From the Aventri blog
This guide was developed to help event planners around the world make better, more strategic decisions when it comes to onsite event technology. Discover what technology to use and how it will help to improve attendee satisfaction and event ROI.
They say you only have one chance to make a good first impression. When it comes to events, an attendee’s first impression is often made with the technology they interact with; how and where it’s used, how seamless it is and how it drives convenience as well as engagement.
Despite its importance, event planners still struggle when it comes to fully understanding onsite event technology. They may ask themselves: How do I know what technology is best to use at my event? What will increase attendee satisfaction and event ROI? What will help my event stand out?
This guide was developed to answer some of those questions and to help event planners around the world make better, more strategic decisions when it comes to onsite technology.
Whether you want to improve the technology you already have in place or you don’t know where to begin, the following will help guide you to identify and achieve your goals while increasing your event ROI.
Why Onsite Services Are a Big Deal
Along with producing a more high-tech experience, onsite technology helps enhance meetings and events in several key ways.
Today’s onsite technology can help create a more individualized event experience for each attendee, whether through targeted messaging based on their respective interests or the ability to build their own event agendas.
Self-service onsite technologies allow attendees to help themselves when they need it. Event technology also allows attendees to consolidate several useful tools into one, such as with event mobile apps.
When it comes to saving time and money, onsite technology can accomplish both; from reducing wait time and long lines at check-in with remote kiosks, to delivering badges in just seconds with the latest printer technology.
Onsite technology can improve the carbon footprint of an event. When more interactions happen digitally or more information is kept online, the need for paper decreases.
There are several opportunities to monetize your onsite technology investments, such as with sponsored push notifications, lead retrieval, data sharing and digital ads.
Onsite technology can help you collect valuable attendee data that you can share with your partners and sponsors to quantify the value of your event. For example, with ultra high frequency (UHF) tracking, you can gather data on which areas of the event were most popular and during which times. This will allow you to know what attendees liked and which areas or content was less popular.
The Importance of Data and Event ROI
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about onsite technology is the data it can collect about your attendees and the individual journeys they take throughout your event.
Choosing the right technology for your event depends on your unique goals, which is why you should think about what you want to accomplish before you make an investment. Whether it’s to increase engagement and attendee satisfaction, or to learn something about your organization or services, by setting goals before buying, you’ll be able to invest in only those solutions that solve your specific needs.
This is where measuring event ROI comes into play. Technology is crucial to a positive attendee experience and, therefore, event success and stakeholder satisfaction. So it's important to not only collect data to measure your event ROI, but to take the time to analyze what areas need onsite technology that will make your attendees and sponsors happy and engaged.
Use the opportunity to enrich data and engage in a dialogue with your visitors during the event. Set clear objectives and measure them throughout the event to steer the organization in the right direction. Connect the onsite data to your online and mobile analytics to create a full profile of your visitors.
Kiosks That Make Early Check-in Easy
Check-in is typically the first touchpoint attendees have with an event, but that doesn’t always have to happen at the venue. Self-service kiosks can be set up at local transportation hubs or hotel partners to help attendees get checked-in before they even step foot into the event. These remote check-in kiosks help event planners streamline the check-in process and avoid long wait times and lines at their event. Here’s how:
Kiosks at Airports or Train Stations
- Right when an attendee arrives and checks-in at a kiosk at a transportation hub, it can trigger a notification to a shuttle service and inform the driver that the next client has arrived, with name, picture and destination. The driver can confirm the pickup and meeting spot.
- Kiosks at transportation hubs can also notify an attendee’s hotel of their arrival and put their corresponding room on the priority list for preparation.
Kiosks at Event Hotels
- A welcome kiosk at a hotel can print visitor event badges on arrival a day or two before the event. The system can check ticket validation, settle outstanding payments, and print a badge in less than 10 seconds. The pre-check-in helps to ease peak morning registration at the beginning of the conference. The kiosks can also be relocated in the morning to optimize use of resources.
