A comprehensive guide to understand how event technology is used in events. Strategy, intelligence, free resources and ideas to make technology work for your event.
Much has been written about using technology to run better events. Everything should be easier right?
What you need is a resource that sets you up for success, fast!
This is why we created this page. To bring you the latest event technology tips, ideas, trends and strategies to run successful events.
If you want a complete framework you can get a free PDF now, The State of Event Technology - the most comprehensive overview on the subject that is valuable and free!
On this page, which we will constantly update, you will get:
You may ask yourself, why should I listen to these folks?
When someone thinks about event technology experts online they think of EventMB. Some numbers and reasons why:
- keyboard_arrow_right We have analyzed north of 500 event technology tools for our reports
- keyboard_arrow_right 250,000 event professionals have downloaded copies of our event technology reports
- keyboard_arrow_right Readers include most Fortune 100, 250 and 500 companies with event teams
- keyboard_arrow_right We have published in-depth reviews of dozens of event technology tools
- keyboard_arrow_right The person writing this, your editor, Julius Solaris, is the most sought-after speaker worldwide in the event industry for event technology
- keyboard_arrow_right We constantly analyze and grow a database of over 1,500 event tech tools
- keyboard_arrow_right We have started, supported and launched many event technology competitions and education initiatives in major events around the world, including IMEX and IBTM.
- keyboard_arrow_right EventMB is the most sought-after resource for event technology companies to advertise on.
- keyboard_arrow_right We started talking about the use of hashtags, social media, event apps and more tools back in 2007
- keyboard_arrow_right We are supporters of the organic use of technology within sound meeting design. We hate fashion and we put your event results first
We may have several more reasons but we hope you can trust us by now. If you don’t, get in touch and let us know how can we prove to you even further that we mean business.
"I think there’s tons of technology out there that can tell you how many people went to one session versus another session. And that’s interesting, but it’s really about how engaged those people were with that session. How long did they stay? Did they engage with the topic and are they doing other things while they’re there that indicate they have a true interest in that topic outside of that one, discrete session?”
But since we know you are a busy event professional, let’s get started. If you want the quick version here is a video with an overview:
Micro projection mapping
Imagine the sails of the Sydney Opera House coming to life before your eyes. 3D projection mapping lets event planners bring ordinary objects in a range of shapes and sizes to life using engaging 3D displays. Think of it as painting with light.
Projection mapping (or ‘spatial augmented reality’) uses technology to project imagery onto 3D objects instead of traditional flat surfaces. Projections can be as basic as stage lighting or as complex as fully-mapped videos on industrial landscapes and buildings.
Projection mapping is a fascinating way to evoke feelings within physical spaces and add colors, textures, and movement to otherwise mundane objects. You can project anything from 3D artwork to sponsor branding to complete lifelike environments.
We asked event professionals whether they prefer using all-in-one solutions or different providers for their event. This is the question that will shape the market the most in 2020.
While 45% of planners use both all-in-one and vertical solutions, the percentage of those using all-in-one solutions has grown by 27% year-over-year. In 2018, only 9% were using all-in-one tools; now, over 36% prefer them over multiple solutions.
While the recent spree of acquisitions has undoubtedly played a role, this is also indicative of planner preferences. There is a logistical cost to sourcing, contracting and learning to use disparate solutions across the event planning process, and all-in-one solutions serve to reduce that significantly.
Without a doubt, artificial intelligence (AI) is among the most promising and least understood technologies in the event space. It applies fast processing and intelligent algorithms to large amounts of data to detect patterns and learn from them.
In the event industry, AI has the potential to create accurate and personalized interactions from a larger universe of qualified individuals using a nearly unlimited pool of data. When combined with data gleaned from the registration process, it can enable a powerful matchmaking experience that prompts attendees to connect with each other based on common interests, job titles, industries, or any number of other predefined factors.
It can be similarly used to pair attendees with exhibitors for more valuable, meaningful connections between qualified leads and suitable vendors, and we expect it to become more commonplace in 2020.
RFID badges and associated data
Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) and Near-field Communication (NFC). RFID and NFC uses radio waves to track attendees and enable other capabilities (such as cashless payments). When combined with attendee badges or other wearables, they become smart devices that enable planners to monitor attendee behavior. They can help organizations detect fraud (fake or stolen wristbands) or bring a session overflow room online when the main room is full. The technology can also alert planners to the arrival of VIP speakers at check-in so they can meet and greet them personally.
Many event managers have already come to know and love RFID over the past couple of years. The rise in RFID popularity has benefited many events by streamlining the entry process, minimizing costs, and even collecting useful data on attendees. It has already eliminated the need for traditional ticketing options, as all information on the guests’ admission options is stored in a single wristband.
We've seen RFID utilized for other aspects of event management, like payment opportunities, credential information, and tailored event access. RFID offers a sense of ease for almost every use case it's been applied to so far, and event managers will become increasingly reliant on it. It’s adaptability to a number of functions mean the potential of RFID has few limits.
Emotional recognition (sentiment and engagement)
A form of artificial intelligence (AI), emotion recognition is the process of collecting predominantly facial expression data to analyze human emotion. It aggregates a number of data points to figure out how you feel. And it’s pretty powerful stuff.
These techniques supposedly allow machines to correctly analyze a person’s emotions and state of mind and possibly predict that same person’s behavior. Apart from its application in surveillance, emotion detection technology can be used in fields as different as market research (to determine how customers feel about a brand or a product), healthcare (to help medical professionals assess the wellbeing of patients), the automotive industry (to monitor and detect driver impairment in smart cars), or video games (to test user experience). (Schwartz "Don't look now: why you should be worried about machines reading your emotions" 2019).
By detecting happiness, facial recognition can be used to generate happy maps to indicate areas of high engagement and successful activations around the event. The level of detection is so precise that it can even measure engagement based on where people are looking. If the audience is looking at the presenter, they’re likely engaged. If they’re looking down, they’re likely on their devices, either not engaged or preoccupied with note-taking.
Facial Recognition for check-in
Facial recognition applied to the event check-in process involves scanning the faces of those individuals who have opted into facial recognition (i.e. by uploading photos during registration) and comparing them to the photo database. When a match occurs, the solution triggers the check-in confirmation, the welcoming of the attendee, and potentially badge printing.
Facial recognition technology delivers organizers a number of benefits from expedited check-in and better access control (compared to traditional authentication methods, such as paper confirmations) to the delivery of a more personalized event experience and a positive first impression of the on-site event.
Comparing planners' preferences between 2018 and 2019 gives us an interesting picture of the trending tools in event technology. The top 3 tool categories that experienced the most growth in 2019 were project management tools (24%), check-in apps (18%), and team communication tools (13%).
This sends a clear message to providers. When it comes to event technology, event planners choose operational excellence over gimmicks. Engagement is still very important and technology can help, but logistics are at the core of planning events. These stats are a testament to that.
Seamless lead retrieval
One of the most important reasons to host or exhibit in an event is to identify customers and capture new business leads, but the technology available to support that objective is fraught with challenges: too many providers mean an inconsistent experience from event to event; integrations with CRMs haven’t historically been very smooth; third parties cannot be used, and data management is not consistent.
Lead management technology was designed to address these pain points and offer exhibitors a faster, smoother way to exchange information and more time to focus on making quality connections. These interfaces typically smooth out the qualification process with a series of customizable question prompts, connect onsite sales teams to avoid duplicating work and data, and integrate with common CRMs to facilitate a faster follow-up from the sales teams back at the office.
Being able to offer services and content in multiple languages opens international events to under-exploited non-English-speaking markets, and we can expect organizers and tech companies to take advantage of this trend more and more in 2020.
Services now exist that allow instantaneous translation feeds via mobile devices, ear pieces, standard dial-in service, etc. Whereas wifi used to be a major challenge, the advent of 5G is going to resolve a lot of the logistical trouble with using services like these, and we expect a boom.
We surveyed 1,500 event professionals and the majority agree that engaging Attendees is the most crucial element of planning experiences. Event professionals often do a good job of engaging attendees live, but what about the army of online attendees?
Live streaming has a number of important benefits. Providing online audiences access to event content extends your reach to those who might otherwise be unable (or simply disinclined) to attend in person. Selling this access during the event produces new revenue streams.
We expect more and more organizers to take advantage of live streaming in 2020, and we’re created this guide to help you do it, too.
