Tag: Personalisation

How Much Personalisation Should We Do at Events?

Personalisation is seen as one of the hottest trends in the events industry as attendees increasingly expect both the communication of the event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way.  At the same time, data capture tools like registration systems and apps are helping events collect valuable information on attendees to create more powerful and customised event experiences.  But as good as it all sounds, is personalisation something we should all be doing?  How effective is it really? And how can we get the right balance between providing value and protecting attendee privacy?

Eventsforce recently debated the topic with Carla Jones, Head of Event Operations & Client Services at Haymarket Events and Caroline Hills, Head of Digital Global Delivery at British Council at the Event Tech Live show in London. The session (available on video here) looked at what kind of tailored activities work, how effective they are in engaging attendees, as well as what impact the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have on personalisation at events.

Have a look at what they had to say:

Can you please give us a quick background on the kind of events your organisations run?

Carla Jones (Haymarket): Haymarket Media Group is one of the largest media and publishing companies in the UK – we run more than 120 events each year that gather over 20,000 attendees – from award ceremonies and gala dinners through to breakfast briefings and large-scale conferences.

Caroline Hills (British Council): The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. With operations in over 100 countries, we host hundreds of events across the world, including the Going Global annual conference and the finals of the FameLab international science competition.

A recent study on the ROI of Event Personalisation found that 73% of event planners see data-driven marketing as a top priority for their events, with 96% using personalisation to tailor their attendees’ experiences. How important is personalisation for your organisation and how do you use it around your events?

Carla Jones (Haymarket): I think basic personalisation is a given now – we do things like using personal names in invites, confirmation emails and so on. We also ask specific questions for people who hold certain job titles and tailor content for them. We personalise event agendas – we look at why type of people have registered and use that information to create an agenda that we know would be of interest to them.  When we’re bringing in speakers, we talk to them about who has registered and see if we can tailor the content of their presentations to the needs of the audience.

At Haymarket, we have a single customer view and this is very important for us.   We run events as a marketing vehicle for our publishing brands – so we gather all the data we collect on an individual who engages with all our different brands and events in one place.  This means at any given time, we know if someone is a valued conference customer but maybe not a subscriber to one of our publications –  and we are able to personalise our activities accordingly.

Caroline Hills (British Council):  The majority of events we run at the British Council globally are educational in some way, from large international conferences down to small workshops that help students prep for an exam.   Personalisation in the form of multilingual event websites, registration forms and email communications (our systems currently support over 60 languages) is very important for us as it allows us to attract as many attendees as we can by offering them the ability to register in their own language.

Going Global is one of the most high-profile events we run annually – with more than eight different attendee categories each year.  So we do things like personalise the registration journey for each attendee category. We use networking tools to allow attendees to set up their own meetings prior to the event.  We also use an app to give attendees a more tailored experience of the event – they can see their personal agendas, arrange meetings with other attendees and receive material from sessions they’ve attended directly into their app.

What challenges do you face with personalisation and how do you address these challenges?

Carla Jones (Haymarket): Lack of time and resources is definitely an issue. I think the bigger issue, however, is that it’s difficult to see what kind of return you’re getting from doing personalisation – which is probably why the majority of event planners stick to basic personalisation. For example, we don’t see the value of apps for our events – personalised push notifications and fully integrated apps simply don’t offer value for money.  I also think it’s difficult finding that balance that’s going to benefit both you as an organisation and the attendee.

Caroline Hills (British Council):  We find it very difficult to measure the ROI of personalisation, even when you’re personalising down to the level of using event apps – so we use these very sparingly at a handful of conferences a year as they are expensive. We try to measure the return of some of our personalisation efforts by looking at how efficient the registration journey has been using various methods. Analytics can be very helpful to pinpoint drop off points.  For Going Global, we sent one of our User Experience colleagues to the event with a big tub of chocolate which he used to incentivise attendees to answer a small number of questions about the registration journey. That helped us a lot and we made a number of changes to the journey the following year!

Registration systems are seen by 84% of events planners as the most effective data collection tool for the purpose of personalisation. In light of that, how do you decide what personalisation data you need to collect in registration forms?  How do you get the balance right in a way that brings value to both attendees and the organisation hosting the event?

Carla Jones (Haymarket):  I think you always have to put yourself in the place of the attendee.  Remember that too much personalisation can be invasive and doesn’t necessarily bring any value to the event experience.  I attended one event recently where each time I attended a seminar, my badge was scanned and consequently was sent lots of stuff that I wasn’t interested in.  You really have to be careful not to take it too far.  Instead of that warm fuzzy feeling that shows we care about you – you’re being bombarded with info. This isn’t personalisation – it’s boxed as personalisation but it’s not.  It’s actually tailored marketing. You have to think about your end user.  What is your attendee going to get out of it?  What is the impact? If you don’t get balance right, you’re going to annoy them. Remember that people are happy to give you their information if they see value in doing so.

With our events, we agree beforehand what data we need to collect and for what purpose – so if we know we’re going to tailor content according to job titles, then this is something we take into consideration when deciding on questions in registration forms. I also think to get the balance right, you need to be aware what questions should be mandatory and what shouldn’t. Mandatory questions should be there only for the purpose of getting them to the event – anything else should not be mandatory. Also, if you ask lots of questions and make it all mandatory, then you’ll get a lot of people just filling in the forms with rubbish.  Where is your quality of data?  You don’t want data that is useless.

