New study shows industry not using sensory experiences to full potential

A majority of events professionals say the senses need to be better incorporated into events to deliver increased engagement, yet just over a quarter believe the five senses are currently being used effectively by the industry.

The results come from new research from London & Partners, the official convention bureau for London, and global agency CWT Meetings & Events. They surveyed 600 event organisers for their study.

According to the survey, released at IMEX America 13 October, just 27% of event professionals believe the five senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are being used effectively by the industry, yet 78% believe multi-sensory events deliver more memorable and creative experiences for event attendees, while 42% say sensory activations can also help events stand out from the competition.

The research also reveals that less than a quarter (23%) of the planners surveyed feel pressured to bring the senses to life for their events, with the majority (57%) saying they are happy with the status quo.

When asked what is stopping them from delivering sensory-led experiences, the top three responses were not having the budgets required (43%), lack of time (26%) and difficulties finding sensory content suitable for their clients or events (24%).

Tracy Halliwell MBE, director of business tourism and major events at London & Partners, said: “It’s clear that the industry can do more to fully embrace sensory experiences in order to deliver unforgettable experiences for event goers. In a world full of distractions the events world needs to be more creative in its approach and not stick with the status quo because it is easier to achieve. Our senses are the cornerstone of our experiences and by producing events that incorporate sight, sound, smell, taste and touch effectively, the messages conveyed to delegates at conferences, meetings and tradeshows will become much more memorable and impactful.”

Thierry Duguet, CWT Meetings & Events’ Global marketing director said events were “not simply about delivering messages anymore – it’s about making the audience ‘feel’.

“The findings of this study are fascinating, and we believe that we need to educate our clients in the benefits of using sensory experiences. By combining the sense with the latest technology and the right KPIs, which can measure the value of engagement, we will show the power of experiential events.”

When asked which of the senses is being used most effectively by the MICE world, three-quarters of those surveyed selected sight, while the senses of smell and touch were identified as being poorly integrated into events.

Of the event professionals who have successfully incorporated sensory activities into their events, 42% said they have used light activations such as projections and visual illusions, while a third have featured culinary experiences to stimulate taste and sight.

Halliwell added: “In London you’ll find some of the world’s most talented and creative event production and design companies that can deliver dynamic, truly memorable events. The city leads the way in the delivery of innovative meetings and events which use the power of the senses to give event attendees unforgettable experiences.”

Chetan Shah, CEO & Founder of, the relationship management tool for event planners, added: “Time pressure and a lack of understanding of how the multi-sensory approach can help deliver event objectives is a barrier to adopting these powerful engagement tools. With attention spans getting shorter, multi-sensory activations can be the differentiator that ensures event are memorable and deliver strong return on objective.”

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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