Michael Balyasny is the Founder and CEO of Attendify, a mobile event technology and engagement company, where he drives the company’s strategic direction and mission to bridge the gap between digital and event marketing.
AI? VR? Natural Beats Artificial Every Time in the Event Industry
Augmented and virtual reality, along with artificial intelligence and wearables, are some of the hottest trends in event tech for 2017. Event organizers are working hard to incorporate these technologies into their events in order to attract attendees and stay “fresh.” But do all new technologies belong in the event industry?
Some technologies may seem like a logical fit for your next event, but they can be gimmicky or even distracting, taking the attendees out of the event and creating artificial experiences and awkward interactions.
We’ve found that the most natural way to engage event attendees is through their mobile devices, especially for networking. Attendees are already posting pictures and using their devices during an event. It may seem counter-intuitive, but introducing yourself using a mobile app is actually more comfortable than walking up to someone you don’t know and introducing yourself.
Below, I’ll detail why we should focus on mobile and how it can make or break the event experience.
Reason No. 1: Mobile Devices are Ubiquitous
In 2015, 85 percent of attendees used mobile apps, with the number jumping to 94 percent in 2016. Seventy-seven percent of Americans own smartphones, and most are on them while browsing sessions or networking with other attendees. Devices have been heavily incorporated into our everyday lives; we’re rarely caught without one in our hands. A powerful and useful mobile event app offers an elegant way for attendees to connect, network and gamify their experience, all from their comfort zone.
Reason No. 2: Data, Data, Data
Mobile apps generate volumes of relevant data, allowing event marketers to connect with attendees post-conference and target them with relevant offers and incentives to attend future events. While big data is crucial to a lot of industries, its potential remains unrealized in the event industry. Event tech, like registration systems and mobile apps, gather data before and during live sessions; that data can become a treasure trove if used to target specific audiences post-event. For example, segmented data can power contextual campaigns to promote future events or turn attendees into paying customers.
Reason No. 3: Personalizing the Experience
It’s important for event organizers to use technology that will improve the experience of the attendee. They can do that by keeping them informed and up-to-date during the event. We all know that printed programs are outdated the moment they’re printed. Why not choose a mobile app that provides unlimited and immediate updates to keep audiences in the loop?
All this is not to say that event marketers shouldn’t keep an eye out for new technology trends and integrate them into their events. It’s all about balance. By knowing your attendees and event goals intimately, you are better equipped to select event tech that will actually be adopted by participants.
At the end of the day, it’s important to identify what fits your audience, goals and budget, and choose your tech stack accordingly. However, keep in mind that piggybacking on tools that people are already using is a much easier path than introducing new technologies, which may be foreign and unfamiliar to your attendees.
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