by Niru Desai | November 01, 2016

In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation,” which theorized that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that there is a hierarchy to those needs; when one need is fulfilled, a person seeks to fulfill the next one, and so on. Successfully meeting this series of escalating needs leads to an individual’s sense of personal fulfillment and enrichment—in short, it makes us happy!

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is highly applicable to event attendees as well. After all, it’s no surprise to learn that they, too, experience a series of needs during an event. These range from the desire for good guidance and value to the need to connect with peers and to play with brands, all in the hopes of eventually growing their careers or businesses. By catering to these needs, it’s possible to surpass attendees’ expectations and drive brand interaction and engagement to even higher levels.

Guidance. Within the hierarchy of attendee event needs, good guidance is the most pressing and immediate. Simply put, attendees must feel confident that they can find their way around and know where they are at all times. Fulfilling this need, therefore, is a fundamental requirement of successful event design. With proper guidance and information, attendees will feel self-assured and inspired rather than lost or frustrated at the possibility of missing out on something. Having a more relaxed frame of mind allows people time to focus, to enjoy the experience and to interact with the appropriate people. Helpful tools in the modern conference arena include smartphone apps and interactive maps as well as traditional face-to-face guides, innovative signposting and the use of vibrant colors to designate zones.

Value. Any event that aspires for greatness (read: growth) must be deemed as having good value by attendees, who will swiftly decide whether it’s worth their time to be there. Obviously, this is a subjective evaluation that can hinge on a number of factors, such as the cost of registration, the quality and variety of vendors present and the quality of food and entertainment. Organizers should create relevant, sharable experiences with attendees that offer real insight. Remember, value is an essential need that is often overlooked, so this is a category that can push your event forward if pulled off right.

Connection. Once the basic needs of guidance and value have been met, we can move on to more enjoyable, fruitful activities. It’s human nature to want to connect with other people and feel part of a group, and meetings provide exactly that—interaction with a community. A successful event will provide abundant areas for attendees to connect with one another. It will also take advantage of social media platforms to create conversations about meetings, live audience-generated discussions, celebrity interviews—in short, anything that encourages participation and discourse for an interested audience, whether they are actually present at the event or not.

Play Time. Once comfortable in their surroundings and among their peers, people seek to be recognized and respected as individuals in a community. And what better way to engage their competitive streak than playing with the brands on display and having some fun! By gamifying content using such interactive technologies as VR (virtual reality), brands can make an even more lasting impression on event attendees. But keep your focus: Emotional triggers should be playful, relevant concepts that are tied to the event or industry rather than disjointed activations added purely for entertainment.

The Gift of Growth. When an event has been an enjoyable experience for attendees, news will travel. Nowadays, attendees are keen on sharing their experience and passing on what they’ve learned. This not only helps them grow, both professionally and personally, but it also ensures the future growth of the event itself. In order to further facilitate such growth, make sure your event’s content is designed to be as shareable as possible. Social media is the perfect channel to keep things buzzing until you gear up for the event again next year, when it’s time to tweak and improve upon ways to meet all those essential attendee needs once again.