Have you ever heard a conference attendee express frustration about the event’s app? That complaint is increasingly significant because events and their accompanying technology have become inextricably linked in the attendee experience. Apps, digital displays, high-speed WiFi, and other technologies are now integral to events for both organizers and attendees. In fact, 86 percent of event marketers feel that technology plays a key role in event success.
However, poorly applied technology can leave attendees feeling stifled--the opposite of what organizers intend. No one wants to aimlessly walk around an exhibit floor because the app’s map is too difficult to find or use. With the increasing use of technology in events, proper execution becomes essential to success.
How has technology changed the event industry?
Technology is often an indicator of innovation. Investing in new event technology such as digital signage or digitally powered experiential or interactive sessions shows that you’re forward-thinking. Companies have all shifted to become tech-first companies, so a brand’s event should showcase that.
Apps provide easy access to things like session details, speaker information, and a convenient map of the event or exhibit floor--an app element that 39 percent of event attendees listed as the most valuable. Festivals, corporate events, conventions, and conferences are often hosted in large venues where it’s easy for attendees to feel lost.
Failing to understand the importance of technology in event management can result in unpleasant attendee experiences. A conference with a global audience should prioritize WiFi connectivity. While many travel-savvy attendees will have access to data via SIM cards that work nationally and abroad, some may need to rely solely on the event WiFi.
If you fail to provide high-speed coverage, then attendees may become frustrated. This is especially important for events with networking opportunities. Work with your venue to provide excellent wireless coverage so that people don’t get stuck when uploading photos, loading messages, or accessing emails.
Communication between attendees and organizers can also become a problem if not managed effectively. Without real-time feedback, heavily trafficked spots can turn into chaos and schedule changes can result in poor attendance. Measuring audience engagement--through apps and push notifications--can negate this. If you’re managing an event and need a speaker or performer to switch stages, you can push out an update to immediately alert attendees.
Above all, be respectful of attendees in regard to their privacy and tolerance for notification interruptions. According to a Localytics survey, 31 percent of app users consider two to five weekly push notifications to be excessive. Depending on implementation, tech tools can either become problem solvers or problem causers.
How to successfully apply event technology:
New technology for events industry organizers pops up every day, so there’s no better time to learn how to implement it. Here are three ways to amaze attendees with cutting-edge event technology tools:
1. Upgrade event communication.
Communication with attendees has evolved to meet consumers where they are. You can now give your attendees the choice of where they want you to contact them, whether it’s via push notifications or SMS messages. By putting the power back in the attendees’ hands, you are more apt to increase engagement as they pay attention to their channel of choice.
2. Encourage attendee networking.
Event networking tools and activations are a hot topic this year. The goal is for attendees to first connect via an app or networking portal before meeting up in a designated lounge. By creating in-house spaces and using event technology tools to prompt networking, you can encourage attendee engagement. Use a platform like Braindate to facilitate one-on-one conversations and group chats centered on attendee-generated topics.
3. Impress with augmented reality.
One exciting new technology for events industry organizers to implement is augmented reality. Event planners are still deciding the best way to apply augmented reality, although two uses are currently prevalent: onstage and experiential. With onstage augmented reality, you can bring 2D and 3D experiences to life. This is especially useful for gaming events, like Valve Corp.’s thrilling Dota 2 championship. A good example of experiential AR is the Qualcomm Invisible Museum. The interactive experience uses augmented reality to breathe life into everyday technologies. With AR, there’s no limit to creativity.
As technology evolves, it reveals more and more opportunities to thrill event attendees. Discover what new event technology trends and tools will best serve your attendees, and then implement them for increased engagement. At the end, they will leave not frustrated and stifled but satisfied and impressed.
Alex Nuttall is an associate partner and digital strategist at Kindle Communications. Kindle manages live and virtual events, communications campaigns, digital solutions, and development programs.