Associations used to be the exclusive providers of unique services and networking opportunities for their communities. But times have changed! Today, competition has grown, and audiences have evolved. Association members are getting younger and more technology-savvy than ever, with the possibility of accessing information and networking from their devices at any time. They no longer need to wait for the annual event to connect with their peers, learn or even receive their certification.
While the tendency might be to stick to what has already been tried and tested, this will not be enough to fulfil the needs and expectations of a more demanding audience. For this reason, associations are on the lookout for new ways to stand out among competitors and to rethink their value proposition.
To attract a wider multigenerational member-base, the key elements association events have to offer are more relevancy, content value, innovation and quality of the experience.
Festivalisation is the convergence of live user experiences and human-machine interfaces. Inspired by festivals’ success in attracting big crowds worldwide, this event trend has increased exponentially in the past few years. Associations have also started to recognise it as an effective way to engage with their communities.
Studies show that younger generations are prioritising experiences over material things. They seek meaningful and entertaining wow moments.
Festivals make the live event experience more complete. They create situations in which attendees can encounter and help build sustainable and fair relationships between participants and sponsors. Through a combination of a traditional approach and the unexpected, they encourage co-creation processes and trigger people’s feelings and emotions.
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With an average of 82,000 attendees, Campus Party is the largest global technology festival encompassing innovation, creativity, science, digital entertainment and entrepreneurship. The event was able to achieve this level of success by blending in the old and the new in its design:
Taking advantage of both the online and offline world, the event successfully combines experiences that speak to all generations and create spontaneous interactions between participants in unprecedented ways.
Like for many organisations, it is difficult for membership-driven associations to balance what worked in the past with what has to change in the future. If done right, festivalisation will promote engagement, drive conversations and create experiences that people will recall and share with others. And without knowing it, they will contribute to spreading the message and influence others through their own experience.