Caroline Hills (British Council):  Yes, I think it’s really key to ask only those questions that you need the answers for to successfully register someone and get them to your event.  Always ask yourself what you need to know and then figure out how to ask for that information in as few questions as possible. If you want to ask additional questions for the purpose of personalisation where the answers are nice to have but not essential, then yes, make them optional so attendees don’t have to answer them if they don’t want to.

It’s also key to think about how you’re asking for that information. Don’t ask for their data of birth, for example, if you only need to know if they are over 18. Don’t ask for passport numbers if you want to make sure they have a valid passport – ask if they have a valid passport instead. By doing this you’re reducing the amount of sensitive data you’re collecting to a minimum, which will make potential attendees more comfortable parting with their information. This also reduces your data protection risk level, which will become even more important when GDPR comes into force this year.

The issue of data protection is a big one when it comes to personalisation.  What impact you do you think the EU GDPR will have on personalisation efforts around events?

Carla Jones (Haymarket):  With GDPR, you won’t be able to have registration forms anymore with pages and pages asking for sensitive demographic information – there’s been a general attitude that if people are coming to an event (especially when it’s free) then take advantage and ask as much as possible.   But GDPR will flip this.  Event planners will need to think about things a lot more carefully. You’ll need to get the right kind of detailed consent to use this data. You will need to think about how you’re going to keep this data safe –  as the more data you hold, the higher the risk of breach.  So, it’s not worth collecting ‘personalisation’ data if you’re not going to end up using it. GDPR will force event planners to be a lot more careful about how much data they’re collecting from attendees and for what purpose.

Are your events ready for GDPR? Get your FREE eBook: The Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR Compliance, and learn what impact Europe’s new data protection regulation will have on event marketing, data management and event technology – as well as what steps event planners need to take now to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.

Caroline Hills (British Council):  The biggest impact of GDPR on the events industry will mostly be around consent and permissions, and the biggest challenge around this for us will be educating people about the dos and don’ts so that we stay compliant with GDPR.  Our small central team can’t audit every single event and say you can’t ask this and you can’t ask that, it’s not practical for organisations like ours. You also have the challenge of new people coming in all the time, so you have to have a continual programme of training running. We’ll probably end up having more basic registration forms to control this better globally and it might limit how much personalisation we actually do as our priority will be making sure we are compliant, rather than looking at how we can improve personalisation, as the consequences of not being compliant are potentially enormous fines.

Read: Ask the Experts – How BIG an impact will GDPR have on meetings and events?


The issue of data is a big one when it comes to personalisation.  Before even starting the process, event planners need to think about what data they’re going to collect from attendees and agree across their organisation on how this data is going to be used for the purpose of personalisation.  Attendees also need to understand why organisations are gathering their information and how it is going to bring value to their event experience.  Getting that balance right is key for successful personalisation.  In summary:

  • Decide what data you’re going to collect, why you’re collecting it and agree across your organisation on how it’s going to be used before collecting it for the purpose of personalisation
  • Don’t ask unnecessary questions – this will have a negative effect on the attendee experience
  • Make it clear to attendees that the information they provide will bring value to their experience and that you’re looking after their data and privacy – especially with the upcoming GDPR.
  • Those organisations that can personalise event experiences but show they they’re dealing with data privacy in the right way will be the ones people choose to deal with in the future.

You can watch the full video of the discussion on event personalisation between Eventsforce, The British Council and Haymarket at Event Tech Live 2017 here.

Enjoyed reading this article?  Sign up to our EventTech Talk newsletter for similar insights and weekly updates on the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping our industry today.


Top 2017 Blog Posts on EventTech Talk

Tech is always pushing the boundaries of how we plan and run events – and 2017 was certainly no exception.  Almost every week, we’ve come across a new start-up, solution or gadget that promises to make planning easier and events more exciting.  And yet despite all this innovation, many are finding it hard to keep up – a recent industry poll by Eventsforce found that 65% of event planners find it difficult to stay up to date with the constantly evolving world of event tech.  And yet, not keeping up is no longer an option.

We launched the EventTech Talk blog a couple of years ago and have since seen a tremendous growth in a community of tech-savvy event planners who want to learn more about the latest technology development shaping the industry today. With regular polls and research studies, we’ve also been able to get good insight on uptake and trends, as well as varying opinions from well-known event experts on issues like data management, GDPR and AI-enabled technology.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share the top technology stories that really hit the mark with our readers over the past year.  Based on unique page views and social media shares, take a look at our top ten blog posts from 2017:

#1 What Event Planners Need to Know about Europe’s New Data Protection Law

GDPR is coming into effect in May 2018 and will apply to ANY event collecting and processing the personal information of European attendees – regardless of location.  This article explains what the new regulation actually means for our industry and how non-compliance, compared to current data protection regulation,s can bring serious financial consequences to event organisations worldwide. Read here.

Are your events ready for GDPR? Get your FREE eBook: ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR Compliance’, and learn what impact Europe’s new data protection regulation will have on event marketing, data management and event technology – as well as what steps event planners need to take now to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.