Mixing Self-Service and Human Connection
While offsite kiosks add a level of convenience for attendees, self-service options at onsite check-in can help further alleviate long lines and wait times, as well as provide a service that today’s attendees want and need. When visitors take control of their own registration by typing in their credentials or scanning a QR code from their phones, they are actively doing something, which makes the check-in process feel quicker and more engaging.
However, despite the pros of self-service, the value of human connection cannot be diminished during this initial part of the event journey. Here are some tips for getting the balance just right:
- While it may depend on your event, typically one staff member for every three or four stations works best.
- Have a team of traffic managers designated at your registration area to manage traffic flow and make sure the line moves smoothly.
- Have staff check-in with each attendee as they walk in to make sure they are in the right line. Ensure that they have the necessary documents ready and give them a warm welcome. A helpful hand and a smile are always appreciated.
- At the end of the line, the traffic manager should make sure that attendees have their barcode ready for scanning or their credentials on hand before sending them to the desk or kiosk. With barcodes on smartphones, traffic jams can be caused by people trying to find their email, open the barcode and getting it full screen on the device. Also, remind them to check the luminosity of the display for an accurate read.
- At the registration desks, make sure that there are designated onsite technology staff that know how to fix the printers or system so that lines can keep moving if problems arise.
- Make sure that temporary staff is adequately trained on how to deliver badges and interact with attendees and that they know who to turn to if they are having any issues with the technology.
- Assure that there is backup equipment in case of printer jams, ribbon failure or low badge stock and do a full pre-event check of all items necessary for registration. Make sure you also have a backup plan if Wi-Fi goes out and have an additional power supply. Good preparation is key to a flawless check-in process.
- Track data such as entry time, waiting time and high traffic times for analysis and planning of future events.
More Efficient Badging
The key to a smooth registration experience? Live badge printing. When you choose to make the move to live badging, you are opening up your event to even more flexibility and a better user experience. There’s so much live badge printing can do along with saving yourself time from flipping through hundreds or even thousands of pre-printed badges.
- Live badging synchronizes visitor data in real time with your event registration platform. You can easily accept walk-ins that register through your event website or your welcome desk team could input their information and print their badge in seconds.
- You can also make any changes to misspellings of names or outdated titles, etc. This saves you from having to handwrite badges or throw out pre-printed badges with mistakes, making your event more sustainable!
- When you are printing badges as attendees check-in, you are also getting real-time tracking data of how many people checked-in and when. You can easily step up session scanning and lead scanning to get full demographics of your visitor behavior.
- If you have a high-profile event with VIPs, you want to make sure that your event is secure from the start. For more secured access, consider printing a profile picture on the badge, which can be obtained straight from the registration site.
Take Attendee Badges to the Next Level
Today’s options for badging at events goes far beyond a traditional lanyard and paper. With the various badge technologies available, this accessory can be used at every corner of the event to make the attendee experience more customized and provide event planners with the data they want post-event.
Probably one of the most revolutionary event technologies of the past decade, NFC enabled badges give event planners the opportunity to gather data and increase attendee engagement like never before. Holding 30x more information than QR code badges, they allow everyone at the event to gather more information on each attendee.
Some of the uses of NFC technology at events include tap’n go lead retrieval, access control, session scanning, passive tracking, materials distribution and purse management. With apps such as purse management, attendees are able to load money onto their NFC badges and pay for commodities at the show through designated NFC hotspots, eliminating the need for an attendee to carry their wallet and speeding up the purchasing process.
NFC wristbands have all of the same capabilities as NFC badges, just in a different format. These wristbands are perfect for large festivals or events where an attendee wouldn’t want something hanging around their neck.
All of the various NFC technologies available with these wristbands are capable of streamlining the event process and improving efficiency at every level. Using NFC access control, for example, attendees could be admitted or kept out of certain areas at the event by simply tapping their wristbands onto a designated NFC hotspot or having an attendant scan their badge with an NFC device. In both cases, the corresponding screen would either turn green for access granted, or red for access denied.
