In the world of conferences and events, the buzzword ‘engagement’ is bandied around more than ever before. “We must engage our delegates”, “Our delegates must be engaged”, “How do we engage millennials?” etc
Any event, regardless of scale runs the risk of being a passive, solitary, unstructured, on-the-day activity – the somewhat old-school delegate experience of picking up some brochures and hoping the notes are readable in the office next day.
The right technology allows us to deliver an event as an interactive, engaging, tailored experience with a life-span greater than the physical event itself.
In short, the delegate is engaged for longer, … and it all starts sooner than you think.
A potential delegate, let’s call him Mike, registers his interest in a forthcoming event. He might attend, he might not. It’s a long way off but worth putting in the calendar as a ‘TBC’.
Sometime later, he’s informed of an agenda and speakers available on the website and in an event app. Curious but undecided, Mike downloads the app and takes a look at the content and the delegate list. To his delight, he spots that a former colleague and industry stalwart will be in attendance.
Decision made: he’s going. It’ll be good to catch up with old friends and some of those sessions look pretty interesting. He books a hotel, sorts his travel and starts to plan his schedule on the app. As an afterthought, he drops his old colleague an invite to meet for coffee at the venue. His invite is accepted.
At the event
Mike arrives at the venue, grabs a coffee and catches up with a couple of familiar faces before getting a reminder via the event app that his first session is about to start. Its interesting stuff, and valuably, a 2-way experience: the speaker asks questions of the audience which are replied to in real-time via the mobile event app or a web page. In fact, responses throw up some interesting ideas that the speaker uses in the session.
The audience also question the speaker via their devices: either formulating their own questions or ‘liking’ the questions of others that are shown on their screens. The speaker addresses the more popular ones to the relief of the shyer delegates who didn’t want to actually ask their question. Mike leaves the hall with a copy of the presentation on his device and quickly rates the session 4 out of 5.
On the exhibition floor he meets some interesting exhibitors but being in a rush chooses to grab all the brochures and blurb by tapping his badge against a pick-up point on a stand. He’s quite impressed with one exhibitor’s giant screen showing multiple videos with multiple tap points to get more info. He leaves the event armed with session and exhibitor content but thankfully, minimal paper.
On the train he can still see photos and comments streaming through about the event: some funny, others detailed but all only available to delegates, though the event’s official Twitter feed is mixed in to the delegate activity stream for good measure.
Later that week, Mike reviews a couple presentations on his device as he’d used the event app to make some notes against some of the sessions. One of the exhibitors emails him an invite to a demo breakfast. Having created his digital show-bag at the event, he considers their product and agrees to listen to a pitch over coffee and croissants.
An agency isn’t here to just put out the tables and chairs and print badges. Delegates have to be invested and engaged in an event if they’re going to give up their time and money to attend and technology neatly steps in to enable engagement more than ever before and for longer than before, crucially, to the benefit of both the delegate and organiser.
Tom Vamos, Digital Director, MCI UK, @tomvamos