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The Right Tech for the Right Event: 2017 Event Technology Predictions

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Emerging and niche tech are headed for the event industry mainstream next year

As 2016 comes to a close, there's little time to look back. This is especially true in regard to technology and its breakneck advances. To keep up with the pace, we've handed the proverbial crystal ball to some of our event tech experts to get their take on what 2017 has in store, from the next level for virtual and augmented reality to ensuring that the right technology is being implemented at every event. Here’s what they had to say. 

Brian Johnston, National Manager, Creative Production; Chuck Corrigan, National Manager, Technical Production; and Janet Bennett, Vice President, Venues & Western Canada

Next year, there will be more attention around technology with a purpose — understanding and selecting the right technology platforms for the message being communicated, as well as pairing the right technology with the content being shared.

Organizations will stress leveraging the right technology to provide more agility for teams to react to immediate changes. Once we master how technology can provide this agility, we will be able to fully customize our messages, content, and services for our clients and attendees, moving at an on-demand speed while still making every moment matter.

What’s more, technology must be more interactive and centered on holding the ever-shrinking attention spans of audiences.

Romeo Loparco, Executive Producer, Special Events; Anna Mader, Creative Director; and Ron Graham, Executive Vice President, Business Development

Virtual reality isn't just going to be a buzzword; it's going to be an event tool. It will take center stage at events, utilized as art, entertainment, or a marketing tool to engage with audiences.

One of the constraining elements of experience design has always been real estate — or designing actual physical spaces. Enter virtual and augmented reality, where the amount of real estate that can be delivered to an audience is limitless and just as engaging as a physical experience. Plus, the associated potential for monetizing virtual space — via sponsorship or other marketing means — has taken another exponential jump.

Augmented reality will be a huge focus for live events. Where virtual reality immerses an individual into a fully realized digital world, augmented reality will bridge the gap between the physical spaces where events take place and the virtual elements utilized to reinforce the brand experience. Attendees will interact and learn through a designed overlay of digital content on their surroundings.

Victor Paan, Director, Digital Services; and Heidi Welker, Vice President, Marketing

Customization and automation will continue to be huge trends for 2017, particularly when it comes to video and graphics.

The next big innovation frontier when it comes to personalization is likely to be tracking individuals and their responses to the elements of an experience — with the goals of both customizing the experiences and allowing for real-time interactivity, all in response to the experiencer's physiological and neurological reactions. These developments will only further improve the ability of designers to target and achieve higher levels of return (whether measured as ROI or ROO) on their designs.    

Flor Lopez, Vice President, Marketing; and Mike Wohlitz, Vice President, Event Services

Technology trends that emerged with greater force in 2016 will be strengthened and expanded in 2017. For example, there will be a greater demand for higher interaction through social media at events — and less focus on social output for social’s sake — just as there will be a greater demand for event apps that make our industry greener and more virtual. In truth, what millennials have embraced for a while will become accepted in all other demographics. Holograms, live-streaming, and silent parties will no longer be niche technologies confined to nightclubs, raves, or luxury hotels.     

Offering virtual attendees the ability to experience an event in real time will be a rewarding tool for event organizers. The king of streaming services in 2017 will be Facebook Live. Why is that? First, Facebook Live is easy to use, so the often-challenging tech learning curve is not an issue. Second, it's practically free, yet powerful enough to deliver a live stream and recording to a social platform that almost all Americans visit daily. It's almost too simple to be true.

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