Have you ever talked to an event planner who swears his/her audience hates tech? They don’t use it, not social, they don’t read blogs. Nothing. No part of it. While that may be true of a handful of purists around the world or those living outside of an internet connection, that is not true of most of the population. Even those who don’t consider themselves on the cutting-edge of early adoption, have fun reconnecting with people on Facebook.
That’s why it’s so refreshing to see events that embrace technology even when it’s not necessarily a techie audience that they attract. Yes, the Consumer Electronic Show, Dreamforce, and SXSW understand tech but there are also other events that are embracing tech in fun and interesting ways.
AKC National Championship presented by Royal Canin
Okay, so dogs are a visual marketer’s dream but you have to admit when someone says, “…a conference with a good use of technology…” this dog show probably wouldn’t come to mind. However, for the 2016 event the organizer, B Live, assembled a team of 70 people and seven cameras to cover the show. Their live streaming covered preliminary through closing and produced a live broadcast on FidoTV. This type of video coverage and devotion to making it mobile has helped grow the online audience from 1.2 million in 2012 to over 6 million today.
This event put on by Moz, a top SEO analytics company, ties their tech and fun together in a nice little package. In last year’s conference shirts, they featured an “old-fashioned” video game-type starship. This became the inspiration for a real video game they placed on their site to get people excited about the upcoming event. Interested people can download it for free. When they get to the conference, attendees will be pleasantly surprised by these old-style arcade game cabinets in public spaces that people can play as they wait in line or wait for sessions.
This is Prezi’s version of TEDx where they assemble thought leaders from all over the world in one spot to present their knowledge. You can imagine the audience questions and that awkward run the person with the house mic always has to do. Instead, they used a throwable microphone, for audience members to throw at one another (yes, seriously). It eliminated the awkward mic moments and helped to engage audience members. Engage or get hit in the head! Tech can be fun.
The THiNK Conference used a similar innovative mic solution that turned attendees’ cell phones into audience mics for easy question and answer sessions. Innovative microphones and other engagement technology can be found in our free Engaging Events Report.
CompTIA’s “Virtual Reality Experience Tour”
Okay, so one would think CompTIA would know something about technology but it’s using it in a surprising way – introducing students and teachers to virtual reality in order to show them about careers in the industry. It’s hosting events across the U.S. that bring the technology to kids and teach them how it could translate into a future career.
Association of the United States Army Conference
Speakers clicking through presentations can be a major distraction to what they are saying that’s why this conference chose to implement “gesture recognition technology” to advance the slides. Now the audience focus is back where it belongs – on the speaker and the presentation.
National Association of Realtors (NAR)
NAR doesn’t just hope that attendees will talk about the conference on social media, it gives them the tools to do so. On their website “Conference Live” they feature 30 conference attendees who are posting conference updates and images. This idea gives non-attendees a peep into what they are missing at conference in the hopes that the viewer will want to come to a future event.
Society for Technical Communication
For its annual meeting in 2014, the society offered its first virtual meeting track. They were looking for something that was interactive, easy to put together, easy for virtual attendees to come and go, and not technologically challenging for staff or attendees. They made a profit on it the first year. Since most of the work was already being done as part of the in-person conference, their costs were minimal (about $3,000). Their registration revenue from it was $10,000.
Stranger Danger Dinners
This interesting concept uses technology to create a dinner party between complete strangers with seemingly nothing in common. People ask for an invite via Facebook, some background information is gathered, and a dinner is arranged in a public restaurant. The organizers say, “We wanted to create a safe space where people can engage in meaningful conversation, and make new connections, knowing that they’re with a curated group of good people who are all in the same (terrifying) boat full of strangers.”
How about playing matchmaker for startups and investors? That’s what they do in TechCrunch Disrupt’s Crunch Match. Interested attendees are invited to compete in the Startup Alley and Battlefield and must complete a survey. When an investor registers for the event, they’re asked about their investment interests. If there’s a match between an investor and someone in the Startup Alley or Battlefield, the event organizers will make the introduction and arrange the meeting among willing parties. If there is no connection, no arrangement is made and no connection is forced.
Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) Conference
For its 2014 annual conference, APIC rolled out an event app that enticed attendees to scan QR codes scattered throughout the tradeshow floor. Each code produced a question. The fourteen strategic partners gave awards at their booths for attendees who could answer the difficult industry questions. Players received points for their answers. Each day more questions were added and there was a chance for more points. More points meant more prizes and a chance to win even greater prizes.
The Texas Bankers Association used a similar engagement strategy at its 2013 conference. This sort of gamification experience drives interest and traffic to the exhibition hall, while it makes attendees feel proud about their achievements and knowledge.
Technology is a terrific way to engage attendees and streamline your event planning tasks. These groups have also used it to build buzz, increase their audience, and connect attendees. You can use many of these ideas in your own events to further connections and make an impression.