Today’s events offer the best of both worlds when the right technology is applied to the immediacy of the face-to-face experience.
Delegates can enjoy the impact of personal, immediate interactions, networking opportunities and cutting-edge talks – with the added benefits of VR experiences, social sharing, personalised follow-up experiences and automated check-ins. In this way, the beauty of the face-to-face event is only enhanced through smart tech deployment.
Using technology to enhance delegate experience
For event organisers, the benefits of new software systems are also apparent. Social media can be used to raise awareness of an event and a website landing page can be used to capture registrations. Email marketing can be used to send value-add information and reminders before the event itself and scanners can be used to automate and speed up check-ins.
On the day, Tweetdecks can be used to share comments and images, voting handsets can be used for audience participation and digital contact cards can be shared for post-event networking.
The vast amount of data that can be gathered before, during and after the event also provides rich marketing and sales opportunities for add-ons and further fixtures.
Whereas some commentators saw the advent of these technologies as detrimental to the event industry, it seems as though quite the opposite is the case. Nowadays, digital platforms, app development and technological innovation like AR and VR is actually heightening the role of personal engagement events, offering measurable experiences for brands in terms of extending their reach and impact.
So, in a market packed with tech offerings, which new technologies can make a big difference to your corporate events?
1. Mobile Apps
Three-quarters of events now create their own app and the benefits of doing so are clear. Event organisers can use off-the-shelf packages with options to customise the offer shared with delegates. These can include features such as event registration, live polls, floor plans, speaker profiles, live streaming, social media integration and more.
When event attendees can be encouraged to download the app, the organisers can gather plenty of data for further analysis and offer added-value content, networking and content sharing as an incentive.
2. Social Media
Social media has become one of the most powerful event marketing technologies out there and has transformed the live events landscape, allowing people who cannot attend in person to experience the talks and activities as they occur, with full branding present and rich interactions.
For those at the event, the use of social media makes the experience more tailored and immersive, providing meaningful add-ons and the opportunity to engage with content and speakers in different ways. For example, an event can have its own Facebook page or LinkedIn page, encouraging event attendees to post their own thoughts, photos and videos at and after the event.
It’s important not to stop at Facebook either. Instagram has become a hugely powerful medium and is geared more towards posting photos and video of your event (as well as pre-event setup). It’s important to leverage the appeal of video and photos and Instagram is one of the best places to do it.
Hashtags aren’t just confined to Twitter either and can be used across all platforms allowing attendees and your wider network to track conversations relating to your event across platforms.
3. Event Registration and Print on Demand Badging
A professional event must always be well organised and a big part of this is the event registration and badging process. Event registration isn’t just about getting people to sign up for your event; it’s as much about getting people badged up and in through the doors of your event as quickly and effortlessly as possible.
Many software solutions allow attendees to pre-register and then access their badges, whilst others are Print-on-Demand and don’t require pre-registration at all. Many of these systems allow data to feed into an event organiser’s CRM via an API, allowing their marketing or sales team to follow up leads generated on site.
Badging is important as it is this that allows you to identify and track your attendees as they experience, network and interact with your event. QR codes come in handy here but you’ll also have to think about some old fashioned things like what material to use for your badges and how to fit all the information your attendees will need onto a single badge.
4. Wearables and Digital Signage
With wearable tech, it’s possible to get an insight into how your attendees actually respond to an event and the other delegates at it. Again, data captured from individuals can then be uploaded straight into the CRM for targeting and post-event marketing.
Digital signage such as Twitter walls help attendees to immerse themselves in talks and live events as they occur on stage. Digital badges can also be used with sensors to deliver bespoke experiences as attendees move throughout the event.
5. VR, AR and 360 Video
Among the most cutting-edge event technologies available, virtual and augmented reality technologies offer the greatest potential for rich, branded experiences that offer added value to event attendees.
For example, 360 degree videos can be played on tablets or smartphones, delivering branded and sponsored content along with the experience itself. Displays can incorporate these technologies to make them more memorable and exciting and to add gamification through competitions.
Virtual reality also has a functional role to play in areas of event organisation such as health and safety preparation.
Whilst VR certainly has that wow factor, AR is probably more relevant and realistic to incorporate into most corporate events. This will create a less submersive interactive experience and allow exhibitors to demonstrate to delegates what they do better, by overlaying information onto real world environments and objects.
These technologies herald the way for a new era of digitised experiences, with everything from holographic speakers through to 3D display stands to look forward to.
Event planners that can get ahead of the game when it comes to smart tech adoption will see the benefits in terms of attendee satisfaction, PR gains and that all-important ROI.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Denise Sharpe, founding partner and Managing Director of Outsourced Events, a London based events agency. You can get in touch with Outsourced Events on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook or check out more insights on their event blog.
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