Event technology doesn't have to rely on a screen-based device. This case study explores how Behind the Scenes and Hilton got the most out of wearable technology for their leadership conference.
Hilton America’s Leadership Conference 2017 took place at Hilton Union Square in San Francisco on 13-17 March. The event is held biannually with around 2,500 attendees. The event brings together internal staff, hotel management, and sales, as well as relevant vendors and sponsors. The focus is on learning and engagement.
- 2,500 people in attendance.
- 3-day event.
- Focused on learning and engagement.
- Attended by Hotel General Managers, Director of Sales, owners, vendors and corporate team members.
It was important that the event could bring together attendees to really interact with each other and get more from the event. Behind the Scenes and their client, Hilton wanted to use technology as a way to keep attendees engaged but also to get them away from their phone screens. They felt that using a wearable device, such as a wristband, would be a good fit for the audience and that this could be used to encourage connections, for gamification, rewards, and to give a better overall event experience.
From the planning stages, Behind the Scenes wanted to have a store that the attendees could go and purchase items using the points they had been awarded from using their wristband. One point could be exchanged for one item and points were generated by specific actions, such as earning one point for every contact exchanged between attendees. Some of the items were standard items, such as journal books and charging blocks. Working with vendors, they sponsored items such as snacks, blankets, and other items which were made available in the store.
Why Klik Software?
This was the first time Klik had worked with Behind the Scenes. The client wanted attendees to have all the benefits of using technology, without having to use their mobile phones and risk getting lost and distracted by their device.
Klik is an engagement platform that is paired with smart LED wearables. These wearables enable interesting elements that enhance the guest’s experience, such as contact information exchange, bookmarking favorite places or sessions, gamification, passive access control, live map, etc. The LEDs are also used to connect with the guest by notifying them of upcoming sessions with light or by lighting up groups by category. Not to mention, these LED wearables can light up the party with an immersive light show. Click here to read our review of Klik.
During the Hilton event, LED wristbands branded with the Hilton logo were specifically used for contact exchange, tracking session attendance, and gamification, earning points for connections earned. These points were subsequently used to “purchase” products at the gift shop. Hilton wanted to demonstrate an original way to enable networking, in a playful atmosphere, by encouraging people to disconnect from their screens and focus on the face-to-face connections.
The organizer could track people in real time on the venue map, which helped operations with traffic flow, room turns and session controls.
The core event objectives were as follows:
- To ensure engagement between the attendees and the vendors.
- To enable attendees to collect information without using their mobile phones.
- To encourage attendees to actively participate in their sessions, with their surroundings, and with each other.
How Were the Objectives Achieved?
The core objectives of the event were achieved in three main ways:
Prior to the event, attendees were sent an email to access their Klik profile and filled in their information manually or using their LinkedIn or Facebook social media profiles. They then could link other social media accounts and answer questions, like which division of Hilton they worked for. Once their profile was created, they had access to their personal timeline and calendar that they could consult prior, during, and post-event.
On the first day of the event, attendees picked up their Klik wristband at registration and while checking in, their wristband was paired with the profile they had created previously. The Klik technology uses a BLE protocol that links the wristbands to a control panel so the information collected throughout the day (contact exchanges, purchases made) were communicated back into the platform. This technology allowed the transaction to happen and people to exchange their contact information through the wristbands with other guests, exhibitors, and speakers.
Points were gained through gamification to encourage attendees to engage with each other by clicking their wristbands to collect information about vendors, corporate team members, and colleagues. The Klik wristband was used to interact and connect with each other. Different positive actions and behaviors earned points for the attendee. The wristbands were also used to make the ‘payment’. Attendees were able to pick up items and ‘Klik’ to buy their merchandise. This was a quick way for them to shop and buy. The wearable was also used for a light show during a general session, surprising the crowd with different effects.
Engagement between attendees was high at the conference. On arrival day over 90% of attendees were wearing the bracelet and actively networking and making contacts with people to stay in touch with post-show. The average attendee made over 31 connections. People were categorized depending on their titles and positions. Through the technology it was clear that a large number of attendees wanted access to corporate management, not just peer-to-peer connections. Strong data showed those connections were made throughout the week. The fact that actual data was available to back up the types of networking engagements made by attendees will be tremendously insightful for planning the next event. Networking activities in the future could be tailored to connect attendees not only to their peers, but with people in other offices and in other positions with a focus on upward movement.
