With tech trends such as cloud computing, big data and the ‘internet of things’ (to name but a few) spitting out new products and inventions daily, there has never been a better time for event planners and meeting planners to create innovative engagement touchpoints.
Here are just 10 areas where technology has already been used to increase engagement for event attendees:
Using ‘big data’ event planners have started to build their event networking strategy based on what they know attendees are interested in. The event agency of the future will hire computational physicists, applied statisticians and engineers to help their event planners plan their events. The clever folk at the Web Summit refer to this as ‘engineering serendipity’.
2. The Attendee’s Wrist: Wearable Tech
You will probably be familiar with products such as Fitbit or Apple iWatch which use embedded sensors to feed data on your physical condition into an app or software. Now, event planners are embracing this technology to monitor data such as audience engagement levels. Check out the Pepsi Bioreactive Concert from 2014 where wristbands tracked the movement, temperature and excitement of fans at the show. Will conferences of the future be able to monitor audience engagement during a presentation and adapt the agenda or presentation accordingly? The technology is there to do it.
3. The Agenda
A very simple online portal or social media voting scheme can allow you to crowdsource the most relevant speakers, entertainment or activities for your event. This is a sure fire way of ensuring attendee satisfaction reaches never-seen-before levels because you have involved your audience as a stakeholder when designing your event agenda. About 40% of the sessions at the SXSW conference in Austin last year were crowdsourced through their SXSW Panelpicker
4. Pre-event Communications
Attendee data is being harnessed by savvy conference and event planners to make pre-event communications more personalised and targeted than ever before. Previously, we have seen the ‘spray and pray’ approach to pre-show communications but now marketing automation tools such as Hubspot or Marketo allow event organisers to communicate with many different segments of attendees based on their profiles and the data they have provided during the registration process.
5. The Speaker
Speaker-audience interaction technology has advanced a lot in the last few years. Not so long ago lashing a twitter wall up on screen was considered the height of speaker engagement solutions. Now, live polling and feedback apps such as Sli.do and Crowd Mics allow a two-way dialogue between the speaker / performer and the audience. Another fun way to get your audience activated is by introducing the Catchbox throwable microphone.
6. The Augmented World
Augmented Reality technology has been around for a few years now and the events industry – particularly festivals – has been at the forefront of AR activation in that time. Instead of using a traditional static map, printed or otherwise, smartphone-based applications allow organisers to give a view of a real-world environment with additional computer-generated information overlaid on to it. This could be really useful at trade shows to map our 100s of exhibitor stands. Two other areas where AR is being used effectively for event engagement are AR Product Demos at a trade shows and gamification (think of the hysteric levels of engagement generated by the Pokemon Go app).
7. Remote Presenters – Beam me in Scottie!
You may have seen these viral videos of deceased rapper Tupac ‘performing’ at the 2012 Coachella music festival as a hologram or Michael Jackson performing at the Billboard Music Awards in 2014. Technology to deliver remote presenters and performers has arrived and will certainly be a part of the future of the meeting and events industry. In 2016, two of Accenture’s leadership team beamed live into the company’s Chicago meeting from remote locations. This is happening.
Probably the most talked about technology when it comes to attendee engagement presently, event apps are becoming more advanced than ever. From a simple agenda to integrating with advanced gamification technologies, event apps are already a staple. For the latest advances in event app functionality, Julius Solaris’ Event App Bible is worth a read
9. Up in the Clouds: Drones
The sky really is the limit when it comes to engaging attendees using drone technology. Whether it’s a practical application like the Pepsi Max Friend Finder or a visual spectacle like the Intel Dancing Drone Show, drones are already being used to assist and wow attendees.
10. The Remote Audience
Meeting and event streaming is no longer limited to those event planners who can afford an expensive production team. Yes, large brands will want expert production professionals in place to deliver their hybrid events or event streaming portals, but applications such as Facebook Live or YouTube Streaming are making event streaming more accessible and affordable than ever.
Event planners of the future will look beyond stage design and venue management – they will be tech-savvy consultants in attendee engagement who can sift through a sea of technologies to create valuable and measurable live experiences. They will coach keynote speakers to use engagement tools. They will facilitate agendas, not set them. They will be a hybrid of Don Draper and Mark Zuckerberg – creatively brilliant with an engineer’s approach to innovation.