On-demand event video platforms
Another great way to monetize your event video is by making it available beyond the event itself using platforms like ConferenceCast.tv. Showcasing online content before the event generates momentum and fosters trust in your ability to deliver a quality experience. After the event, video content can be repurposed for on-demand resources: educational webinars, highlights reels, complementary interviews with speakers, a ‘view inside the event’ series of attendee interviews, a mini-doc on the post-event clean-up and your reflections, etc.
Flexible staff recruitment
Temp staff are a staple of many (especially large) events to manage tasks like registration, catering, wayfinding, etc., and the use of online marketplaces that serve this need are expected to increase both as they become better and as planners get more familiar with them.
Chatbots integrated with event apps are helping event professionals to save on the cost of temporary event staff. Volunteers and temporary staff often require an incredible amount of training, and most of their time is spent answering frequently asked questions. Chatbots are well positioned to give quick answers to these questions and constitute a much faster alternative to event apps where information mining can be challenging.
The market for chatbots is fast maturing. Chatbots offer an interesting feedback channel for events. They are continuous feedback channels, collecting interactions at any stage of the event. They offer a safe environment for attendees to let go and really say what they think. It is much easier to be honest in a chat window than in front of a real person. AI-powered chats offer a colloquial way to gather information compared to multiple choice questions.
Chatbots also offer a marketing opportunity as they can connect with social profiles and be carried out via Facebook, offering a new set of data for event marketers.
Blockchain & crypto
Although Blockchain was originally designed with cryptocurrency transactions in mind, the technology itself can be abstracted and applied to just about any form of information transfer.
Events collect and create a lot of data relating to attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors, which sits in silos like spreadsheets and various tool databases. This may require attendees to sign up for several different services, giving over identifiable data each time. Similarly, each time an attendee makes a purchase with a credit card, that card data is essentially given to the vendor.
Blockchain would allow, for example, an attendee's ID and transactional information to follow them around an event, or even multiple events. The system doesn't really need to know who a person is at the point of validation, so if an attendee buys a coffee and pays for it using their Blockchain ID, all the vendor sees is that a transaction has taken place and the right amount of money has been delivered to them. The same is true of access control and other information exchanges. Blockchain removes the requirement for a person's identifiable information at the point of exchange.
With an ever-growing concern for security and privacy, we expect Blockchain to continue to make an impact. For more on how to use Blockchain for your event, check out this guide.
More and more registration sites feature social sharing, which allows registrants to share the fact that they’ve registered or invitations to register throughout their social networks. Event discovery platforms take this a step further by scraping event details from Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn to promote the event to potentially interested parties. Platforms like EventBrite also exhibit all their featured events like EventBrite to geographically and topically relevant audiences.
The flip side of the coin is that event professionals and especially event marketers are now faced with the opportunity to optimize their event for discovery. As we follow SEO predicaments to better rank in Google, we are faced with new requirements to make sure we are discovered in what I like to call event discovery optimization (EDO).
Venue sourcing technology
There are a number of venue sourcing platforms emerging to offer an AirBnB-like search quality to venue sourcing, both in terms of the filters and selection curation. These services will help you find a venue, connect you with local experts and DMCs, and automate the process for issuing electronic request for proposals (eRFP). Some also feature virtual tours of the venue and relevant event spaces so you can get a sense of them before you reach out.
Venue sourcing platforms distribute the completed eRFPs to hotels that are a match for the meeting requirements the planner provided. Users can apply filters to narrow the search or add hotels based on their own research. They can also send the eRFP to local convention and visitors bureaus or national sales offices.
Planners use the proposals generated by venue sourcing software to trigger a dialogue with the venue, refine the request, or further vet the property as both parties move toward disqualification or negotiation of a contract.
Streamlining this part of the process represents a significant savings in time and energy for planners looking for the perfect location for their event, and venue sourcing platforms are going to continue to grow as long as they continue to solve this real need in the industry.
According to our recent research study, the use of check-in technology saw a growth of 18% in 2019. Often sold as part of a registration or EMS platform, check-in apps represent a faster and smoother way to check people in than more traditional (and still commonly used) methods. While facial recognition will consume some of the market for check-in apps, we expect to continue to see growth as people take their time to get on board with facial recognition and transition away from more cumbersome low-tech systems.
Automation is playing a central part in the development of back-end technology across verticals, with an emphasis on saving planners time and improving the attendee experience. One of the biggest ways this has manifested in events is through a pressure for ‘best-in-class’ tools to integrate with each other in order to combat the ever-growing influence of all-in-one tools – a growth that itself signals a failure on the part of this segment to actually meet the industry’s increasingly demanding integration expectations. As best-in-class tools continue to shift towards a more collaborative approaches to serving the industry, services specifically dedicated to integrating these tools will have a market. Some, like Blendr.io and Zapier, allow more tech-savvy planners and their tech teams and support to create integrations and automate processes without any particular coding know-how. These will become an asset to self-reliant planners who don’t want to limit their tool selection by what existing integrations are already available.
Charging tables for networking
We live in a smartphone battery crisis. You see the agitated faces of attendees around the world when they are approaching 5% of their battery and they have no power bank. Events can use this opportunity not only to improve the attendee experience but also to provide marketing intelligence based on usage. Charging stations also present an opportunity for branding and sponsorship messaging backed up by easily provable ROI data from usage.
Moreover, while facilitated networking events are on the rise, organizers are also beginning to appreciate the networking potential that exists in the intervals between sessions and activations. The joy of missing out (JOMO) is the desire to find value in the downtime, and savvy planners will find a way to create spaces that encourage people to take the downtime they need and infuse that time with value. Charging tables allow attendees to take a breather while their lifelines devices charge and offer an opportunity to connect with each other casually over discussions of session content, the event in general, or simply mutual interests.
Photo booths can be a participatory activity, an ice-breaker and a way to capture the event for attendees before having them share on social media, the perfect marketing trifecta for a successful event. They are suitable for virtually any event type from baby showers and weddings to exhibitions, conventions and corporate retreats – you just need to adapt them to suit. Here are a variety of different photo booth options that you can incorporate into your event to maximize photo opportunities.
With adaptability for space, colours and enclosure, photo booths are a firm favourite among attendees onsite and on social media. They’re a great way to generate voluntary event promotion, so it is good to rent or invest in one. Just ensure that you are utilizing the signage and branding opportunities to make the most of it.
EPosters for medical events
Medical events, which remain a driving force within the industry, revolve around posters that demonstrate research and serve as the basis for prompting discussion during exhibitions and medical shows. Increasingly, digital screens are being used as a more sustainable, dynamic way to display posters, allowing exhibitors more flexibility and interactive potential within their presentations.
Wearables are smart devices that attendees wear on the wrist or around the neck, and are increasingly used to facilitate networking, information exchange, data collection, content distribution, lead retrieval and check-in.
Attendee badges make up one of the largest categories. When equipped with a Bluetooth beacon (more on this in the real-time analytics section) or RFID tag, they become smart devices that enable planners to monitor attendee behavior. Smart badges are being used to facilitate networking. Devices light up in matching colors when individuals are a match for common interests. Some badges enable participants to exchange contact information or distribute marketing collateral.
Wristbands contain embedded near-field communication (NFC) chips that users tap onto a reader to gain entrance to a venue or presentation. Because every wristband and NFC chip is unique, they can also be used for cashless payments and to authenticate the wearer for security purposes.
Wearables offer a number of compelling benefits:
- keyboard_arrow_right Using radio waves (beacons and RFID) to perform tasks is fast, accurate and trackable.
- keyboard_arrow_right Wristbands and badges are convenient compared to their analog alternatives.
- keyboard_arrow_right Wearable devices provide a treasure trove of behavioral data to event organizers.
- keyboard_arrow_right Wearables that distribute marketing collateral are more sustainable.
360-degree LED screens
If you want to be able to continually transform the theme of a space throughout the duration of your event, there are few features that provide more versatility than large-scale video and LED screens. These allow you to create an ambiance and environment on a moment’s notice.
The more wall-space that is covered by a screen, the more flexibility you have to immerse your attendees in a scene of your choosing.
Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, for example, takes full advantage of this potential with the 360° dome screen that defines its Grainger Sky Theatre. The domed ceiling forms a wrap-around projection screen that rises 36 feet (11 meters) high.
The pressure to deliver memorable experiences will continue to push planners and venues towards immersive experiences that stimulate all 5 senses and really take advantage of the space to create a lasting impression and set the tone for the event.
Next level survey data
Event surveys are traditionally fraught with low response rates, but technology is getting better at both helping planners create more effective, standardized surveys and collating the data from surveys across events, organizations, and the industry in general for more powerful insights. The secret? Benchmarking.
Standardizing your survey questions and providing a solid base of quantitative questions will help you to ensure the data you collect is easy to compare. Some survey platforms will even help you analyze this data and give you key insights with a consultative approach to improving your survey practices.
Surveys aren’t going anywhere in the near future, especially as we get better at implementing them.
Bonus - The Top 5 Event Technology Trends To Watch In 2019 [Video]
What is Event Technology?
Event Technology refers to the use of technology, whether hardware or software, in a live event. Technology can be used during events to facilitate event planning processes, engage attendees, provide ROI analytics for sponsors and increase security for the community hosting the event.
Event technology can be used during the whole event planning process, including the facilitation of core activities such as registration and marketing. Recently event technology has gained prominence to engage attendees during the event and facilitate attendee-to-attendee and attendee-to-performer interaction.
Event technology is also a valuable tool to connect remote audiences who cannot attend in person, providing a bridge to extend attendance outside of the event physical location.
The use of event technology in the event planning and production process can sit with the event planning team and/or dedicated cross-functional teams and/or the audiovisual contractor for the event.
Event technology goes back a long way, but the purpose of this page is not to give you a history lesson. However, it is important to understand its recent evolution.
What’s in it for you?
In fact, what many may sell you as cool and trendy can be actually old and outdated or maybe a commodity. We are not attempting to identify fashion, rather we want to give you a way to counter-argue shameless salespeople and paranoid statements on websites and eventually save money or get more value for your investment.
If a technology is a commodity, you should pay for what it is worth, not a premium. In some instances, it should be free or part of the package.
So what does the recent evolution of event technology look like? What are the new event technologies to invest in?
The graph above shows the four waves of eventtech.
- The first wave was online registration and ticketing.
- The second wave was event mobile apps.
- The third wave was engagement technology (polls, ARS, live engagement).
- The fourth wave consists of VR, AR and AI.
The first three waves are now passed. The technologies above have now become commodities. We accept them as basics of your eventtech mix.
That doesn’t mean that these are technologies of the past. In fact, most of the action these days happens around these three types of tools. Eventprofs are buying them, the companies who build tech in these sectors are getting large funding. And, if you haven’t even looked in one of these categories, you are way behind compared to your peers. If you have never used any of these technologies for your event, you may be missing out and behind the majority of event professionals.
The market is mature for these tools. The products are starting to look the same.
On the other hand, AR, VR, and AI are creating a new ecosystem where new players will be born. Possibly they will reinvigorate some tools of the previous waves.
Based on the previous waves, we can anticipate a three to five year period where new startups will build almost exclusively in this vertical.
Some practical applications to watch:
AR - specifically filters
- Engagement of attendees
- More sponsorship opportunities
- Chance to reinvent the speaking experience for corporate events
VR - Live 360-degree video
- Engage remote attendees with a more immersive experience
- Better sales opportunity at trade shows through live product demonstrations
- Staff cost savings through virtual concierge and chatbots
- Increased security thanks to facial recognition
- Faster check-in process using facial recognition
- Inclusive and fast information through voice recognition
Event Technology Adoption Will Continue to Rise but Cost is a Barrier
In June and July 2019, we conducted one of the largest pieces of event planning research ever completed with 1445 event professionals around the world.
New to this year’s iteration of The State of Event Technology is a year-to-year comparison of specific points in the research. In fact, we were also able to draw some conclusions by comparing the data from this report to the results of our 2018 State of the Event Industry Survey.We asked specific questions that pertain the event management software selection process. We are happy to release the results. If you want to publish the research on your site let us know here.
The Use of Event Technology is Rising
Event professionals are investing more in event technology in 2019/2020. 52% will spend more of their budget on making their event technology-friendly.
This is particularly true of those who plan several events per year (more than 16) and budgets of $5M+. 56% of those planning more than 16 events per year and 71% of event professionals with $5M+ budget will spend more on eventtech in 2020.
When it comes to adoption, 62% of the event professionals surveyed say they will inevitably use more event technology this year. If we compare this number with 2018, the confidence is higher with an increase of 3%.
Event Technology is Too Expensive for Many Event Planners
In 2018, a majority (61%) of event professionals stated that the main thing preventing them from using event technology is the cost, and 71% say the main reason they would choose not to work with a supplier is the price.
Our 2019 research indicated that 25% of event professionals say event technology costs too much. Inevitably, events with smaller budgets feel the cost factor more. The number is substantially higher in the respondents who reported an annual budget of less than $100K per year (34.5%) and lower for those with a $5M budget (15.9%).
That said, spending more does not guarantee success: 30% of those whose budgets give them unreserved access to fancy event tech struggle with getting people to use it.
Data is Still a Big Miss
Extensive research links the strategic use of data to better event planning, but only 48% of planners rely on event tech to deliver actionable data. The rest either think data is a ‘nice to have’, don’t care about it or don’t even bother collecting it.
This is an incredible missed opportunity for massive growth, not only for better events but also for career development. Our research tells us that more companies are looking at data skills in senior event management positions.
WiFi is Still a Big Issue for Events
Most eventprofs (79%) felt that wifi was a big issue in 2018. In 2019, it is still the case with 58% of planners still indicating that wifi availability and performance negatively impact their events.
The good news is that the percentage of disappointed planners has gone down by 21%. There is a hint of light at the end of the tunnel. With more venues offering wifi as part of the rental package, hotels offering basic and premium wifi options to guests to manage bandwidth, and data plans being more generous and international, things are looking up.
With the advent of 5G, we can anticipate even less frustration. This will be late 2020 / early 2021. Still a little more suffering to go.
Online Registration is the Most Popular Event Technology
While online event registration still dominates, the adoption of new registration tools has decreased by 10% year-over-year. This may be a signal of event professionals already having a provider for event registration, or it being incorporated into all-in-one solutions.
The biggest gains in investment were in these tool categories:
- keyboard_arrow_right Project management tools +24%
- keyboard_arrow_right Check-in apps +18%
- keyboard_arrow_right Team communication tools +13%
- keyboard_arrow_right Engagement tools +10%
If you are a busy event professional, you probably have your strategy figured out by now. One of the most annoying practices of so-called ‘event technology experts’ is to bore you to death with business 101 tips.
What you really want is practical advice to gain competitive advantage through event technology. Not a basic business course.
This is why we have devised a quick, go-to market formula for event technology that is guaranteed to make any investment you make towards tech fruitful.
Don’t you get annoyed when you buy a gadget online and it doesn’t work or it doesn’t really serve the purpose you bought it for? The same applies to event technology, with the only difference being that you cannot return the time and resource invested in the program.
So, give us five minutes of your time to flick through this strategy guide. If you want a complete framework, you can download our State of Event Technology but if you are busy start with this five-step guide.
If you know your event technology and just want to learn about guerrilla tactics or event technology trends, skip to the next section.
If You Want To Succeed With Event Technology Stop DOING And Start THINKING
Events have become even more complex. Technology and increasing security threats are just some of the additions to a growing list of contingencies that an event professional has to take care of.
Without a strategic vision, most elements of the event planning process will inevitably be compromised, whether it is event tech, speaker selection or venue management. Of course, we may rely on more experience in some areas and dodge some bullets but if we react instead of plan, failure will be a likely result. Embracing a strategic vision is therefore paramount.
LET'S START WITH WHY
WHY should you use event technology at your next event? Take the time to think about it. Because the answer is oh so important. In fact, those that have a sound answer usually succeed.
Event technology should bring value to attendees, your event planning team or staff, your stakeholders (company, sponsors, exhibitors, performers, etc).
Whenever facing event technology decisions or evaluating a tool, ask yourself:
Am I bringing value to attendees, my team or stakeholders?
If the answer is no, move on. No need to believe the hype, try the latest cool thing, trust that charming salesperson or be tech-savvy. If there is no value, there is no need to engage.
THE VICIOUS CYCLE: SOMETIMES YOU DON'T NEED EVENT TECHNOLOGY
Do you need to use technology for events? One of the most recurring issues with technology adoption is that choices are sometimes influenced by fashion and peer pressure rather than being the result of a thoughtful analysis.
The results of such an approach are usually disappointing. Disappointing results and low ROI usually spark a vicious cycle of distrust in the real value of technology. However, attendees are in fact becoming quite demanding of technology at events.
