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The live events industry sees millions of events and meetings each year, with continual growth from the expansion of existing events and the addition of new shows. Now more than ever, busy show managers and meeting planners are expected to deliver higher quality experiences for attendees and exhibitors with shrinking budgets.
In addition to managing more with less, meeting professionals are also tasked with finding innovative ways to keep today’s tech-savvy audiences engaged. Events are becoming more complex to plan and deliver, requiring a strategic approach to incorporating technology.
The good news is that whether you are a meeting planner looking to increase engagement, or a show manager hoping to grow your event, there are many ways to implement technology solutions to engage and support your audience throughout the event lifecycle. Let’s take a look at just a few.
Many pre-event planning activities that take up the most time and have the highest margin of error can now be handled by handy digital tools that make the process a lot easier.
If you find most of your time is spent chasing presenters for presentation files you may want to investigate using a digital presentation management system. A good presentation management application improves the attendee and speaker experience by simplifying the gathering, managing, and displaying of presentation materials for your event. It should also allow you to incorporate elements such as the event logo and color palette to support your brand identity.
Manually planning and selling exhibit floor space is not only time-consuming, but the process can be riddled with errors if information is not up to date. A digital floor plan management system can reduce cumbersome paperwork and streamline the planning, managing, and selling of event booth space. Look for web-based systems that allow multiple team members to view and make changes in real time.
Finding just the right venue is critical when delivering a live event. Once the perfect venue is identified, multiple visits are still required in order to plan placement for things like digital displays and sponsorship opportunities. Instead of sending staff on costly and time-consuming site visits, look for a partner or company that provides web-based applications that allow you to scout venues and plan sponsorship opportunities with 360-degree virtual tours.
With the increasing number of live events, attendees and exhibitors may find it challenging to decide which trade shows or conferences to attend due to time or budget constraints. Technology can allow those who cannot attend to participate virtually with live web-streaming.
Look for solutions that provide services in addition to live streaming, such as an on-demand viewing microsite, video capturing services, and post-production editing. Ask the provider if the platform offers an eCommerce portal to enable monetization of content.
Today’s multigenerational audiences no longer attend meetings and conferences to be “talked at,” but rather to participate in meaningful interactions. Meeting planners have to think outside the box to contend with shortened attention spans and distracted attendees who are using their mobile devices to read text messages or check email.
Instead of banning mobile devices, use technology to connect the audience with presenters in real time. Look for digital applications like second screen technology to create two-way dynamic interactions such as polls, Q&A, gamification, and up-voting. Make sure the application provides post-event analytics and reporting on important metrics like speaker effectiveness and audience engagement to help inform your future event strategy.
Interactive technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, and gesture-based experiences have attendees lining up at exhibit booths and in trade show halls for a chance to try the latest HoloLens or immerse themselves in an augmented reality. One survey reported that the total number of virtual reality users would reach 171 million by 2018. As this type of technology spreads, it is no longer a nice to have, but rather an expectation.
Show managers are beginning to use intelligent virtual assistants like Alexa on-site to help attendees stay organized, learn new things, and even find out where the best cup of coffee can be found. The upside is that the spread of this technology means it’s becoming more widely available and less expensive to produce, putting it in sight for more limited budgets. One way to save? Ask if the content can be easily repurposed from event to event in order to maximize the value and minimize spend.
Sponsors and exhibitors are always in search of opportunities to showcase their brand and advertise products and services. Strategically placed digital displays throughout the event space or exhibit booth are a great way to increase brand visibility.
Unlike traditional static signs, digital signs can be programmed to display specific content at scheduled times throughout the day, ensuring the right information is delivered to the right audience at the right time. Look for platforms that allow you to customize the look and feel of the content and display content from multiple sources such as RSS feeds, social media, and videos.
When using multiple technology solutions make sure they all work together seamlessly, allowing data to flow freely between applications. Providing a connected experience will not only increase operational efficiencies by saving time and money, but will also improve satisfaction for your speakers, attendees, and exhibitors.
The use of technology should always align with your business goals. Once you get over the fear of incorporating technology into live events, it should become a core part of your event strategy.
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