First off – allow me to apologize for being late with this blog. Usually, I send out my blogs on Tuesdays and this week I am 2 days late. I hope you find the reasoning for this tardiness satisfactory – I have been working on Season 3 kick-off for The Meeting Space podcast. Save the date for October 15th, 2021 – a new episode with Dr. Mary Kelly, Ph.D. and we will be talking about Leadership and Productivity.. and puppies! Click on the image below and like us on Facebook to never miss an update and new episodes!

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Let’s dive into the gamification and other strategies GameStop used for its annual meeting. Last week I brought you closer to virtual conference strategies GameStop implemented in their annual conference in 2020. This week is a quick insight with part 2 of last week’s blog – gamification and sponsor engagement. I discussed it with Judy Payne, CMP – Director of Meetings and Events at Gamestop, whom I had the pleasure to interview during the recording of an episode of The Meeting Space podcast.

MB: When you have face-to-face meetings, there is a lot of momentum – there’s a lot of excitement just by being together and feeding off of each other’s energy. How did you translate that into the virtual conference space?

Judy Payne, CMP: That piece was really difficult. We did try to do a lot of it through Facebook throughout. But we also did it through the contest. Since we’re gaming, we did tournaments, remote tournaments on three different platforms – Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo and we had several different contests where people could participate.

It really increased the excitement and we did it all across the US.

Swag Boxes in a Virtual Conference World

One thing we have at the in-person conference is a logo apparel store – our store managers can go and buy logo apparel that they can wear in their store. Logo apparel store in real-time is really hard to replicate virtually, but we created a separate website and used Survey Monkey to take everyone’s orders. And we actually sold nearly 2000 individual orders across the US where people were wanting to purchase all of the swag.

Another thing with the swag boxes is we did work with our vendors to submit swag to us. And we sent three or four different swag boxes throughout the duration of the conference, so people would get surprised swag boxes at their store any day of the week.

The biggest swag boxes that everybody really loved were t-shirts ones from our vendors – they would make custom branded t-shirts, (Mario or Call of Duty) and store employees were able able to wear them for launch days to increase awareness of the launch.

We then used our Facebook page to really showcase those launches – we would have attendees take photos and post them on the Facebook group. We took an additional step and created a book for our vendors with those pictures. They could see everyone wearing their t-shirts, and they could see everybody in the stores engaging and excited about the product launches. It was a nice way to capture and show ROI.

MB: So we covered so far food, we covered the store, -now, let’s talk a little bit about gamification. So one of the main things for your, for your conference is gamification. How did you implement that? Please talk a little bit about it, from your point of view.

High-Impact of Gamification

Judy Payne, CMP: Gamification is at the heart of everything we do, right? Who isn’t competitive, right, who doesn’t want to win? That’s in our DNA. And so for us, it was really important. We did the photo contest, the video contest, that terrible TikTok thing that we don’t like to talk about.

The hardest part, I think, for us was really having the interaction between our store managers and our vendors, when it came to our training rooms. Our training rooms are very engaging, they’re explosive- the vendors put their heart and soul into that. It’s where you really dive in and learn every aspect of the new product; where the new video games coming out. And we’re lucky that internally, we do have an app that we own (Level Up), and that’s how all of our store managers get their training throughout the year. We worked on revamping Level Up. We were able to use it for the engagement piece with vendor training rooms. We used a lot of videos, we tried not to just do flat PDFs. We tried to keep everything in the video, very high energy, with great music playing, and really keep them engaged. We also peppered in quizzes all throughout, that way attendees need to pay attention – correct answers get points. We keep the gamification embedded in the training.

MB: Wow, a lot of moving parts to think about. Did you find it hard, compared to the in-person event? To track everything? And making sure that things get done?

Judy Payne, CMP: You know, I think we’re all just used to in-person events. So you know, what to look for, you know the flow of your event. And you can easily spot things when they’re not on track because you know your event, you know what to expect, and you know what’s coming next.

With a virtual conference, it was just a whole new ballgame for us. The biggest piece was the tech stack in the stores: are the iPads going to be working, was the Wi-Fi adequate in the stores, making sure that the training was being developed? The unknowns were really the technology in every store. A person’s individual needs in the store, you know, do they have an audio impairment? Do they have a visual impairment? Do we need to have everything written out on the screens?

So it’s working really individually with every single attendee and capturing their needs, and being able to accommodate them remotely that we found was the hardest thing, and making sure that they were emotionally prepared to do a virtual conference. There are a lot of emotions that come into this whole pandemic and doing everything virtually. Keeping people happy and engaged was probably the hardest part, along with the technology.

MB: I cannot help but wonder if demographics, especially the age of your attendees, had anything to do with the engagement, especially on places like Facebook groups? What do you think about that?

Judy Payne, CMP: Yes and No. I think that almost everybody out there uses social media. You could create an Instagram feed, or you could do a Facebook post. There are several different things that you could do.

We’re all young gamers. We wanted to make sure that we were doing things that they could do and really showcase in our stores. But you could target that to any audience, right? You can have a photo contest of your favorite; I don’t know, your favorite setup, your favorite restaurant, or your favorite painting. You could do photo contests and even video contests around any product. Or it doesn’t even have to be around the product, right? Because you’re just trying to capture engagement. It could be your favorite weekend activity, your favorite dinner, you know, it could be absolutely anything just to get people talking and get them engaged.

A Better Plan for a Virtual Conference

MB: Tell me how did the virtual platform that you chose for your meeting, play into that (engagement)?

Judy Payne, CMP: Well, we wanted to make sure that people had several different platforms for interacting with meeting i.e. for the general session we used the TVs in the store. And while we were able to have great production value, have it out loud in the store, with that medium, we weren’t really able to capture who actually attended. So while it was great for our executives, we found it really wasn’t great for our vendors, because we couldn’t capture who attended.

Our Level Up app, which is our internal training app, captured exactly who attended, for how long their title, their location, and every single aspect of an attendee, just like you would with lead retrieval at an in-person event. So that we found it very robust and we were able to capture everything.

The same thing with our Expo. We wanted to make sure we could track every single person where they were from, all of their demographics, and how long they attended every booth. But we also wanted to drive engagement: we made sure we had a leaderboard and the expo was gamified. For example, we did hide “easter eggs” in all of the smaller booths – it’s a hidden gem or object that people have to go look for. Maybe it’s your logo, maybe it’s a little diamond or a square. But you click on it and you gain points.

So we would hide those little “easter eggs” all throughout the expo to really increase engagement and drive associates to the smaller booths as well.

We finished the interview with Judy talking about the big-picture outlook for the industry. Since this interview was done in Spring 2021, a lot of things have changed however, Judy did mention association events bouncing back first and I have seen that trend happening. Additionally, she mentioned: “We have to take a different approach in bringing meetings back to in person, we have to be a little more careful and be a little more delayed”.

For the new season of The Meeting Space podcast, save the date of October 15, 2021, and like our Facebook page to stay up to date on new episodes and exciting speakers.

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