Another bonus of using the platform was the precise tracking of attendance measured with the tags. This operational information helped with event management, monitoring traffic flow, room turns, and session controls and can also enable adjustments to be made during the event.
The tags that track room capacity can communicate to an event organizer that there is potentially something not working in one space, such as low attendance, low interest, or lineup issues. It can also show that a particular talk (or food truck or exhibitor) is a smashing success that should be repeated in the following year. The Klik platform and wearables offer a ‘vote with your feet model’ where attendees are expressing their interest in certain areas of the event without event knowing it, and in a seamless and organic way. Technology allows you to monitor all of the event space scientifically.
The most active engagement was on the first day of the conference, whereas subsequent days had less. This was possibly due to the fact that the wearable technology required the branded bracelets to be worn and so some attendees forgot to wear them for the final couple of days. Sometimes during the course of an event so much is happening that it can be easy to get caught up and forget how important clear messages are. If we don’t communicate to attendees to keep wearing the object they may forget, so event organizers have to stress the point throughout.
This was the first time that Klik and Behind the Scenes had worked together at an event and recorded metrics, so there was no benchmark to compare against previous years. However, seeing the levels of engagement, especially on the first day, was very encouraging in terms of the power that technology can have on the experience. The partnership between Behind the Scenes and Klik will continue for other conferences in 2018. Being able to compare new data to this event will provide interesting comparisons in the future.
Takeaways for Event Planners
Work as a Team with your Technology Provider
Behind the Scenes worked with Klik to come up with actionable solutions to reach their event objectives. Behind the Scenes had the vision and explained what they wanted and Klik worked on the solution to meet that goal. Technology providers can often provide ideas and new ways of doing things and it is always worthwhile using their expertise to find a workable concept. Behind the Scenes found an original way to use contact exchange and gamification to get people to connect.
Ensure the Technology Has a Clear Purpose
Technology should never be used just for the sake of it, it should always have a purpose and a strong rationale behind it. There was a very clear purpose behind this event in terms of keeping attendees engaged and encouraging specific behaviors, whilst avoiding losing people in their devices.
Choose Easy to Use Tech
Like all things, if technology is hard to use, attendees won’t bother. They will resist it and then forget it. Make sure the technology is simple to use so that it becomes fun and encouraging rather than difficult and stressful. A sleek and attractive interface is important.Make sure that the menu is easy to navigate and provides the maximum information your attendees need.
Devise Ideas to Ensure Wearables are Worn
With wearable devices it is important that they are worn each day of the event for them to be effective. Think about opportunities to communicate with attendees before and during the event about the benefits that the wearable will bring. During the event ask the MC to remind attendees about the importance of wearing their bracelet every day and even consider sending a SMS or push notification each morning to remind everyone to wear it. Improve onsite communications throughout the event through roll-up banners, messages on digital screens, posters, pamphlets, and even public announcements during the event.
Make Your Technology Useful Post-Event
Oftentimes, event software and engagement tools are usually useful before the event (registration and attendee lists) and during (engagement and gamification). Post-event, organizers get access to useful and powerful data but….what about the attendee experience after the event? Once the hype and the buzz is gone, how does a wearable or software demonstrate that it made a difference to the attendee experience and keep being valuable? Make sure that attendees can review the event they attended and go back to specific useful information, such as contact details of the people they connected with, and track all they did during that event (activities and sessions attended) in their timeline. Make sure content can be extracted easily too. For instance, can they download a file of all the contacts they made or easily save them to their phone?
Experiences That Are Customizable and Memorable
We cannot stress enough the importance of making attendees feel like your technology was a valuable addition to your event – not just a trinket or add-on. The technology needs to be integrated and a wearable is an unobtrusive way of seamlessly integrating it into the fabric of the event, without relying on a mobile screen. Wearables that can be used as icebreakers, to exchange contact details, to make payments, and to add gamification have multiple uses to keep track of the event and ensure that the person feels connected to the technology. This helps to create a more personal experience and adds a wow factor.
Event technology doesn’t always have to be focused around a smartphone or mobile device. Hilton America’s Leadership Conference proved that eventtech can be used to take people away from their phone screen and the distractions that can bring. Wearable devices can encourage positive actions and behaviors which means that everyone can get more from the event and be rewarded for participation. Klik and Behind the Scenes will continue their partnership for the next conference in 2018 so it will be interesting to reveal how the metrics compare from year to year.