Badges and Access Control
Access control provides a quick and easy way for event planners to restrict attendee access into certain areas and even at certain times by encoding the rights to those areas onto the badge before the show. For example, if the show floor is only open to exhibitors from 7:00am-9:00am, access control pods with attendants can be set up at the show floor entrance and attendees will be required to scan their badge before entering. Therefore, if an attendee scans their badge at 8:00am, the screen on the pod will turn red for access denied and the attendant will have to tell the attendee that only exhibitors are allowed on the show floor before 9:00am. This allows for quick and easy monitoring of certain areas and makes things like VIP areas and restricted showtimes easy to implement.
A Robust Mobile App
When it comes to personalization, nothing is more powerful than a mobile event app; the main benefit being most attendees already have their own device to access it on. A mobile app with a robust toolset often ends up paying for itself. Here’s just a few ways to incorporate a mobile app at your next event:
Event Information Hub
First and foremost, a mobile app is where you can house all of the important information about your event, from the complete program and speaker bios, to your venue floor plan and exhibitor directory. With features like the social media activity feed, you can keep attendees engaged within the app. No need to visit their dedicated social media apps to share content around the event.
When your app connects seamlessly to your event management software, you can import your entire program. If you make any changes to your agenda, those updates will be reflected in the app as well. You can also give users the ability to build their own event agenda that they can easily refer back to, eliminating the need for them to flip through paper programs.
Networking and Matchmaking
With private in-app messaging and an attendee directory, attendees can connect with each other easily. An app with matchmaking capabilities can also enhance the networking experience by pairing up like-minded attendees, as well as find places for them to meet one-on-one.
Live Polling and Q&A
Keep attendees engaged during speaker sessions by including live polling and interactive Q&A features in your mobile app. Not only will attendees be more focused when they can use their smartphones to be part of the conversation, but speakers will be able to connect with attendees on a more personal level.
Since attendees have their devices on them at all times, sending out alerts, updates and announcements via push notifications can be the most efficient way to communicate with them as a whole. iBeacons that send more localized and specific notifications is also a great way to connect when them on a more personal level.
Finally, apps are great revenue generators when you offer sponsors and exhibitors monetization options, such as sponsored push notifications and exhibitor listings.
Recommended Resource: Technology changes quickly and it’s sometimes difficult to keep up with the pace. The mobile world is no exception! Discover how event apps bring added value not only for your attendees, but also for your sponsors, speakers, and finally for the organizer. Download our free eBook Event App Blue Book, so you can start increasing the ROI of your event, protect your precious marketing dollars and become an expert in event mobile apps!
Tracking the Attendee Journey a Win-WIn
NFC/Beacon technology is really changing the game at events. By setting up beacons strategically around your event in session rooms or at exhibitor booths, such as smart tags, can aid in tracking attendee behavior around the event. This gives event planners information on where their attendees went and how much time they spent there. While that does seem one sided, attendees will benefit from using this technology as well.
- Easy Session Check-in/Check-out: With session tracking via beacons, paper sign-in sheets or even scanning a badge become obsolete. Attendees can simply step through the doors of a session room, and if they stay there for at least 10 minutes, they are accounted for. If collecting training or education credits are required, this can be especially reassuring for attendees.
- Contacts & Content Collection: Beacon technology can make the exchange of information much easier. Whether it’s sharing contact information while networking or digital content like brochures or fact sheets from an exhibitor they met with at a booth, smart tags make storing that information easy and efficient.
- Personalized Content: When using a mobile app, beacons can send personalized push notifications and alerts based on their interests marked during registration. For example, if an attendee is interested in event management software, when walking past a session room, a notification could pop up saying that a session on event software is about to start.
