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4 Event Technology Trends Shaping the Future of Events

Planners and venues are no strangers to technology. Event pros are embracing innovative event management tools, and with good reason. Studies show that using event technology can increase attendance by 20%, increase productivity by 27%, and decrease costs by as much as 30%.

Meanwhile, new event technologies are appearing for every part of an event, from budgeting to registration.

With so much event tech out there, it’s hard to know what’s most important, what will stick around, and what’s next.

In this post, we lay out the event technology trends you need to know now:

  1. Projection mapping
  2. 5G
  3. Branded multi-use apps
  4. Event diagramming

1. Projection Mapping is an emerging event technology trend.

Never heard of projection mapping? It’s essentially an augmented reality experience created by projectors.

Projectors typically cast their images on flat screens. But with projection mapping, they can light up any surface and turn everyday structures into 3D interactive displays.

What It Means for Event Planners

Planners will be able to truly transform any space with totally new design elements. This visual technology is an efficient, cost-effective way to create optical illusions on anything — from cars to landmarks to stages.

Because there are no real limits to what you can do with projection mapping, event planners can really stretch their imaginations. Think: maps of convention booths, social media walls, interactive art displays.

This technology is flexible enough to meet a variety of objectives — which is why you’ll find it everywhere from concerts to conferences.

What It Means for Event Venues

While most event venues offer basic A/V equipment, most don’t offer creative solutions much tech to help planners customize the space. Adding projection mapping to your toolbox means that your clients can create unique experiences without altering the venue itself physically. Talk about enticing!

Projection Mapping in Action

The video here showcases one of our favorite examples of projection mapping at the Sydney Opera House:

In a poetic homage to its structure and design, the iconic opera house used projection mapping to captivate attendees at an outdoor gathering. The artist, Jorn Utzon, aimed to give the iconic building human expression, thus creating an immediate and shocking evolution.

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2. 5G is a new event technology trend.

Think about the 4G LTE internet that you use on your phone when you’re not connected to WiFi. It’s a lot faster than it was back in the days of 3G, right? You can stream music and videos, video chat, use live navigate… the list goes on.

Now take that speed and multiply it by 1,000. That’s what’s coming to a smartphone near you with the introduction of 5G.

Sure, it’s not specific to event management — but that type of speed will have a major impact on virtually every other piece of event tech. Cloud-based apps will be faster and more reliable. Developers can push the boundaries with future innovations.

And while it won’t be common anytime in 2019, smartphone company Ericsson predicts that 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions will be active by the year 2025.

A visual representation of how much faster 5g internet will be
A visual representation of the difference in speed between 5G and previous generations (Source: Cisco Blog)

What It Means for Event Planners

Imagine a world where WiFi speed and reliability aren’t concerns at large-scale events. That’s what the advent of 5G could mean for planners.

This has exciting implications:

  • Attendees and event managers won’t have to worry about connectivity
  • Planners can choose nontraditional venues that don’t have WiFi.
  • There will be new ways to engage attendees via their devices.
  • Your events can more quickly incorporate future trends like 3D technology, virtual reality and more.

What It Means for Event Venues

5G will come to “first-tier” cities first. If you’re based in a top city, you’ll have an edge over mid-size cities for a while.

For hoteliers and venues in smaller cities, it’s important to start paying attention to this trend. Prepare yourself and your space for 5G now to avoid being left in the dust.

5G in Action

Vanessa Ogle, CEO of hotel technology provider Enseo is quoted in a Skift article saying, “5G will be mainstream within the next three to five years in most major metropolitan areas. Hoteliers should be looking to redeploy their network investment into ‘smart’ investments now that can easily be repurposed for things like IoT smart room features that will still be relevant even when 5G is in full swing.”

3. Branded Multi-Use Apps are an event technology trend.

Apps have become an integral part of daily life, and the event industry is no different. Branded apps provide limitless opportunities to interact with attendees right on their own phones.

Apps have been common in the industry for a while, but they’ve advanced in recent years. These days, you can customize an app so it looks like it was created specifically for an event. At the same time, those apps enhance and personalize the attendee experience.

What It Means for Event Planners

Planners can use branded multi-use apps to connect with attendees and engage them before, during, and after the occasion. The right app can do it all, such as:

What It Means for Event Venues

For venues (especially hotels), apps can help you create a more customized visitor experience. Via an app, guests can control their rooms or even communicate with chatbots to find nearby attractions.