# 2 Ask the Experts: The Next Big Thing in Event Tech 2018

This past year was definitely an interesting one in the fast-evolving world of event technology with the arrival of AI-enabled chatbots, new data analytics tools and some practical developments in AR and VR technology.  EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s top tech experts to find out what stood out in 2017 and what tech trends we should expect for the next year. Read here.

#3 10 Easy Tips for Designing Great Event Websites

Websites are still one of the most powerful marketing tools for events today. But if your website has too much information, doesn’t look appealing and more importantly, doesn’t create a sense of excitement around your event, then chances are people are going to go elsewhere. EventTech Talk had a chat with web designer, Dan Auty, who has worked on event websites for companies like Peugeot, BP and The Law Society, to discuss some of the latest trends in web design and look at some of the key things organisers need to think about when building websites for their events. Read here.

#4 How On-Site Apps Can Help You Run Better Events

Knowing exactly who turned up at your event and what sessions they attended is something that every event planner wants to know. The information helps us figure out popular topics and sessions. It helps us profile attendees.  It is also one of the many ways we measure event success.  Yet having this information at the end of the event is a bit of a lost opportunity.  Find out how using on-site apps can improve your attendees’ event experience and bring you important insight on the day of your event.  Read here.

#5 How to Collect Valuable Data from Events

Event tech systems help organisations collect important data around their events (registration forms, surveys, apps) and create all sorts of reports that help in measuring event success. The problem, however, is that the amount of data generated around an event is often overwhelming and figuring out what tools you need to measure the data that matters is not as simple as one would hope. Have a look at this list of some of the most effective event data collection tools based on feedback from more than 120 event organisers. Read here.

#6 How to Engage Attendees with Gamification

From the humble ice-breaker through to complex team-building activities, gamification solutions such as quizzes and scavenger hunts have gained considerable popularity around events over the past year.  And yet, one of the biggest complaints or criticisms around gamification is that people don’t engage and the return is low.   EventTech Talk spoke to Callum Gill, head of insight and innovation at leading creative experience agency, drp Group, to see what steps organisers need to take to put together a successful gamification strategy around their events. Read here.

#7 Infographic: The Power of Event Invitations

Regardless of whether you’re hosting a meeting, a networking event or a multi-day conference, we all know the importance of the event invite. It sets the tone of your event and is one of the first opportunities to make a good impression with potential attendees. It is also what convinces most people to take action and sign up.  But what are the latest trends around managing event invitations and how are event planners measuring success? Read here.

#8 Quick Email Marketing Tips for Event Success

Email still remains as the top most effective marketing tools for events today. Unlike websites or event apps, the email you send to attendees is a controlled experience where you can decide exactly what it looks like, what time it shows up, what call to action to use and what kind of personalised content it should include.  And best of all, it’s measurable. But with more than 20 percent of legitimate marketing emails never reaching a recipient’s inbox, what steps should event planners take to ensure the successful delivery of their email campaigns? Read here.

#9 Infographic: The ROI of Event Personalisation

Personalisation is seen as one of the hottest trends in the events industry as attendees increasingly expect both the communication of the event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way. But is personalisation actually worth the time and effort? Are we doing anything useful with all the personalisation data we’re gathering from attendees or are we collecting too much?  Are there any data collection tools that are more effective than others? Take a look at the results of the latest research study from Eventsforce on the ROI of personalisation. Read here.

#10 Top Mistakes to Avoid When Using Facebook Live

The ability to record live videos using nothing more than a Smartphone is opening up all sorts of opportunities for the events industry – from improving engagement with attendees to reaching out to new audiences all over the world. But as with anything live, things can always go wrong.  The feed might cut off.  Your speaker might mess up or some crisis might unfold…and the whole thing gets broadcasted on the Internet.  So, needless to say, it helps being prepared. Have a look at some of the most common mistakes you need to avoid when using live-streaming apps like Facebook Live at events. Read here.

Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Get weekly updates from our blog and learn about the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping our industry today.  Click here to join EventTech Talk today.



4 Technology Trends from Experts at Europe’s Largest Event Tech Show

The annual Event Tech Live show took place in London this month, and once again, it didn’t disappoint.   As Europe’s only dedicated exhibition and conference for event professionals interested in event technology, it attracts more than 1,600 attendees and 100-plus exhibitors from the event tech industry.  The show had a generous display of new technology innovations and solutions, including a launchpad pitch competition which gave a good insight on what’s coming next. More interestingly, the conference brought together a number of experts from technology vendors to event organisers to discuss and debate the latest technology trends and issues shaping our industry today.

From GDPR, personalisation and the future of event apps to the emergence of new applications like chatbots and facial recognition technology – have a look at our top takeaways from Europe’s largest event tech show:

In case you missed it…GDPR is coming!

If there was one topic that kept popping up time and time again across most of the sessions at the show, it was the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the impact it will have on the events industry. And yet surprisingly, an audience poll conducted by a panel of experts from Glisser, SpotMe and Krowdthink revealed that MOST event planners had actually very little understanding about the new regulation – which is quite alarming, given the implications.

