Event technology—particularly of the variety that impacts the attendee experience—has come a long way in an incredibly short time. So, as 2015 kicks off, it’s a great time to talk about where technology is, i.e. how well it addresses some of the most difficult challenges organizers face, and where it needs to be.
In 2015, SAY “GOODBYE” TO:
Long lines in registration. This coming year, there is no possible reason why pre-registered attendees should have to wait more than a few minutes to check in and pick up a badge. From satellite registration capabilities in hotels and airports to scan (printed confirmation or mobile barcode) and print stations to NFC credentialing, there are a number of ways that registration providers have been able to minimize wait time and as the first on-site touch point for attendees, that is a very big deal.
Not “knowing” the attendee. In 2015, the data universe will absolutely explode. Virtually everything that can be known about an attendee—demographic information, social media activity, content preferences, on-site behaviors, mobile usage, networking habits, in-session engagement, opinions—will be placed within reach of the organizer. And, with all that data available, it will be impossible for organizers not to know their customers from a 360-degree perspective.
Attendees unable to navigate. Technology providers have made incredible advances in the “art” of navigating an event. While the simple paper map and event directory will continue to exist in 2015, it will be only one of many ways for attendees to locate exhibitors, sessions, meetings, and people. Mobile apps aided by various proximity tools, including beacons and BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)-enabled devices, as well as digital signs will make it even easier for attendees to consume an event.
WHAT YOU WON’T SEE IN 2015
Personalization of the attendee experience. If the above point about knowing the attendee inside and out in 2015 is to be believed, how long will it be until (based on the data we have about an individual’s preferences and behaviors) event organizers can offer attendees accurate session suggestions, exhibitor recommendations, and peer connections? The information and the tools for a fully personalized attendee experience are just about ready to emerge, but it probably won’t happen in 2015. There are still too many moving parts.
Wireless connectivity at a reasonable cost. Yes it’s possible for an event organization to plan and acquire the level of wireless connectivity that suits its event, BUT is doesn’t come without cost. Many venues have recognized the value of Wi-Fi to event organizers and use it to their competitive advantages. Nevertheless, the challenge of consistent, available, low-cost wireless Internet exists today and it will exist through the next year until economic or technological forces intervene.
Less technology. Event planners are confused and overwhelmed by technology applications. And, with advances in cloud technology and open-source standards that together make it easier for developers to deliver products more quickly, the number of apps will increase rather than decrease in the next 12 months making it even more difficult for event planners to select the solutions that can impact the attendee experience most effectively. Thus, the demand for trusted advisors will increase.
What are the challenges you will be able to overcome in 2015 and the ones that still perplex you?