Having fun at an exhibition

Posted by
Barry Siskind
UFI’s Community Manager

The International Summer University is quickly approaching. ISU 2014 will be held from June 4 – 6 in Cologne. The theme this year is “Visitor Revolution – Targeting, Motivating and Satisfying the 21st Century Visitor.

Jan Wagner, Managing Director of Cliffhanger Production Games GmbH, will pose an interesting question –“Why isn’t it (an exhibition) more fun?” In our search for methods of engaging our visitors, the thought of games has been on top of some organizers minds. Yet, some organizers choose to ignore the power of having a bit of fun and keep their events focused on the serious issue of business. I am looking forward to hearing what Jan has to say about the use of games in exhibitions. To give you a preview of her remarks, I asked her a few questions.


From your perspective has there been a reluctance to include fun in exhibition planning and execution?


I don’t think fun is necessarily the primary part of the fair experience. Exhibitions try to impress or inform, but rarely really entertain in an interactive way. I think “games” or “fun” are usually thought of as a way of packaging the experience or attracting people rather than a means of communicating your brand or promoting your product.


Is there a risk that gamification can be thought of as trivializing important business issues? Is so, what can be done to mitigate these perceptions?


I think this is a fear in many people’s mind, because they equate games with a frivolous pastime. In fact, games are at the elementary level of learning. Learning how to play, how to be good, how to win are all learning steps and rewarding people for those steps makes the experience more enjoyable. With games you can basically make people behave according to patterns you designed. This is a very powerful tool as long as the game experience is in sync with the product and conveys information and rewards people for interacting with the product in a meaningful way. If not, your games are just one more unconnected experience that may be fun but does little to further your goal unless it is just to bring a few more people to your area.

There is a great line-up and speakers who will be focused on the theme of the visitor revolution. To see the entire agenda, click here:

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