Event technology encompasses a lot of areas. Deciding how and where to use it can increase your efficiency, revenue, and attendee experience. But deciding where to invest the time and money in event tech for the biggest return on investment can be a challenge. Here are the areas with the biggest return:
- Ticket Sales and Registration
- Attendee Assistance: AI and Event Bots
- Ease of Information: Beacon Technology
- Attendee Experience
Why Is Event Technology Critical to Event Success?
Many event planners struggle with resources and efficiency. After all, there are only so many hours in the day and with last-minute changes to events and schedules, there never seems to be enough time. Event technology can help streamline processes and improve attendee experience, increasing engagement and retention as well as ticket sales for future events.
3 Things You Need to Consider for Successful Eventtech Adoption
The key to successful event technology lies in the following areas:
- User experience
With the exception of tech fans and early adopters, few attendees will use technology just for technology’s sake. There must be something in it for them and it must be easy to use. When auditioning event technology, the attendee experience should be one of your top considerations. Talk to the vendor about implementation and find out how other clients have done it.
User experience is critical to adoptions and continued use. Make sure you do research on not only event clients that have adopted the tech but information on how attendees reacted to using it.
Even the best technology needs a little help getting noticed and being put to use. Ask the event vendor about marketing tips on your rollout. Like all other types of marketing, the message must be communicated several times through multiple mediums. You may even consider running an event tech adoption blitz or contest.
In order for technology adoption to be successful you need the following:
- Staff use. The tech will never be widely adopted by attendees or clients if you have staff members going rogue and using what they want to. You need everyone on board and that begins with your group. It must also be clear to them that they should be directing people to the technology as often as possible. For instance, if someone has an agenda question, the staffer shouldn’t be whipping out a hard copy but showing the attendee how to access the information through your event tech.
- Training. Make it easy for attendees to pick up. Ideally, the tech would be so easy to use that no instruction would be needed. However, that is a fantasy. Even if it is easy for you, know that there is someone who is struggling with it. Create tutorials that can be accessed online and on demand. Advise your staff that they will likely be giving instruction as well. Staff should know you’d rather have them show people how to find an answer than to simply supply it for them. Create a policy of show, don’t tell, to enable faster implementation and buy-in.
- Marketing. Everyone must know about the new tech and what it does. They need to know what’s in it for them. And you need to communicate this often.
- Habit forming actions. There are very few apps and types of software that someone will use once and decide it’s changed their lives. In order to have a successful technology adoption you generally need to create a user habit. They need to familiarize themselves with the software and use it enough that they feel comfortable with it and see the benefits of it and how it fits into the experience.
- Monitoring. It’s important to monitor adoption so that you know what percentage of your attendees are using the tech. Great tech won’t streamline your operations if no one is using it. If you realize through monitoring that adoption is slow, you may need to increase your marketing efforts or provide an incentive for adoption. Also, listen to the conversations going on around you so that you know why implementation is not as quick as you’d hoped.
Areas Where Event Technology Has the Biggest Impact
Event tech permeates the event experience. There is technology for nearly every aspect of events and event management. To implement everything at one time is likely beyond most event budgets. But there are some areas that provide a powerful return on investment. These include:
Ticket Sales and Registration
This is one of the first impressions you make on a potential attendee and there is nothing more frustrating than difficult online ticket sales or slow registration. A frustrating shopping cart can swing event excitement into event frustration. Attendees may even decide buying a ticket is simply not worth the efforts of dealing with your system.
On the other side, after a potentially long day of travel, the last thing the attendee wants is a long line just for a name tag and a swag bag. Streamlining your registration process starts your event off positively and you can build on that. Creating a frustratingly long line just to sign in, places your event at an interest deficit from the beginning. This is difficult to come back from.
There are event frustrations that are unavoidable but an annoying ticket buying process or slow registration is not one of them.
Instead, you can implement quick ticket sale technology with things like auto-fill for information already known, social sign in and copy options for multiple registrations. These little features make the experience easier and less of a task.
When it comes to event registration technology, there are self-service kiosks that can make registration tables a thing of the past. Or pair the tech with beacons and enable automated check-in when an attendee enters the event space.
2. Attendee Assistance: AI and Event Bots
Attendees have a lot of questions and while that can be very frustrating for the event planner and staff, it’s even more frustrating when an attendee can’t find the information they want. Enter chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI).
For questions that are predictable like:
Where are the bathrooms?
What time is lunch?
What’s next on the agenda?
There is no reason to waste staff time. For these questions, there are few variables. At any given point in time or place, the answer will be the same. They are very good fits for chatbot assistance. SXSW’s chatbot ‘Abby’ answered 56,000 attendee questions at its 2017 event.
While some event planners may want to provide a human touch, it’s hardly needed for these simplistic questions. Instead, allocate your event staff to the questions that require more in-depth processing and leave these easy wins to the chatbots. Adoption is rarely an issue with this type of event technology because attendees are already used to having their questions answered this way. Just ask Siri, Alexa, or Google.
3. Ease of Information: Beacon Technology
Attendees sometimes require information that is based on their location. Or maybe you need to understand traffic flow on the exhibition floor. Perhaps you want to increase engagement and create a memorable experience by magical happenings on the event floor as attendees pass. All of these things can be done through beacon technology.
Beacon technology uses wearables and receivers to provide attendee information, understand locations, and show traffic flow and activities. They can tell attendees where the nearest bathroom is or the shortest line. They can help you understand what exhibitors’ booths are getting the most foot traffic as well where people are at any given time. Important information can be assessed quickly and accurately.
Beacon or wearable technology has also changed the way payments are made for services and products at the event. Attendees no longer need to carry around cash or credit cards. With wearables and mobile payment systems they can show and go (showing their wearable or phone as payment). With less friction in the payment process, attendees tend to spend more than they do when they must take money or a card out of their wallets.
4. Attendee Experience
Creating an event experience is a hot trend in this industry. Most event planners are doing this through the use of the senses. One of the easiest senses to stimulate is sight and event technology can help you do that.
From projection mapping that can create a wall of interest or a fantasy escape to virtual reality that makes attendees feel like they’ve been transported elsewhere, event tech is allowing event planners to translate some pretty fantastical dreams into event reality.
There are scavenger hunt apps that engage attendees and drive traffic to desired spots at the event. Gamification apps will help you design a program that will motivate desired actions. Picture apps let you create branded Snapchat-esque filters for your event. Event technology helps you create a truly memorable event experience.
Since security also affects attendee experience, there are events that are using event tech to make their conferences and events safer. Facial recognition and smart doors are helping event planners recognize people who could present security risks and smart doors allow the planners to control access to specified areas.
While the marketing technology may not all be event specific, there are some amazing things you can do with it to increase ticket sales and expand your reach. Your attendees will only feel this peripherally but your clients will appreciate your ability to sell more tickets. With event marketing technology you can:
- Use marketing automation software and a drip campaign to stay top of mind between events or serve as a tool to get attendees excited about the upcoming event.
- Employ retargeting to ensure that those who showed some interest in your event stay connected to you.
- Livestream your event to reach a new or larger audience.
- Offer virtual passes or tickets.
- Listen better with social media listening and interaction software.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Event Technology
Event technology is an investment so you want to make sure you use it for the most efficient solutions aimed at user experience, engagement, and streamlining your processes.
Whatever you select, you want to make sure it has good reporting features. You will never know if you’re meeting your goals or on target with what you’re trying to accomplish without measuring and analyzing results.
One of the hesitations for attendees to download and use apps is space on phones. No one wants to download a one-time-use only app. Instead, look for apps that will continue to be used after the event. These could include an online community or other beneficial features that will keep attendees engaged in the future.
Another option with event apps to increase adoption is to use them for something that can not be done another way or is easier if the app is used. For instance, run event check-in through it but allow for other options for those who either don’t have a smartphone or whose phone is dead at the time they arrive.
Today’s event technology should be more than a standalone app. It should feed into your attendees’ other worlds. Tie-ins with things like social media platforms allow them to interact with your tech and still share it with peers and connections they have outside of your event. This broadens your reach and gives your attendees an easy way to share your valuable content and information.
To ensure your event information receives the best exposure on social media, make sure your hashtag is well-known to all attendees and potential attendees. Some tech that has social media tie-ins will allow you to create a default template for tweets so that all the tweets would have the event hashtag unless manually removed.
Event technology can streamline your entire operation and improve attendee experience but only if it’s widely adopted. While you may not have the budget to implement everything at once, knowing what makes the biggest impression on your attendees and clients can help you prioritize the rollout.
What event tech has had the biggest impression on your audience or process?
Additional Reading on Event Technology
The Event Tech Bible 2017
8 Events Innovating with Beacon Technology
12 Ways to Use AV Technology to Drive Event Sponsorship
Why I Think AI Will Change How We Attend Events
How to Scare Away Clients with Event Technology