5 Inexpensive Ideas for your Next Event Contest

Event planners are always looking for innovative ways to get their attendees more invested in their events. One of the ways they do this is through hosting an event contest. However, with any event contest, comes not only an event prize but also the dynamics of how exactly the contest is going to work. Some event contests can be very costly. Expensive can mean a few things to an event planner, which is one of the top ten most stressful jobs IN THE WORLD. It can be expensive on your time (and sanity) or it can be expensive on your wallet.


Sure, everyone who buys a ticket can be automatically entered; yes, you can have a ballot to fill out at the entrance/exit for when attendees arrive. Those are not bad ideas. However, there are other low maintenance, inexpensive ways to host a contest that actually encourage guests to be more active at the event, on social media and having a more interactive, enjoyable time while there. We’ve compiled a list of 5 inexpensive ideas for your next event contest.

1. Event Scavenger Hunt

Remember when you were a kid and went to a birthday party and they had a scavenger hunt? Wasn’t that fun? Not only will using an event scavenger hunt trigger positive feelings of nostalgia within your event attendees, but it will also trigger their natural competitive human nature. Keep costs low by working with key vendors or sponsors to promote attendees visiting specific booths or completing certain tasks as part of the event contest. Get them to answer a question on a sheet in the event guide and get someone at the booth to initial it as proof of completion.

2. Event Trivia

This idea can be similar to the scavenger hunt: this works well if you have an event with speakers and you want to promote attendance in particular seminars. Create a 10 (or however many questions you want) sheet where the answers can only be found within the speakers’ presentations. Have them tweet the answers! This event contest will get people excited for specific speakers or other aspects of the show. It will make them pay closer attention, ensuring they take more valuable information from the seminar and will ensure there aren’t empty seats in the room. This can be especially important if you have a trade show floor happening at the same time. Plus, people like to get perfect scores and feel smart. #BraggingRights

3. Social Media Mention Contest

Using your custom event hashtag, you can promote engagement and drive user generated content on social networks like Twitter and Instagram in a fun, little, interactive contest. You can do an entry per use of hashtag or create a scale where a verbal mention on Twitter gets you one entry; an Instagram picture gets you two; a video gets you three, etc. This idea is flexible depending on your comfort with social media as well as the resources you can put forth to monitor the contest. It can be as in-depth or as simple as you want it to be and it will almost always result in a huge spike in social media traffic and the ability to re-purpose attendees mentions in your campaign to promote next year’s event.

4. Creative Interactive Event Contest

This is an extremely broad idea – the sky’s the limit! Figure out something creative you want, that you may not have the time or the resources to invest in.




  1. Pick the custom event hashtag for next year’s show
  2. Create the tag line
  3. Help us create a theme

Ask your attendees to think about it and do it for you. You can do this in person, during a seminar, or on social media. It’s a great way to get people more invested in your show this year, get excited for next year and take a certain amount of ownership over it. These things are all great and increase your likelihood to get additional word of mouth (free!) advertising and promote people bringing their friends. Giving them free passes to next year’s event virtually costs you no money either. It’s a win-win.

5. Post-Event Survey Contest

Many large scale events already do this. Ticketmaster and Live Nation are two great examples of companies that emails you after every show and asks you questions ranging from seats and artist satisfaction to cost-value proposition and cleanliness of the venue. A post-event survey is a great way to collect feedback through a tool like Survey Monkey. Just have attendees answer some questions (since you collected their email address during ticket purchase, right?) and provide feedback on what they’d like to see next year – then do a random draw for a gift basket – donated by vendors or sponsors – or free tickets to next year as a special thank you. Just don’t make this too long or tedious. Limit it to 5 questions total and include multiple choice and a handful of open ended questions to dive deeper into people’s opinions.

Bonus: Spin the Wheel for Branded Merch!

If you are a sponsor or your event is put on by a bigger brand, you’ll be no stranger to branded merchandise. Some examples of prizes could be t-shirts, sunglasses, hats, water bottles, drink cozies, all showing off your #custom #event #hashtag. People will get into a line, and psychologically, people like to get in lines. Honestly, they will get into a line and have no idea what they are lining up for – we’ve seen it so many times before. This line creates intrigue and makes even more people join the line. You get the picture about lines, right? Giving everyone some inexpensive branded prizes is a great way to promote more word of advertising, make sure the event photos are covered in people wearing your brand and also creates a positive association, because people just like free things.


Now that you have some ideas on quick and easy inexpensive event contest ideas, you can consider prizes. Contests don’t have to be massive scale and hugely expensive to drive interest in your attendees. Often times, people are just happy to have something fun to participate in during their day of learning and networking.

Remember that if you need help running a contest during your event or just help on contest capture or driving engagement that our team is ready to throw our trunks up and help. Fill out the quote request form here or drop us a line on social media.


Ashley Saunders, Matriarch, Strategist, Live Social Coordinator

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *