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Maybe it’s hard to believe, but cutting-edge technologies are bringing their magic even to places that once lived and died by their human touch. Take restaurants for example. Places like Applebees, Chili’s and more employ the help of tabletop tablets to enhance the customer experience.
Similarly, technology has the potential to improve functions such as conferences and events — from the planning of the event to its execution and everywhere in between. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why.
Use Data to Set up the Event and Gauge Interest
One of the nicest gifts that technology has brought to the process of setting up events is, predictably, information.
Real-time information might include the amount of “buzz” surrounding your event or conference, the number of interested parties, successful registrants and, of course, the number of mentions on social media feeds. Why is this important? Partly, because it lets you make some critical decisions beforehand. Being more certain about the number of ticketholders as well as potential traffic from “pop-ins” can help out with logistics such as:
- Staffing decisions
- Availability of Wi-Fi, restrooms and other amenities
There’s an opportunity here to dive into the metrics, including the types of referrals that are resulting in the most buzz and ticket sales. You can find out which of your marketing channels are driving the most interest in your event and double-down on those channels, pick up the slack elsewhere or eliminate some channels entirely from your marketing plan next year.
Deploy AR and VR to Create Memorable Experiences
Of all the technologies destined for likely canonization in the conference-goer’s toolkit, AR and VR seem most unlike the traditional “event experience.” Why go through the trouble of setting up a booth, or traveling to an event at all, if visitors are just going to slip on a virtual reality headset to interact with your brand?
Maybe the real question is: Why can’t we have the best of both worlds? Already, virtual reality applications are helping delight event attendees by offering experience-based marketing, video games, convincing simulations for training and product demonstrations, and even upping the immersiveness of a live performance or show.
Because modern smartphones are prioritizing hardware specs capable of producing augmented reality right onscreen, the barrier of entry for applying this technique to a trade show is dropping by the day. Companies are now creating app-based experiences to accompany their physical presence at trade shows, such as letting event-goers see virtual products displayed in the real environment. Virtual reality can even allow factory and facility tours right from the comfort of a welcoming trade show booth.
And why not? Letting prospective partners and customers see how your products are designed or made can go a long way toward helping create interesting and lucrative partnerships.
Networking at the Event (And Afterwards)
It’s getting more and more difficult to imagine modern events and conferences without the influence of social media. We’ve already discussed how watching the way your event is trending on social channels — or not! — can tip you off about what kind of attendance to expect and whether you need to change how you spend on promotion next time around.
Social media has also vastly changed what networking looks like, both during and after a major trade or industry event. You might not just be trading business cards at your next event. You’ll be trading QR codes, vanity URLs, links to online portfolios and catalogs, and much more.
One reminder? When you’re trading LinkedIn or Facebook information at your next event, make sure your digital presence is up-to-date with your physical presence, including headshots taken this decade.
Make Ticketing and Travel Arrangements More Painless
Tickets are a hassle no matter the context. At major industry events — especially those where interested parties may be covering many miles to be there — dealing with physical tickets can introduce worry that your visitors would rather leave at home while they’re traveling.
Event-specific apps don’t just make selling and purchasing tickets more straightforward — they also greatly eliminate fumbling and delays at event entrances where people would ordinarily be looking for printed tickets and passes. For events with “tiered” attendance, event apps can also provide identification and clearance for VIPs, for example, and simultaneously help you regulate traffic flow in “members-only” or “VIPs-only” areas within the venue.
And lest we forget, the events and hotel industries alike are benefiting from the proliferation of smartphones in a major way. Folks are now able to use their phones to board planes, check into hotels, get into their hotel rooms, perform contactless payments for nights out on the town with potential clients and much more.
Map and Diagram Your Events More Easily
Modern mapping software is changing everything about the world, little by little — and one of many applications includes making detail-focused event layouts easier than ever to put together. Managers for events and the venues themselves can enjoy drag-and-drop mapping for laying out traffic flows, booth placement and even the locations of speaker systems and more. Think of the planning software used by interior decorators and the like, and then scale that idea to the size of a conference center.
There are many benefits to creating visual representations of event venues in advance. One is that it provides a considerable time savings versus setting things up by hand first and hoping for the best. Another benefit is that it allows greater levels of collaboration and planning beforehand, including greater control over how guests will flow through the exhibits and interact with each piece of the event.
Apart from helping with logistics, flow, layout and more, mapping and visualization technologies can also help you up the “wow” factor when it comes to your decorations and furnishings. There are lots of ways you can play with light and color, for example. One idea is to create your decorations and lighting schemes to coincide with the time of year and any seasonal changes outdoors. Another idea is to use coloring, lighting systems and other accouterments that divide up large spaces by the activity being conducted there, the type of vendor on display or other criteria of your choosing.
The conference of the future will look a bit different than trade shows of the past! With the right mix of technology and a charismatic human presence, you’ll be able to stand out from the crowd without spending too much money or hassle.