5 Innovative Trends in Event Technology
As technology continues to connect people and engage them in valuable interactions, it’s a no-brainer that the events industry would begin to leverage lightweight experiential technology to facilitate greater attendee engagement. These advancements are continually changing how we view the attendee. Event planners no longer view a crowd at an event as a passive audience but as engaged participants. The rapid pace of these changes makes it all the easier to fall behind unless you actively participate in this evolution.
The Root of Event Technology
All event technology hinges on many of the same fundamentals: Connect people through networking, increase attendee engagement, and spread knowledge and education. Events are no longer marketed and targeted to a wide variety of people (the flipped sales funnel), instead, attendees are targeted and the event’s content and experiences are tailor-made for the demographic that the event is specifically meant for.
Event technology is beginning to better understand the processes involved in data collection methods, analytics, and developing standard metrics to measure the ROI of an event and how effective it was in reaching previously set goals.This is allowing all parties to extract greater value from these experiences.
Top 5 Event Tech Trends
1. Real-Time Event Management
Social media is integrated into our daily lives; there’s no doubt about that. And with that, everyone has an open platform, or platforms, to communicate their experiences. Because of this, event professionals are more concerned about attendee satisfaction than ever before. Attendee satisfaction is directly related to how valuable, well-planned and managed an event is.
There needs to be constant data collection, monitoring and analyzing during the event to make adjustments as needed, when they’re needed. RFID technology and beacons make it easy to collect attendee data in real-time and event planners can adjust to traffic patterns and more. Using an event management software that is cloud-based and mobile-friendly will ensure that changes can be made on the fly and viewed by those essential to the planning and implementation. This allows event planners to seamlessly plan their event and make sure nothing falls through the cracks or gets miscommunicated.
Adapting and making the necessary changes in real-time allows for a more seamless, positive experience for attendees. Ideally, innovative event planners utilize web-based event management software that can be used on many devices and used in collaboration with people in real-time.
2. Digital Swag Bags
As the green movement begins to take a strong hold of the events industry, event planners are trying to find ways to reduce waste during their event. One of the most economical and efficient ways to reduce waste is to eliminate the traditional event swag bag and replace it with a digital swag bag. Not only is this option green, but by being digital, it is also measurable. Forget the logistics of swag bags and eliminate shipping and handling expenses of swag bag items. Attendees appreciate them too! They no longer have to tote around bags full of items they really don’t need or want while juggling a laptop, tablet, and phone.
While digital swag bags are highly cost-effective and efficient, they need to contain a “tangible” value. Attendees must be compelled to take advantage of the offers, view the content and so on. When the contents of the bag are targeted and marketed correctly, the exhibitors and sponsors will see a return. There is a strong opportunity to immerse the attendees in an experience, and engage them in interactions; that can live on social media long after the event is over (and isn’t that what all want?!)
3. Live Streaming
Perhaps the most revolutionary technology for the events industry is live streaming apps and companies that allow people to instantly share live video during events on their social media pages. The event industry can now expand their reach and generate a larger audience for an event. This also helps to increase social media engagements by allowing outside “attendees” into the venue where they can watch it live and interact with other people viewing the live stream. This opens up new revenue streams and allows the event to generate higher quality content that is engaging for attendees and viewers. Companies like Facebook, Periscope, Meerkat, and YouNow allow users to broadcast their experiences live
Facebook recently released an update to Facebook Live that is impactful for a number of reasons, but none more important than for the event and meetings industry (or so we think). Anyone with Facebook can now stream live anywhere they have an internet connection. The videos are saved to the user’s profile and can also be shared. During the live stream, viewers can share reactions and interact with one another. A notification can be sent directly to a list of friends and is also added to their live news feed. Facebook Live is expected to be the most successful live streaming service since many people already have an established friends list or an audience to broadcast to.
4. Cashless Payments
We’ve seen cashless payment systems like ApplePay, Samsung Pay, or Visa Checkout taking a stronger precedence in our daily interactions. It was only a matter of time for the events industry to take hold of this technology (and expand on it). Events previously used wristbands and other wearable items to differentiate attendees by group or type; now they are using the wearables to complete transactions.
Events and some venues are using RFID technology in wristbands and other wearable items to minimize the time spent waiting in lines. Cashless payment systems allow attendees to load their money onto the wearable, and can use it to pay for items during an event without carrying their purse or wallet around with them. When we can eliminate the additional time spent while waiting to receive change and avoiding those who have to dig out their credit, the overall experience of the event will become seamless. Secure payments can be made instantly via the wearable during check-out by waving the wearable over a sensor.
The whole process is very similar to ApplePay, Visa Checkout, and Samsung Pay, but instead of using data stored on a phone to complete transactions, it uses prepaid account information that is stored on the RFID chip in the wearable. Cashless payments usually have an app that tracks spending and the functionality to reload the balance. This also helps attendees avoid overspending at an event and ensures they have the correct payment method for vendors during the event.
When you put a crowd of like-minded people in one room, there is more knowledge and insight than a single expert possesses. We all value having speakers and the clarity of a single presentation, but we can’t offset the power of many. People at an event come from different backgrounds with different experiences and access to information, therefore, if you compile all their comments, concerns, questions, and ideas, your event will be much more attendee-focused and exciting to attendees. If attendees are learning exactly what they need and want to learn, they will strive to engage themselves to the fullest to gain the largest benefit possible from the event.
Crowdsourcing platforms and technologies have made it easier to generate and collect quality content from your attendees through event apps, social media and more. There are event apps that host forums for discussion and different surveys, as well as technology that allows event organizers to crowdsource content in real-time, enabling speakers to manage their presentation based on what the audience wants next.
Crowdsourcing can be done in a range of intensity. For example, there is technology that allows event planners to monitor what topics are trending among potential attendees, and they can implement those topics into their agenda, but then there are websites, such as YouTube, and apps that consist entirely of user-generated content that others can consume. There are companies and brands that crowdsource their content so flawlessly, that people strive to give them information and feedback. One of the most influential crowdsourcing companies is TED conferences, and they are ultimately rooted in crowdsourcing, and likely couldn’t survive without the amount of engagement they have set as precedent.
Put It All Together Now!
2016 is a fantastic year to be an attendee at an event, as more and more event organizers are reacting to the demands of attendees and tailor-making their agendas, presentations, and sessions to fit the wants and needs of the attendees. Event technology continues to improve attendee experiences and increases the level of engagement and thus the value of the event industry as a whole. As we as event planners continue to create advocacy for the industry, innovations are sure to follow. We can’t wait to see what other innovative technologies and processes arise in the coming years for event planners and professionals to implement into their routines that will to increase the effectiveness of events and attendee experiences.