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Events industry not using sensory experiences to their full potential, according to new study

Just 27 per cent of event professionals believe the five senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are being used effectively by the industry, according to new research from London & Partners, the official convention bureau for London, and CWT Meetings & Events, the award-winning global meetings and events agency.

Despite this small number, the survey of more than 600 event organisers reveals that 78 per cent believe multi-sensory events deliver more memorable and creative experiences for event attendees, while 42 per cent say sensory activations can also help events stand out from the competition. The study released at IMEX America today and ahead of IBTM World next month, shows that over three-quarters of those surveyed agree that the senses should be increasingly incorporated into events in order to deliver greater engagement among attendees.  

The research also reveals that less than a quarter (23 per cent) of the planners surveyed feel pressured to bring the senses to life for their events, with the majority (57 per cent) saying they are happy with the status quo. When asked what is stopping them from delivering sensory-led experiences, the top three responses were not having the budgets required (43 per cent), lack of time (26 per cent) and difficulties finding sensory content suitable for their clients or events (24 per cent).  

Tracy Halliwell MBE, Director of Business Tourism and Major Events at London & Partners, said: “It’s clear that the industry can do more to fully embrace sensory experiences in order to deliver unforgettable experiences for event goers. In a world full of distractions the events world needs to be more creative in its approach and not stick with the status quo because it is easier to achieve. Our senses are the cornerstone of our experiences and by producing events that incorporate sight, sound, smell, taste and touch effectively, the messages conveyed to delegates at conferences, meetings and tradeshows will become much more memorable and impactful.”  

Thierry Duguet, CWT Meetings & Events’ Global Marketing Director agreed: “As a global agency, we want to make all our events as memorable and engaging as possible – it’s not simply about delivering messages anymore - it’s about making the audience ‘feel’. The findings of this study are fascinating, and we believe that we need to educate our clients in the benefits of using sensory experiences. By combining the sense with the latest technology and the right KPIs, which can measure the value of engagement, we will show the power of experiential events.”  

When asked which of the senses is being used most effectively by the MICE world, three-quarters selected sight, while the senses of smell and touch were identified as being poorly integrated into events.  

Of the event professionals who have successfully incorporated sensory activities into their events, 42 per cent said they have used light activations such as projections and visual illusions, while a third have featured culinary experiences to stimulate taste and sight.  

Halliwell added: “In London you’ll find some of the world’s most talented and creative event production and design companies that can deliver dynamic, truly memorable events. The city leads the way in the delivery of innovative meetings and events which use the power of the senses to give event attendees unforgettable experiences.”  

Chetan Shah, CEO & Founder of MICEBOOK.com, the relationship management tool for event planners, added: “Time pressure and a lack of understanding of how the multi-sensory approach can help deliver event objectives is a barrier to adopting these powerful engagement tools. With attention spans getting shorter, multi-sensory activations can be the differentiator that ensures event are memorable and deliver strong return on objective.”  

Visit London & Partners at booth 2416 at IMEX Las Vegas or stand G10 at IBTM World in Barcelona to explore our interactive senses gallery and find out how you can transform your events in London with multi-sensory experiences.

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