Over the last few years, technology has become an integral part of the events industry. Anyone working in this dynamic area knows how painful it would be to juggle all the aspects of event management without the help of technology tools.
The demands placed in front of today’s organizers? To execute the logistics of the event perfectly, while at the same time providing engaging experiences that are tailor-made for attendees, satisfying different needs they may have before, during, and after the event.
It goes without saying that the most effective way for relieving some of this pressure is to use the right tools. But as the rate of technology change accelerates, it’s becoming more difficult for event organizers to catch up, especially if they’re coming from a non-technology industry.
Following are some of the event technology trends that organizers should consider implementing in 2018 and beyond to help them do their jobs better and ensure that attendees derive maximum value from their event experiences.
Conversational Event Experiences
You must have heard about this one by now. It’s all about chatbots and AI, two major technology trends that are quickly making their way into a wide range of industries, events included.
So, what are the cases for bringing chatbots to your events?
During live events and conferences, the attention of the audience is stretched thin and organizers need sophisticated, interactive tools to capture and direct attendees’ attention towards the event content and information that is most relevant to them. Enter event chatbots.
Organizers can leverage the power of smart chatbots to do one or more of the following:
- Interact with attendees via their preferred messaging channel, e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Telegram.
- Provide instantaneous responses to questions about agenda, speakers, talks, etc.
- Deliver personalized recommendations based on previous interactions.
- Drive participation with in-session Q&As e.g. enable attendees to ask questions directly from the chatbot interface.
What event participants love about chatbots is that they don’t need to download another app or learn a new tool - they can engage with event content and get answers to questions within a familiar interface they already use daily.
In 2018, providers are going to focus on the chatbot ‘smarts,’ putting the AI to work and leveraging machine learning to create predictive algorithms to improve user experience.
Facial Recognition for Streamlined Check In
This concept may seem far-off, but the technology is already here. Just look at the latest iPhone X - users will have the option to unlock their phone with face ID. Facial recognition technology is entering the consumer tech space in a big way, and there are companies already developing solutions for the event management space.
For example, Zeus Biometrics is offering a facial recognition solution to speed up the event check-in process and ensure higher security. The software helps event organizers identify attendees by performing a real-time search of a database of faces.
Since events are ultimately judged by the full experience they deliver, it won’t be surprising to see Face ID check-ins at more conferences and events in 2018.
Everything Goes Real-Time
Are you familiar with the modern consumer's need for instant gratification? It’s the expectation that we developed in the always-on digital world where we rarely have to wait for something anymore. Well, event goers are not immune from such demands, either.
Whether it's event information, logistics support, or interaction with presenters during sessions - attendees want it now. It’s the real-time culture thing, and organizers need to up their game and deliver. We’ve already mentioned chatbots as one tool event organizers can use to enable real-time, personalized interaction with their attendees at scale.
But there are other things that organizers need - they need to be able to update event content in real-time, preferably in one location, and have it instantly synced across all the “views” or channels they’re using. Plus, they need to get real-time attendee feedback so they can react timely and improve their experiences on the fly.
The “real-time” trend is not slowing down and 2018 will see more tools that power real-time data, insights, and engagement.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
VR and AR have been at the top of the event tech trends lists for the past two years, but we’re yet to see them become a standard at events and conferences. Despite their huge potential, especially for trade shows, both technologies are still modestly used.
Large events like CES are leveraging Virtual Reality headsets to demo new products or introduce new concepts to attendees. Apparently, virtual information booths are also a thing! And no wonder. A recent report by Nielsen and YuMe showed that Virtual Reality (VR) experiences can increase emotional attachment to a brand by as much as 27 percent.
And how about AR, a technology that “adds” to our reality making it more fun (Pokemon Go anyone?)? Augmented reality is perfect for creating immersive and engaging experiences for attendees and it can certainly add a wow factor to any event. Imagine attendees easily accessing AR experiences via an app that opens a phone camera and allows them to interact with digital content embedded in their surroundings.
As the popularity of VR and AR technologies grows, and the prices slowly decrease, we’ll see more progress toward enabling powerful new ways to experience events.
Organizers have been focusing on event apps for years now, and juggling multiple other tools to manage the entire event lifecycle. Apps are now the standard that attendees expect and that organizers can deliver without breaking a bank.
But there’s a new breed of tools evolving and they are built specifically around organizers’ needs. Imagine if you could manage your event agenda and the in-venue tech, engage attendees on multiple channels, and get real-time behavioral analytics from a single platform. Great, right?
These all-around event management platforms already exist, and their capacity to deliver will only grow in 2018.
Overall, these 5 technology trends are all about enabling event organizers to deliver more personalized and engaging attendee experiences and improve the processes involved.
Are there any event tech trends you know of that I might’ve missed? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!