GDPR is coming into effect in May 2018 and will apply to ANY event collecting and processing the personal information of European attendees – regardless of location. For event planners, the new regulation presents a change in the way they decide what data needs to be collected from attendees and how that data is used for things like marketing campaigns.  It will change the way attendee data is shared with other third-party organisations like venues, sponsors and tech providers. It will also change attitudes to data security and what measures need to be in place to keep attendee data safe. And let’s not forget about the fines.  Compared to current data protection regulations, non-compliance to GDPR can lead to some very serious financial consequences – and lawsuits.

But it’s not all bad news. GDPR will bring about some big opportunities for our industry too.  In fact, one of the main take-aways from the panel was that GDPR is a big chance for event planners to advance their careers. How? By taking ownership of GDPR.  By ensuring that events are dealing with personal data in a transparent and secure way – and always in the individual’s best interest.  And by getting their event tech ready too. If you’re interested in finding out more, have a look at this free eBook ‘The Event Planner’s Guide to GDPR Compliance’ which explains why the events industry has to start taking responsibility for GDPR, its impact on event marketing, data management and event technology and what steps event planners need to take now to get ready for the May 2018 deadline.

Related Article: 5 Questions You Need to Ask Event Tech Providers About GDPR

Event Apps Vs. Chatbots

The popularity around event apps has evolved so much over the last few years – most people attending any kind of event expect an app and it seems most event planners want one too.  But are apps starting to get a bad reputation?  How effective are they really in engaging audiences? And will other emerging technologies like NFC and chatbots replace the need for event apps all together?  These questions were addressed in a very interesting discussion by panellists from Sciensio, Beeem, NoodleLive and CrowdComms exploring the future of event apps.

In the always-connected world of smartphones, social media and information-on-demand, it seems that the attention span of our attendees is getting shorter and shorter.   And this is something that event planners need to address if they want their attendees to interact more with their apps. People don’t want to waste their time browsing through irrelevant content on an app just to find out the location of their next session.  They want the technology to add value to their event experience and they want the interaction with the technology as easy as possible.  And this is where chatbots come in.  They don’t require attendees to download anything.  They apply easy text-based messaging t technology that most people are comfortable in using and more importantly, they provide that instant personalised information service that attendees are looking for at an event. Though we firmly believe that native apps still have a firm place in the events industry – perhaps we will start seeing more people move towards what chatbots can offer over the coming few years.

All the panellists agreed that pushing more personalised content on people’s smartphones will be a key trend over the coming years. Websites can already send personal push notifications on people’s phones through Google Chrome (coming soon on Safari).  Google is also driving a big push towards progressive web apps – which basically allows you to run apps on a web browser. The technology will bridge the gap between apps and websites by offering the functionality of both, with more offline capabilities, improved speed and better performance.  Watch this space.

How Important is Event Personalisation?

Personalisation was another hot topic at the event and we can understand why. More and more attendees are starting to expect both the communication of an event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way.  At the same time, the abundant use of sophisticated data capture tools – from registration systems and apps to surveys, social media, networking and on-site tracking solutions – are helping event planners collect and analyse valuable attendee information to create more powerful and customised event experiences.   But as good as it all sounds, is it something we should all do?  And how do we decide how much personalisation we should actually do?

This was the basis of one panel discussion between Eventsforce, Haymarket Media and the British Council which unveiled the results of a new research study on event personalisation.  It seems that despite it being a growing priority for 73% of event planners, more than 50% struggle to see how effective their personalisation efforts are in engaging attendees and building brand loyalty.  The study also revealed that more than half don’t end up using all the data they collect for personalisation and another 44% find it difficult to determine how much personalisation they should actually do.

So what was the advice?   Decide what data you’re going to collect, why you’re collecting it and agree across your organisation on how it’s going to be used before collecting it for the purpose of personalisation. Don’t ask your attendees any unnecessary questions as this will have a negative effect on their event experience.  And finally, explain clearly how the information they provide will bring value to their experience and that you’re looking after their data and privacy – especially with the upcoming GDPR. Click here to watch the full session.

Event Technology – What’s Next in Innovation?

This year’s show also saw the return of the Launchpad, a dedicated area for start-ups and providers of new event technology solutions – except this year, they also ran a pitch competition where providers had to battle it out in front of a panel of judges.   There were some very interesting applications of event tech, all designed to save time and enhance the attendee’s event experience in one way or another.  The winner was a web-based solution from Zenus which uses facial recognition technology to cut waiting lines and speed up the check-in process of attendees at events. When an attendee approaches a kiosk, their profile will pop up and a scanner can print their badges on the spot. Alternatively, you can place a tablet facing the line of people and attendees will be automatically checked-in as they walk.

Another noteworthy winner was Sciensio’s Concierge Eventbot solution which offers attendees an alternative to apps through a range of text messaging services, including agendas, directions, floor plans, surveys, polls and more.  We also saw a great staffing solution from Liveforce which promises to scrap the need for Excel spreadsheets when recruiting, scheduling, booking and paying temporary staff around events.  Worth checking out.

You can watch all the pitch presentations of the ETL2017 Launchpad competition here.

Want to be a tech-savvy event planner?  Sign up to the weekly EventTech Talk newsletter here and get advice and updates on the latest technology trends and discussions shaping the events industry today.


