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4 Key Takeaways from Experiential Marketing Summit 2023

Event Marketer magazine held its 21st Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS) at the iconic Caesars Palace in Las Vegas from May 9-11, 2023. The annual thought-leadership event attracts B2B and B2C industry professionals from right across the globe, including Rhi Taylor, Creative Director at The Collective (BCD M&E’s brand experience agency), who is here to report back on all the action, insights, and trends.

Experiential Marketing Summit, Key Takeaways 1

From the Agency Forum Luncheon and Opening Reception on Tuesday, to the closing Big Poolside Recap on Thursday, a melting pot of more than 1,000 members in the event marketing community assembled to share experiences and to learn from peers – some traveling to Las Vegas from as far as Africa and Asia.

EMS 2023 was three days of non-stop conversation, inspirational keynotes, lunch-and-learns, interactive workshops, and networking breaks to refuel between sessions. The Hall of Ideas featured 60+ exhibitor booths and three theaters for breakouts. Interactive gaming, custom-branded apparel and food items, robotic caricature artists and human cubes promoting augmented reality were all the rage as attendees perused the tradeshow floor. 

Experiential Marketing Summit, Key Takeaways 2

With growth comes innovation and creativity – and there was no shortage of either at EMS 2023. Sessions embraced this year’s theme, Let’s Grow, and highlighted the growth and forward movement all event professionals experience as we emerge in a post-pandemic landscape. A silent disco-style listening experience allowed attendees to focus in on content while drowning out the surrounding buzz of the tradeshow floor.


Key Takeaways from Experiential Marketing Summit 2023

1. AI is not going anywhere

The need to adopt new technologies is more important than ever. A reoccurring topic during sessions was the rapid emergence of artificial intelligence tools and how they are poised to create efficiencies around experience design – allowing event professionals and creatives more time to focus on strategy. 

Anybody who’s even semi-concerned about it, dip your toe in it, get it, explore it, because what you’ll realize is that it still requires human creativity and innovation. It doesn’t do that part, which is the more proprietary part”, said panelist Keven Calabrese, AVP-Brand Design & Head of Experiential Creative at AT&T.

2. Impactful events create an exchange of energy

Keynote speaker Michael Barclay II, EVP-Experiential for Essence Ventures, reflected on the importance of the ‘energy exchange’ to deepen the event experience. He describes this exchange as the transfer or transformation of energy that occurs within an event, involving emotional, physical, social and sensory energy. “What is the passion point that we can connect with the customer?” Barclay asked – “That’s the exchange we’re looking for.”

One way to create an exchange of energy – tug on the emotional heartstrings with CSR. The Hype Agency Puppy Area was one of the most popular booths in the EMS Hall of Ideas. Attendees were invited to take a break from sessions and networking to rub noses with adorable canines from Michael’s Angel Paws, a local non-profit.


3. Build brand awareness with memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences

Keynote Brian Solis, the best-selling author of ‘X: The Experience When Business Meets Design’, opened the EMS General Session with an inspiring talk about creating next-generation customer experiences. When we boil it down, experiences are a person’s emotional interpretation of a moment – and that interpretation is reflected by their own expectations, self-interest and aspirations.

The most unique experience becomes a memory, and that memory becomes a story we tell ourselves about what has happened. 

4.The new KPI for events? Keep People Interested.

Humans remember two types of experiences: those that are wonderful and those that are terrible. Everything else is forgotten. “Give the audience what they don’t know they want” Solis said. “Giving the audience what they knew before is meeting expectations – and that’s forgettable”. 

Experiential Marketing Summit, Key Takeaways 3

Eating an ‘edible selfie’ cookie, for example, is not something I will be forgetting any time soon!


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Originally published May 28, 2023 6:26:06 AM
Last updated on May 30, 2023 10:02:00 AM

Written by Rhi Taylor


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