The event planning industry has come a long way from the binder-toting, paper-based system of the near distant memory of the early 2000’s. Today, advances in technology have led to sweeping improvements in the events management field. These improvements have streamlined and consolidated our meeting systems, making it easier for event planners to get their jobs done. This age in which we live is one of innovation through automation in all business fields, but most relevantly to this post, we consider meeting planning automation.
In no particular order, here are the 5 most important event technology trends that will have a significant effect on the event planning industry as a result of meeting planning automation.
Radio frequency identification is, in my humble opinion, the wave of the future. I recently attended a conference where I watched a presentation given by Will Travis, co-founder of Sid Lee. Travis explained how his company incorporated RFID technology into their C2 Montreal conference, to great success. I was blown away by just how many aspects of an event were improved by implementing an RFID system. In addition to speeding up registration time, incorporating RFID technology into events will help with both qualitative and quantitative data analysis, thereby making it easier for planners to target what worked during their event and what didn’t. In this way, it will be easier to foster repeat attendees. RFID also has the potential to allow attendees to become more engaged with the event across various social platforms. Raffles and contests can be entered and the winners determined; pictures can be sent, social media can be updated, and check-in can all be done and (more importantly monitored), using RFID technology.
Event apps have taken the industry by storm in the last few years. Gone are the days where bulky, paper event guides are thrust at attendees to explain different activities, break down the event schedule, and give speaker information. Instead, event apps have incorporated all these aspects, while simultaneously giving attendees access to a committed backchannel where they can socialize with other participants, and expand their network, before, during and after an event.
Though event apps are admittedly helpful, they now have a new hurdle to face. Producing an application to be used for one event is costly, time consuming, and inefficient, as users must learn how to interact with the app for each new event attended. Phone storage space is very important to consumers. Many are hesitant to download an application that they will only use once. Thus, event apps that can continue to deliver value to customers beyond the date of the event itself, are going to become a huge trend.
Google Glass and smartwatches from tech giants such as Samsung and Apple are indicative of the future popularity of wearable technology. The possibility for incorporation into event planning are endless. Wearable tech has the potential to revamp everything from the site inspection process, to food and beverage. Menu options travel directions, appointment updates, facial recognition software and contact information are just the beginning of the very real ways that event planners will soon be able to use wearable tech.
Virtual Reality (VR)
Virtual Reality is another relatively new form of technology that can change the future of events. Virtual information booths are a new trend at meetings and conferences. BizBash employed two of these helpful virtual assistants at their Innovation Expo in October to answer frequently asked attendee questions, and to disseminate specific booth information to attendees. VR is a great way to up attendee engagement during events. Combining the uses of VR with the portability of wearable technology is going to be the future of event management.
We all know by now that social media is here to stay. Many of us, (thankfully) are also at a place where we understand that a proper social media campaign is the backbone of any event. Social ads have replaced mailing lists. Attendees are making choices about what events to attend based on who else in their social media circles are going. Mobile user engagement is steadily increasing, and according to an infographic by Event Manager Blog, professionals trust information that comes from social media just about as much as they trust information received from other sources. The point? Social media is more than likely the way that investors and sponsors will advertise your event, in addition to being the way that attendees will find out about your event, and share content surrounding it. As event profs, we must make sure that our social media strategies keep up with the times, lest our attendees leave us in the proverbial dust.
Event technology trends aside, the number one thing for any event professional to remember, is to let your tools work for you, rather than the other way around. The purpose of implementing advanced technology is to make your life, and the life of those whom you plan events for, as easy as possible. Use whatever sources of technology you have at your disposal to tell a story in a new and innovative way.
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.