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The 5 Hottest Experiential Marketing Trends for 2021

The only constant in the world of experiential marketing is change. And smart brands know if they want to continue to engage consumers, they need to grow and evolve their approach to marketing.

We’ve rounded up the most cutting-edge trends in live experiences with examples from forward-thinking brands that are harnessing their power to capture and keep consumer attention. 


Augmented Reality (AR) is already becoming an indispensable part of everyday life. And what we’re seeing now is just a beginning. Today, consumers can step into fully immersive brand experiences using 360 AR Portals without ever having to leave their living room.  

Marriott Hotel’s Portal to Paradise app is an excellent example of this technology in action. The brand’s augmented reality simulation enables consumers to explore eight of Marriott’s resorts in Latin America, offering six different scenes, including the pools, restaurants, beaches, rooms, and spas. By aiming a smartphone at a flat surface, the app creates visual portals providing 360-degree glimpses of these resort destinations. 

Marriott’s Vice President of Marketing Diana Plazas says the experience “goes beyond the typical image gallery on a resort’s website.” The app “places consumers directly on the property in such a realistic way that they can almost feel the ocean breezes and hear waves outside their hotel window.”

Take a look at the promo video for the app below: 


The pandemic has accelerated the need for Virtual Experiential Marketing (VEM) in a big way. By the end of 2021, the global virtual events market will reach $90 billion and it’s expected to surpass more than $400 billion by 2027.

Today, brands are taking their virtual experiential marketing events to the next level by integrating AR content experiences. These include virtual booths, human holograms, 3D product displays, and 360 AR portal experiences.

One of our favourite virtual experiential marketing campaigns comes from a winery that combines brand-in-hand sampling with a virtual private wine tasting experience. 

Quintessa’s Virtual Estate Experience brings you to the Quintessa Estate vineyard in Napa Valley, California, for a one-of-a-kind tour. The hosted Zoom tour features a private tasting of wines that are sent to registrants prior to the experience.

While it can’t perfectly substitute for the real thing (the winery’s glassed-in pavilion is a sight to behold), this professionally organized event with wine tasting kits at home makes for a unique brand experience during a time of restricted in-person experiences. 


The show must go on! This exciting entertainment concept gives concert-goers a new and safe way to experience live music. Utilizing hotel rooms with balconies overlooking a centralized pool deck, atrium, and courtyard, hotel guests can enjoy live entertainment from the comfort of their own private balcony and then stay the night. This innovative concept developed by Showpass reinvents the venue model as we know it, offering an exclusive and safe concert experience, topped off with a hotel night stay.

Hotels Live brought this idea to life during the summer of 2020, hosting a variety of Hotel Balcony Concerts across Canada, starting in Calgary, Alberta, at the Ramada Plaza Calgary Downtown. The events continue into summer 2021 as well. 

“There is nothing that compares to the live music experience, but our hotel balcony concerts are as close as it gets right now. By adding more value to each package, such as a VIP box suite, private washroom, room service capabilities, and a hotel night stay, this concept has the ability to get people excited about seeing live music and the hotel experience together,” said Rob Cyrynowski, President of Livestar Entertainment.


Vending machines are actually a pretty old-school invention, but over the past few years, they’ve been given a high-tech, AI-powered makeover. Not to mention that the breadth of products they dispense has grown massively, including everything from bottles of wine and fresh pizza to cannabis and electronics. 

Since COVID, these smart vending machines have been in high demand due to their ability to provide a sanitary, cashless and contactless self-checkout experience. In fact, the intelligent vending machine market value has grown by USD 9.33 billion at almost 22% CAGR during 2020-2024.

One of our favourite examples of this trend is the Bobacino, an automated Boba Tea Bar from California. Check out the video below to see how it works: 


Sporting events have taken a huge hit since COVID. With in-person events banned, empty stadiums have become the norm during game broadcasts. But sponsors have found ingenious ways to keep the spirit alive with drive-in watch parties where fans can see the game on the big screen from the comfort and safety of their car. 

Continental celebrated the return of Major League Soccer (MLS) with a drive-in watch party in Orlando. The experience involved a fully branded drive-in location with mascots, sample boxes of snacks and beverages, mobile food ordering, brand ambassadors and custom-branded car flags.


The pandemic has made experiential marketing challenging – but not impossible. Forward-thinking brands have been forced to get creative in response to this new reality. These trends result from these ingenious solutions to unforeseen challenges. 

At MOUSE Marketing, we have 18-years of experience connecting brands with consumers in meaningful ways using the latest experiential marketing trends. Through integrated marketing campaigns, digital content, and experiential marketing, we have helped develop and grow several top brands, including Johnson & Johnson, Mark Anthony Group, RE/MAX, Hudson’s Bay, Shoppers Drug Mart, Cronos Group, FGF Brands,  Molson-Coors, and Pepsi, to name a few.  If you need help creating a truly memorable brand experience, feel free to reach out.