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New Roads to Success 2011
On two nights in September, one thousand truck parts dealers gathered (500 on each night) in a cavernous ballroom large enough to house four different entire semi trucks, a bus, 96 other truck parts exhibitors and 2 large prime rib and barbecue buffets.
All this required considerable expense in logistics, freight, displays, food, hotel and many other expenses.
The point of all of it was an investment designed to attract dealers and get them closer to purchasing parts from the exhibiting suppliers.
If you build it, will they come?
But even if I set up a lemonade stand, there's no guarantee that customers will visit, or even that they'll make a purchase if they do. Even if you build it, they might not come.
Even with sleek LED lighting, 3D animation on big screens, eye-catching polished aluminum, free candy and giveaways, getting dealers to stop, engage with sales staff and move closer to buying is a challenge. Those elements help with packaging an experience, but we still need to deliver valuable traffic to the exhibitor booth.
That's where gamification comes into play. Gamification taps into our inner desire to compete, rise above and be rewarded for our efforts. At this truck parts event, gamification exposed this powerful inner desire with exceptional results.
The game itself was simple: about 25 of the 100 parts suppliers exhibiting invested significant dollars for premium sponsorship recognition. Each premium supplier received an iPod Touch specially configured with Microsoft Tag Reader to scan the barcodes on each dealer-attendee's name tag.
Dealer-attendee's were given the challenge of a scavenger hunt (with helpful clues) to find and talk with each of the premium exhibitor sponsors to get their name tag barcode scanned. Every scan registered 10 points in the BoothTag game system, and when you achieved the maximum number of points, you were eligible to win some very nice prize packages. Prizes included an iPad, high-quality brand apparel and several gift cards with values of $100, $250 and $500. Those incentives carried strong appeal for these dealers!
Proof of engagement
The dealer-attendees took to this game in much the same way they rallied around their college football teams. Groups from the same dealership competed against other dealerships. Individuals competed against each other, returning frequently to peer at the big-screen leaderboard displaying the names of points leaders, and to look for their name in the scrolling list of up-to-the-moment scan activity.
- Where can I see how many points I have?
- How come I'm not on the leaderboard?
- Can *you* scan my name tag?
- How can I tell if I've hit all the right spots?
- What do I have to do to *win*?
Some played for fun. Some played because it was interesting technology, Some played for keeps. All played to win the prizes.
Features that got the game on
A few features were added to the game to make it more interesting - and have greater business value:
Bonus scan points could be earned by taking a survey rating the experience of the event. When word got out that you could earn extra points by taking a survey with a roving representative on an iPad, the survey reps were kept busy for a span of three hours straight.
Random selection of winners from the group of top points leaders, coupled with more than 25 different available prizes made sure that everyone felt included and had decent chance of winning something. The shouts of triumph and cheers as the prize winners were announced made it clear that all the attendees had a good time.
While everyone had a good time, the BoothTag game system was hard at work delivering value to exhibitors and the event producers.
The game construct with barcode scavenger hunt gave suppliers a steady stream of traffic. Attendees wanted a scan, and exhibitors provided a scan after talking with the dealer-attendees about their product and service offerings.
Delivering record of activity
Supplier-exhibitors will receive an Excel spreadsheet with name, company, contact information and time and date stamp for every person scanned at their booth. BoothTag integrated with the event registration data to make sure that activity records were complete and accurate. Exhibitors were relieved to know they wouldn't have to spend their evening entering business card information into a spreadsheet!
Measuring value provided to exhibitors
BoothTag's administrative dashboard displayed real-time information on total number of engaged attendees, total scans for the event, average and peak scans per attendee, average and peak scans per exhibitor, and more. With this information, the event producer could clearly demonstrate to premium sponsors the value of their investment in terms of volume of traffic over time.
Most dramatic was the amount of scanning that took place over the three hour event: roughly averaging 28 scans per minute. You might say that's more than one scan per participating exhibitor, per minute, isn't there a question of quality of traffic?
