In January, about 60 attendees at a New York City meeting for ESPN Mobile scoured the city on a high-tech scavenger hunt produced by Boston-based SCVNGR (www.scvngr.com). The fast-growing, two-year-old company has been most active creating mobile scavenger hunts as college orientation activities and custom museum tours, but six months ago it dove into the meetings and events space. SCVNGR meeting clients have included large events like PAX East, a 50,000-attendee gaming conference, and SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans. But smaller events are on the books as well, with a focus on teambuilding.

For ESPN Mobile, the SCVNGR event in New York got attendees up and moving after an afternoon of meetings. It was the division's first meeting under a new senior vice president, says Pam Ogonowski, an administrative assistant at ESPN Mobile, who helped organize the 90-minute event. “We wanted a bonding experience,” she explains, adding that attendees were able to participate using any type of cell phone.

ESPN Mobile attendees — everyone from product development to marketing to video professionals — competed in teams, following clues delivered to their mobile phones. Clues led the teams to a specific location within a mile radius of their Columbus Circle meeting location. Then each team received a challenge related to that location. For example, here's one of the 14 clues: “Find the store in the Time Warner Center that has a TV made up of 16 separate screens and send in the store's name.” When teams texted in the answer, they then received their challenge: “Take a picture of your team next to the largest camera in the store. Send it to pics@scvngr.com.” Once completed, teams received a clue that would lead them to their next location.

Players earned points for solving the puzzles (with deductions for texting for hints), and everyone followed the last clue to a pub where the group had dinner and team prizes were awarded.

John Valentine, SCVNGR's conference and event specialist, says clues and challenges are customized to the audience, with many organizations selling sponsorships that allow exhibitors to create questions requiring attendees to interact with them about a product or service. The cost for an event for a large conference is typically $10,000 to $15,000, though a smaller teambuilding event might be around $3,000.