Infographic: The ROI of Event Personalisation

Personalisation is seen as one of the hottest trends in the events industry as attendees increasingly expect both the communication of the event and the live experience to be tailored to them in some way.  At the same time, data capture tools like registration systems and event apps are helping events collect valuable information on attendees to create more powerful and customised event experiences.

But is personalisation worth the time and effort? Are we doing anything useful with all the data we’re gathering from attendees or are we collecting too much?  Are there any data collection tools that are more effective than others? And what impact will Europe’s new data protection regulation have on event personalisation from May 2018?

A new Eventsforce research study –  titled ‘The ROI of Event Personalisation’- has revealed that despite it being a growing priority for 73% of event planners, more than 50% are struggling to see how effective their personalisation efforts are in engaging attendees and building brand loyalty.  Of the 150 senior event planners surveyed, 56% don’t end up using all the data they collect for the purpose of personalisation and another 44% find it difficult to determine how much personalisation they should actually do.

Some other highlights from ‘The ROI of Event Personalisation’ study include:

  • More than 9 in 10 event planners are using personalisation around events
  • Event invites, delegate communications and personalised registration forms are the most popular methods of using personalisation
  • Top 3 most effective data collection tools include registration systems, CRM/marketing solutions, surveys and apps
  • 31% struggle to measure ROI of personalisation efforts
  • Other challenges include deciding what data to collect from attendees, getting the balance right between providing value and protecting attendee privacy and dealing with inaccurate data
  • 36% of event planners feel the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will limit personalisation efforts in the industry

For a more comprehensive look at these results and some of the other findings from the Eventsforce ‘The ROI of Event Personalisation’ study, download the infographic below:

Eventsforce will be debating the topic of personalisation, privacy and GDPR with senior event planners from Haymarket Publishing and the British Council at the annual Event Tech Live show in London on 9th November 2017.  The session titled, ‘Event Personalisation – Finding the Balance Between Value & Privacy’ will discuss the findings of the study and provide an opportunity for the speakers to share their experiences around personalisation and finding that balance.

Those interested in attending can register for the event at http://www.eventtechlive.com or visit Eventsforce at stand 216 in the exhibition hall.


The New WhatsApp and 4 Other Event Tech Stories You Should Read

Untitled design (90)

In this month’s round-up of the latest and most interesting event tech stories, we come across video beacons, Twitter’s hashtag emojis and an app that can help create projection-mapping experiences at events. We also look at how WhatsApp is taking on Snapchat with its own content consumption platform, a new online community connecting event planners and freelancers, as well as a very interesting case study on the role of AI in event personalisation.

Have a look at what you may have missed:

BizBash: 5 Innovative Tech Tools for Meetings & Events

Untitled design (91)Great summary piece from BizBash here – a quick looks at some of the latest apps, software and interactive technology for events and experiential marketing.  It includes the audience engagement system, Glisser, which allows event presentations to become instantly interactive and shareable.  Presenters can use the system to instantly send polls to audiences and display the results, while members can submit questions anonymously and vote on the questions that have been asked. Another tool is the Estimote Mirror – a video-enabled beacon which not only communicates with nearby smartphones and apps but also takes content from those apps and displays it on nearby digital screens.  For example, the system can be used to show personalised content on digital signs around a venue as visitors pass by or to show product information at an exhibit booth that’s based on the attendee’s interests, needs and previous buying habits.

Also included in the list is Air Events Global, an online marketplace for event planners looking to hire freelancers, and the $4.99 Project Mapper app that allows you to quickly create projection-mapping experiences for your events.

Forbes: WhatsApp Changes Everything with Its New ‘Status’ Feature

Untitled design (89)As an event planner, you probably use Whatsapp to communicate back and forth with your team members, especially on the day of your event. The company, however, has just announced that it’s turning the app into a content consumption platform – similar to the way people scroll through their Facebook or Instagram newsfeeds. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s exactly like Snapchat’s hugely successful Stories feature but the twist is that it’s -end-to-end encrypted like WhatsApp messaging (great for data security). The new ‘status’ feature will let users share and watch updates from friends and reply privately, shoot and adorn their imagery with drawings and captions and send their creations to chosen contacts with a persistent privacy setting. See full story here.

Similar to Snapchat’s stories, the feature opens the door to new advertising and marketing opportunities for businesses and events. At South by Southwest last year, for example, Mashable used Snapchat as an interactive way to connect with attendees.  MTC also uses Snapchat’s stories to complement events the network hosts and add an editorial element to the other large-scale events it covers. WhatsApp currently has 1.2 billion monthly users that send 60 billion messages per day, including 3.3 billion photos, 760 million videos and 8- million GIFs.  Its market is huge and if the status feature takes off as the company hopes, it could be a very interesting development for user-generated social content platforms.

Contently: How Boomers & Millennials Use Online Content Differently

Copy of crowdA new infographic from Adweek, illustrates the difference in online behavior between boomers and millennials – which can be useful for planning content marketing activities around your events. Boomers, for example, like branded content that focuses on the product or service, while millennials like branded content that focuses on experiences. Both demographics like photos, but boomers are more likely to prefer written content or video. And when boomers share content online, they’re going to Facebook instead of Instagram. Take a look at the infographic here for a full picture.

Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Sign up to the weekly EventTech Talk newsletter here and get updates on all the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping the events industry today.