As we spend more time on social networks, and with our smartphones, we expect events to cater for our desire for technology.
Not all attendees are created equal. Some audiences do not use technology inside or outside of their personal sphere and are not interested in doing so. Therefore running a technology program for such audiences would represent an unsuccessful tactic to begin with.
Here is a breakdown of the components that make up the vicious cycle of event technology:
- keyboard_arrow_right A competitor is using technology so we should
- keyboard_arrow_right My colleague told me that apps are cool
- keyboard_arrow_right I read somewhere that VR is the next big thing
- keyboard_arrow_right A chatbot will make my event successful
- keyboard_arrow_right I will finally sell more tickets by relying on big data
- keyboard_arrow_right We will be perceived as high-tech and edgy by offering live streaming
LACK OF MEASUREMENT AND CLEAR OBJECTIVES
- keyboard_arrow_right We are not sure exactly what it will bring but it will be positive
- keyboard_arrow_right Success with tech means everybody is happy
HIGH HOPES BUT LACK OF SUPPORT
- keyboard_arrow_right We expect great things from our tech program
- keyboard_arrow_right We’re not sure how we will communicate with it but attendees will adopt it; it will be a big hit
- keyboard_arrow_right Low uptake
- keyboard_arrow_right Negative feedback
- keyboard_arrow_right Lack of tech awareness in the audience
- keyboard_arrow_right Tech blunders
NEGATIVE ATTITUDE TOWARDS TECHNOLOGY
- keyboard_arrow_right Tech is such a waste of time
- keyboard_arrow_right We spent a lot of money in the past and the ROI was zero
- keyboard_arrow_right We will never invest in technology again
- keyboard_arrow_right Better to do things like we always do
If the answer to the value question is yes, on the other hand, you are onto something. However, that doesn’t just mean you should jump on it. We still have to think about it more, but surely you are now in a safe decision space. A decision that is dictated by value over hype, someone else’s marketing or peer pressure. A sound decision that puts the event first.
The Best Kept Secret in Event Technology That Works. (Value)
What does a value-oriented tech decision-making process look like? Very simple. It’s really a matter of asking yourself the same question, am I adding value? Whether it is attendees, sponsors, boss, colleagues, local authorities, speakers, performers, suppliers – are you adding value by using event technology?
Consider - are you adding more layers of complexity or simplifying things? Is that piece of technology going to solve a problem or create new ones? And if it creates new questions, are the pros outweighing the cons?
Pros > Cons.
Don’t Assume, Map!
Process mapping consists of laying out all of the core touchpoints, user journeys and contingencies any of the stakeholders involved with your event may be affected by.
If you use a template to project manage your event, you could use Work Breakdown Structures or detailed rundown sheets. These are very valid starting points for your process mapping stage – sometimes they are all you need.
LOOK AT YOUR EVENT PLAN
This is an example of what a process mapping sheet may look like:
FIND QUICK WINS IN EVENT TECHNOLOGY
You get the picture of what we are doing here. By thinking through your whole event you can easily identify areas of opportunity to implement technology that almost certainly will deliver value to attendees. In most cases, event professionals will start with the tech, instead of starting with the problem we are trying to solve and what benefit it will bring to attendees. Starting from the 'why' will always lead to positive change.
CAN ONE EVENT TECHNOLOGY SOLVE MULTIPLE PROBLEMS?
For the seasoned event professional, it will be fairly easy to immediately recall the major areas where more help is needed. On the other hand, less experienced event planners will discover that mapping all the tasks in the process can give a much clearer visual way to proceed.
There is no need to be too granular about the process. It is also best to avoid uncertain areas. If the benefit of engaging with technology is not immediate, it means there is little value. Also, if the problems associated with the tech solutions are more than the benefits, you may want to pass.
Reconciling the process with a benefit should be an ‘aha’ moment, characterized by an effective and clear tangible outcome for the stakeholder involved.
It is also a good idea to prioritize the areas that need more help or present a better opportunity.
Decision Time. Get Your Hands Dirty
Once you’ve done your homework and research it’s time to come to a decision. The decision-making process can be broadly broken into four main parts:
AGREE ON GOALS AND SHORTLIST TECHNOLOGY OPTIONS
Agree on what you need to achieve using your new event technology and shortlist options by comparing technology on its ability to help you achieve your objectives.
EVALUATE EVENT TECHNOLOGY AND SUPPLIERS
Arrange a demo of the technology and ensure that you’re able to test it to your satisfaction. Make sure to investigate support options and integration with other tools. Perhaps most importantly, calculate the total cost of implementation.
SELECT THE BEST TOOL AND EVANGELIZE
Once you’ve selected the best tool, work with the supplier to overcome any remaining concerns you might have over implementation and make sure they’re in your corner to help you introduce the new technology to your colleagues or attendees.
HAVE A PLAN B
Don’t immediately bin the old way and everything associated with it as soon as the ink is dry on the agreement. If the technology doesn’t fulfill its promises, make sure you have a backup plan to lean on.
If You Don’t Measure It, It Doesn’t Exist
EVALUATE SUCCESS AND ROI
It’s important to make sure you measure the effectiveness of tools you’re using to meet your objectives:
1. BE SPECFIC
While eventtech is largely used to generate more marketing and sales opportunities, by no means can eventtech be reduced just to these areas. In fact, more often than not, technology is a tool to smooth processes. Being specific about what you’re measuring and why you’re measuring it will allow you to continually improve processes over time.
2. USE PARTNERS.
Make sure during the purchasing phase that event tech suppliers will be right next to you in supporting your measurement. This should be part of the contract you agree to sign. In competitive event environments where accountability is everything, you cannot overlook such a detail.
3. LOOK AT ALL THE METRICS
It is of utmost importance to start your program with all the correct KPIs and measurement frameworks in place before going forward. This is specifically true of any category or tool aimed at internal processes. Having an idea of your current processes (timing, difficulty, and efficiency) is paramount for later benchmarking.
4. AVOID TECH BIASES.
Gradually implement internal technology with those members of your team who are more inclined to tech. They will be immediately able to share whether a tool was useful or not with an unbiased perspective. Implementing in increments and with the right people is key. The same approach also applies to external, attendee-facing tools.
5. CLARITY IN REPORTING
Make clarity the motto of your eventtech selection strategy. Do not compromise on the user experience of the selected tool. Ensure that the company you decided to work with is able to give you vital metrics that will help you in your analysis and that they are focused on the same benefits you are trying to offer to your stakeholders.
Change isn’t easy for anyone but if you have clients or a boss that are tech-phobic, being sensitive to these most common concerns can help you convince them the technology is exactly what they need to be more productive and grow their event.
Below, we’ve listed some of the most common fears event planners’ clients have relating to event technology and how to assuage them.
Complicated Event Software Can Be Off-Putting
It’s highly likely that any technology applied to events will be used in conjunction with other technology or software. The prospect of difficult, time-costly data transfers can be very off-putting for clients, especially if the data has to be manipulated between applications.
Remove the burden of over-complication:
- keyboard_arrow_right Make sure your new event technology integrates well with software that your client is already using.
- keyboard_arrow_right Some complication is unavoidable - ensure that the client is sufficiently educated and supported.
- keyboard_arrow_right Know the technological limitations of your client as well as knowing the limitations of the technology
If It's Not Tried and Tested You Can’t Know It Will Work
Clients do not want to be your test subject. Convincing someone to use technology is easier to do if you are a power user.
Give your clients confidence in event technology:
- keyboard_arrow_right Never use the client as a guinea pig for completely unknown technology
- keyboard_arrow_right Only sell it if you know it will work - a proven track record of successful uses and implementations, and sharing data to back claims about the benefits will foster trust.
Your Event Technology Must Address Client Needs
It’s important that you know and understand your client’s objectives. Clients never want to adopt technology for technology’s sake. It’s nice to have the latest event technology but it’s worth nothing if it doesn’t help the client achieve their goals.
Use eventtech to help your client meet their objectives :
- keyboard_arrow_right Fully understand your client's objectives - why do they need this technology?
- keyboard_arrow_right Make sure the client understands the business reason for adopting the technology.
- keyboard_arrow_right Prove it - show the client that the technology works with real-life case studies
Event Technology Is Very Expensive
The expense in itself is not a deal breaker, but expense without return or expense with a murky return are unacceptable to most businesses, even those with deep pockets.
