Event Technology – How can it add value to your events?
Due to the need to enhance the live attendee experience, the value of mobile devices for events has increased immensely. The justification for having one has now moved beyond reasons that solely benefit the organizer (being green, going paperless, creating revenue streams or being able to communicate changes to participants in real time) to those that also benefit the event participants. Now, it’s entirely possible to build an attendee experience around the benefits (utility, justification, connection and recognition) afforded by mobile devices—an advantage that no other event-industry technology has or can offer.
Utility: Event apps enable attendees to check-in, register, navigate and participate in a meeting or conference.
Justification: Digital satchels enable collection of session presentations, posters, papers, handouts via direct download and content-capture applications. Event apps enable attendees to justify their attendance to managers and establish a personal return on investment.
Connection: Attendees use their mobile devices to connect and share with peers via email, private messaging, SMS and social media, often via the official mobile app for the event.
Recognition: Game play, complete with leader boards and prizes, addresses attendees’ needs for recognition from their peers. Online networking within the app also allows users to comment and exchange ideas making their thought leadership more visible.
Mobile platforms are in a position to enhance the live attendee experience more effectively than other technologies for several reasons:
- Users presumably know how to use their own devices, for this reason there is less of a learning curve for them when they download a native event application.
- Mobile devices centralise and aggregate (on a single platform across multiple devices – PCs, kiosks, tablets, smartphones) the diverse applications required for an attendee to consume the event.
- Visitors bring their own devices. Provided that the event app selected by the event organiser functions on multiple operating systems most attendees can take advantage of it.
The instant-on, intuitive interface with screens large enough to manage documents makes iPads and other tablets a natural choice for meetings and tradeshows. They provide benefits for all parties involved:
- Attendees – rich media, interactive conference programs, networking and way-finding tools
- Exhibitors – interactive kiosks, easier lead exchange systems, appointment scheduling and survey tools
- Venues – an intuitive, portable sales tool
- Meeting planners – paperless conference binders eliminating the need to carry around 4” thick, 3-ring binders full of paper
The rate of technology change is accelerating with thousands of ideas, apps and innovations bubbling up to help meeting planners, exhibitors, venues and attendees to do their jobs better.
Pre Event Marketing and Engagement Tools
Internet video is widely used in society, is growing rapidly and has great opportunities for use in the events industry. Videos can engage viewers, can increase retention of content, are accessible via many devices, and can be easily shared via social media channels. The use of videos can improve your search engine rankings and video email marketing has fully trackable and higher click-through rates compared to traditional marketing methods. The costs to produce and distribute video from point of inception to delivery have reduced dramatically.
As events are visual, the visual nature video is a natural alternative to help market and extend the reach of events. Videos can be used before, during and after the event to convey the message and to improve attendance at future events.
- Hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute: 60
- Number of videos viewed on YouTube everyday: 4 billion
- Number of unique visits to YouTube every month: 800 million
- Total number of hours of video watched on YouTube each month: 3 billion
- Total number of views YouTube had in 2011: 1 trillion
This is certainly not new media but in my mind it still represents the most powerful engagement tool for marketing your events. When used properly of course. To date, no other marketing tool proves to be as effective as a well planned and executed email marketing campaign to boost attendee registrations and recognise sponsors. Email is a powerful way of interacting with clients, potential delegates, sponsors and exhibitors; generating interest in your event.
Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, Foursquare, Flickr. All of these can be used to listen to, share with and engage your audience when marketing your events. You just have to be prepared to listen and not heavily moderate your conversations.
Having a conference or exhibition app that is native to mobile devices takes advantage of the faster syncing capability, the enhanced graphics and the larger screen size of tablet devices. Going native also allows the ability to seamlessly use other applications, such as email, calendar, camera, alerts etc., as part of the event app.
A good native event app will provide features that support and enhance the event experience for all stakeholders including attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, speakers, local venues, restaurants, accommodation providers and of course the event manager. Native Event apps are rapidly becoming the tool of choice and can deliver content and engage your audience well beyond the walls of the event.
Audience polling devices are a great way of stimulating attendee interaction and finding out what they are thinking. However, traditional keypads can be beyond the budget for many events (from $3-12/person/day). Event App based polling/survey systems, are rapidly evolving and very soon will be the polling system of choice for all events.
Traditional surveys methods are problematic. Paper surveys are inefficient in tallying and end in landfills. Web surveys often are captured days after the event when impressions are cold often resulting a low response rate. Alternatively, mobile event app survey tools are low-cost, low in environmental impact, efficient in data collection and capture the data while the impressions are fresh.
There are a few apps in the market that offer lead retrieval for exhibitors such as DUB – Mobile Business Card Networking and iLeads but this requires deploying additional apps at your event. Quality event apps also incorporate lead retrieval systems either through QR code scanning or NFC (Near Field Communication).
The rapid development and deployment of technology in our social and event lives has presented many opportunities to us as individuals and as event organisations. It is important for us all that we learn to change and adapt to NEW technology quickly in order to make technology our slave and not our master.
Don’t be afraid to exploit technology through well planned event campaigns and you will be delighted with the results. Event Technology can and does add true value to the planning, marketing and participation phases of your events.
What an exciting future we have ahead.
About the author: Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards is the founder of Invisage Creative Services in Australia. With more than 20 years’ experience and knowledge in the meetings and events industry, Darren continues to drive creativity in events and the way they are run.
About Invisage Creative Services | www.invisage.net
Invisage Creative Services has been providing creative and technology products to the meetings and business events industry since 1993. Their vision is to connect people and to perfect the event experience by delivering creative, engaging, and collaborative technology solutions for meetings, conventions and tradeshows around the world. Core products include mobile event apps, collaborative technologies, virtual and hybrid events, email marketing, cloud based solutions, website development and graphic design.