Event MB: Twitter Starts Trialing Sponsored Emojis For Events

Untitled design (88)This month’s Sanremo music festival in Italy has seen a social media first: a brand sponsor’s logo, in emoji form, attached to an event hashtag. The custom emoji accompanied every tweet mentioning the #Sanremo2017 hashtag – which meant every time anyone used the hashtag, they were putting the sponsor’s logo right into the timelines of their followers.

Although this form of advertising can seem somewhat brazen to some at the moment, don’t be surprised if it soon becomes the norm.  According to this story from Event MB, hashtags have been helping us facilitate and organise event-related engagement for some time now. This simple addition of a company logo in emoji form could make the hashtag/emoji ad combination an extremely valuable sponsorship opportunity for events of the future.

BizBash: What Was IBM’s Watson Doing at a San Francisco Dance Party?

shutterstock_233448184Want a glimpse of what personalised events will look like in the future?  Daybreaker hosts about 15 events in San Francisco each year, and last month, it hosted what it called the ‘world’s first cognitive dance party’ powered by Watson – IBM’s cognitive platform.  The company used Watson to analyse attendees’ Twitter profiles and personality quizzes to create three tracks that would determine the colours guests were encouraged to wear at the event (purple for conscientious, red for outgoing and yellow for expressiveness). The tracks also determined pre-party lists, a pre-dance fitness class suggestion, Chef Watson-designed breakfast menus and original Watson Beat music during the event.  As party goers bounced around the venue, a swirling storm of lights illuminated the interactive LED dance floor – with patterns powered by the ‘energy’ (the social feeds) in the room.  A custom-built LED sun also rose at the front of the room, which reflected the guests’ personalities.  You can read more about it here.

What kind of impact will tools like Watson have on the events industry? Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) truly personalise experiences?  According to an article by Event Tech Brief, attendees these days want tailor-made information, connections and experiences and current event technologies have set the stage for hyper-personalised attendee experiences – but we’re not quite there yet.  AI has the potential to take event tech to the next level – from AI-enabled concierge event bots to personalised attendee matchmaking tools like Grip.

If you would like to learn more about what Eventsforce has to offer, take a look at a few other blog posts listed below or get in contact with out friendly team.

Call us on 0207 785 6997 or get in touch here.

Ask the Experts: The Next Big Thing in Event Tech for 2017

shutterstock_506853283This past year was certainly an interesting one in the world of technology and events. We saw some very impressive use of pyrotechnics, lighting and 3D projection at the opening ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. We saw how video has become a very important marketing tool for event planners with new live streaming tools like Instagram and Facebook Live making their mark in the industry. We also saw the use of new kinds of engagement tools that are radically changing the way people experience events – not to forget some much-anticipated applications of AR and VR technology.

But what really stood out in 2016?  Which event technology made a difference?  And what should we expect for 2017?

EventTech Talk spoke to some of the industry’s well known event tech experts to find out what they felt was important in 2016 and what they think will be the next big thing over the coming year.

Have a look below to see what they had to say:

Michelle Bruno, Publisher, Event Tech Brief

michelle-brunoMost of the technology that I have observed over this past year represented incremental changes to existing apps and platforms or the use of existing and familiar technology to address new markets. There was clearly one exception: chatbots.

For those who are unfamiliar with conversational bots, picture Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, both machine interfaces with which to carry on a dialogue, make requests, or ask for information.

A chatbot works on the same principle, but instead of speaking to a device, the user texts commands and questions to the bot using a smartphone. The bot replies with answers, menus, or links to information.

The technology stood out for me because of how it works and what it represents. There is virtually no learning curve. It is as easy as picking up a smartphone and texting the word hello. After that, an attendee can begin asking questions like, where is the session on human anatomy? How do I get validation for parking? Are there vegetarian options on the lunch buffet? These are all simple inquiries that cannot be addressed as quickly or at all by the mobile event app.

In the absence of a bot, attendees have to walk to registration, call or email show management, and/or waste a considerable amount of precious time getting a response.

Chatbots allude to the next big thing for 2017 – personalisation. The accumulation of data will intersect with a number of technologies, including chatbots, beacons, and networking applications. For example, chatbots powered by artificial intelligence and supported by cloud storage can learn attendee preferences and begin to anticipate their needs.

Beacon receivers can detect wearable technology and cause devices to react to them (digital signage with a personalised welcome message). Networking applications and devices can bring two specific attendees together (at their mutual request) based on their profiles, stated preferences, and proximity.

 Follow Michelle Bruno on Twitter: @michellebruno

Brandt Krueger, Speaker & Consultant, Event Technology Consulting

brandt-kruegerOverall, 2016 was an evolutionary year, rather than a revolutionary year. A lot of the technologies simply evolved, rather than anything really jumping out and being new and exciting. That being said, we’re finally, after decades of promises, seeing VR and AR solutions that actually make sense in events.

From promotional materials, to 360-degree site visits, to product launches and game stations, VR is coming of age, and AR will be right behind it. Audi has been investing heavily in VR, creating dynamic group experiences at their events, so it’s not all about going into your own little world anymore.

I think 2017 is the year to re-evaluate your tech. For those who’ve been waiting to incorporate technology, now’s the time. Event apps, audience response systems, registration and event management software, livestreaming and hybrid events – all these technologies are mature and ready for you to implement.

