Gamification is the current shiny object for the meetings and events industry.
Why all the hype about gamification?
As the business sector is discovering, gamification has the power to
- Increase and improve customer engagement
- Build customer loyalty
- Incent customers to do specific things
Gamification is the use of game mechanics and game dynamics for non-game applications. It is also known as funware.
Gamification borrows key concepts from related areas including behavioral economics, community management, customer loyalty programs and game design.
When used in a conference or event context, it integrates game mechanics and dynamics into the event experience to drive attendee participation and engagement. Event organizers want to get attendees to participate, share and interact in some type of activity or community.
Game mechanics are the actions, behaviors and control mechanisms used to make an activity into a game. These are the traits that make the game challenging, fun, satisfying or whatever other emotion the game designers hope to evoke.
Game mechanics include
- Gifts and charity
- Virtual goods and spaces
Game mechanics are not new to the hospitality industry. Many different activities that people already use today incorporate game mechanics. And we usually do not even think of them as games.
Airlines have been using frequent flyer programs for years. Hotels and resorts use status programs to create loyal customers. Starbucks rewards customers with virtual points and badges via Foursquare.
Game dynamics are the compelling reasons, incentives and motivational nature of the experience. These factors drive us to play the game.
Game dynamics include
Fun, compelling and addictive games generate excitement and passion that incent the player’s experience. The competition can be solitary or against others.
Traditional redemption-focused loyalty programs focused on point systems that offered gifts or discounts in return for purchases. The rewards from these programs are based on customers burning what they earn.
Today, many savvy marketers realize they must differentiate themselves from the traditional redemption-focused loyalty programs. Using gamification, programs can increase their effectiveness by adding more intrinsic motivations to earn points. Playing the game becomes just as fun as winning. Adding leaderboards and staggered levels of achievement enhances the gaming aspect as people work towards a reward. And the right level of challenge tempered with achievement arouses and excites the brain.
It’s All About The Data
Ultimately, gamification is about tracking data that drives participation.
Playing The Game Of Life with a friend, every day for a week can get boring. If they started recording and displaying data–how many times each person won, how many times each person spun a specific number, how much money each winner had, how many children each player had–then the experience becomes more interesting.
These statistics create another level to game play and motivate people to keep playing. Even when the game may have become stale, each play becomes part of a larger game that creates a desire to make return visits. By capturing statistics, communicating everyone’s standing and rewarding accomplishments, game designers drive participation.
How can you integrate gamification into your conferences and events? What kind of event participation can you drive with gamification?