Meeting planner Lee Anne Orange is serious about games - specifically mobile geolocation game apps. These game apps have the potential to generate revenue and enhance the experience of participants at conferences and trade shows, says Orange.
Orange is special projects manager for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). At the most recent IMTS last fall, she took a “shot in the dark” with a game app called SCVNGR. Outcome: Orange hit her mark, logging good results despite limited promotion.
Orange now believes social media games have the potential to drive revenues for IMTS, which attracts upwards of 80,000 attendees.
Orange was bitten by the social media bug in 2009. She established a presence for IMTS on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, then began looking for a geolocation app for the 2010 show.
She contacted SCVNGR, which provides a variety of options for businesses, and started small. “We sent potential attendees a short message about SCVNGR,” Orange said. “The app didn’t go live until before the show because you have to be there to use it.”
A sign was erected at the show’s registration area inviting delegates to upload the app, which worked on an iPhone or Android (the app was not yet available on a Blackberry). After uploading, “The first thing that popped up was a scavenger hunt specific to the show,” she said.
“We worked closely with the Chicago CVB to help us formulate the questions and challenges” included in the game, Orange told Travel Market Report. “The CVB had already completed other scavenger hunts for visitors to the city. They were also our liaison to SCVNGR, which turned out to be a huge help.”
About 50 delegates uploaded the app; Orange noted that IMTS attendees tend to be Blackberry users, which may have cut down on participation. Between 35 and 40 of the participating delegates actively used the app, taking part in a scavenger hunt that involved tasks in various locations throughout the trade show.
“We had an area called the Emerging Technology Center, where there was a tiny chess set that we had placed there,” Orange said. “The app had a trivia question about the center and the answer made it necessary to see the chess set.”
After players completed each task, they were given points. If they accumulated 20 points, they earned 20% off anything at the show store; 40 points gave them a 40% discount. The store sold shirts, water bottles, T-shirts and other merchandise with IMTS logos. Participants could also earn “badges” on their mobile device.
All told, there were 24 tasks in the game, some of which involved Tweeting from a specific location. Others included uploading pictures onto Flickr, the photo website.
The active SCVNGR participants collectively accomplished more than 250 tasks. Surprisingly, none asked for the discounts on merchandise - but they did want the badges on their mobile phones.
“We saw it as a huge success, considering that we did not promote it at all,” Orange said. “We did not engage exhibitors either, but just threw it out there.” Based on the initial success, “we are looking at taking it a lot further.”
Looking ahead to the 2012 IMTS show, “We will stay on top of this because these apps change and we will see what’s happening as we get closer,” Orange said. “We may ask exhibitors to sponsor tasks, and that is a potential source of significant revenue because it would add value for exhibitors and serve as a traffic builder for them.”
She added, “Our association is changing as younger members join, and these are the channels where young people live. These are the people who will be at our shows in the future, and we need to talk to them on the channels they prefer.”
SCVNGR: A game that “encourages players to go places, do challenges and earn rewards.”