How to Become a Tech-Savvy Event Planner
Technology is always pushing the boundaries on how we plan and run events. In fact, almost every week we come across a new start-up, solution or gadget that promises to make planning easier and events even more exciting. But despite all this innovation, it seems that technology is changing our industry at a speed that we can barely keep up with – a new poll by Eventsforce has found that 65% of event planners are finding it difficult to stay up to date with the constantly evolving world of event tech. And yet we all know that not keeping up is no longer an option.
Staying up to date in an industry that’s constantly shifting isn’t easy, but being aware of changes as they’re happening can keep you ahead of the curve.
The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Event Planner
The scale of innovation in event tech has really been quite astounding over the last decade. We have seen simple registration systems evolve into sophisticated event management tools. We have seen the emergence of social media, mobile apps and live-streaming and the impact they have on hosting meetings and events. We’ve seen a growing focus on event data analytics and the application of new platforms like beacons, AR and VR technology. And now we have Artificial Intelligence to look forward to too. The very idea of speaking into a device and it carrying out your commands was nothing more than science fiction just a few years ago. But the rapid development of the technology has seen products like Google’s voice-activated Alexa hit the consumer market and these devices are now well on their way to changing the events industry for good (anyone using chatbots yet?).
All this innovation has also drastically changed the mind-set of the event planner. They now have to be savvier about technology solutions they can use around their events. They have to constantly update their skills. They have to work more closely with web developers, social media professionals and IT departments. Because at the end of the day, today’s successful event planner is not just the one who can run good events, but one who can combine event planning, marketing and creative skills with a good understanding of event technology. And a vital quality of that person is curiosity, rather than any specific technical knowledge. It’s about being curious about the possibilities out there as the tools we will use in a few years’ time will probably be very different from the ones we are using today.
But with so much innovation, conflicting opinions and the availability of an overwhelming amount of information, how do event planners keep up with the industry’s ever-changing technology trends?
Read: 8 Steps to Wellbeing for Event Planners
4 Ways You Can Keep Up with Event Tech Trends
There is no single route to becoming a tech-savvy event planner, as everyone learns things in their own way. You should find the most effective way for you to acquire new knowledge and skills – some people prefer reading articles and eBooks, some prefer watching videos and listening to podcasts or webinars, while others opt for more interactive learning experiences where they can discuss new trends with other like-minded people.
Have a look at some of the options you can look into to help you with your professional event tech development:
Industry Blogs/News Sites – We have some great blogs in our industry that give readers a good understanding of what’s new in event tech and how these different solutions can be applied to different types of events. These not only offer education through tips and how-to articles, but they’re also a good place to sign up for webinars and podcasts to hear new case studies and debates from leading experts in the industry. We found the following blogs particularly useful in providing useful information on event technology: Event Manager Blog, Corbin Ball, TechsyTalk, Event Tech Brief, Capterra’s Event Management Software Blog and The Meeting Pool blog. It’s also worth keeping an eye on the technology section of the following industry news sites: BizBash, Event Industry News and MeetingsNet or you can subscribe to the Event Tech Talk newsletter and get their monthly round-up piece that highlights top tech stories that event planners need to know about.
Both blogs and news sites will also often analyse key statistics and research that’s relevant for your specific industry, and break it down into bite-size chunks in a form that you can easily understand and apply. They’re also a useful tool in identifying what trend is relevant today. So, for example, if you see the same topic on every site in your industry, such as the importance of event data, then yes – it is a trend you’ll want to follow closely.
Social Media – One of the best ways to stay abreast of the latest developments in event tech is to follow the industry’s leading figures and influencers on social media. The writers and editors of the blog and media sites we mentioned earlier all have their own social media accounts, so it would always be worthwhile adding them to your list on your preferred social network. Apart from receiving daily updates from thought leaders, you can also track trending topics and opinions of industry peers. The #eventtech hashtag on Twitter is a good example of this.
There are also numerous (literally hundreds) of user groups on most networks that publish news, blogs, eBooks and webinars on all things event tech. LinkedIn Groups are great here – because as well as all the interesting educational pieces you can trawl through, they are also a good platform for asking questions and creating new discussions around event technology. Just make sure to participate, rather than standby and take in all that you are learning from others. You’ll get more out of it that way. Some groups worth mentioning: Event Planning & Event Management, Event Managers and Who’s Who in Events.
Networking/Debates – If you prefer live events and want to network with other like-minded people who are also interested in event technology, then there are a number of networking events that can be a good option for you. Event Industry News recently kicked off a monthly series of events in London that brings together a panel of industry experts to discuss some of the latest event tech trends and debate what impact they have on the industry. Some of the topics covered so far include AI and robotics, Virtual Reality, event websites and apps. They also provide video recordings of the sessions if you aren’t able to attend in person.
Another good option is EventHuddle, a monthly topical discussion forum on anything around event management – they also cover a good amount on event tech including things like Europe’s new data protection regulation (GDPR) and the importance of event data.
Industry Events – You can also keep your event tech skills current by attending industry trade shows and conferences that have a dedicated focus on event technology. This is probably one of the easiest ways to keep up-to-date with what’s happening as you’ll hear case studies from your competitors and peers, as well as opinions on trends and issues from top influencers in the industry. Again, make sure to speak with peers and attendees, as well as the expert panellists. These two groups often have very different perspectives and it helps hearing all sides, especially when you’re making decisions around key tech investments. These events are also good because they will give you the chance to meet with event tech vendors, watch demos and interact with all the different solutions that are currently on offer. Some of our recommendations for shows that have a good focus on event tech include Techsytalk Live, International Confex, IBTM World and Event Tech Live.
At the end of the day, the goal of the event planner is to understand what attendees want, deliver successful events and ensure that their organisation stands out through brand differentiation and creativity. Regardless of what happens with technology, these goals will remain the same. What technology does is that it enables us to reach these goals by providing us with greater ROI, efficiencies and insight. It helps us bring value. So it’s important to keep up with the trends. But remember, being a tech-savvy event planner is not about being an expert tech user. It’s about creating a strategic roadmap for your tech and having a good understanding of what’s out there, getting the right skills mix in your team and having an enthusiastic approach to new tools.
Do you agree with the points made in this article? Are there any other resources you’d like to add to the list? Please get in touch – we’d love to hear your views. You can also sign up to the weekly Event Tech Talk Newsletter to keep yourself up to date on all things event tech.