Just 27 per cent of event professionals believe the five senses of sight, sound, taste, smell and touch are being used effectively by the industry, according to new research from London & Partners, the official convention bureau for London, and global meetings and events agency, CWT Meetings & Events.

Despite this small number, the survey of more than 600 event organisers revealed that 78 per cent believe multi-sensory events deliver more memorable and creative experiences for event attendees, while 42 per cent say sensory activations can also help events stand out from the competition. The study showed that over three-quarters of those surveyed agreed that the senses should be increasingly incorporated into events in order to deliver greater engagement among attendees.

The research also revealed less than a quarter (23 per cent) of the planners surveyed felt pressured to bring the senses to life for their events, with the majority (57 per cent) said they were happy with the status quo. When asked what is stopping them from delivering sensory-led experiences, the top three responses were not having the budgets required (43 per cent), lack of time (26 per cent) and difficulties finding sensory content suitable for their clients or events (24 per cent).

Tracy Halliwell MBE, Director of Business Tourism and Major Events at London & Partners, said: “It’s clear that the industry can do more to fully embrace sensory experiences in order to deliver unforgettable experiences for event goers. In a world full of distractions, the events world needs to be more creative in its approach and not stick with the status quo because it is easier to achieve. Our senses are the cornerstone of our experiences and by producing events that incorporate sight, sound, smell, taste and touch effectively, the messages conveyed to delegates at conferences, meetings and tradeshows will become much more memorable and impactful.”

Thierry Duguet, CWT Meetings & Events’ global marketing director agreed: “As a global agency, we want to make all our events as memorable and engaging as possible – it’s not simply about delivering messages anymore – it’s about making the audience ‘feel’. The findings of this study are fascinating, and we believe that we need to educate our clients in the benefits of using sensory experiences. By combining the sense with the latest technology and the right KPIs, which can measure the value of engagement, we will show the power of experiential events.”

When asked which of the senses is being used most effectively by the MICE world, three-quarters selected sight, while the senses of smell and touch were identified as being poorly integrated into events.

Of the event professionals who have successfully incorporated sensory activities into their events, 42 per cent said they have used light activations such as projections and visual illusions, while a third have featured culinary experiences to stimulate taste and sight.

Halliwell added: “In London you’ll find some of the world’s most talented and creative event production and design companies that can deliver dynamic, truly memorable events. The city leads the way in the delivery of innovative meetings and events which use the power of the senses to give event attendees unforgettable experiences.”