When you consider that each exhibitor maintained multiple booth staff to engage visitors in meaningful discussion, the volume becomes very valuable.
The game concept? Simple. Technology? Easy-to-use, responsive and feedback-rich. The incentives? Strong. The results? Business-valuable for attendees, exhibitors, and the event producer.
When you work with BoothTag, you get help managing all the elements and delivering on that lightning-strike of trade show event success.
Recently overheard: "We don't do lead retrieval."
Really? Aren't trade shows and conferences designed to capture as many leads as possible for sales force follow-up?
In this case, the overheard comment was made by a corporate events executive who, along with his staff, carefully structured their distributor trade show and conference to contain highly engaging attendee activities- all of which would deliver the contact information desired. The key to successful engagement lay in focusing on the mindset of the attendee, not the sales efforts of the exhibitor.
Constructing Engagement With Gamification
Gamification of events turns the tide in favor of the attendee. Where run-of-the-mill events sap the life from attendees in multi-hour blocks of aisle walking, gamification builds engagement and motivates attendees to play and energizes otherwise routine contact.
Let's look at the basics: Event producers and exhibitors spend hundreds and thousands on specialized lead capture systems with handheld devices and printed receipt rolls. Lead capture is initiated by the exhibitor, putting the attendee in a passive position. What action or investment could we possibly expect from a passive participant?
Gamification puts the attendee in control of their environment and builds engagement. A game integrated with a trade show or conference provides a landscape to explore in non-traditional, non-habitual ways.
When attendees are positively and actively engaged in activities that shift them out of their habitual comfort zone, they are more emotionally and intellectually available to engage with any number of opportunities exhibitors may have to offer.
- Scavenger/clue hunt
- Passport-style check-ins
- Points-accrual competition for incentives
In any game there are always those who will "play" the system and bend or work around the rules to get an edge on the competition. Established rules need to acknowledge and provide considerations to keep game play fair.
Best practices for games
Consider the needs of the three audiences who engage in the game. These could be selectively considered business objectives for your game:
- Easy-to-understand concept; don't make them think
- Incentives that hold real value
- Extended engagement toward a goal, instead of a single-instance participation
- Continual game feedback; show them their progress and activity
- Levels of achievement
- Record of activity
- Networking with fellow attendees
- It's as easy as doing ________ on your mobile phone
- Post-event resource value
- Deliverers of consistent attendee traffic
- Easy to understand
- Empowerment with tools
- Contact information of attendees, easily downloaded into Excel
- Record of activity
- Qualification of attendee level of interest
- Follow-up opportunities
- Extensible, exhibitor-driven engagement opportunities
- Integrate with event registration system or data
- Integrate with social networking system for attendees
- Easy to understand cost structure for distribution into event fees
- Mobile compatible or integrates with existing mobile app
- Double-duty as lead capture
- Generates a heightened sense of excitement, fun and buzz around event
- Post-event analytics that dig deep into attendee behavior trends
Case in point
At its recent Breakaway 2011 conference, IT certification non-profit CompTIA used BoothTag to generate heightened excitement, fun and engagement during its exhibitor trades how component.
BoothTag provided Microsoft Tags for each exhibitor booth. Each individual at the conference (including exhibitor staff) created personal game accounts in the BoothTag mobile web app, which simulatenously gave them their own personal Tag. Attendees scanned exhibitor Tags and other attendee Tags to gain points toward a very attractive set of prize packages.
With each scan, information about the exhibitor, including web links to documents, social networking sites and video, was displayed for the attendee. Also on each scan, attendee and exhibitor information was automatically exchanged, so that each had a time and date-stamped record with contact information of who they spoke with.
As points accrued, attendees won incremental achievement prizes on their way "to the top." A leaderboard prominently displayed the names of individuals with the most points accrued, the names of all individuals most recently scanning and connecting, and a Twitter stream with the event's hash tag and keywords.
All in all, the event was a success.