Kill event technology cost concerns with benefits:
- keyboard_arrow_right Make sure the client knows the total cost of ownership (TCO)
- keyboard_arrow_right Share projections of how your client will see a return on investment
- keyboard_arrow_right Prove it - provide case studies of previous success stories
Learning New Event Technology Is Overwhelming
Learning a new technology is time-costly and can be overwhelming. This is even more of a problem if it’s not made clear how much learning will be needed to implement and use the new event technology.
Quell fears of a steep learning curve:
- keyboard_arrow_right Make sure your client knows what to expect in terms of learning a new platform or technology.
- keyboard_arrow_right Be clear upfront about the amount of time needed to prevent feelings of being misled later on.
- keyboard_arrow_right Assure your client that you can support them to the level they need and be able to deliver on that assurance.
The modern meeting planner has to be adept at using technology to manage, promote and support their events. However, with an ever-changing technology landscape, this isn’t always easy. Here we look at some of the common pitfalls and how to avoid them:
Don’t Fall Prey To Unclear Objectives - Focus On Need
Before you adopt a new technology take the time to clarify and understand what you really want it to do. Make a list of the key challenges, pain points and expectations that you have. Unclear objectives can lead to over-excitement and early adoption of inappropriate technologies or technophobia and an unwillingness to try new tools.
Create a list of features you are looking for and separate that list into ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to have’. This will keep you on task and prevent you from getting distracted by features that you don’t really need.
Give Yourself Time To Adopt New Technology
Always make sure you have enough time to thoroughly do your research, test drive the software, evaluate proposals and negotiate with suppliers. Deciding which software to use can be a massive undertaking. There are hundreds of event technologies to choose from and you may find yourself learning a new language to make sense of it all.
Each of these steps takes even more time and you need to be prepared for a learning curve. Lead time by using off-the-shelf software. Sign-up-and-go solutions allow you to get started right away and put you in the driving seat.
Avoid Tech Disasters By Using Trusted Suppliers
Find suppliers who have a great track record and don’t be afraid to work with smaller companies. Many of these smaller companies have great passion, commitment, and creativity. However, do make sure that you ask for references and check out some recent examples of events they have supported.
Listen to and trust the advice of your supplier. Explain what you want to achieve not how you want to achieve it. You are an expert on your event and they are an expert on the technology. Allow them to provide that expertise to you.
Measure Event Tech Performance In Line With Objectives
Make sure your measurements mirror your event objectives. For example, if you are using technology to create a more efficient check-in process then you might measure the check-in times or how long people have to line-up.
Given how much time and money you have invested in technology you need to know if it’s doing its job. You also need real-time feedback so that you can make corrections along the way. For example, if you are getting lots of website traffic but hardly anyone is registering for your event you need to know about that.
Use Onsite Testing To Prevent WiFi Blackouts
Work out how much bandwidth your event needs and compare it to what the venue has available. It is a mistake to assume that your venue will provide great WiFi. In addition to your event-specific needs, take into account a tech-savvy audience that may have multiple devices.
To find out what bandwidth is available, do an onsite speed test. Work with your venue to optimize your WiFi access and if all else fails you may consider hiring a company to set up your own hotspot for the event.
Provide Attendee Education and Tech Support
Make sure every point at which your attendees interface with eventtech is as easy for them as possible. Not everyone has the same level of technical aptitude and some attendees may even be complete technophobes.
In addition to making sure each touch point is as simple as possible, always ensure that you have the ability to easily educate and support your attendees if they need it.
Event technology is getting a lot of attention. Many companies are getting an incredible amount of investment and pouring it into changing event planners’ perceptions.
But what’s in it for you?
A lot of headaches.
That’s why we’ve summed up the main types of event technology you should really care about. The ones that can make a difference for you in your planning process, for attendees to make the event more memorable and for sponsors to make their investment worthwhile. For each of them, we’ve given you fast action points to consider.
We have also summed up some quick actions for each type of technology. If you want the full picture, get a copy of our free pdf, the State of Event Technology.
Event Technology for Better Venue And Destination Tools
DESTINATION AND VENUE SELECTION
Venue selection is more than just ticking boxes in terms of room capacities and costs. The right venue choice can support your event messaging, and also open up possibilities in terms of meeting design, innovative tech, and experimental room layouts.
Use Tech to Find the Right Venue:
Use an online venue search and RFP tool to select your next event venue
Start with a very specific list of venue requirements, e.g. the main room with a ceiling height of over 2m, four break-out rooms holding 60 theater-style and within 20 miles of the airport. If no suitable options are returned, you can look at changing the search filter criteria to see more options.
Before requesting venue proposals, be clear in exactly what you are looking for; what things are essential and which are compromisable or 'nice to have'. This will enable the venues to answer the brief more clearly in their response.
Time the send out of your eRFPs carefully. Sending a request out at 4.45pm on a Friday may get a slower response than issuing at 10am on a Tuesday.
On your eRFP, ask venues to cost their offer as a complete package or DDR (Day Delegate Rate) and also to give the cost of the room hire, catering, AV, etc separately. This allows you to calculate the best deal for you as well as lowest risk and outlay.
Comprehensive, strategic venue sourcing solutions make a comparison of the deals much easier, including comparing against the history of previous rates offered, and other business opportunities which are currently on the table.
Having such rich data can greatly improve the bargaining power of the event planner and assist with serious venue negotiation.
Use Tech to Negotiate a Better Venue Deal:
Go to venue marketplaces and venue RFP portals
Undertake multiple searches on different sites to see the different results that are returned. Many websites, listing sites and marketplaces only list venues that have paid for the privilege or are not always kept up-to-date so it can be worthwhile to search a few different sites.
If you have a number of events coming up which you would be happy to place in one venue, discuss the options for placing the business with them and the bulk discount they could offer in return.
Make sure you know the history of recent business done with shortlisted venues, including the total value of the booking, rates offered, and evaluation of the event. This data will put you in a much stronger position to negotiate the best rates.
Virtual tours, 3D plans, virtual event planning, room layouts and reviews all assist with the shortlisting process, even before you can physically visit the venues. Sometimes it is necessary to book a venue ‘site unseen’ (without personal inspection or appraisal) and technology, such as VR venue inspections, gives event planners the means and confidence to do this by making them feel like they know the venue well before they have even stepped foot inside.
Use Tech to Shortlist the Perfect Venues:
Ask your shortlisted venues for a virtual site inspection first. Video conferencing can save money on travel. Is it necessary to visit the site three times or can some of those trips be done virtually?
Virtual reality allows you to visualize the setup of your design, cutting travel costs and the time it may take to rearrange something that wasn’t working once it was set up. You can solidly rely on virtual reality to help you shortlist the best venue options.
Some venues have developed virtual tour apps which can work to demonstrate different event room layouts even when you are on site. During a walk around, point the iPad around the venue to look at the spaces with different setups and production from previous events. The 360-degree rendering can look so real it is easier to envisage your own event set up clearly, even if you are standing in an empty hall. See through walls and imagine the possibilities.
If your shortlisted venue has none of the above, ask yourself, are they modern enough to earn my business?
See through walls and imagine the possibilities
Managing flights, ground transport and getting live updates and status helps to keep everything on track when managing multiple schedules and reacting to any changes which need to be made as a result.
Use Tech to Streamline Transport:
Use a platform to manage flights and transfers to and from venues. Don’t leave this to spreadsheets. Intelligent event management systems can enable flight information and hotel confirmations to be emailed and automatically populate the details against each name, without requiring any manual input from the event planner.
Ask your DMC (if you work with one) if they work with such systems and to give you visibility over transfers.
If you don’t work with local partners for transfers and you manage large events, encourage those traveling to your event to use lift-sharing websites to travel together. As well as the environmental impact, this buddying system can enable new connections, even before they reach the venue.
Problems with WiFi are still a constant bugbear and in a depressing number of venues the bandwidth and connection speeds are not good enough. It needs to be tested first-hand using Speedtest and if necessary enhanced by bringing in a temporary WiFi provider.
Do This Now:
Shop around. The event venue isn’t always the cheapest solution for WiFi. Check out other options before signing an agreement. If you find something cheaper, let the venue know. They may match the price.
Increase revenue by getting your WiFi sponsored and giving the sponsor a branded splash page when people sign in.
However good a venue tells you their WiFi is, always test bandwidth, speeds, and capacity yourself.
Event Technology for Registration And Check-In
ONLINE EVENT REGISTRATION AND TICKETING
Online event registration and ticketing is a fundamental part of most events today. Most event planners use an online system to capture important details from those wishing to attend, which saves the event planner’s time and ensures better accuracy (no issues deciphering bad handwriting).
