5 Ways to Gamify Your Event (Backed By Research)

5 Ways to Gamify Your Event (Backed By Research)

Have you experienced events with lucky draws before? They can teach us a surprising amount about gamification in events.

In Singapore where we are based, events with lucky draws are pretty common. Attendees learn about the lucky draw when they enter the event and are given a ticket to take part in the lucky draw.

Winners and their prizes are determined by drawing lots giving everyone a fair chance to win. Lucky draws let everyone compete just by participating and let everyone see both the winners and their prizes.

With how effective this is, event planners always put the lucky draw at the end of the event to get people to stay, which works.

Image from Guocoland’s first virtual lucky draw. Source.

People usually stick around to the end to win something. With that, we can briefly review the research into event gamification.

What Does the Research Say About Event Gamification?

Gamification has existed for some time, but only in recent years have we seen keen interest in it in business, education and large-scale events. 

It uses techniques usually associated with games in non-gaming contexts by focusing on qualities such as enjoyment, emotional commitment, and engagement. 

To further explore the 'science of gamification', we refer to the article “The Business Value of Gamification” where the authors analysed the connection between gamification, business success and customer retention. The authors found that virtualisation, social comparison, and tangible rewards are various pathways to success. This is why games like scavenger hunts and lucky draws are still popular in events today.

Sisson and Whalen’s “Exploratory study on the perceptions of event gamification on positive behavioural outcomes” explored the following components of event gamification:

  • Self-determination theory and the need for belonging -

    • Belongingness or relatedness motivation - humans’ need for socialising is as essential as food or shelter. Events are one way to fulfill this need.

    • Self-determination or intrinsic motivation - humans are naturally curious and want to experience new things. Internal or intrinsic motivators also drive long-term engagement in an activity.

    • Being able to experience something together with others can lead to connectedness and intrinsic motivation, which games can provide during events.

  • Engagement - research has shown that games in classroom environments increased engagement and were positively received by participants due to an increase in socialization in the environment.

  • Perceived value of the game - Sisson and Whalen’s literature review mentioned perceived value has functional, emotional and social dimensions.

    • Social - interactions and interactive experiences with one another

    • Emotions - aroused feelings, including excitement, entertainment and escape

    • Functional - quality and reliability of the game and event

As participants are involved in creating this value, marketing the game and the rewards to them before it begins could increase their perceived value of the game.

  • Willingness to participate— Event organizers need to motivate participants to play to increase the number of participants. Participating in these events is becoming easier with the arrival of easy-to-install mobile applications.

    If properly designed, games at events help participants achieve their goals, which improves their perception of the event’s value.

    The higher the participant’s perceived value of the event from a financial and emotional investment standpoint, the higher their satisfaction and the higher their willingness to participate in event games.

Sisson and Whalen’s study aimed to see the relationships of all the above elements in a few games while tracking participants' willingness to share about the event via word-of-mouth. 

Their study found that making people feel connected and committed emotionally to a conference can make them think the conference and any games at the conference are more valuable.

If you're planning a conference, you should consider using games and good marketing of both the event and the game to excite and engage people before the event starts to increase participants’ perceived value of the game and your event.

Games at conferences can help people interact and have fun together. For example, you could have prizes or trivia games. It doesn't matter if the games are for individuals or teams, as long as they're enjoyable and easy to understand.

Ensuring the games don't distract from the conference's primary goals is essential. Instead, games should add to the overall experience and make people feel more connected to each other.

Using games and good marketing, event planners can make attendees see the event as more valuable and earn word-of-mouth publicity from attendees. This can help make the conference more successful and enjoyable for everyone.

Our goal from day one has been to bring events to life be they small and cozy online events to large-scale conferences. Check out our event gamification page for examples of what we can do for you or click below to check out our pricing:

Examples of How Gamification Can Hit Event KPIs

As event planners, you have your hands full figuring out how to bring more value to your participants and sponsors. Fortunately, you can design many different games to hit some of your event KPIs like

  • Brand awareness: boost awareness of booths, sponsor or the event host

  • Engagement by participants: activity and event engagement as well as social media engagement

  • Networking: growing the network of event attendees

  • Education and content: growing their skills, knowledge and service or products they can try

  • Boosting value to sponsors: driving brand awareness, foot traffic and leads to their booths

  • Footfall management: preventing overcrowding of event booths and helping other booths gain foot traffic

'Telling' is one thing, but 'showing' is another. Here are some examples:

Scavenger Hunts

Create a scavenger hunt that leads participants to different booths or sponsors' locations. When it comes to scavenger hunts, the sky’s the limit in terms of what types of tasks you get your participants to do or where you send them.

This boosts brand awareness and footfall management as attendees explore the event space. Encourage social media posts by asking participants to share photos or clues with event hashtags. 