For those of you who’ve been on the leading edge and are ready for the next big thing? Time to start moving forward with attendee-tracking and interaction technology using beacons and smart floors, augmented reality and virtual reality. “AI” and “IOT” will be the buzzwords of tech in 2017, and we’re already starting to see them being attached to the latest #EventTech startups!

Finally, keep a close eye on security. “Soft targets” – hotels, convention centres, festivals and the like – are going to be the favoured targets of the malicious, both physical and digital. So once again, it’s time to re-evaluate your security and protect your attendees/guests!

Follow Brandt Krueger on Twitter: @BrandtKrueger

Want to be a tech savvy event planner? Sign up to the EventTech Talk newsletter here and get weekly updates on the latest technology trends, discussions and debates shaping the events industry today.

Adam Parry, Editor, Event Industry News/Event Tech Live

adam-parryWhat really stood out and I saw proof of in 2016 was working with Konduko at Event Tech Live (ETL) to outfit each exhibitor with touch-to-collect points. This turned lead generation into a two-way street between exhibitors and visitors. It also allowed us to capture data for speakers, which has been invaluable to them.

Around 66% of leads generated from ETL came from the interaction between visitors and exhibitors using Konduko – this is a real game changer for expos.  And as deployment costs come down, I can see this filtering in as a standard to all types of events, both big and small.

Looking at event tech trends for 2017, it is hard to say for sure as there is so much “industry” technology being developed as well as external technology which can then be used for events. I think we will see the Internet of Things (IOT) take a larger role in the delivery of content at events, based specifically on the attendee.

An example of this would be digital screens that we already see at most events and shows turning into more “connected” screens, which can display content that’s relevant to each attendee. This can be based on time, sessions they have attended, their network of other attendees and even their preferences on food, music etc.

Follow Adam Parry on Twitter: @punchtownparry

Marin Bright, CEO & Editorial Director, Smart Meetings

marin-brightPoken was our biggest event tech win for 2016. It’s an innovative platform of tech tools for event professionals to use to organise and manage their events and create unique, engaging experiences. It allowed our attendees to check-in, network and collect information all in a fun, gamification-style format that our attendees loved. It truly is a complete event engagement experience.

With today’s attendees needing to feel engaged more than ever, event tech solutions like Slido will really take flight in 2017. Slido lets you crowdsource the best questions from your audience and keep your guests engaged with live polls. We’re excited to see the level of audience interaction skyrocket and what new event attendee opportunities will be introduced.

Follow Marin Bright on Twitter: @marinbright

Paul Harris, Event Technologist, Eventsforce

235fy_m2_400x400As the significance of events continues to grow for organisations, so does the importance of managing the data around these events. We’ve seen event planners doing some great things by integrating their data with check-in systems, payment gateways and event apps. However, this same concept of data sharing is now being applied with big back-end business systems, like CRMs and finance solutions.

In fact, we’ve seen a 40% increase in the number of customers working on integration projects over the last year and we expect this trend to grow significantly as event planners try to automate processes and make better use of their event data.  If this is something you’re considering, have a look at this industry ebook that gives a good introduction on the topic and whether or not it’s something that makes sense for your events.

More time, less work and better data sharing around your events?  Find out how by getting your FREE guide to data integration here.

We’re also seeing some interesting trends around event apps. The concept of having a fancy-looking event app is slowly dying. Event planners want mobile apps but only if it benefits their attendees. Attendees want apps but only if the features really help them achieve their attendance goals. When they do, native event apps are very popular and successful.

However, planners no longer want to spend thousands on designing apps and re-keying data. Either the app works well with their existing data or its considered an expensive luxury. Event programs change. Sponsors change, agendas change. Event apps that are not integrated with other event systems don’t reflect the latest information and are obsolete to attendees.

Aside from data integration, I think custom packages will be another focus area for event tech in 2017. Offering attendees a selection of pre-defined package options for your event is a lot like a restaurant offering customers a selection of set menus.  Both are easy to set up. Both offer the same set of choices to everyone.

Yet registration software has the ability to help attendees personalise their own packages. In the same way that a restaurant can offer both a set menu and an a-la-carte option, event planners are going to increasingly use their registration systems to offer attendees the option to pick and choose what they want to ‘consume’ when registering for an event.

Follow Paul Harris on Twitter: @PaulHEventProf

If you would like to learn more about what Eventsforce has to offer, take a look at a few other blog posts listed below or get in contact with out friendly team.

Call us on 0207 785 6997 or get in touch here.

How to Personalise Attendee Packages for Your Multi-Day Events

untitled-design-64Take any multi-day conference today and chances are it will offer attendees a choice of registration packages. Some will give attendees a choice of dates at different rates, others will bundle things like meals, accommodation or entertainment into the price. This concept of ‘packages’ first became popular when organisations used paper-based registration forms and needed a simple way of managing payments around their events. All attendees had to do was pick a package, submit their form and send the necessary cheque to the organisers.

