Creative Tips for Event Wayfinding (aka Herding Cats)

“Even the most geographically savvy event attendee seems to fall into the trap of walking around in a daze at an event.”

It’s Like Herding Cats

I love that expression – herding cats – because it so accurately describes the painful process of moving large groups of people from one spot to the next at an event.

Even the most geographically savvy event attendee seems to fall into the trap of walking around in a daze at an event. Maybe it’s the excitement of the event, the distraction of checking the event schedule, or the anticipation of catching up with old friends.

Regardless, even people with a fantastic sense of direction seem to get lost at an event.

It can seem so basic, but having phenomenal event wayfinding is a key part of event success. People need to be in a specific place at a specific time so event professionals are tasked with making it super easy for them to find their way.

The First Step (literally)

Start by taking the time to plan out the routes and anticipate where event attendees may get confused or where bottlenecks may occur.

 

Creative Tips for Event Wayfinding

Wayfinding is so much more than plain old easel signs or arrows. BORING!

Yes, this type of signage may still have its place at your event, but I suggest getting WAY more creative to up the impact and make your wayfinding signage an interactive and memorable part of your event.

Built-in wayfinding: Lots of venues have built-in digital screens. This option is great because the venue takes care of the set-up (using graphics and verbiage provided by the event organizer). However, I find this type of signage somewhat problematic at times because event attendees tend to ignore built-in digital signage assuming they are part of the venue directional signage and not specific to the event.

 

Wayfinding live: Who doesn’t love to see a friendly face? Wayfinding ambassadors are a great way to physically help point people in the right direction. Make sure you pick people who have an outgoing demeanor and strong customer service skills.

 

Techy wayfinding: In addition to the adaptable digital screens around the venue , how about incorporating wayfinding instructions into your event app? Push notifications that go right to your attendees’ phones can be pre-programmed (or even adjusted on the fly). I’m a big fan of the SMSNet event text messaging service. I often send a Google Maps link via SMS or a quick descriptor of how to find a specific room or area at the venue. Another great way to use your event app is to incorporate GPS mapping options.

 

Artistic wayfinding: Here is where you can get really creative! Artistic wayfinding grabs people’s attention, but can also take more time to create. Think chalk boards, temporary graffiti walls, and chalk walks. Maybe your event attendees can be part of the creation process throughout the event? Or maybe it’s a high-impact visual immediately when they arrive?

 

Light it up wayfinding: Lighting, projection and Gobos are a great way to subtly direct your attendees to where you need them to go and can provide excellent visibility for event sponsors too.

 

These are just a handful of creative wayfinding options! I explain a lot more about wayfinding in Volume I of my ebook, the iSPARK Event Planning Guide, a free online download.

 

The next time you organize an event (or attend one as a guest), pay attention to the signage and do your part to help ‘herd the cats’!