For example, the Ministry of Health Malaysia wanted people to visit the whole event space for their “Fun Walk”. Participants would receive a goodie bag for visiting every location and engaging with all the event’s content. 

They used a PlayTours scavenger hunt where participants would hunt for QR codes to scan, with clues to where the next QR code is as they progress.

We work on making the experience as seamless and fuss-free as possible using a no-install format. That way, people can just scan and join in within seconds of arriving at the event itself.

Once they’ve completed the hunt, the participants earn a digital completion certificate in the form of a QR code. This can be scanned by event facilitators to give the participants their well–deserved rewards. To find out more you can check out our full Ministry of Health Malaysia case study.

We’ve also got options to prevent overcrowding if you choose this option. PlayTours’ app allows you to randomise which booths players should visit first, helping to manage footfall and prevent overcrowding.

But why not involve your sponsors in the scavenger hunt as well? Apart from QR codes, you can set up hints, challenges, and quizzes to get participants to engage with your sponsor’s booths and content. 

The next game suggestion goes over this, too.

Interactive Quizzes and Gamified Booths

These quizzes can be used by event organisers or trade show booths themselves. Education and content is one of the main reasons for event attendance, and designing quizzes to help your participants engage with key educational takeaways is a good way to go.

You can host quizzes on your chosen scavenger hunt app or quiz app related to your events theme or industry. At your booth or event you can point out that quiz answers can be found in event material like fliers, banners, brochures, videos and the like to get participants to engage with them in a fun way.

Be sure to include questions about sponsors or participating trade show booths. This can help with their brand awareness and engagement. 

You can even involve your event speakers by requesting them to include quiz answers in their presentations and bringing attention to it during their time slot. But why stop at just engaging with your content when you and your sponsor can jazz up the quiz app too?

Apps like PlayTours give you tonnes of customisation options from the logos, background images, colours, fonts and even the start button such as what we see accenture did below:

We believe that variety is the spice of life. That’s why we’ve got almost every question and riddle type imaginable for the quizzes and tasks you can set up on PlayTours. 

The best part? You can see and test all these question types just by signing up for free.  Try them out today!

Networking Bingo and Photo Missions

As the research mentioned, socialising is as essential to us as breathing, so why not inject a bit of fun into event networking?

As part of your event game, you can create networking bingo cards with tasks like "exchange business cards with someone from a different industry" or "meet someone from a different country." 

If you’re using an event gamification app like PlayTours, you can get people to take photos with their target person and submit it to your facilitators for judging. People will be meeting one another, so why not use this as a highly interactive icebreaker?

This can be mixed with photo booths and social media walls, as discussed below.

Photo Booth or Social Media Wall

Some people we've met at trade shows and conferences use group selfies to help with networking. 

They’ll then share the photo to the smartphones of the people they’ve met to get their phone numbers, names and faces all in one place, so why not give them a place at the event to facilitate this?

You can set up a photo booth where attendees can take pictures with props related to the event or sponsors. You can even encourage them to share this on social media and have a social media wall at the event, encouraging attendees to share their experiences online and boosting your event’s brand awareness.

Leaderboard or Point System

Competition is natural in the world of business, so why should we let it be too different in events, trade shows or conferences?

Event gamification apps like PlayTours let you implement a live leaderboard for your event’s activity that you can broadcast to everyone. This encourages engagement and competition among attendees, boosting social media engagement as they share their progress and scores.

These are just 5 examples of what you can gamify your event with. If you’re looking for more you can check out our 10 other ways to gamify your event. But with all this app usage means that you’ve got data that you can make use of too.

Analysing Game Data and Showing Value 

If it can’t be measured, it doesn’t exist. And that’s especially true when you want to calculate results and return on investment.

While not all results can be broken down into monetary terms, some event gamification apps let you download the results of the games to uncover insights and event performance. 

If you’ve set up your PlayTours scavenger hunt where each booth has its own station and sets of tasks, you’ll see engagement levels at each booth by seeing how many teams finished each booth’s tasks. This tangible engagement data is valuable to booth sponsors.

You can view the overview of overall event engagement at the end of each session on PlayTours.

PlayTours’ game analytics screen shows how many teams attempted and finished each station’s tasks in PlayTours. If you set up each station as one booth, this can be used as booth engagement data. You can check this out by signing up for a free account.

Are you ready to take your event to the next level? 

By incorporating these gamification ideas into your event, you can create a more engaging and memorable experience for your attendees, boost brand awareness, and provide value to your sponsors.

PlayTours offers a seamless and fun way to gamify your event, whether it's a scavenger hunt, interactive quiz, or networking activities. Our app allows you to customize games to match your event's theme and goals, helping you hit multiple KPIs.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to create an event that attendees will remember long after it's over. Sign up for a free account with PlayTours today and start exploring the possibilities for your next event!

That's it! If you need help, do email us at hello@playtours.app