Bespoke registration forms can be set up requesting as many details as required by the organizer, including using conditional logic to elicit additional information depending on the specific answers given.
This centralized data can then be used across other eventtech, such as within the event app and to segment and personalize email communications.
Consider every question asked on your event registration form. Of course, you need to collect important information, but if it isn't essential don't ask the question. For each additional piece of information requested you are potentially reducing the number of people that will see the booking process through to completion. If people walk away, they might not come back.
Choose an online registration system that remembers the details from past attendees so they don't have to re-enter their details. This will reduce entry errors and time spent in the process and will decrease the number of people who abandon the process.
Requiring registration in advance helps you be more of a connector. You know who’s coming and you can consider a game plan of introductions or the seating plan ahead of time. You could ask a question during the registration process, such as their niche and top area of expertise. This could then be added to each of the attendee badges saying "Ask me about xxx" and can act as a simple ice-breaker.
SECURE ONLINE PAYMENTS
Online event registration platforms generally offer many advantages to save the event planner unnecessary work, such as automatic ticketing, confirmations, reminders, receipts, and invoices, analytics, easy exporting and importing of data. Payments for paying events can be taken securely as part of the transaction, including for extra sessions, merchandise, and activities.
Make Sure to:
Verify with your registration provider that they comply with all international laws, including GDPR, in terms of all financial transactions and data handled via their system. If you take payments over the phone ensure that staff are handling sensitive data correctly and that no information is recorded or written down.
Consider a registration provider that accepts card payments and payments by well-known payment processors, such as Paypal and Stripe. If attendees have a choice of provider they can select the method they are most comfortable with and if they are already signed up the process will be quicker.
Data security should be taken seriously. Ensure that all passwords are encrypted and that data is handled in line with the law and best practice.
ONSITE REGISTRATION AND EVENT CHECK-IN
Onsite registration is possible using a guestlist app, scanners, web-based check-in, facial recognition, NFC, RFID or self-service kiosks. Badges can be triggered to automatically print on demand at the point of arrival to reduce unnecessary printing and waste and to save time and the setup space required at registration. Some systems enable automatic VIP notifications to be triggered when a special guest or speaker checks into the event.
Check-in systems allow real-time updates and monitoring in terms of numbers onsite, which is handy if you need to keep an eye on numbers for catering purposes.
Make it Swift by:
Using beacons to enable automated check-in when an attendee enters the event space.
Reducing check-in time and queues with facial recognition.
Getting notified when your keynote speaker or celebrity guest checks into the event and ensure you are there to meet them.
Some smart badges, passes, wristbands and even rings can be used for cashless payments and transactions. These systems can operate in different ways but generally, they can be pre-paid and loaded with credit that can be spent during the event or linked directly to take payments on the spot.
Good to Know:
RFID cards are all the rage but some people still don’t feel comfortable adding their credit card information to it. Now there’s a solution that uses cell phones and either credit cards or RFID cards to pay. It just takes a quick tap and you don’t need any other tech like scanners.
Cashless transactions can happen on a case by case basis or often they have an amount prepaid and can keep spending until the user’s credit runs out. It can reduce crime at events and also reduce worries of losing or overspending on their cards at the event.
Events using RFID bracelets and cashless payments require them to be activated in advance of the event, otherwise, admission to the site will be denied. They also encourage uploading credit at least a week in advance and reward this with extra credits, to the value of a free drink, for instance.
Event Technology: Event and Project Management Software
EVENT AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE
There are all-in-one solutions which can take care of registrations, task management, marketing and communications within one platform. Obviously, there are many benefits of comprehensive tools that help you manage everything in one place and that gives the peace of mind that if a piece of data is updated in one place, this is reflected everywhere, without manual intervention. Alternatively, there are standalone tools which handle specific elements, such as project management, vendors, and suppliers, tasks and workflows.
This is essential reading if you are investigating the best event management software.
Consider purchasing only software that either integrates with other platforms or offers all the modules you need
Discard very specific technology, you will end up with silos of tech that don’t speak to each other
Assess your current event technology stack. Move somewhere else if your software is old or does not keep up with changes. It may take sweat and tears but it will be well worth it.
Event schedules can constantly evolve through the lifecycle of the event and technology exists to enable detailed event agendas and running orders to be created, adding detailed notes, making updates easy to make and printing bespoke copies of the information required by different staff members or teams at your event. Some tools even allow live updates to share precisely where in the schedule everything is up to and notify team members outside of the plenary room how long until the session wraps up, for efficient show management.
Be a Master Scheduler:
Choose software that allows detailed schedules to be built and these can be filtered to show only the information relevant to each person, so they know exactly what they need to do, when, and don't get bogged down in unnecessary instructions.
Prefer software that allows you to track the event program by the minute. This is helpful to highlight progress even to those that are outside of the room. Knowing precisely how everything is proceeding can enable catering, staff, and notifications to be ready, even if the even is running ahead or behind schedule.
Event running orders are constantly changing, so event planners need to work with tools that enable updates to be made quickly. Prefer a drag and drop interface as it can often provide the fastest way to work.
STAFF AND VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT
On large events, managing staff and volunteers effectively can benefit from tech, particularly to handle communication, changes, and updates. Some tools are app-based to allow easy updating on the move, or even when onsite at the event. For instance, if someone doesn’t turn up and you need to allocate staff to different roles and locations this can be dragged and dropped within the app and notifications sent to the staff members involved.
Make Sense of the Staff and Volunteers Mayhem:
Use an app to manage your staff and volunteers better on site and quickly re-allocate staff to different roles and locations, as required.
Make good use of event staff 'marketplaces' for last minute staff requirements.
Many project management solutions have time tracking capability so you can track exactly how much time you and your team are spending working on each specific event project. This allows you to charge back your time accurately and estimate budgets more precisely for future work.
EVALUATION AND REPORTING TOOLS
Surveys and evaluation forms can be issued, completed and analyzed digitally to gain feedback from event attendees. Data such as ticket sales, workshop sessions attended, budget position and dropout rates should also be collated. C02 calculations and other intelligence and reports relevant to your event should also be gathered. All the intelligence can be discussed at the debrief meeting, so you have a solid idea of what went well and where exactly improvements and changes can be made for the future.
How To Get Feedback That Matters:
For professional events, try using a video booth to record attendee testimonials or gather feedback. This is a new and unique way to hear from your guests as they are experiencing the event. This content can also be recycled into future promotional or marketing segments.
Put technology in place to share updates in real time, so that you can make adjustments during the course of your event and take action before issues develop into larger problems.
Use Beacons, RFID or NFC to capture activity next to sponsor areas and provide better reporting on their activities.
Event Technology: Mobile Apps, AI And Concierge Tools
EVENT MOBILE APPS
Event mobile apps put important event information at your delegates fingertips. The event schedule, floor plan, attendee profiles, abstracts, presenter bios, exhibitor, and sponsor information can all be contained within one small application. Event apps can help to cut down printing, staffing requirements and streamline communications and actions within your attendees’ smartphones.
Event apps can help to cut down printing, staffing requirements and streamline communications and actions within your attendees' smartphones.
How To Make the Most of Mobile Apps:
Ask yourself, does my event really need a mobile app?
If yes, commit to it. Share it with the world, make sure attendees cannot miss it. Poor app communication is the top reason why apps don’t get downloaded or used
Centralize event information in the app, decrease show guide printing in favor of apps.
APP TECHNOLOGY AND FEATURES
Deep learning is powering the evolution of event apps by providing immediate responses and actionable items for event professionals using apps, by analyzing and sometimes predicting responses. Push notifications and beacons are also important. By triggering messages, particularly targeted messages, at specific times, locations or to a segment of attendees who meet certain criteria, it is increasing the likelihood that it will encourage action as a result.
What You Should Look For In Event Apps:
User interface. Don’t choose apps that look like 1999. No matter how good their salesperson is.
Chatbot and audio. Favor chatbot and voice-activated apps. Nobody has time to navigate through 10 screens to get a simple piece of information. Favor speed over complexity.
Choose an app that supports your objectives. Some apps are better for scheduling and program view, some others for networking. Choose an app that serves the main tech objective that you identified in the process mapping stage.