- Revisiting Their Journey: After the event is over, attendees can take a look back at their individual event journeys, not only showcasing event value for themselves but also to their colleagues and managers. It can help justify the sometimes costly investment made to send employees to an event or conference, and encourage colleagues and friends to attend in the future.
- Session Attendance Data: By tracking session attendance, planners can get an idea of what parts of their program are working and what’s a dud. This can help them get a better idea of what content attendees want, and therefore, can help tailor future event programs to their exact interests. Having this information can also help attract speakers who will be reassured they’re speaking to the right audience.
- Booth Traffic: The same idea can be applied to booth traffic. If you are able to see what exhibitors or sponsors attracted the most attendees, as an organizer you will be able to better understand what your attendees are looking for. When it comes to find sponsors or exhibitors for next years event, you will know what type of companies to reach out to. At the same time, you will have concrete data to show potential sponsors on the value that attending your event can bring by looking at the previous year's results.
- Building Attendee Profiles: Overall, by tracking individual attendee journeys, planners can get a better sense of their audience’s wants, needs and demographics down to the very specifics. For example, you could find that event planners are into industry trends, while event managers are more into finding ways to increase their ROI.
- Tracking Your Spend: Organizers can draw more attention to their event by offering attendee “perks”, such as t-shirts, branded merchandise, or free food & beverages vouchers, redeemable through a mobile app. Utilizing the app’s data and an event reporting tool can help you spot areas where product waste and expenses can be reduced, so you can better forecast your product quantities for upcoming events.
Making Sponsors Happy with Lead Retrieval
An attendee type that many event planners sometimes forget about when it comes to onsite tools are your sponsors or exhibitors! They are easily one of the most important attendee types at any event because they are choosing to invest in your event because they believe they will see some return. One of the primary ways that event planners fall short in maximizing their event ROI is by not providing a lead retrieval option for their exhibitors, and so unless exhibitors have a set lead retrieval provider for all of their shows, they miss out on this key technology.
At the end of the day, the reason why exhibitors exhibit at events is ultimately to gain new customers and increase sales, and the best way to do this is by following-up with attendees after the event. However, in order to follow-up with attendees and have those interactions lead to sales, exhibitors must have a way to correctly collect and qualify leads.
Lead retrieval solutions help exhibitors do this in a variety of ways:
- First, with NFC badges, lead gathering is as easy as tapping the attendee’s badge, and with QR code badges, leads can be gathered by scanning the QR code with the lead gathering device. Devices can be rented, or some companies offer “Bring Your Own Device” solutions, where exhibitors can use their own devices by buying licenses and downloading the app.
- Second, after leads are collected, exhibitors can qualify those leads with custom surveys, notes or on-demand content delivery.
- And third, those leads can then be directly uploaded into the exhibitor’s CRM or MAS system, to ensure that a sales person is aware of the lead and knows to follow-up.
Lastly, lead retrieval can also be a great source of income for event planners, as many lead retrieval companies will share profits with their clients.
With custom systems and technologies, there are truly an innumerable amount of ways that event planners can enhance the event journey with onsite technology. From implementing mobile apps and beacons, to exploring the world of NFC and RFID, with so much new technology to choose from, the decision of what to use at your event to increase ROI can be overwhelming.
Remember that the most important thing to do to guarantee success is to identify your priorities and define your goals and objectives. With this in mind, you will be able to identify the best technology for your event and develop a road map for successful implementation.
As you can see, however, it’s crucial to analyze every area of your event, as technology can be used in even the most unlikely of places, like sponsored hotels or at show floor stores. Consider how you can improve event ROI with technology in the areas of sustainability, security, personalization, monetization and more.
Finally, realize that implementing new onsite technology isn’t a one-time process. Just as your attendee and sponsor needs change over time, your technology needs will change over time as well. It’s always a good thing to have continuous ROI measurement in place, so that you can stay on top of your onsite technology game and avoid outdated practices like pre-printed badges!