Event spaces can create customized apps to share helpful info like maps, historical tidbits, and even the personalities of their unique employees (like in the video below from Wembley Stadium).

Europe’s Wembley Stadium runs tours year-round. Rather than offer a run-of-the-mill experience, they created dynamic interactive displays through their app.

Attendees can scan jerseys and view player stats, watch 360-degree videos of press conferences and games, and other interesting extras you can’t replicate in traditional tours.

Branded Apps in Action

YourMembership used their app to make magic — literally. At its Xperience17 event, the membership management software brought the world of Harry Potter to life.

Using an event-specific app, the team brought the Potter world to life, weaving in elements of gamification to engage, amaze, and facilitate learning.

Adopted by an incredible 88% of attendees, the app sorted attendees into “Houses” to compete against each other. They earned house points by scanning QR codes and checking in. The best part? When attendees entered the conference space, the app sent a push notification to let them know that they’d arrived at Platform 9¾.

4. Event Diagramming is an event technology trend to look out for.

A view of Social Tables drag-and-drop diagramming and seating

Not sure what your event will actually look like? With event diagramming software, planners can map everything out visually — all the way down to the mic placement.

Most of these tools are easy to use, with drag-and-drop diagramming, 3D walkthroughs, and seating software. It helps planners and venue management save time (it only takes a few minutes to make a diagram) while providing clearer communication for the whole team (communication can happen right within the tools).

These cloud-based programs also provide accurate, customizable, and collaborative project planning that’s accessible by all managing parties. Not only does this eliminate the endless back-and-forth that comes with stakeholder approval, but it also improves relationships and streamlines efficiency.

What It Means for Event Planners

Planning a room layout requires lots of back-and-forth between you, the venue, and your stakeholders. A tool can make it much less of a headache because:

  • You can give clients peace of mind and leave nothing to chance on the big day.
  • You can upload a floor plan to work with, so you know the diagram is to scale.
  • With some tools, you can even plan seating charts and manage attendees’ meal choices or other preferences.
  • It serves as a single source of truth that helps staff easily identify and accommodate VIPs and any guests with special requests.

What It Means for Event Venues

Sales reps can collaborate with planners in real time, share variations on the event proposal, and visually portray upsells. Once you’ve used it a few times, you can show clients diagrams from past events.

For instance, The Venetian has more than 1,000,000 pieces of furniture available for events. Moving, arranging, and locating them requires a high level of organization. They use an event diagramming tool to transform vendors’ PDF layouts into to-scale diagrams within their various spaces.

On the other hand, some hotels let planners take the reins. That’s the case for the Sheraton Commander, the oldest hotel in the Starwood portfolio. The hotel’s Director of Catering and Event Management, Judy Brillhart, says this improves relationships because planners “love being empowered to seat their guests in the manner they want.”

Event Diagramming in Action

To be successful with their many events (like the annual Under 30 Summit), the Forbes need to map out the many moving parts of each event beforehand.

That’s where a tool like Social Tables’ event diagramming software comes in. Forbes has used the software since 2013 to improve the efficiency of their events by visually verifying the placement of every piece as well as the viability of venues.

“The only thing I wish I could do on the software but can’t, is to show where each water bottle is to be placed on stage.” -Cathi Culbertson, VP of Event Marketing & Conferences

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What’s next for these 4 event technology trends?

We don’t adopt new technologies because they’re flashy. But these four tech trends aren’t just impressive — they make the life of planners, venue professionals, clients, and attendees as easy as possible.

About 80% of event planners say their jobs encompass more experience creation than just two to five years ago. And that means that saving time is more important than ever. These four movements are living up to that standard, empowering the industry as a whole to push the boundaries of face-to-face experiences.

Want more information about event technology?

How do you stay up to date with the event industry?

Attend events about the industry, follow leading blogs (Like the Social Tables blog), and push yourself to always be learning.

How much is the event planning industry worth?

The global event industry was valued at $1,100 Billion dollars in 2018.

More event technology ideas like this:

The 29 Best Event Management Tools On The Market
The 6 Best Floor Plan Software Options to Make Diagramming a Breeze
6 Mobile Event Apps No #Eventprof Should Live Without

19 Trends Shacking Up Events in 2019