Smart technology is transforming the events industry, making planning easier and events more exciting – even for small businesses. George Sirius, CEO of Eventsforce, explains in an interview with events and meetings guide, EventFULL, how organisations can use technology to engage with attendees and why real-time feedback is changing the way we run events.
“Only a few years ago, the idea of speaking into a device and it carrying out your commands was nothing more than science fiction. But the rapid development of technology has seen products such as Google Home – a voice-activated speaker powered by the voice-activated Alexa – hit the consumer market. And these devices may be about to change the events industry for good.”
He explains how recent advances in technology have already dramatically changed the way we plan and run events:
“Organising an event is a logistical nightmare and one of the biggest developments is software to assist with tasks such as registration and email responses. The second is around the collection and analysis of data. There’s lots of data that can be analysed to better understand an event – the demographics, attendance levels, feedback and so on – and there is now software that can help do all that effectively.”
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Real-time feedback is also changing the industry. The technology, says Sirius, is extremely innovative. Event speakers, for example, can now receive real-time feedback from audiences, which means they are able to change the way the session is going, if necessary.
Another application of real-time technology tools are on-site apps. Knowing exactly who turned up at your event and what sessions they attended is something every event planner wants to know. The information helps figure out popular topics and sessions. It also helps profile attendees.
“Real-time tools like the Eventsforce on-site app are allowing event organisers to have instant access to this kind of information at the event itself, which can be incredibly useful. So, the app can tell you how 30 people have already checked-in to one of your sessions and that another 10 are expected to show up. It also shows that the room capacity for that particular session is 50 people. You can use all this information to encourage more people to attend the session by promoting it through digital signage, social media or direct notifications though the event app.”
Event planners are also using technology to engage with attendees in different ways. Event personalisation, says Sirius, is a hugely exciting development. Data capture tools – from event registration systems and RFID to online surveys and event apps – are helping organisations collect valuable information on their attendees which can be analysed to create more powerful and customised event experiences.
“It’s great because it’s a way of showing attendees the aspects of the event that are relevant to them, whether that’s sessions that may be of particular interest to them or specific attendees they may be keen to meet.”
Take the registration process, as an example. You can use the data in the system to collate a report on all the delegates attending a particular session at an event. You may share this list with all the other delegates attending that session to facilitate networking opportunities that are relevant to them. You can break it down by company type, interests and goals and share the list with your session speaker. He or she can then use this information to tweak the content of their presentation or personalise it with content or examples that are more relevant to the audience.
“Personalised experiences like this are becoming more and more popular in our industry with attendees increasingly expecting both the communication about an event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way. Technology makes this level of personalisation possible, which drives loyalty and makes events a lot more successful.”
But what about the cost? For smaller firms, it’s about understanding the value of a long-term investment.
“Don’t try and buy everything that’s on offer. Work out exactly what you need for your business. Event planners, especially in smaller organisations, are bombarded with all kinds of technology solutions. Figure out why you want the technology and then find a technology partner that can help you implement it – someone who understands how the technology can support your business and can work alongside you through the whole process.”
Looking to the future, Sirius is excited about the impact of drones on events.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how they will get used at events. Think about having the ability to track where people move in an exhibition area or trade show. Or having the ability to broadcast live all the things happening on the show floor. It’s very exciting.”
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