Eventprofs Share: 7 Trends in #eventtech

It’s the close of one year and the beginning of another, and we can’t help but wonder what 2017 has to bring event technology. Here are seven trends in technology that event professionals see changing how they do business.

In 2016, we polled over 1,000 event professionals to bring you the most comprehensive findings and trends being discussed by those in the industry. While we could take out our own crystal ball and prognosticate exactly what this new year holds for the field, we thought we’d share what event professionals around the world see as the top trends in event technology.

Most of the predicted trends could be summed up in a few words: usability and personalization. The event professionals we polled saw the biggest changes in event technology emanating from improved user experience and ease of application of data. But there were a lot of interesting predictions on what form we could expect the technology to take. Here is what industry professionals believe we should expect in 2017:   

Eventprofs Share: 7 Trends in #eventtech

Smartphones: Increased Engagement and Ease

We already use our phones to watch video, get directions, and take pictures but is there more we could be doing? A lot of event professionals believe there is. They see smartphones becoming a more integrated part of the speaker and attendee dynamic. With greater interaction through technology, a speaker will have a much better idea of what it is attendees have come to learn. Attendee preferences will shape the program as much as the speaker or conference panel who chose the speaker.

Smartphones could also be used for registration to decrease long lines and exchange information. Leanne VanDerveer, Corporate/Virtual Concierge, from Charm City Concierge LLC, sees apps taking the inconvenience out of attendance, giving attendees their own virtual assistant to do things such as, “Links to order lunch during events (and) links to reserve a spot in line at a booth for an event.” While the technology to do this is currently possible, it’s not used with great regularity.

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Paperless Events and Other Environmental Trends

This has been a long time in coming but as people begin to trust the cloud with more and more parts of their personal life, this trust will carry over and allow for a truly paperless event experience. In another cost-cutting measure several event planners expected to see “intelligent” lighting become more popular over the next year. Controlling the lighting and making it part of the experience, will make an impression on attendees and possibly save some money if areas are lit on a needed basis without tying up staff to manually perform the action.

Data

Event planners have access to more attendee behavioral data than ever before but it’s still difficult to understand just how to use it without feeling creepy like something out of the movie Minority Report. We’ll begin to get a better feel of how to process and use this valuable information.

One of the places this data will continue to become more valuable is in marketing automation. With an increased use of these programs, event planners will be able to track interest based on attendee clicks and opens. The planners can then tailor content based on what they know about the potential attendee and his/her behavior, ensuring that time is spent on those who seem interested and less on those who show no interest.

Personalization

One event planner saw a customizable event app becoming the norm for new technology. Several others imagined event planners using wearables to personalize the event experience for attendees as well as take care of their needs. Personalization can also improve sessions. A quick glance could easily tell you who was in the room and crowdsourcing interests as the audience waits for the speaker could influence the direction in which the presenter goes.

Cohesion

Part of improved usability would be apps working together and “speaking” to one another. Individual apps – even best in breed – won’t be useful if they don’t integrate with all the tools you use. Several event planners mentioned the need for a better registration process facilitated by apps and scanners, while another referred to the cashless payment system used at SXSW. This concept, and technology like it, decrease lines be eliminating the need for cash. All transactions are handled via a band on the wrist but can also be done through phones and cards.

Hybrid Events

In efforts to cut costs, some event planners saw hybrid events as something that would become more popular over the next few years. Anne Thornley-Brown, President of Executive Oasis International believes, “The use of hybrid events to reduce travel time and accommodation expenses will increase. This will be accompanied by local pop-up events where people can participate together.”    

Sci-Fi Trends

Even if you’re not an avid fan of Sci-Fi, it is interesting to watch all the technology that first appeared on television and movies that is now being brought to life by innovators. There are several types of technology on the horizon, that while not new, may have a big effect on the industry over the next few years.

Technology pricing took a deep nose dive in the end of 2016. Things like wearables and tablets are now affordable enough for almost anyone to own. Cost is no longer a barrier to entry. The Sci-Fi technology we refer to in this section will continue to become more accessible from a cost perspective, and thus appealing, to event planners everywhere.

Augmented and virtual reality, as well as video mapping and beacon technology, will become more commonplace as the cost drops. Virtual reality may have a place in events if you want to transport your attendees from a large conference room to a tropical oasis or other sumptuous 360 projection but augmented reality provides practical overlays that could include things like an event map with sessions appearing before your eyes as you’re walking the halls. Video or projection mapping allows event planners to add a little Hollywood to the party or conference.

Beacon technology is already being used in pilot programs by some hoteliers to replace room keys. Major League Baseball is using it to offer seat upgrades. While the technology is here, the cost and ways to use it for event planners, are still being hammered out. It’s definitely a trend to watch.

In Conclusion

The survey yielded a number of exciting predictions when it comes to event technology. One of the most impressive expectations, and probably the most over the top, for the new year was “WiFi working perfectly.” We can believe in virtual reality transporting us from a conference room in Hoboken to the pink sandy beaches of Bermuda but WiFi that works perfectly? Dare we dream?

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Julius Solaris
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