Event Technology: Marketing and Social Media Tools
Many platforms exist to enable event planners to set up their own websites if they wish, or they can pay a professional to do it for them. Dedicated landing pages, lightboxes, and pop-ups can be added to help to personalize the messages and prompt people to take action.
Choose responsive websites
Don’t rely on your registration service for websites, they are usually crap. Invest in a proper, custom website, especially if you are selling tickets. Don’t settle for less, just because it’s easy and convenient. Selling tickets is not easy and convenient. It requires effort!
Choose a flexible CMS platform such as WordPress. If you use an all in one solution for apps, registration, and engagement, make sure they have a solid website offering. Your website is important.
EVENT PROMOTION AND DIGITAL TOOLS
Event Promotion and Digital Tools can offer clever ways to target and gain exposure with your attendees. Free and low-cost tools can give event planners skills to create effects that were only previously possible with extensive training and expensive professional software. For example, design and photo editing are now much easier to achieve on a budget and to do yourself if you want to.
Be Clever with your Promotion:
Do it yourself should not mean amateur. While it can be good to save some bucks, don’t be cheesy or standardized. How can your attendees be excited about an event that uses already seen templates?
Try to allocate even a little budget to use per project with freelancers that can customize templates for you. It makes a huge difference
You are not a web designer, you are an event planner. Don’t start being a web designer unless it’s just about getting things done quickly and if there is no other option.
LIVE EVENT PROMOTION, BRANDING AND SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
From tried and tested options, such as digital signage, interactive touch screens, and social walls, through to sponsored charging points, projection mapping, and drone streaming, there is the opportunity to be inventive. Sponsors are demanding more and need reassurance about the value they are getting as a result of their investment in the event.
Be a Guerrilla Ninja:
Drone footage can give an exciting and fresh angle to your event, to make people sit up and take notice. Consider creating drone footage over the area around your event venue, capturing the sunrise and sunset shots.
With always-changing room configurations and potential for itinerary changes during an event, ensure digital signage can be updated regularly and on the fly with minimal effort.
If you are using a free live streaming tool you probably want to limit these live engagements to 20-30 minutes at the longest, due to audience attention spans and time limitations within the tools themselves.
TRACKING AND REPORTING
Learn about how people navigate your website, which calls to action have the most clicks, and which campaign resonates the most with your audience. By taking time to understand the myriad of data at our fingertips we can be much more successful at sending out the right messages and making tweaks which result in more positive conversions.
Don’t Miss a Single Click:
Track how visitors use your website. Watch out for assisted conversion paths in your analytics to understand the impact of your marketing activities, such as social media, on conversions
Assuming someone has downloaded content from you in the past or are on your email list, you can track every time they visit your site (if you’ve invested in the technology to do so). Pay particular interest to what they’re downloading and the pages they’re visiting.
Don’t underestimate Google Search. Look through your tracking and analytics settings to see what your attendees are searching for.
Event Technology: Engagement and Live Interaction Tools
INTERACTION AND ENGAGEMENT
Interaction and engagement through polling, voting, and live Q&A is a powerful way to get real-time feedback from your audience and to explore what is on the mind of your attendees. By getting instantaneous reactions and feedback it can also be used to pivot the event if it reveals that more time and focus should be given to different issues.
How To Be Better at Engagement:
Every event mobile app now offers live polling. Don’t duplicate apps. Choose all-in-one solutions
If you don’t brief your speakers/performers, don’t expect attendees to use engagement tools. You need to properly communicate the use of tech.
Awful WiFi will upset everyone; you, the attendees, the speakers and the sponsors. Invest in good WiFi.
TRAINING AND COLLABORATION
Technology can support learning through training and collaboration tools. In training sessions, it is possible for users to submit their answers and then reveal all the responses from the wider group, which can lead to a richer discussion about the varying interpretations. Heat maps can be used to show the greatest concentration of answers, as well as using general graphs and charts to illustrate the spread and most popular answers.
Heat Maps can be used to show the greatest concentration of answers.
Cool Collaboration Tools:
Visual collaboration is pretty cool, particularly if you organize corporate events.
Live slide sharing. Share slides live on mobile devices.
Free tools such as slack or Facebook Groups can be kick-ass collaboration tools for events, don’t discard them ‘just because’ look into them and try them.
Gamification can get attendees excited and using scavenger hunts, challenges and quizzes can be a great way to work as a team and get to know people, as well as exploring the local area and all corners of the show floor. It can be a fun way to ensure contact with your key sponsors and to encourage desired behaviors, such as social media activity, sharing photos, completing challenges and talking to key stakeholders.
How To Make Playful Events:
Give a different twist to gamification by having a swag scavenger hunt, where you have to find the vendor who has each item.
Gamification + social media has been proven to create incredible content opportunities. Social media leaderboards can be pretty awesome, Try one for your event and ignite some competition.
Gamifying trade shows is a great way to create traffic to exhibition booths. You can combine scavenger hunts or augmented reality with the action of visiting a booth and learning about exhibitors.
AUGMENTED AND VIRTUAL REALITY
Augmented and Virtual Reality are hot topics in the event industry, although there sometimes seems to be some confusion over what each technology does. Augmented reality is a great tool to animate and distort things, as used with filters and effects you can add via Snapchat and Instagram. Virtual reality is focused on creating an immersive online environment, within which people can react and enjoy shared experiences, such as enjoying an event and interacting with other virtual attendees. Mixed reality is a mixture of virtual and augmented reality. Where VR allows the user to interact with virtual things in a virtual world, mixed reality allows interaction with virtual things in the real world or real things in a virtual world. Substituting a holographic projection or VR experience for a live keynote speaker is entirely possible.
Augmented reality is a great tool to animate and distort things.
Virtual reality is focused on creating immersive online environment.
Be an AR/VR Visionary:
Exhibitors can use VR headsets to demonstrate products that are too difficult or expensive to transport.
Offer to sponsors AR filters to superimpose branded messages in areas of your event. Add a gamification twist and you have got an amazingly engaging experience.
Give attendees a way of experiencing an event live with a 360° immersive video experience, which can even be enjoyed from their smartphone.
Event Technology: Networking and Matchmaking Tools
One of the biggest motivators for attending events is meeting like-minded people and networking. Whether it is a B2B event and people are looking for opportunities to do business or a consumer event where people want to feel connected, the perception of the event will be directly impacted by how well they interact with other people present.
Must-haves of Networking Technology:
Make sure your app integrates with major social networks so it can quickly capture the attendee's profile information and pre-fill his networking profile.
Just a list of who’s attending doesn’t cut it anymore. I want to know who should I meet and who I already know is attending, based on the information on my social profiles.
Use push notifications in apps to stimulate networking, don’t leave it to attendees.
Matchmaking goes a step further and intelligently matches or scores the compatibility of different attendees. It often relies on the guest selecting a few tags for the things they are interested in or looking for, and it can then offer the best results for the people the participant should talk to. By identifying common ground they can also get straight to the conversations that matter and make the most of their networking opportunities.
Your exhibitors will base their desire to return to your event next year on their return on investment of attendance. Yet, if they don’t follow up on the leads they are given how will you know what’s on them and what’s on you? With matchmaking software, you can run reports on the networking and messaging activity taking place to give you better insights into the networking activity.
Your tool needs to have the ability to message within an app. If the attendee has questions or schedules need to be changed, giving them easy access to contacting the people they’re meeting with is a much more pleasant experience than trying to fish through a swag bag of business cards.
It’s easy to use matchmaking for attendees who are seeking specific services or interests but it’s equally important to find out from your exhibitors and sponsors as to who is their ideal client. The more you can narrow down the interests of both sides, the better match you can make.
LEAD RETRIEVAL AND INFORMATION GATHERING
Lead retrieval is important to exhibitors and sponsors looking for warm leads and potential new customers. The number of details and inquiries gathered and the quality of these contacts can directly impact whether or not they re-sign up to be involved next year. If they can generate a volume of business as a direct result of the show it can justify the costs of attending and prove that it has been worthwhile.
Make Your Events Lead Magnets:
Integrating a business card reader within your networking app help attendees make the most of their investments by syncing data with their CRM system.
Invest in a digital business card. These cards can include brochures, ebooks, schedules and more. The information is accessed by tapping the card to your phone. This can save large amounts of money on printing and is a lot less cumbersome to carry around than a tote bag full of paper.
Giving your sponsors and exhibitors access to lead retrievals makes connections easier and avoids any lost contacts.
