In a World Where Wearables Rule…

Quick. Tell me how many steps you’ve walked today. What’s your glucose level? How solid was your sleep? If you’re wearing a Fitbit, then you have some of that info immediately available via your smartphone.

Imagine, though, a future when an event planner knows that your sugar levels are low, which has been shown to make someone hangry (hungry + angry). Sensing a drop in glucose could result in a call to the F&B department to provide particular snacks during the next session break. That’s just one example. Events will no longer be guessing games based on surveys and tweets. They’ll be real-time events based on bio-reactions that an attendee isn’t even aware of yet. Steve Jobs said that people don’t know what they want until you show it to them. With wearables and the data they provide, you can be the Steve Jobs of your event.

Wearables are no longer the next big thing. They are now, and they’re set to seriously change the event landscape. Much like the retreating glaciers changed the earth’s environment during the last Ice Age, wearables will leave new worlds in their wake.

A bit dramatic? Perhaps, but their increasing popularity and the massive amounts of data available to event organizers can’t be overstated.

According to MarketsandMarkets, a research firm, the wearables market was worth $2.7 billion in revenue in 2012 and is expected to reach $8.3 billion in 2018. That’s a lot of smart glasses, skin patches, and sensitive wrist-wear.

wearable-smart-devicesConsider what David Evans, chief futurist at Cisco, told attendees at the Wearable Technology Conference in London in March.

“At the moment, wearables can tell me what I’m doing, not how I’m doing,” Evans said, as reported by the Irish Examiner. “But this is starting to change. Wearables are becoming awareables; they’re becoming aware of me and they’re becoming aware of their environment.”

At any event—whether it’s a conference at a convention center or a concert at a club—a positive guest experience is the No. 1 goal. With wearables, this goal becomes a lot easier.

For example, let’s look at Disney’s MyMagic+ system, which includes wristbands named MagicBands. Park attendees can, among other things, reserve times for rides, seating for parades, and check in to their rooms without going to the front desk.

“By doing MyMagic+ we’re implicitly upping our promise to our guests,” Tom Staggs, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, to USA Today. “To the extent that we can have everyone who goes to the parks feel like a VIP, then I think we’ve hit a home run."

The catch is that attendees have to volunteer their information for the data to be analyzed, and people are very concerned about privacy. That’s changing, though. As people become aware of how data is being used to help make their lives better and easier, they’re more than willing to let go of privacy concerns.

By working with a company that can provide real-time data reporting and positioning the use of wearables for optimal use, event planners can create experiences that will leave attendees amazed and wanting more.

With wearables, when you take the pulse of your attendees, you can literally take their pulse.

This blog was written exclusively for Ungerboeck by Jason Hensel, senior editor at International Association of Venue Managers.

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