It can be devastating when our carefully thought out technology strategies fall apart in the face of actual execution. But if attendees aren’t responding well to your event tech, it’s important to take a hard look at your event in order to understand the circumstances of the misfire.
Evaluating your event strategies is a critical part of the debrief, and can go a long way towards helping you improve your approach year after year. Understanding the reason behind why attendees didn’t take to your tech will lead you to better understand the impact that it had – and has – on your event strategies.
Here are some common issues that we’ve broken down to help you understand the problem and avoid future event tech misfires.
Turn It Off and Back On Again
Problem: The technology didn’t work the way it was supposed to.
Concern: This is the issue that comes up most commonly with event tech. For whatever reason, even though you’ve done your research and tested everything in advance, the tool isn’t working as intended. This might be a social wall that fails to gather any content, VR equipment that refuses to connect, or an event app that doesn’t load schedules.
In this case, it’s easy to understand why the particular tool might not be well received. Frustration mounts quickly when the tech that’s promised to make our events more engaging, communicative, and easy, instead makes everything more difficult.
Solution: When the technology you’ve commissioned fails to do what was promised, make sure you understand what caused the breakdown, if it is likely to happen again, and what the technology provider did during the failure. Was it a one-off issue, or an ongoing problem that has yet to be fixed? Did the provider provide adequate support and resources to fix the problem, or were you brushed off and ignored?
It’s also important to understand how widespread – or not – the issue was. If the majority of your attendees found no problems with the tech, you may want to send out an optional survey or other feedback mechanism, to better understand the issue and find out if the attendees were adequately helped by the support team.
Takeaway: When your technology doesn’t work as intended, investigate what caused the breakdown, and how it was dealt with, to decide if you’ll need to re-evaluate or change tech provider entirely.
Problem: The technology didn’t add to the event strategy.
Concern: Sometimes the technology will work perfectly, and yet be fairly disjointed from the conference. When this happens, your technology might be largely unused because it doesn’t add value to the experience as a whole. This might be forums that stay empty, networking tools that attendees find unnecessary, or special AV equipment that doesn’t come into use.
While this isn’t the worst-case scenario in regards to technology, it does provide a concern. Technology that isn’t able to carry your goals forward, or provide some sort of valuable experience to attendees, has no place in your event – or your budget.
Solution: The best way to avoid this type of technology begins long before attendees are involved. Consider your projected audience, first and foremost. What type of person will be attending your event, and what goals will they have? By understanding how the goals of your event align with the goals of attendees, you will be able to create an event strategy that provides an improved and productive experience for everyone involved.
The time to evaluate your event technology comes as you are developing that event strategy. It’s not only crucial to understand the goals and objectives of your events and attendees, but to take that further and work out how the tools you have in mind can bring you closer to that goal.
Takeaway: Your attendees are going to the event to accomplish something. Before they lay hands or eyes on your technology, be sure that you understand how each tool ties into driving your goal or objective forward.
They Said It Was Easy
Problem: The technology wasn’t intuitive or easy to use.
Concern: If attendees can’t quickly understand how to use the technology, it doesn’t matter how useful the tech is or how smoothly it runs. At conferences, meetings or other corporate events, there’s no time for attendees to sit down and learn how to access the schedule, or to figure out the intricacies of checking in with their smart badges.
If you find that this is a widespread issue rather than some isolated cases, you’ll have to re-evaluate whether the event tech is the right fit for your audience. Tools that aren’t accessible to your attendees are ultimately not doing anything for your event.
Solution: The question to ask when investigating this technology misfire is “why weren’t attendees able to use the tool?” Is it simply too complex for the length of the event, or is the technology perhaps not right for your particular audience? Consider the demographics of your event, but remember not to blame everything on age or gender difference. While some journalists speculate that tools like Snapchat are incomprehensible to an age 25+ crowd, it’s important to remember that not everybody will be invested in the same tools–or in spending time learning how to use them.
Cast your attention to the tools that did work at the event. What are the differences between that, and the one tech that no one understood? Use that to pinpoint what caused trouble for attendees. You might be able to incorporate a short tech introduction in the opening sessions to give attendees some guidance, or consider other tools that are more likely to be suited to your attendees.
Takeaway: Consider why attendees had trouble learning the tech tool. Tailor future training to align with their strengths and weaknesses, or find technology that plays to your audience’s strengths.
Shiny Object Syndrome
Problem: The technology distracted from the event.
Concern: There are the times that your event tech works so well, is so intuitive, and becomes so interesting, that it actually distracts attention away from your event. Instead of supporting the activities and enhancing the experience, it has actually taken over and brought the entire audience off-topic. This might be a game that gets too competitive, or an AR experience that takes attendees far from reality.
This can take attendees away from their event objectives, and can be very disruptive for your presenters as well. Overall, it’s dangerous to let event tech become the main attraction – unless it’s supposed to be – because your audience will inevitably suffer for it.
Solution: This problem is an offshoot of the technology disconnect in that, however much your attendees did or did not use it, the event tech failed to be a cohesive part of your overall strategy. The solution comes back to how you define your event strategy. Instead of stopping after you decide on what technology to use, continue to think about how the technology can work for your event.
For example, if you choose to bring VR to your event, think about what it will bring to your overall strategy. If it’s meant to be a topic of conversation, to help attendees talk to one another, ask yourself whether that’s a goal of your event in the first place. Do you want attendees to be talking about the sessions instead? If yes, is there any way to incorporate those topics into the VR experience? Depending on your answer, you may have to find a way to integrate the tech into your strategy more closely, or switch to different tech altogether.
Takeaway: Make sure that your technology is useful and will contribute to your event strategy. Your tools need to support some part of your plan so that you and your attendees can take full advantage of the investment.
The technology that you use at each event is closely tied to your attendees, to your strategy, and to the experience of the event itself.
This means that the event tech that you choose has a direct impact on your attendees’ experience. And regardless of how much time and effort we put into evaluating, testing, and strategizing, sometimes there will be some issues with how your event tech affect an attendee’s experience. From there, you have work to do to understand the whats, whys, and hows of the situation, so that you can incorporate those insights and learnings into your next event.
Event tech can be a great boost to your event, but a more thorough understanding of how it affects your attendees will help you to improve your strategies year after year.