I am a firm believer in planning attendee-centric events. Regardless of what kind of event you are planning: a meeting, incentive trip, fundraising dinner, or industry conference – the barometer by which you measure the success of the event should certainly be attendee satisfaction.
Happy attendees are repeat attendees, and repeat attendees are often ambassadors and champions of your brand. The collection of big data in real time is a phenomenon called crowd shaping. A relatively unassertive process, crowd shaping harnesses the newest and latest technology trends to detect everything from an attendees location to their heart rate.
The ability to utilize the information gleaned from crowdsourcing and big data will revamp the industry by allowing event planners to:
Create personalized attendee experiences
The latest tech trends, like RFID, VR, iBeacon and geolocation can allow for event participants to have extremely unique experiences at an event. Planners can make it so that an attendee can access specific information and prizes, depending on their location. It is even possible to incorporate interactive games and puzzles and download relevant materials. In this way, participants can see only and exactly what is relevant to them, and customize their experience to suit their own, personal needs.
Experiential marketing is huge right now, and this is music to the ears of event planners everywhere. The advances in technology make it easy for event planners to create experiences unlike any other attendees have had.
Make adjustments in real time
Have you ever been to, or planned a conference where one or more of the booths were not getting as much traffic as the rest? Big data can clue you in to what aspects of your event attendees are engaged with (or not) and why. Relying on new technology and big data make changing signage, the wording of calls to action, and even the event schedule a simple fix. In this way, it is very easy to make real-time adjustments that will better accommodate the demands of attendees.
John Capano, senior VP for George P. Johnson did exactly this at the North American Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year. “…As you are going around, the experience you are having is 100% unique to you….If we had a car that was not getting enough attention, we could change the call to action, change the signage.” According to Capano, an extensive amount of data concerning attendees was collected at the auto show, and being able to act upon it made for a much more engaging experience for all involved.
Have better control of crowd flow
Geolocation goes further than being able to tell you where one, specific individual is located at your event. Modern technology allows for meeting planners to know crowd densities as well. Having this information puts planners in charge of crowd flow in an unprecedented way.
Croudshaping and big data allow planners to spot bottlenecking almost immediately, and thus, they are able to instantly open more lines, or divert traffic as necessary. Over time, information of this nature can influence how you design your event spaces (maybe your attendees cluster around the perimeter of your venue searching for outlets), and can help maximize design concept, management, and flow.
Revamp travel and safety procedures
In addition to making sure that each part of your event gets equal engagement, knowing how and where your event population moves can help to improve safety procedures. Crowdshaping data can include physiological and biological information about attendees. This can revamp how planners approach everything from food allergies, to navigating through inclement weather conditions.
Last August, the Cisco Global Sales Experience streamlined the travel experience of attendees by tracking the speed and location of the shuttle buses used to transport attendees from one on-site location to another. This allowed for instant notification if there were not enough buses in rotation, and made it easy for organizers to send out more whenever necessary. Event participants were also able to see these data feeds on an interactive dashboard, thereby putting them in control of coming and going.
Collecting big data is a huge trend in the event planning industry. The marriage of technology and attendee-centric event planning strategies are creating the types of experiences that engage event participants in revolutionary new ways. No two attendees need have the same experience at an event. Collecting data makes it so that planners can make adjustments to everything, on-site and off, quickly and efficiently. Crowdshaping has given planners the ability to have safer spaces, more interactive experiences, and happier attendees. What more could we ask for?
Bethany Smith has spent the last 5 years specializing in using storytelling to plan events that strengthen the relationships between organizations and their publics. More recently, she has taken to utilizing her experience, in conjunction with extensive industry analysis to launch a blog [www.theplannersprocess.com] that aims to arm aspiring event planners with the tools they need in order to figure out how to get where they want to go. She looks to invest her various talents in any organization that can match her dedication to growth and adventure.