Understanding event technology is one thing but what you really need are tactics that can be employed to the benefit of your overall event objectives. Unless you’ve been there and done it, it’s difficult to know the possibilities and limitations of eventtech. It’s a brave - and big - new world.
Fortunately, event technology has now reached a stage of maturity where there are already several tried and tested tactics that can help you get the most out of your event.
We’ve listed some of the best tried and tested eventtech tactics for driving benefits to all aspects of event management, from event promotion to attendee management and everything in between:
Save Time With Online Venue Comparisons
When reviewing potential venues, work with a tool that enables you to compare them side by side to easily see the differences between options. This can save a great deal of time reading multiple websites and paper literature.
- keyboard_arrow_right Compare venue features with side-by-side comparison tools.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use comparison to generate a shortlist for further investigation.
- keyboard_arrow_right Utilize 360-degree video tours to get a feel for a venue without stepping foot in the building.
Make Attendees Feel Welcome With SMS Messaging
Improve attendee experience by making them feel more welcome. Customize text messages for your event attendees so they receive a welcome message as soon as they land at the airport, or arrive at the hotel.
Things to Consider:
- keyboard_arrow_right Consider SMS messaging as part of your event tech solution.
- keyboard_arrow_right Think one step ahead of the attendee - they’ve arrived at the airport, how can you help them?
- keyboard_arrow_right Make sure text messages are addressed to the attendee personally.
Improve Attendee Experience With Facial Recognition
Wait times continue to be one of the biggest bugbears for event attendees. Facial recognition technology solves the issue by speeding up check-ins. Other common uses for face recognition include personalization and security.
Consider Benefits of Facial Recognition Technology:
- keyboard_arrow_right Reduce queue-lines by implementing face recognition check-ins.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use face recognition to personalize experiences at tech touchpoints (kiosks, booths etc.) by recognizing attendees as they approach.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use face recognition to create frictionless access control for attendees.
Always Keep Your Data and Attendees Safe
The security of your attendees, stakeholders, and their data is paramount, however, threats evolve. Worrying about security upfront can save you an enormous amount of money and can even save lives.
- keyboard_arrow_right Ensure that all passwords are encrypted and that data is handled in line with the law, GDPR and other legislation and best practice.
- keyboard_arrow_right Observe a strict backup procedure in line with best practice
- keyboard_arrow_right Consider face recognition and multi-camera threat identification systems where large crowds are present
Increase Efficiency and Revenue with NFC and Virtual Check-ins
Lengthy check-ins and queue-lines for bars and merchandise cost you both in time and interest for attendees. Very few lines are pleasurable and it can limit your sales as well.
Increase Event Revenue:
- keyboard_arrow_right Consider virtual check-ins which allow the attendee to check in using an app or website.
- keyboard_arrow_right Speed up check-ins at the venue with NFC (near field communication) passes, badges or tickets.
- keyboard_arrow_right Increase bar and merchandise sales by using NFC cashless payments.
Personalize Registration Forms With Conditional Logic
Knowing your attendees is key to delivering a good event experience. Make sure you’re asking the right questions to the right people on your registration forms.
Personalize Online Registration:
- keyboard_arrow_right Use conditional logic to tailor the form based on the answers given, avoiding irrelevant questioning.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use answers to create audience segments for future targeted messaging.
- keyboard_arrow_right Create a process to test forms before going live.
Utilize Mobile Apps For Maximum Team Efficiency
Event professionals rarely get the opportunity to sit at a desk when an event is in full flow so it’s important to be able to get information to them when they are on the move.
Streamline Team Communications:
- keyboard_arrow_right Make sure any eventtech software you use has a mobile app available for maximum efficiency.
- keyboard_arrow_right Consider event apps with private backchannels and direct messaging
- keyboard_arrow_right Make sure your reminders get seen by your event team by using text messages - SMS text messaging is much more likely to get noticed than an email when at a busy event.
Use Voice Recognition For Attendee Convenience
Simply asking a question is much easier than navigating through pages of information. Give your attendees a quick and easy way to get the information they need by using voice recognition. Asking for directions to the nearest toilets or to a specific session is the quickest and easiest way to get the information.
The Future is Voice Controlled:
- keyboard_arrow_right Consider event apps with voice control and concierge functionality
- keyboard_arrow_right Use kiosks with voice recognition to direct attendees around the event
- keyboard_arrow_right Replace fiddly FAQs with voice-controlled chatbots
Make The Most of Useful Event Content
Event experiences can be improved greatly by convenience and why reinvent the wheel when conference vendors may already have created great resources that could be shared publicly.
Create a Library within your Event App:
- keyboard_arrow_right Include a resource center in your event app, where attendees can search for, save, write notes, favorite and share documents relating to your event.
- keyboard_arrow_right Ask session leaders to share an article in your online public space or create a deep dive file library.
- keyboard_arrow_right Offer access to content as a special perk for early-bird registrants.
Leverage Community To Learn, Connect And Promote
Online communities allow event organizers to get closer to their audiences. They are more than just a platform for promotion. Engaging with your audience can also help you better learn what makes a great experience for them.
- keyboard_arrow_right Consider developing your own online community. Social Networks such as Facebook and Linkedin provide free community platforms or choose an event app with a private chatroom or social function.
- keyboard_arrow_right Engage with audiences across social networks. Build a rapport.
- keyboard_arrow_right Be active in groups on LinkedIn. Show your expertise, share content and contribute to discussions on interesting topics.
Use Data To Find The Value In Connections
Analyze the Findings:
- keyboard_arrow_right Use data from matchmaking apps to gain insight into attendee ROI
- keyboard_arrow_right Compare matchmaking data with overall event satisfaction data to establish impact and mark areas for improvement
- keyboard_arrow_right Measure usage statistics. Are your attendees using it? If not, why not? Were there connections at the event they wanted but couldn’t find?
Use AI To Offer A Better Experience
Many matchmaking apps now use AI to better match attendees to each other. The technology learns from each connection or rejection to ensure that future matches are better suited to the individual.
- keyboard_arrow_right Increase overall attendee satisfaction by using AI, which learns from connections and rejections.
- keyboard_arrow_right Choose an AI matchmaking solution that integrates well with social networks. Networks such as Linkedin often have the answer to many of the questions asked by matchmaking software.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use AI matchmaking to continually learn about attendees.
Improve Efficiency With Software Integration
By using software platforms that talk to each other without the need for human input, you remove the opportunity for human error and remove friction from the process of information transfer.
Get Smart with Integration:
- keyboard_arrow_right Integrate your event software and tech with one database so that data will never get changed in one spot and not updated in another.
- keyboard_arrow_right Try event registration software that talks to your marketing automation software and you’ll never have to run those annoying import, exports again.
- keyboard_arrow_right Badges no longer service attendees. Technology is now available that lets you passively exchange information. No more badge scanners required. No more printing badges. Ditch business cards because this tech cannot only capture info for you but keeps a record of where your attendees have been and who they have been with.
Use Live Streaming to Increase Reach and Save Travel Costs
Live streamed video is one of the key technologies underpinning many of the technologies we use for communication and entertainment every day. Its usage is also becoming more prevalent in many areas of the event industry, saving costs on travel and helping to promote events with live content.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use video conferencing can help bring teams and geographically-scattered decision makers together without the need to travel.
- keyboard_arrow_right Reach more attendees and non-attendees to give them behind the scenes access using free live streaming technology such as Facebook Live.
- keyboard_arrow_right Interpreters can now use video live streaming technology to translate your event remotely and slash the costs of simultaneous translation. Current events technology allows translators to work remotely from laptops or desktops virtually anywhere in the world.
Work With Sponsors To Increase Revenue
Getting the right sponsors for your event can be a struggle but eventtech has the answer by way of matchmaking services to take the hassle out of the research phase. Beyond that, technology also allows you to develop that sponsor relationship further and generate even more income.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use technology as a matchmaking service to find event sponsors that fit your event and demographics. You select the type of the event and provide the details and market served and the software will do the rest.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use software to match sponsors to audiences based on effectiveness at past events and competitor events.
- keyboard_arrow_right Use technology to run digital campaigns on behalf of sponsors to create a new source of revenue for your event.
Event Technology is quickly changing the way we plan events. By using event technology you can save money, make events more engaging, provide better ROI to sponsors. These are just some of the benefits to start using event technology for your event today.
This page provides you a guide to get involved with eventtech for your next event projects. It will be also updated with the latest trends, tactics, and tips to successfully tackle the opportunities and challenges brought along by using technology at events.
Now onto you:
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