What they didn't expect
What was unexpected was the level of interest in the opportunities afforded by the BoothTag. With 100% exhibitor participation and 50% attendee participation (very strong for any engagement activity), a number of user-driven enhancements occurred:
Exhibitors downloaded their Tags from BoothTag's toolset and found ways to increase the prominence and availability of the Tags to attract attendees. They used everything from large, branded Tag signage to embroidered Tags on branded corporate apparel (think Tag on the sleeve of your polo shirt).
Attendees and exhibitors printed their Tags out and left copies in common areas for general scanning. Attendees found they could garner significant points by scanning the personal BoothTag barcodes of each other, which enhanced networking value.
CompTIA saw spikes in scan activity during seminars where BoothTag Tags were displayed on-screen and printed on tables-driving motivation to attend and engage not only on the exhibitor floor, but also in several hours of information-rich seminars.
- Combine an easy-to-understand, well-structured event game with a mobile web app foundation.
- Deliver properly focused targeted game feedback and activity information to attendees, exhibitors and event producers.
- Communicate about the game and its value to each target audience before, during and after the event.
- Inspire attendees, exhibitors with your event producer's enthusiasm for the game.
- Add liberal doses of enthusiasm throughout the event.
When all is said and done, you'll see and hear about an increased level of interest and exceeded expectations for your event.
Gamification. It leverages our desire to play and compete in order to generate higher levels of activity and interest. At CompTIA Breakaway 2011 in Washington, D.C ., BoothTag 'gamified' the traditional vendor expo at this premier education event for the IT channel.
Every conference breakout session, every attendee and every exhibitor booth registered received a Microsoft Tag mobile 2D barcode. Attendees used Tag Reader to scan barcodes displayed at each exhibitor booth. They also scanned each other's personal barcodes, displayed on their smartphone in the BoothTag app.
BoothTag staff were on hand to help those who needed to access hotel WiFi, complete BoothTag signup, or just become more familiar with their new smartphone.
For every scan of a barcode, whether displayed on presentation projection screens, on printed display in a booth, on a smartphone or on self-generated printouts, attendees gained points towards winning a prize. CompTIA smartly understood the value of providing attractive prizes attendees would be eager to win, and established a "Sweet 16" list. The top 16 point-leaders received prizes including Tumi luggage, an outdoor grill, an iPad 2, and many more. All attendees were eligible to receive recognition prizes as they racked up points during the game - making everyone a winner.
As the game progressed, everyone watched the two leaderboards prominently positioned in the vendor expo and charging-station lounge area, which displayed current activity, top points leaders, and a Tweet-stream of comments with the @CompTIA and #BKWY11 hashtag.
The result of the activity? The game did evoke its share of a few ultra-competitives. What was undeniable was the record-breaking level of overall scan activity - a grand total of 10,659 scans, in just over 2 days!
As the numbers mounted, some important trends emerged. While booth tags received the majority of scans, they were closely followed by person-to-person tag scans. This strong interpersonal interaction was a testament to the networking activity and value of the event.
After the game ended on day 2 of the conference and BoothTag staff were boarding the plane home, CompTIA texted to say: "All went well! Nice crowd around the prize center. Please thank Chad also, I didn't get a chance to thank him personally. Safe trip home!" Nice job, Chad.
For the record, high marks go to the entire CompTIA staff - they were exceptionally friendly, unfailingly professional and produced a conference that exuded class and value at every step. Thanks to all!
Score a gamification success for CompTIA Breakaway 2011, and big win for BoothTag too!
The BoothTag team is visiting our nation's capital early next week for the CompTIA Breakaway Conference taking place in Washington D.C. August 1-4.
The conference promises some exciting insight into the I.T. industry this year and estimates approximately 1100 I.T. professionals per day during the four day event.
Many of these tech savvy folks will be participating in BoothTag and competing for some really cool prizes!
Check out this fun video from CompTIA showcasing all the great stuff that competitive BoothTag-ING might win you!