especially when we have many better ways to set the scene, like separate platforms, curtains, and lights that add depth — possibilities abound.

Custom scenic elements, like massive high-resolution displays or stages that include the audience, break down traditional boundaries and boost engagement. If you feel creative (and if you have the logistical strength to pull it off), you can even spread touchpoints throughout a city, turning an entire metro area into a stage filled with excited players.

The best part? Great stages don’t have to be expensive. At Bluewater, we recently worked with a utility company that sought to make a smaller event more memorable and intimate: A little creativity with stage design went a long way. The event was intended to be a fireside chat, so a cozy backyard was the perfect setting. We added green carpet over the stage deck, a full LED wall backdrop, and a garden shed on stage for presenters to enter from. The content on the screen was a colorful backyard that transitioned from day to night.

4. Direct Participation

When you want the audience to engage with the event, ask. Direct participation means inviting the audience to try something new. And most people are willing to try it.

This is why I love “brain dating.” It’s like speed dating for businesses — but an incredible, tech-fueled version. The first time I tried it, I had so many great conversations that I spent all my free time at the event chatting with more strangers.

Again, you don’t need a big budget to ask audiences to engage. For example, gamification, game show formats, and interactive event spaces are always a hit. Invite people to join the fun, and they’ll happily climb aboard.

5. Bespoke Activations

Everyone loves extraordinary experiences, but people really love once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Fear of missing out is a powerful motivator, so if you create immersive experiences that audiences will never see again, prepare for big crowds.

Take inspiration from brands like Bud Light, which invited attendees to participate in a real-life Pac-Man experience for a Super Bowl ad. Another example: to promote its new Boost technology, we worked with Adidas to create a pop-up experience that traveled the country. Attendees could try on shoes, play games, and take unique photos. And once it was gone, it was gone forever — only the social shares and product buzz remained.

These immersive touchpoints can be as elaborate or simple as you need. Audiences love gorgeous displays of new digital technology like augmented reality worlds or virtual reality headsets, but they love laughing with strangers and playing simple games, too. Give them what they want by putting the action in their hands.

Want to discuss how you can add immersive event technology to your next event? Contact us now to learn how your events or brand experiences can take advantage of the immersive experiences that Bluewater specializes in.

Originally written by Bluewater Managing partner Scott Schoeneberger and published by Eventbrite. Edited by: Jonathan Welzel & Bluewater on 5/26/23