7 Ideas for Better Event Navigation

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The art of efficient event navigation – directing attendees and helping them get where they need to go – can make or break an event. If navigation planning is lacking or left to the last minute, attendees may arrive late or end up with a less-than-ideal experience.


Here are seven ideas for improving your event navigation:


1. Pare Down Info to Only the Essentials. Whether it’s printed directions from the airport to the event venue or onsite signage, determine what information is essential to attendees for event navigation—and limit your communications to that content. Long or complicated directions can overwhelm attendees. It also helps to break information down into digestible pieces, and post each piece where it will be encountered by attendees at the exact time and place they will need it.


For example, guide attendees from the entrance to the exhibit hall through a series of signs posted at each turn. Use easy-to-read fonts and bright colors to keep signage legible from a distance.


2. Walk the Route as an Attendee. Using the terms north, south, east and west in directions may confuse attendees. Use icons and visuals as much as possible to mark key locations, help people orient themselves and confirm they’re on the right path.


During site visits, walk all possible routes that attendees may take – both forward and in reverse. Document every location where signage is needed and note which way directions should be oriented.


3. Station Self-Service Kiosks in Remote Locations. In large, spread out venues, provide interactive kiosks to help guests know exactly where they are. The electronic nature of kiosks allows for fast and easy updates.


As an added bonus, kiosks help attendees drill down to specific information –very helpful when your event navigation includes a complex schedule with multiple tracks and sessions over several days.


4. Staff with Guides. Take event navigation a step further by stationing live guides in heavily trafficked areas. Guides can help attendees find their way and answer questions. Clothe guides in brightly-colored or easily identifiable clothing to ensure they stand out from your attendees.


Invite your best brand ambassadors to serve as guides and be the human face of your event. Attendees’ interactions with these individuals set the tone for the rest of their event experience.


5. Build a Map in your Event Mobile App. With most attendees attached to their mobile devices, there’s no better way to improve navigation than with a map in your mobile app.


Aside from using GPS to help attendees find their location in a large venue, you can push real-time location or schedule change notifications out to attendees as they happen.


6. Use Color and Textures. Like the yellow-brick road in “The Wizard of Oz,” use color, texture and even lighting to create physical walkways that direct attendees through your event. For example, Atmel used an orange walkway down the center of its exhibit to draw people in and guide them to distinct zones. adidas used a cleverly designed runway to wind attendees through its entire 14,000 square foot exhibit experience.


In outdoor venues, sand, crushed stone or grass can also be used as pathways. Work with your experience designer to ensure any physical elements used comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.


7. Create Visual Beacons. Mount your visual navigation aids and signage where people will be most likely to see them—high overhead if they’re meant to be viewed from a distance or at eye-level for visibility at closer range. On digital billboards, add interest by mixing images, graphics or video with your information (see #1 above). Keep all visuals consistent in design and style.


A central highlight to draw people in -- like the fully functional pharmacy store in the center ofMcKesson’s largest annual tradeshow conference floor – can also serve as a visual beacon that intuitively lets attendees know where to go.


Making wayfinding planning a priority ensures you create a positive attendee experience.


Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.