Over the years, the advance of technology has made this process of managing payments a whole lot simpler. Online registration systems provide automatic calculations at the check-out stage of the attendee’s registration journey – regardless of the number of items purchased along the way. So the need for simplification no longer exists. In fact, ‘digital’ registration pages can do a lot more for attendee packages. They can give attendees the ability to tailor their own custom packages around these events.

untitled-design-55Common Challenges of Event Packages

Having a defined set of package options to choose from doesn’t necessarily simplify things – not for the attendee or the event organiser.  Let’s take a look at a typical example. Suppose you give your attendees the option to select one of the following packages on your event registration page:

  • Package 1 – Monday only
  • Package 2 – Monday to Wednesday (3 days)
  • Package 3 – Wednesday to Friday (3 days)
  • Package 4 – Monday to Friday (5 days)

It’s relatively easy to set up, but offering these package options to your attendees can bring about a number of issues:

1. Trouble Counting Totals – Knowing exactly who is coming on each day should be the kind of information that needs to be available to an event planner at the touch of a button.  Yet looking at our example, if you want to get the total number of attendees at your event on the Monday, you will have to add up the number of people who selected packages 1, 2 and 4.  This number will reflect all the people coming on the Monday but it will also include the ones who have registered for the Tuesday and Wednesday sessions too. Also, it may include people who have no intention of attending the event on Monday but chose package 2 as they wanted to attend the sessions on the Tuesday and Wednesday.

2. No Transparency on Event Requirements – Knowing the exact number of people that are expected to attend on any given day is important for managing things like delegate communications, catering requirements and health and safety regulations.   It is pure guess work to assume that people who have chosen package 2 will be attending your buffet lunch on the Monday, for example.  Or that they’re interested in receiving content on topics that will be discussed in sessions on that day.

3. Limited Choice for Attendees – Options that are not listed usually end up with the attendee picking up the phone and calling your team to ask if they can attend ‘Tuesday only’, for example.  This increases your workload, delays registration and could affect cash flow.  Your attendee may also feel he’s not getting a good return on his investment as he’s made to pay for a 3-day event when he’s only interested in attending one particular date or session.

personalisationLet Your Attendees Tailor Their Own Packages

Offering your attendees a selection of package options for your event is a lot like a restaurant offering its customers a selection of set menus.  Both are easy to set up. Both offer the same set of choices to everyone.  Yet registration software can help attendees personalise their own packages around your multi-day events. In the same way that a restaurant offers customers the choice to order whatever they want using an a-la-carte menu, event planners can use their online registration forms to offer attendees the option to pick and choose what they want to ‘consume’ when registering for the event.

So instead of giving attendees a list of packages to choose from, registration forms can ask attendees which dates they would like to attend. Or you can break it down further and ask them what sessions they would like to attend.  Upon selection, attendees can then be given a set of questions that allows them to choose individually priced items such as meals, meeting rooms, entertainment activities, transport and accommodation.  They won’t need to do the mental arithmetic as the system will do it for them and they can focus on what they actually want to get out of the event.

Some may argue that breaking down prices like this will only complicate the registration process.  That simplified package options provide a better experience for attendees.  Yet the reality is that these packages are taking the choice away from attendees.  And your attendees want that choice.  They want the ability to decide that they will attend your conference for the first two days, spend one night in the hotel (as they’ve made other arrangements for the other two) and attend the networking drinks on the third night. They are used to making these choices in many aspects of their lives.  They do it when buying add-ons for their flights such as meals, extra leg room or baggage allowance.  They do it when ordering their meals in a restaurant.  And there is no reason why they can’t do this around your events.

Benefits of a Personalised Approach

Creating a more personalised approach around event packages can bring a host of benefits to the event planner and the attendee:

  • Increased ROI for Attendees – Providing attendees with the ability to pick and choose bookable items around your events gives them a clearer understanding on the value of their purchase. A subconscious connection is made with the content of each day, rather than simply the package fee.  This provides the event planner with the opportunity to present additional value in context rather than just a price on a page.
  • Personalised Event Communications – Knowing exactly which days your attendees will be attending can help you personalise all your email communications in the run up to your event.  It makes more sense to send your attendee information about the sessions of the day they’re attending than have one generic email that goes to everyone on your list.
  • Better Speaker Content – By having a more accurate picture of who will be attending the sessions on each day, event planners can break down attendee lists by company type, interests and goals and share it with speakers beforehand.  They can then use this information to tweak the content of their presentations or personalise it with content or examples that are more relevant to the audience.
  • Clearer Insight on On-Site Requirements – Knowing exactly who will be attending on each day of the event provides the event planner with a more accurate picture on what catering arrangements need to be made.  So if you know that people are leaving early on the last day of your event, you may decide to offer them a packed lunch instead of the buffet you had initially planned. This can reduce your catering costs and reduce unnecessary food wastage.  This kind of information will also help with emergency evacuations and other health and safety requirements.
  • Click to get in touchAlternative Source of Income – Asking your delegates specific questions on the kind of things they’re interested in purchasing around your event can also maximize your opportunity to make money. How about offering them to rent out that extra meeting room you have available on that specific day you know they will be at your event?  Or offer them the choice to buy WiFi connectivity in their hotel rooms?

For some other ideas on how online registration systems like Eventsforce can help you personalise your attendee event experiences, have a look here.

Written by Paul Harris,  Event Technologist and Client Services Manager, Eventsforce