10 Top Tech Trends

April 26, 2018

Matt Coyne

Matt Coyne is a Technology Engagement Architect at GES EMEA. He has worked in the events and exhibitions industry for over 10 years and has extensive experience ranging from organizing and design to websites, registration and intelligent data services.

So recently at Confex, we had a great panel of techxperts, hosted by James Morgan of Event Tech Lab, presenting a quick-fire round of 10 Top Tech Trends in Exhibitions, Awards, Galas and Corporate Events. My focus was on Exhibitions and I had 60 seconds per slide. I’ll try to summarize, in as few words as possible, to share some different perspectives for you to explore.

10. Marketing as a Service

This isn’t listed as number ten in a sliding scale of numero uno being the top trend. “MaaS” is at number ten because it encompasses pretty much everything else I covered. Marketing is changing. It’s not just marketing for a sale anymore, but the function of marketing has evolved to engage at every touchpoint a customer has with a business. Technology helps to facilitate those touchpoints.

9. Digitization of content

With the use of NFC or beacon type technologies as an example, we’re seeing focus being given back to visitor experiences, helping drive interaction and behavior at events. We’re putting visitors in control of what they want to collect, by giving them a smart badge to act as a digital briefcase to collect content and to complement their experience. 

While this technology isn’t necessarily new, we’re now seeing larger scale take-up of these types of technologies around the world. 

8. Collaboration

As the event tech supplier market is still fairly fragmented, we’re seeing much more collaboration between suppliers and building experiences in line with organizer objectives. This requires organizers to share their vision, goals and objectives and understanding of suppliers on what they’re doing to help create greater value for visitors /exhibitor experiences. It requires transparency between all parties as to what is required and ensuring all goals are aligned.

Referencing MaaS again, this is the coming together of different technologies for a greater goal.  

7. People / Talent

We’ve seen a lot of change of board level (and subsequent roles) within the industry. There are more specialist, technical and data personnel in place at organizers helping drive change and technology adoption. Just look at how the majority of organizers now have CTO/CIO type roles in place and the involvement they have across departments, marketing, sales, operations and the effect that data and technology can have on those functions or outputs. 

6. Facial recognition

Not quite a trend yet, but facial recognition software is already being used across the globe. Imagine a high security or government type event where there are high-value tickets required for access to the event. Typically, this requires a thorough security screening onsite to ensure you are you who say you are but also that you haven’t just passed your ticket to someone else outside. Currently, you may have to show multiple forms of ID, get photos taken of you and so on before you can enter the event. Facial recognition can speed up that process and immediately enhance the experience of your high-value delegates. 

Facial recognition software that can recognize emotion is already being used inside halls and conference rooms. Getting real-time feedback on how your delegates feel about your event gives you another opportunity to be reactive to your visitors’ behavior.   

5. Changing formats

This is about how technology is facilitating how people disseminate content around events. We’ve had online streaming for years and we welcome things like Facebook Live to enable our visitors to share show content. But as a trend, it’s companies like Sli.do or Glisser that are enabling easy audience participation, from not just within the room, but anywhere in the world! This can open real-time feedback, increase interactions in a session and make for a much more engaging experience for all parties involved. 

4. Social Amplification

We're all used to signing up for things via social media these days – that's nothing new! What we are seeing, though, is how making it easy for registrants to share their attendance with their own networks can amplify your event, reaching new potential attendees that organizers cannot hope to reach directly! The undisputed trend for organizers using tools like Gleanin is in significant increases in registration numbers and, more importantly, in registration to attendee conversion. 

For example, if I register for an event and personally invite three people with whom I have a business relationship, all four of us are just that much more likely to show up to the event. On average, organizers should expect referrals from registrants to generate an increase in total registration of around 4.5 percent and the conversion of those new registrants to attendees to be around +4 percent on their normal conversion.

3. Gamification

Gamification encourages behavior around an event. It’s not new but it’s applying elements of gameplay and use of technology to facilitate those games at events. 

For example, at Event Tech Live, we had equipped everyone with a Smart Badge. They were encouraged to meet different exhibitors, tap to collect content, check in to sessions, download speaker content etc. Everything they interacted with gave them points. We then had a sports bar style leaderboard screen on our booth showing those results and interactions in real-time from around the event. People love seeing their name on the big screen so this also does a lot for an individual’s own profile at that event…win-win. 

But it’s not just about the fun, there are some real tangible benefits to encouraging behavior at your event. For example, if you have a traditionally quiet area of an event, you can triple the points for people to collect content or meet exhibitors in that area. You can drive behavior AND you can make it fun. 

There are myriad ways you can deploy gamification around an event, pre, during and post-event, but you need to ensure you focus on what the experience offers to your visitors and exhibitors. If there is no value in doing so, you should ask yourself that question. 

2. Chatbots

Artificial intelligence is the new first line support. We have seen more organizers reduce the amount they spend on call centers for first-line support as the amount of inquiries made are relatively small, even on a large scale event. So, chatbots and artificial intelligence come into play. Though still not widely adopted in our industry, over time we will see this become more present. 

A chatbot is a simple “widget” that helps answer questions for your delegates. The intelligence behind the software means the bot will evolve its learning based on questions people are asking in preparation for the event, getting smarter every time someone interacts with it. 

1. Apps are dead

Okay, that may sound a bit odd from someone who’s part of a business that has award-winning lead collection app software but that’s kind of my point. Gone are the days when apps came to the floor and “every event needs one.” No, you didn’t. You just needed a really good website with mobile-friendly content. So, what we’re seeing is specialist adoption of the app technology. For example, if you’re at a large conference or an event with a serious hosted-buy program, having an app that enables visitors to track their schedule or see their meetings and so on is incredibly valuable. Having a dedicated lead capture app just makes sense. But there’s little need for all events to just need an app today. 

So, those are my musings. I hope you enjoyed your cup of tea, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please do comment below or get in touch if you’d like to chat some more. 

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