Technology to the Fore
The digitalization of our entire ecosystem is all-pervasive and omnipresent. But even as we benefit from the service that smart tech provides, we also acknowledge that the exponential rate of this transition is often overwhelming and distracting for many of us.
Amidst all of this, what remains constant is our dependence on face to face interactions for forming meaningful connections and exploring new possibilities. Prominent surveys and discussions in the industry continue to reveal that the value of in-person interaction has not decreased. In fact, if anything, meetings and exhibitions have become ever more indispensable resources for business owners and professionals to cut through the information clutter, check out viable solutions in a life-like environment and identify genuine business opportunities.
Having said that, there is no denying that event technology has arrived in a big way and it’s here to stay. What is critical for the long term success of the events industry is access to tools that can help suppliers and buyers stay focused on achieving their business goals without getting distracted by jazzy features that promise a lot and deliver little. So let’s take a look at technology trends that will be most in demand by participants at B2B tradeshows in 2016.
What Matters the Most to Smart Tradeshows
- Facilitated Matchmaking
Show floors are busy places and attendees usually have packed schedules. In the past, they relied on long manually compiled lists and extensive walking on the show floor to identify exhibitors whose solutions might possibly be of interest to them. Fortunately, in the last few years, technology has played an important part in making the process easier and smarter. Savvy buyers these days expect to be able to see a shortlist of suppliers who are best matched to their buying needs. This innovation is here to stay and the demand will only strengthen over the next few years. Show managers should look for technology platforms that can automatically match buyers’ demographics against product categories and other listing options selected by the exhibitors.
- Personalized Recommendations
Suppliers too want technology to provide better ROI for their brand by showing up their hottest prospects. Along with high visibility on the event website, exhibitors expect technology to help them quickly identify attendees who have signaled a strong interest by voluntarily looking at their own listing as well as of their competing companies. In 2016, exhibitors will show more interest in tradeshows that can offer such well-designed personalized features to them. Exhibits managers should identify technology solutions that provide 360 degree visibility to exhibiting companies with their targeted audience.
- Pre-show Networking
Another crucial reason tradeshows draw hundreds of thousands of people is because they provide excellent opportunities for making new one-to-one connections and strengthening old ones. The growing importance of networking platforms has also raised the expectation of professionals and industry mavens who want to be able to quickly find out who else is attending the event and if they share their interests, so that they can connect with them ahead of the event. Though this trend is driven by the popularity of leading social media, the fact remains that such channels are distractingly open platforms where important conversations tend to get sidetracked by superfluous content. We strongly recommend show organizers also facilitate specialized networking on their own branded technology platform so that their registered attendees stay committed to industry specific issues as well as the event’s brand.
- Integrated Planning Tools
Good event planning tools have been around for a while. But, as devices become better connected and platforms get integrated with each other, solutions that provide access to updated personalized info, notes, calendars and planners on each and every one of an attendees’ devices are seeing a higher demand than ever. Show organizers should actively seek to partner with technology providers that integrate with their existing systems seamlessly.
- E-commerce Enablement
The ubiquitous availability of online marketplaces has made consumers very comfortable with the idea of buying products and services while sitting in their armchairs. The ramification for the events industry is that participating companies now expect to be able to view booth choices and sponsorship opportunities, sign agreements and make purchases in secure, 2-min transactions. Show organizers, in turn, are welcoming e-commerce enablement because it enables them to get rid of cumbersome paperwork while expediting (and even boosting) cash flows.
In 2016, event participants will demand solutions that help them see who else is attending, find best matches based on their requirements and demographics, and then request meetings to connect with them at the event. In addition, technology that makes it easy for them to get the information and updates as and when they need it will be much in demand. Show organizers, who are always keen to provide the best possible engagement and facilitation tools to event participants, will in turn seek solutions that give them an advantage in being on the cutting edge of innovation.