As Senior Director of Client Solutions for the Corporate Accounts Sales team at Freeman AV, Rebecca May uses her 22 years of industry experience, including strategic account and business development, theme and branding development to budgeting and planning of major meetings and events, to help her clients understand their business and evaluate their event and conference needs.
Best Practices for Tapping Tech to Make Events More Personal
Tech helps the brand experience world go around, from audio-visual solutions to the latest innovations in digital marketing. Tech is precise, mathematical and useful. It can be eye-catching and fun, too. But ultimately, tech is just part of the show organizer machine that powers event marketing and sponsorship.
Stop the engines for one second.
What if I told you event tech, at its best, can make shows more personal and create deeper connections between you or your sponsors and audiences? It seems counterintuitive but it’s true.
Good tech makes events more human.
Ready to put some octane fuel in your show organizer engine? Follow these best practices on how to leverage the latest innovative tech, without straining your budget and transform your events into riveting experiences.
Increase face-to-face interactions
One of the original intentions behind the digital transformation was bringing people together beyond the internet. Bestselling author, TED speaker, and PCMA Convening Leaders keynote Rachel Botsman explained that efficient tech facilitates offline relationships and communities. Brands like Airbnb, Facebook and Uber power cyberspace to connect people in physical spaces. As examples, social media and mobile apps during events can bring likeminded attendees together. The same goes for digital signage and interactive kiosks, which provide the added benefit of optimizing traffic and session information.
Another excellent solution to connect attendees while educating them on your brand is gamification. What is it exactly? Simply put, gamification is the application of game-playing elements to other areas of activity. Think, for example, of a scavenger hunt at your event through a dedicated mobile app – the core goal being to bring together participants and acquaint them with the venue and sponsors.
Quick tip: Be in the mindset that tech is there not only to inform or entertain, but to help facilitate connections and relationships at an event. If a tech solution brings people together and gets them talking in a meeting room, trade show floor or conference hallway, it’s the right one for you.
Understand the behavior of audiences
Tracking audience behavior is no longer just for market research firms or online analytic companies. It’s for you.
With such solutions as radio-frequency identification (RFID) or beacon technology, show organizers can track attendees and discover where exactly they gather and at what periods, granting you an exact picture of traffic flow and session relevance. In fact, beacon-enabled platforms can connect attendees to the right exhibitor, which increases leads and sales. Depending on the platform, it can even allow for a quick exchange of digital credentials.
What’s more, you can gain real-time data with such tech as second screen technology that captures audience engagement during sessions via polls, quizzes or speaker questions. This tech also ensures audiences are connected to your brand’s social media feeds, before, during and after a show.
In the end, the more you know your audience, the more insights you’ll gain on bringing them value.
Quick tip: Be conscious of making your analytical tech as captivating as possible. Seriously, who doesn’t love quizzes and interacting in real-time with speakers? These exchanges, leveraged on second screen technology, are both entertaining and excellent for data mining.
Supercharge participation and engagement
Originality is the new and almost-exclusive marketing currency buying today’s rarest prize: attention spans. According to a report by Eventbrite and Peerspace, audiences seek venues that “scream special” and are looking for “one-of-a-kind experiences” that are aided by (drum roll) “transformative technology.”
By transformative, this means the kind of tech that turns an event into an experience audiences want, won’t forget and will likely share. Sure, tech enhances a conference’s capabilities, but ultimately storytelling brings meaning to attendees.
The bottom line? Adopt and utilize event tech that amplifies your brand story and supports your marketing goals.
Quick tip: Tying in cutting-edge solutions such as virtual reality, 3D holograms or silent parties to the theme of your show can give you a competitive edge and improve brand loyalty. Even if you’re just a little more memorable than other shows, you’ll be a lot more shareable.
Think inclusive and spanning
Your tech should make sure no human is left behind. Including live streaming and video capture allows absent attendees to gain insights from educational and speaker sessions no matter where they are. And of course, content can be offered online after the event for those seeking a refresh.
Think you got it made if your event is packed to the gills and bustling on a live stream? Not so fast. Many marketers offer “overflow” lounges that stream audio or video content during overcapacity sessions. Remember to include a translation service if you have a sizable international crowd, as their feedback about your event can literally spread across the world.
There’s always something that can be tweaked to elevate the experience and ensure audiences walk away satisfied. In sound, for instance, new breakthroughs like psychoacoustics – smart audio that calibrates to the location of each attendee – guarantees audiences are served equally no matter the location or crowd size.
Quick tip: These days, making sure you’ve got robust Wi-Fi and enough charging stations can go a long way in making your attendees feel right at home.
Digitize beyond your event
Successful events are no longer one-offs but continuous moments that last the duration of the earth circling the sun. Social media, email and other digital marketing make ongoing connections happen. Much of your event can be captured and shared on social media channels, websites, or even online shops – in large or small doses to fully maximize your content.
Data from digital features like mobile apps or second screen should be used to mine audience reactions and insights to prepare for your next brand experience. Any information gathered should be capitalized on to optimize your promotional email campaigns.
Quick tip: A trendy tactic is to “relive” sessions by rebroadcasting them online at a certain date with the specific speaker present who can answer questions in real time. Yes, the digital transformation can make all content timeless and perpetually useful!
At the end of the day, the right event tech doesn’t have to be costly or exotic, just thoughtful and relevant. Your organization or audio-visual partner should already have access to many of the tools that can upgrade your event into an original experience designed to better engage attendees. Harnessing the right tech makes (event) life good.