Some of our clients are getting a jump start on their 2019 planning and have been asking about technology trends in the event space. When it comes to what’s new in event technology, we tend to take cues from Apple. For example, everyone is talking about chatbots - they’ve become mainstream thanks to Apple’s introduction of Siri back in 2011. Another example is facial recognition. 12 months ago when we suggested facial recognition to our clients, the overwhelming response was that it was “too creepy.” Today, with the Apple iPhone X, people are unlocking their phones using their face, and facial recognition is slowly creeping into the event space.
Here are some event trends we've been seeing more and more of...
Event Tech Trends related to the Arrival Experience
Pre-printed badges are slowly becoming outdated and being replaced with digital kiosks, reason being that the digital kiosk is responsive. Attendees have the opportunity to change their name or other details prior to printing their badge. Attendees can also review their session schedules and sign up or make changes to sessions. For an event planner, it offers the opportunity to fill last minute sessions that have been added or push attendees into sessions which have lighter attendance. All this is done directly on screen when the attendee steps up to register. Plus, the appeal factor on this is high – onsite kiosk registration set-ups look impressive and high-tech.
One of the first steps an attendee takes in the mobile app is to create their profile, which includes uploading a photo. There are new opportunities with those attendee photos. A trending use of facial recognition today offers the ability to have attendees walk up to a kiosk, which recognizes the attendee visually and prints their badge automatically. This same process can happen as an attendee walks through the front door, with no kiosk necessary.
And there are other uses for facial recognition beyond the arrival experience. It can be used to auto-tag attendees in event photos either taken by event photographers or uploaded to the app’s activity feed. Attendees then have the option to view any photo they are in and can untag themselves (or set up notifications when they are tagged for more immediate review).
This technology has been around for a while. It’s often used for access controls, especially for larger groups. Imagine getting 10,000 people into an arena in one hour. It’s a hefty order but possible thanks to RFID technology. We did this recently for a client - all attendees had a preloaded wristband which they tapped at the arena entry point. This got the large group through quickly. It provides a loaded ticket that can be upgraded at any time. Because it goes through the cloud, the wristband is automatically and immediately updated any time an attendee makes a change.
To see more about this technology, click here.
Event Tech Trends related to Attendee Engagement
Live Engagement Displays
Live engagement displays take social walls to the next level with enhanced customization, presentation, and interaction. Rather than simply displaying your activity feed on a TV monitor, live engagement displays are entire walls featuring eye-catching lighting, unique features, and customized content.
In addition to serving up curated content, these displays are being used to recognize attendees. Attendees scan their badge and the wall displays content unique to that individual. They can also be used to add some friendly competition to your event by featuring games where attendees compete against one another.
QR scanning is becoming the old way to network, even though we still hear many planners show excitement around this technology compared to a business card exchange. But we are moving beyond the QR code thanks to technology introduced by Apple – Beacon technology.
Using matchmaking algorithms that are fueled by data provided by the meeting planner and the attendee, we can identify the most impactful matches that each attendee needs to meet at an event. From there, proximity sensing (through Beacon technology) is used to alert attendees when they are near their match. This allows attendees to network naturally at any time and anywhere at the event.
Further, that data captured by the attendees can also provide some insights when matches are meeting in person. For example, one question you can ask attendees to answer upfront is about whether they are a cat or dog person. When the attendees are onsite and receiving notifications around their matches, they can use this information to kick off a conversation - it’s the ultimate ice breaker.
Augmented reality allows you to utilize your phone, which all attendees have, to see something others don’t see. Augmented reality is an interesting one because it’s pretty flashy, but it needs to be incorporated in a way that makes sense for the event, rather than just forcing the technology into the event.
Here’s an example of how this worked for a client. Following the Marriott / Starwood merger, Marriott had a goal to create brand ambassadors for all 30 brands. We connected each of the brands to everyday objects that appeared for attendees through augmented reality and incorporated gamification to educate them on the brands. Throughout the conference, augmented reality tokens were present. The first image to pop up was a pair of running shoes, from which attendees could make the connection that this brand was athletic or wellness-oriented. Later, the same attendee saw another token, and the second image to appear was a beautiful white bed with flowing sheets, sharing a clue about getting a heavenly night’s sleep. A choice of a few logos appeared on screen, prompting the attendee to choose which brand they thought the two images represented. (Do you know the answer? It’s Westin.)
These trending items can have a huge impact at your next event and really wow your attendees. If you are considering any, keep in mind that you shouldn’t use technology just to use technology. It should be used to enhance the meeting experience and create a meaningful and purposeful impact. Start with discussing the goals of your meeting with your event app provider, and they’ll help identify what's best for your event.
And - bonus tip - if you want to impress your peers with what’s next in event tech, keep an eye on Apple and think about how their consumer technology can translate into event technology. In the meantime, we’re here to help guide you through all the latest trends.