Let the Gamification Begin!

We chat with MeetingPlay founder Joe Schwinger to find out how he uses gamification for meeting success.

Here on Meetings Imagined, we’ve talked a lot about how you can incorporate games into your event to make it one to remember. From icebreakers to brain boosters, there is plenty of opportunity for play. But stories of success are what we like best. So we sat down with Joe Schwinger, CEO of MeetingPlay, a mobile event app, to talk about how his digital gamification put meetings on the path to success. Here’s what we learned.

Q: First, give us a little background on what MeetingPlay does.

MeetingPlay is a full-service engagement-solutions provider. We build custom, technology-based solutions for every aspect of events and experiences. Our solutions include pre-event engagement and pre-event registration; dedicated on-site support during your event; mobile event apps that engage attendees before, during and after events; and post-event analytics.

Q: We heard you experienced success at the Marriott Association Masters Conference in Atlanta by creating a networking opportunity through gamification. Can you tell us more about that?

Utilizing the event app we built for the Masters event, we took a popular gamification experience we have used in the past — Bingo — and made it completely custom for this event. This custom approach to a traditional gamification ensured that the right attendees connected, optimizing event attendee experiences.

Q: Where did you get the idea to use Bingo?

And could another game have worked just as well? Using Bingo as a way to engage and connect event attendees has worked for many of our clients in the past. The previous success, combined with our specific Masters matchmaking/networking algorithm, made us confident that we would continue to see positive results for the Masters event. Other networking opportunities could have worked; however, gamification provides a twofold approach to event networking:  1.) MeetingPlay’s approach to Bingo allowed the right event attendees to engage with the right people , 2.) It encouraged event engagement before the event, during the event, as well as after the event. Bingo specifically was one of Masters attendees’ favorite parts of the mobile event app in the past, thus we built upon what had worked previously.

Q: Can you explain how this strategy helps with pre- and post-registration for an event?

Pre-registration gamification can be used as a way to attract more attendees to your event as well as leveraging engagement prior to the event. The awareness and engagement of an event can continue after the event with gamification as well. Pre-event gamification can be used as a way to incentivize and reward registrants to share the event, to participate in pre-event activities within the app, offering early session selection based on sharing the registration page with other friends or colleagues, etc. Continuing to offer opportunity and excitement through gamification after the event can encourage attendees to stay connected, to familiarize themselves with the next year event, and more.

Q: Is there any way to ensure that the event’s attendees will continue connecting after the meeting concludes?

One of the most common complaints meeting planners hear from event attendees is that the attendee had an amazing conversation with someone at the event, but they forgot to grab the other attendee’s business card or collect their information. The great thing about custom networking within MeetingPlay’s apps is that attendees are collecting this data prior to the event, and learning about the people that would be most beneficial to connect with prior to the event. Additionally, MeetingPlay’s app for the Masters event included QR badge scanning. This additional feature allowed attendees to scan each other’s badges, collecting their information for later retrieval.

What many meeting and event planners don’t realize is that gamification isn’t just incorporating games into events. Gamification can be rewarding or incentivizing attendees for an exchange of information.

Q: We know it works for networking events, but how would you recommend meeting planners incorporate gamification for other meeting purposes, such as brainstorming ideas and producing results?

One of our recent clients collected attendee responses to a simple question — “What is leadership?” — prior to their event. Event attendees answered the question with one-word responses within the event’s mobile app. At the event, the results were displayed in the keynote speaker’s presentation via a word cloud. Event attendees were rewarded for engaging with the brainstorming effort within the app prior to the event, with potential drawing winnings on-site. The meeting planning was able to utilize gamification to brainstorm session-related data and topics for the keynote speaker.

What many meeting and event planners don’t realize is that gamification isn’t just incorporating games into events. Gamification can be rewarding or incentivizing attendees for an exchange of information. With the exchange of information that meeting planners receive, they can align their conference or meeting goals and session content specifically around attendee thoughts and goals, similar to what our client did with their word-cloud integration.

Q: Finally, tell us one more of your best success stories.

Utilizing MeetingPlay’s polling feature, we were able to create a custom attendee engagement and networking icebreaker activity: “2 Truths & 1 Lie.” Taking a core feature from our event app and customizing it for this meeting-planners event, we were able to encourage attendee engagement as well as event-app adoption.

While, oftentimes- clients struggle with event app adoption, encouraging pre-event downloads (knowing that the event would require the event app from the beginning of the event), our client was able to achieve an extremely successful app-adoption rate.

Additionally, because the event began with an icebreaker networking activity, attendees continued to engage within the app throughout the entire event, as well as after the event—truly maximizing the networking connections they had made on site.