Most Innovative Meetings 2012: #10 Dell World

An experiment to engage attendees with gamification tactics at the computer company's user conference saw compelling results.

By Anna Sekula July 19, 2012, 2:45 AM EDT

Photo: Courtesy of Dell

Lauded for its active participation in social media—Dell has its own “university” that certifies employees to tweet, blog, and post on its behalf—it comes as no surprise that the first Dell World conference last year included an extensive integration of networking platforms. In addition to building a virtual site that linked users to activity feeds, forums, and contact information from others, the computer technology company looked to craft connections for attendees physically present at the two-day meeting in Austin, Texas, through social media.

What this meant was introducing activities based around the idea of gamification—that is, the concept of pursuing goals and anticipated rewards, much like how video games and sports function. It did present a risk for the planning team, as gaming strategies are something typically used by brands in the consumer space rather than in the business-to-business context. Also, Dell World’s attendees—an audience capped at 2,000—included C.I.O.s and I.T. professionals from some of the largest corporations, not, as some gamification efforts focus on, teenagers on Facebook.

Customers at the Austin Convention Center could earn rewards for doing fairly simple tasks, such as retweeting something or checking in on Foursquare at various locations throughout the event. They could even win points and badges for downloading content via QR codes at various booths and exchanging contact information with other attendees.

The feedback was significant, according to Rishi Dave, executive director of online marketing for Dell. Hard metrics included more than 10,000 check-ins performed at the event, more than 3,500 pieces of content downloaded by attendees, and contact information shared more than 7,300 times.

“The end goal was not just to make the conference fun, but to really help customers at the conference know the best places to go for content, help guide them so, in the short time they were at Dell World, they could maximize their experience,” Dave said.

Organizers have yet to confirm whether they plan to bring back the program for the next iteration of Dell World (scheduled for December) but Dave explained the brand will definitely look to integrate the physical experience with the virtual experience, whether through the use of social, mobile, or gaming platforms.

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