Convention centers may be among the last to act upon emerging technology trends. Major upgrades require funding initiatives that can take years. Nevertheless, managers are always on the look out for event technology trends that they can leverage on behalf of their planner prospects and clients now and in the future. Here are a couple developments they might want to keep an eye on.
Trend #1: Live-Virtual Blur. Events no longer “happen” between four walls. The definition of attendee is changing. Some participants physically attend and others don’t. And event organizers increasingly want to reach them all through technologies like live streaming, two-way conferencing, audience response systems, second-screen apps and others. It’s a trend that will only grow. Venues can make it easier with built-in content-capture and communication infrastructures that support the “event is everywhere” trend.
Trend #2: Too many event-tech vendors. Event organizers are overwhelmed with the number of event technologies and vendors that emerge daily. As the infrastructure partner to event organizers, venues can play a major role in coordinating, supporting, and deploying the multitude of technologies that organizers bring into the venue. In fact, they can/should offer service bundles: engagement bundle, mobile applications bundle, geolocation bundle, or social bundle.
Trend #3: The need for juice. Almost every visitor to a conference center brings at least one mobile device (or more) that requires charging. Event organizers are doing all they can to keep up with the demand by installing power strips and renting charging stations of all kinds, but conference centers can help too. As wireless charging standardization becomes a reality, its time for venues to incorporate charging points into chairs, countertops, tables, and desks.
Trend #4: Location, Location, Location. Some naysayers felt that beacons and other types of proximity-based technologies could be too shiny for the conference and exhibition industry. That’s not turning out to be true. While smartphones (and tablets) and apps are part of the geolocation/proximity formula, the actual beacons are also a critical part of the mix. Conference centers would do well to think about placing beacon infrastructures into their facilities to be ready for full-on adoption.
Trend #5: This isn’t a game. Putting on a virtual reality headset in order to imagine an event before it actually has to be built out or a “choose your own adventure” scenario for attendees is closer to becoming mainstream that you think. (Ask Facebook). There are already companies offering virtual reality tours of venues and other applications aren’t far behind. At the very least, conference centers should think about how to leverage virtual reality technology to sell their facilities.
Trend #6: Real hackathons. It’s beginning. Conferences are being hacked and attendees’ personal information is getting stolen. While plenty of organizers still feel that their events aren’t likely targets, others don’t want to wait around to see if that’s true. As the arbiters of the Internet connections that support events, conference centers can play a massive role in working with communications contractors or taking measures at the hardware level to create safe and protected environments for organizer clients.
There is a lot going on in event technology and it’s extremely difficult for conference centers to stay abreast of all the innovation. That said. There are some overarching “themes” that conference center managers need to take into account when planning upgrades or simply anticipating the needs of existing clients. Venues can be more than buildings where events happen. Venue managers need to understand what’s going on at the planner level so they can maintain their positions as trusted partners to their customers.