This is a guest post by Courtney Spero, a Marketing Communication Specialist at Creative Group.
The role of technology in meetings and events has moved beyond its initial purpose of simply providing convenience. While convenience is important, there’s more room now to get creative with tech offerings that will leave lasting impressions and engage audiences. As long as your meeting and event tech is approachable and intuitive, you’ll be able to excite any audience, no matter their technical know-how.
Technology is typically implemented in the meeting and event space for three primary reasons: convenience, impact, and engagement. Ideally, when all three intersect, you’ll be able to create a smart, engaging, and memorable attendee experience—keep reading to learn more.
Using technology in meetings and events to provide convenience
There are some “technical” tools you just can’t do without, like a useful event website and properly appointed AV equipment. You won’t get people to fax in their event registration or stay at the venue if they can’t hear a thing. Even mobile event apps are becoming ubiquitous among all generational cohorts for their convenience and engagement factors. With message functionality and instant meeting updates, participants are able to access useful content such as speaker bios, exhibitor information, and a map of the show floor for easy navigation.
To enhance your attendees’ in event experience, you can also utilize tech like chatbots for customer service support, and charging stations for draining phone and computer batteries. You can even cater to “virtual” attendees by including a live streaming component.
The future of convenience is predictive technology. Think intelligent assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google. The ever-innovative South by Southwest Interactive Show (SXSW) is already providing real-time session suggestions to its attendees. The technology analyzes attendee profiles, identifying things such as previously favorited sessions and location, and behavior based on real-time data from GPS tracking and beacons around the event site. While it takes time and resources to develop algorithms to suggest personalized session recommendations, it can positively influence the participant's experience, especially at large, complex events.
Using technology in meetings and events to create impactful experiences
According to Joseph Pine, author of The Experience Economy, “digital technology gives you superpowers.”
As virtual and augmented reality has become more intense, immersive, and creative, offerings have also become more mainstream—and not just for early adopters. Over 12 million virtual reality headsets were sold in 2016, and according to research firm Tractica, more than 200 million will be sold worldwide by 2020. Whether it’s to “wow” participants or to more effectively educate them, these new realities have created a whole new medium for storytelling. Technology enables participant experiences to be both highly impactful in the moment and leave lasting impacts.
Anheuser-Busch created a virtual brewery via Budweiser’s immersive tour at SXSW that led participants on a “walk” through the brewery – even allowing them to smell beer-flavoring hops along the way. This example is impactful in the moment, and likely created a lasting impact the next time the consumer goes to purchase beer.
Exhibitors can use virtual reality to create product demos and presenters can ditch their PowerPoint presentations for 3D holographic images, making education more engaging and more thorough. Not to mention, healthcare meeting organizers can help foster empathy for patients through VR experiences for meeting attendees. Excedrin did this when they released The Migraine Experience to help build understanding for migraine sufferers.
Using technology in meetings and events to increase engagement
Always keeping your event’s objective in mind will help guide the elements that will deliver the highest ROE (return on event). But gamification is a sure-fire way to actively involve participants and let them have a little fun along the way. Experiential technology is increasingly being adopting and can help you implement gamification and boost attendee engagement.
Aside from scavenger hunt games and leaderboards, which are still popular on mobile event apps, RFID-enabled green screen photos and 360⁰ photo booths serve as fun, interactive displays. The custom-created photos will likely be shared all over social media and serve as memory merchandise from the event. Create geofilters on Snapchat if appropriate, and generate an event hashtag or online community to continue engaging participants long after the event has ended.
If networking is a major component of your meeting or event, consider gamifying it by facilitating “brain dates.” The conversations will likely be more focused and productive and participants will have fun with seeing who they are matched with.
Standard technology has already become second nature to most, and native for others; expectations will continue to rise and it will be up to meeting and event organizers to keep up. As a complement to great content, technology in meetings and events will further enhance the participant experience and create lasting value. To learn more about how to use innovative in-event technology to engage attendees, check out our eBook, 20 Unique Ways to Engage Attendees with Technology.