Technology represents ingenuity and innovation in today’s meeting and event market. It’s safe to say that the trend will continue to advance in 2019 with performance enhancements and metric matching integration across a wide variety of digital platforms.

Consider how the advances of technology have affected the meeting and event industry so far. We have realized it’s benefits and rewards and yet keeping up can still present a significant challenge. What’s key to utilizing these advances is to be mindful of how people gather their information, where they go to find that information and what their expectation is on how long it should take in the process. In the year ahead, we will continue to see the positive impact that technology plays in our industry.  Here are just a few of the popular trends currently available.  And mind you, with the constant stream of tech development across all industries, there’s undoubtedly a lot more to come that will impact how we plan, manage and execute our events.

Mobile Applications
This is the most cost efficient of the digital tools currently available. Mobile apps provide customizable solutions for all types of events which is important to consider when trying to determine how to get the biggest bang for your buck. What’s appealing about these applications is that they add value to the end-user experience. Their interactive capabilities provide access to registration information, event agendas, program announcements and sponsor promotions, all while operating in real-time.

Virtual Reality (VR)
Recognized as a unique tech advance in our industry, VR has begun to make waves throughout our industry. Event-goers are keen on trying out this new technology. Simply by putting on a headset, the attendee becomes immersed in a sensory-interactive experience that is 360-degrees with 3D images. As virtual reality services advance, we will see more gamification where companies can share content to be used as a promotional and sales tool.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Respectfully, the fastest growing tech piece today, AI is a matching application that can gather and decipher vast amounts information at record speed, making it a virtual data goldmine. AI relies on pattern recognition which enables meeting professionals to gain better insight into attendees’ interests so they can better plan and budget for those specific needs. AI is not cheap and is best suited for large events like music festivals, conventions or sporting events. 25% of mobile apps incorporate some level of AI, so they may be better suited for smaller meeting and event types.

Chabots
Siri, Alexa and Google Home are all examples of the concierge staff we use in our daily lives. Based on a computer program, a chabot is designed to simulate a conversation with a human end-user on the internet. Important to note is there are some adaptations that enable a human to be on the other side of the conversation. Chabots provide fast, virtual information in real-time and are considered popular in the meeting and event industry because of their accessibility and simple implementation. Attendees are able enter a question directly on a form designed on the web page and receive an instant response without having to navigate through countless site pages while getting lost amidst a myriad of page links.

Internet of Things (IoT)
These wearable, trackable devices, collect data. Think the Fitbit for the events industry. Event managers are able to capture this data and measure statistics like how long attendees linger in a particular exhibit booth, which booths were visited and how many return visits to a booth were made. The benefit for event managers is that IoT provides solid metrics when planning their next event.

Geofencing
Although not entirely new technology, the advances in geofencing have grown exponentially due to the increased use of mobile devices at events. Designed as beacon technology, it constructs a virtual “geo-fence” around attendees at a specific event location using cellular data provided by attendees’ smartphones. Companies can create interactions between their brand and a designated audience via alerts and push notifications. Location and demographics are critical components with this technology. A customer’s opt-in agreement to access their current location is indicative of the success rate of the promotion.

Digital Fencing
It is especially important to consider the safety of your attendees. AI provides a digital landscape with the ability to scan and gather data from an attendee’s registration profile. Facial recognition applications search social media sites to check for potential security threats. There are big developments within the landscape of this technology, as we’ve only begun to understand the depth to which this collection of data can delve.

As an event professional, what does all of this mean for you? Well, whether you manage small events like banquet symposiums in hotel spaces or large events like trade shows, the size and scope of the event will determine what technologies will work best for you. Do your homework and keep informed. When considering which products to invest in, ask for references and demos so that you can test what will provide the best ROI for your specific event needs.

What technology do you find most helpful when planning and executing an event? Are you prepared to launch from the hands-on, manual processes of the past to automated, digital platforms now available in 2019?

 

Cara O’Neill is a Project Manager at GCG Event Partners where she has happily set up shop for over a decade. Her professional background may be in the meeting & event industry; however, she enjoys the multi-tasking involved in her day-to-day operations contributing to marketing GCG and the many services it provides. You can connect with Cara on LinkedIn here.

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