7 Ways to Use Drones at Trade Shows

Successful Meetings reported recently that event production company Freeman is using drones—unmanned aerial vehicles—to capture “real-life, ‘in-room’ views of meeting spaces and facilities” for its PLANTOUR service. While drones may not be at the top of the list of “must-have” technologies for trade show organizers, it would be interesting to think about what drones could be used for. Here are a few ideas:

1) Amazon has already let the cat out of the bag with their announcement about delivering small shipments via drone to customers. When courier services, such as Federal Express or UPS deliver document envelopes or small packages to the convention center dock, drones could make the delivery to the booth.

2) Crowds and long lines could be a thing of the past with drone video feed that notifies event managers of situations getting out of control—at the registration area or morning coffee cart—so they can spring into action quickly.

3) Exhibitors can avoid the long walk and tedious wait in the Exhibitor Service Area for empty labels or blank bills of lading if general contractors allow them to place orders via text or email and then deliver the requested supplies to the booth via drone.

4) Lost freight on the messy trade show floor during move-in could be located (exhibit houses have become creative with brightly colored crates) with drones that search the aisles or the storage areas.

5) Remote attendees could use drones to get a glimpse of the trade show floor and learn whether the hype of pre-show promotion is really true. Some lucky virtual participant might be interested in actually controlling the unmanned vehicle.

6) Drones were made for marketing and promotional activities. The “wear this t-shirt and win a prize when we find you” contest could be modified to the “wear this t-shirt and win a prize when our drone spots you and projects your image on a large video screen” contest.

7) There are more practical and business-oriented use cases for drones. Data captured from the air about attendee behaviors, dwell times, and areas of interest can help to improve floor plans, at-show programming and traffic flow.

Using drones on the trade show floor may sound crazy (maybe not to Freeman), but many technologies are met with skepticism before they’re actually implemented. Imagine what Martin Cooper, the inventor of the mobile phone, had to go through when he first conceived of the idea to take a phone off the wall and walk around with it. The main problem with drones is that they are associated with some unsavory activities at the moment. That can change. Solving problems of any kind involves thinking unconventionally and, sometimes, suspending judgment. Do you have a problem that begs to be solved in a completely new way? How about using a drone?

This post was written exclusively for Ungerboeck by Michelle Bruno, MPC,  Bruno Group Signature Events.

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