The Rules on Designing Experiences for Events

March 15, 2022 Susan Serena

It was only a few years ago that Event Planners in NYC were looking for a cure-all solution to enhance events. The most common advice was to deliver an experience to guests because everyone remembers how something, or someone made them feel.

When that became too common because everyone was trying to be a part of the “experience movement,” Event Planners in NYC started to focus on the fact that delivering experiences wasn’t offering the ROI that experts were claiming it would.

The truth of the matter is…

People are changing

Purpose and values drive decisions and behavior

Consumer behavior is event attendee behavior

Personal preferences are now openly expressed in professional settings

Designing Experiences at Events

We started talking about producing experiences about a decade ago. Since then, we’ve seen an incredible flood of experiences being offered at events. And why the heck not? After all, the guests are anticipating them.  Though, experiences will feel dull without including a larger context that makes them have substance. At times event experiences might feel a lot like watching cable TV. You have a plethora of options and yet it seems like there’s nothing to watch.

The reason a lot of Event Planners in NYC geared towards experiences was because they wanted to differentiate their contributions from other competitors, and the way to do that was to make their events more memorable. In the event planning world today, experiences are still quite a valuable part of how we design events, but now we ensure that they have meaning because if we don’t, our events will fall into the grouping of oversaturated events.

Event Planners in NYC need to do their best to avoid the dullness that exists in some experiences and find ways to make their events more meaningful. Here are some ways Event Planners can do that:

Understanding Your Audience Makes Designing Experiences Easier

Perhaps we are standing on the brink of change in events today. As eventprofs, we should be taking the structural needs and use live events to translate those organizational tasks into new behaviors.

So, what’s the best way to do that? Focus on the people.

True comprehension of who the audience is will be crucial to effectively designing experiences for events. If you don’t know who you are designing for, you will fail at the details that make this type of event so fascinating. Audience demographics is the sole influence on attendee identities. Event Planners use demographics to decide what the audience is going to want and how to structure those things. That means that Event Planners in NYC who want to create meaningful experiences must understand the dynamics at play which include:


A lot of Event Planners in NYC are worried about how their audience is transforming, and how this will influence the way they engage with at their events.  This is particularly a concern with the Baby Boomers reaching their departure from the workforce and Gen Xers and Millennials are going into the prime of their careers.

While we all know the common markers of this transformation, for some event pros this change has, or will, hit as hard as a tidal wave. Gratefully, this change is happening a bit slower. Still, the aging audience factor is heavily impacting the composition of the audience in addition to their concerns. Consequently, having a deeper understanding of how people are transforming on a professional and personal level, is vital to designing experiences that will attract and serve the audience on a deeper level.

However, age isn’t the only change.


This is affecting the “just what I need/want” among consumers, which is often referenced to as the cafeteria-plan orientation but is also relevant to the trends in customization. Andy Hines, who is the author of Consumershift: How Changing Values Are Reshaping the Consumer Landscape pointed out that people are basing their decision on two factors: “inner dimensions” or changes that are driven by foreseeable long-term shifts in standards and “outer dimensions” which is a reference to changes in our society, economy, technology, etc.

These developing needs are comprised of:

  • Authenticity: No one loves the marketing spin. Being authentic is an event marketing professional’s secret weapon in boosting attendance. As people develop a deep craving to know what’s going on behind the scenes of brands they’re interest in, events can fulfill this role.

INCORPORATING IT IN DESIGNING EXPERIENCES: This particular driver can be utilized in actions leading up to the event while also showing behind the scenes interviews and preparation with people behind it.

  • Anti-consumer: Experiences over other things. The anti-consumer movement which is causing people to place the value of experiences over all other things will provide the best framework to speak on what can be expected to happen at the event. The bottom line is, people crave to have experiences that are going to help them redefine their persona and that’s what Event Planners in NYC should aim to accomplish.

HOW TO USE IT: Design an experience that’s so unbelievable, no one can believe it. You may want to consider using an exclusive venue that offers VIP accommodations.

  • Self-expression: People don't only crave to find a deeper purpose in all they do, they also want to express it to others. Self-expression has inspired people to better themselves. Once they've accomplished that, they also feel the need to give back by sharing what they've learned with other people. The bonus with events is that they not only facilitate the actual learning, but they also offer the exchange as well.

TOOLS FOR USE: Pump up what people will gain and the way in which they’ll be able to connect to each other to boost registrations and returns.

  • Connection: When people feel out of control is pushes the craving to be a part of something bigger. That’s why Event Planners in NYC need to produce experiences that will satisfy this desire for connection that has become more poignant as people move away from affairs that are no longer fulfilling to them, like on social media.  People are becoming more connected than ever before, however, they lack the connections they really yearn for. People are more into networking at events that offer more time to connect.

KEEP IN MIND: Purpose and value boosts behaviors and decisions.

  • Enoughness: Sure, that’s not a real word but it is “a thing.” The up & coming trend of a more simplistic lifestyle, renting or borrowing what’s needed or only paying for what is wanted (example: consumers swapping cable for streaming – “give me only what I need.”) The last developing need is enoughness which is something that Event Planners need to find ways to deliver because it make things easier to understand more.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW: Complex agendas cause people to check out. Remove the white noise and the difficulty from every facet of the event.

If you’re an Event Planner in NYC who specializes in designing experiences, we’d love to hear from you! Contact us so we can discuss having you write a guest blog post that we can share with event pros who are looking to learn more about designing experiences.  


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