London’s vibrant creative scene - and the incredible talent it attracts from all around the world - is one of our greatest success stories. And in recent years, that surge of creative energy has radically transformed how corporate events are designed and delivered in this city, leaving behind the old-school, stale, PowerPoint-led events and making way for a brave new wave of extremely immersive, interactive, multi-sensory events that create genuine buzz, engagement and excitement in attendees.
To fully understand how event planners can harness the senses to create more memorable experiences, we have gathered research from psychologists and neuroscientists, and talked to venues, agencies and events organisers in London who are embracing the power of smell, taste, touch, sight and sounds to create indelible experiences in immersive environments. We’ve presented our findings in this report, as well as a list of top tips, and best-practice case studies from those in the events industry who are using the senses to their maximum effect.
London’s got talent
It’s right here in London that you’ll find some of the world’s most talented and experienced event production and design companies that can deliver dynamic, truly memorable events that surpass your highest expectations. And when you add to that London’s rich and diverse supply of unique and spectacular venues, from the traditional to the downright quirky, you see why this city truly is the ultimate destination for exciting conferences, trade shows, incentives and meetings that produce lasting results in terms of participant engagement and business success.
A feast for all the senses
Anyone who sets foot in London immediately understands that this city is an absolute feast for the senses, from the sound of bustling activity in our open-air markets to the jaw-dropping view from The Shard; from the scent of freshly-cut grass in our parks, to the unforgettable treat for the taste buds that comes from an evening spent dining in Chinatown. But why should you pull out all the stops to make sure that your events stimulate as many of the senses as possible?
Don’t just take our word for it
Our senses are the cornerstone of our experiences; they are vivid, rich and immediate. In recent years, neuroscience and cognitive psychology research have uncovered the amazing power of our senses, and all of the evidence points to one conclusion: by harnessing the latest scientific understanding of how our senses work, meeting planners can create far more effective and engaging experiences. It’s nothing less than a completely new way of looking at human beings.
We are not thinking beings that feel; we are feeling beings that think.
Antonio Domasio, Professor of Neuroscience, University of California
It’s by appealing to the full range of feelings and senses of events participants, that you can greatly increase the chances of them learning what you want them to learn and remembering what they have learned. Through providing your participants with fully immersive experiences, incorporating sight, sound, smell, taste and touch, the messages conveyed to them at conferences, product launches, product presentations and so on become much more memorable.
This has been demonstrated by, among others, Charles Spence, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, whose research shows that all of the physiological and behavioural responses that result from a surprising or incongruous sensory experience help to increase memorability:
A sensory incongruity becomes a talking point, a focus on an idea through the senses. You are far more likely to remember something having discussed it at the time with someone else
Intuitively, this is right on the money. Our five senses act as biological learning portals, with all information and stimuli entering our brains through those doors. So the more of the brain that’s activated, the more easily learning occurs and the more likely we are to retain what we learned. Human brains crave unique multi-sensory experiences.
Read on to access case studies and tips from event professionals who are experimenting with senses in their events.