Your Sensory Experience Is in the Mail

One way to enhance the online experience comes from an old-school channel.

Authors: Barbara Palmer       
David McMillin       

A City Brew guide shows online participants how they can brew beer at home. City Brew ships attendees a Homebrew Essentials kit with some equipment and ingredients prior to their online event. But the stock pot is not included.

Appealing to participants’ senses is possible in a digital event, but it is more challenging, given that three senses — touch, taste, and smell — are excluded. But some are finding a workaround using a traditional analog channel: snail mail.

There’s something about getting a package in the mail that’s “just fun,” and getting something “hands-on that you can really touch, and mixing that into an online environment,” said MGMA’s Victoria Fanning. In the past, Fanning has sent door-hanger signs that read, “Don’t interrupt me, I’m in an online meeting” to attendees. She’s also considered mailing items to be used to end online events with a shared ritual, such as a package holding a mini bottle of Champagne, along with a glass and a plaque. “Everybody opens their package together,” Fanning said, “and we
all say, ‘Congratulations to you!’ with a Champagne toast.”

RELATED: What Event Organizers Can Learn From a Beer Tour Company

City Brew, a company which offers craft brewery tour experiences in 11 cities, also is thinking inside the (mail) box, creating online craft beer experiences called Beer Events at Home, which run on the Zoom platform and use items shipped to participants. In addition to three-hour tutorials for those who want to master the science of home brewing in their own kitchens, City Brew offers hour-long beer-and-cheese pairing happy hours designed for groups of between 30 and 50 people, said Chad Brodsky, the company’s founder and president.

In April, the company worked with Visit Salt Lake to host a beer and cheese happy hour for approximately 25 meeting professionals, after
the DMO had to cancel planned sales trips to the Northeast. Visit Salt
Lake asked City Brew “to help create an experience to connect with
[clients], and they wanted to make sure that their participants didn’t need to do anything in order to enjoy it,” Brodsky said.

Brodsky and his partner packed and shipped beer and cheese, along with Salt Lake souvenirs to Visit Salt Lake’s potential clients — the company also sources chocolate, spirits, and ciders for participants with dietary restrictions. While City Brew’s live events have been suspended, Brodsky expects that the virtual experiences will play a role in the company’s future even after live experiences return. “We built them so we can continue to do them,” he said, “even after people are not confined to their homes and practicing social distancing.”

Barbara Palmer is Convene’s deputy editor.

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By reading this story and the others found in the May-June Convene cover story, you will be ready to earn one hour of CE credit toward CMP certification from the Events Industry Council. To learn more about how you can take an online test to earn that CE credit, visit Convene‘s CMP series page.

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