Predictions for Digital and Event Technology: What’s Ahead in 2019

January 8, 2019

Jessica Fritsche

Jessica Fritsche is the Content Marketing Director at Freeman. She is a seasoned journalist and marketer with a passion for technology, innovation, trendspotting and inspiring thought leadership.

Technology evolves faster every day and that’s a great thing when it comes to the event space. This rapid innovation means there are new event technologies available at a constant pace, bringing new ways to collect data, engage audiences, manage details and more.

But how can event professionals stay on top of these new offerings and figure out what best applies to their needs and challenges?

Read on for our predictions on what’s ahead when it comes to digital and event technology in 2019 and beyond. Be sure to read all the way to the end, where you'll be able to cast your vote for the prediction most likely to take off next year! 


Data Is Driving Everything                      


Analytics augmented by AI

Jo-Anne Kelleway, CEO, Info Salons: “AI is having an impact on creating strategic, next-generation data and analytics, using machine learning techniques to automate data preparation, insight discovery and insight sharing. Organizers will have access to business intelligence that lets them spend less time exploring data and more time acting on the most relevant insights.”                        

Everyone is measuring everything

Ken Holsinger, Vice President, Digital Solutions: “We will see the continued rise of a more data-driven culture for marketing, operations, finance, etc. Business intelligence will continue to be front and center as organizers are looking to show the returns to their members, exhibitors and sponsors.”                        

Data privacy and control takes precedence

Jo-Anne Kelleway, CEO, Info Salons: “Privacy is becoming more and more of an issue worldwide. The events industry is building out in-depth analytics to assist with their success but the question will be ‘who owns the data?’ Blockchain platforms will allow attendees to manage their own data and control the access given to organizers.

DIY data integrations

Tom Vamos, Digital Development Manager: “It now easier than ever for various tools in our industry to automatically share data with no developer involvement. Organizers can use services such as IFTTT and Zapier to move data around based on triggers and events, such as automatically populating information into a document when keywords appear on Twitter. There will be an increased expectation for this functionality across all platforms.”


New Ways to Interact at Events


Events go cashless with virtual cards

Tom Vamos, Digital Development Manager: “Cashless events have been around for some time, usually involving tokens or RFID wristbands. Soon we’ll see virtual event credit cards that can be put into Apple Pay/Google Pay to further improve transactional efficiencies and provide additional insight to delegate behavior.

New interfaces onsite at events

Jo-Anne Kelleway, CEO, Info Salons: “We have become inseparable from our smartphones, our locations are constantly being tracked, we use voice control and facial recognition to turn on our phones. Voice interfaces could be deployed that act not only as concierge services but also for event check-in and access control into sessions.”                        

QR codes are back from the dead

Michael Schaiman, Senior Vice President, Digital Experience, Helios: “QR readers no longer require an app download, and now work natively inside iOS devices cameras. Android is moving in a similar direction. Asia is seeing massive utilization and adoption of the QR code as a shortcut to access information, and that will start appearing more and more in the U.S.”


Next-Gen Event Tech On the Rise


AI in the decision-making driver’s seat

Ken Holsinger, Vice President, Digital Solutions: “There are a number of event technologies beginning to harness AI. With so much data available, we’re now at the point where we don’t know what to do with the data we have. We’ll begin to use predictive data through AI to create a more informed decision-making process. We will begin to be able to leave time-consuming, low-level decision-making behind, instead being freed up to be more strategic and creative.”

Devices on the “edge”

Michael Schaiman, Senior Vice President, Digital Experience, Helios: “‘Edge’ will be the new ‘Cloud’, i.e. the big tech industry buzzword. It refers to IOT devices that have the processing power and the ability to communicate with one another, as opposed to having to go up to the cloud.”

A virtual web experience with web-based AR and VR

Jon Fox, Senior Vice President, Digital Creative, Helios: “As new phones get more powerful by the day, software is continuing to catch up and users are going to be able to use their own devices to power VR and AR experiences simply by accessing a webpage at an event. Many of the browser companies are releasing new versions that support these web standards.”


Real-Time Connection and Content       


Low-latency streaming makes real-time interaction possible

Bill Mott, Director, Digital Services: “Live streaming has always carried a 30-second delay (sometimes more), which hinders the use of real-time engagement (polling, Q&A, etc.). However, new technology is on the rise that will enable a delay of fewer than two seconds streaming from ‘glass to glass,’ AKA the camera lens to your mobile device. Look for an uptick in virtual event innovation around this new capability.”

Personalization and integration in real time

Ken Holsinger, Vice President, Digital Solutions: “As the infrastructure at convention centers and hotels is getting better and better, the opportunity for technology integration, exchange and automation will grow. From more frequent updates on event apps to more and more web services for attendee engagement and attendee and vendor networking, all are on a much better playing field for providing a more frictionless experience to attendees. Personalization is becoming a real potential opportunity for organizers to enhance and measure experiences.”

Rise of webinars (again)

Bill Mott, Director, Digital Services: “Webinars are so 10 years ago. True. But as the technology has become much easier by which to produce a highly polished webinar, look for organizations to increase spend and effort in communicating with their audience via such mediums.”

Which prediction do you see coming true in 2019?


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.