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Engaging the Five Senses in Your Next Conference


Think of all the utterly forgettable conferences you’ve attended. They all blend together in a single blur of less than spectacular food, difficult to follow presentations, and an overall sense of hurried planning. Finding the balance between affordability and memorability is the key to designing a great conference or event, but where should you look for inspiration?

Research has proven that engaging multiple senses at once is a great way to make an experience memorable. Consider the last time you went to the beach. Do you solely remember the sight or sound of the ocean? Probably not. It’s the whole experience that makes an event unforgettable: a salt breeze, that delicious meal you had, the crashing of waves, the smell of the ocean, and those sunset views.

So how do you apply that concept to planning a conference? The key is to engage as many senses as possible throughout the event. Sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing are each important in their own ways.

Sight is the easiest sense to appease when planning an event. The simplest way to do this is to choose an aesthetically pleasing venue with good lighting in the meeting spaces you’ll be using. Make sure the lights aren’t so dim or bright that your guests and speakers have difficulty seeing! Look for venues that offer professional assistance in designing table settings. The little touches like a simple centerpiece arrangement can completely change the way an event is perceived by guests.

Smell is perhaps the most neglected sense during event planning. The key here isn’t so much to try to make your event space smell a certain way, but to prevent sensory overload for your guests. If your table centerpieces are floral, make sure that the scent of the flowers you select isn’t overpowering. This is particularly important if you’ll be serving hot food. It’s harder to enjoy the taste of a great meal when you can’t smell it!

Taste might just be the single most important sense for conference attendees. Even if your event will be short, your guests will appreciate a light snack. If your event catered, take care to choose a caterer who prioritizes quality products. If your event is too short to need full-service catering, consider offering coffee, light refreshments, or even an edible centerpiece. Guests always enjoy having a bowl of candy as a centerpiece.

Touch isn’t a difficult sense to engage during event planning. In fact, it really only requires adding final touches to existing factors in your conference. Simply adding tablecloths and using china can take a lunch service to the next level, which your guests will appreciate because these small details add a sense of quality to their experience.

Hearing is the easiest sense to disengage during your event. Microphones that are too quiet can be just as frustrating to guests as those that are too loud. If there will be no speaker during your meal service, playing some quiet instrumental music can both add to the atmosphere and drown out the background chatter that can make hearing discussions around a table difficult to follow.

Don’t sell your guests short on the experience of your conference. Give them the full experience by paying attention to the details that can appeal to their senses and take the experience from average to extraordinary.
Here at the Conference Center at GTCC, we have dedicated event planners to help you identify opportunities to engage the senses and choose the best ways to make your guests’ experience outstanding, while keeping it affordable for you. Call us today to schedule a tour!

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