Here’s What Trade Show Professionals Really Want in Event Technology
If you could create the perfect event tech platform that would solve all of your event-related issues while helping you to achieve your ultimate trade show goals, what would that technology look like? We posed this question to three seasoned trade show professionals and here’s what they had to say.
Jenn Ellek, Senior Director of Marketing, Taffy Event Strategies
Since I am a marketer at heart and a data-follower by design, I’m always looking for ways to customize and personalize a prospect’s journey of engagement and their ultimate conversion to an event attendee. With unlimited resources (both dollars and staff), I would build marketing and attendee acquisition plans driven mainly by dynamic content, which is content that changes based on the information a show keeps in their database including behaviors, preferences and interests.
With this platform, content would include images, education topics, sessions, articles and blog posts all unique to particular audience subsets or personas within the database.
The content would be uniquely generated at the moment a prospect visits your page or is slated to receive an email. It would be personalized and adapt intelligently based on data gathered in a database on each prospect, which could include past registrations, website visits, sessions attended, content downloaded, emails opened and clicked, searches performed and other sites visited. This type of content could be used in generating dynamic website experiences and custom emails.
Imagine: two prospects visit your webpage but each experiences a site with different graphics, articles, sessions and even receives different calls-to-action in some cases based on the information in your database. That would translate to open rates going up, website visits increasing, referrals and shares skyrocketing and, in turn, registration numbers!
Dynamic content is a reality, and several systems now are capable of such type of delivery. However, the challenge for many event organizers is not only having enough information on each prospect/persona to deliver unique, relevant content but also having resources to drive an ongoing, timely program of content development for all of the various persona types.
Bobby Hoffman, Event Operations and Technology Manager, AEM
If I could manifest my ideal event tech platform, I would probably call it the Data Blender.
The perfect kitchen blender is going to have interchangeable blades and attachments that can handle almost any kind of food to create a smoothie or ice cream drink. This versatility is what I think my team and many other event organizers are missing from our event tech portfolio.
The first part of this platform would be a middleware solution that allows organizers to interchange our event tech solutions (registration, online directories, mobile apps, behavioral tracking, etc.) using standardized integrations. The biggest problem this solves is the time-consuming process of setting up custom integrations between vendors. It would also allow organizers to be more agile in trying different event tech platforms and partners.
The second part of this solution would leverage those integrations to cross-reference and consolidate all that invaluable data into a single database. This would give organizers all of this data at their fingertips, rather than tucked away in separate vendor systems and spreadsheets. It would allow organizers to communicate better and deliver more value to attendees, understanding their entire story and engagement with our events rather than snippets at a time.
It would also give organizers the ability to deliver powerful ROI reporting with exhibitors to show them the value of their involvement in events, right-size their investment, and pick the most impactful sponsorships to meet the exhibitor’s goals.
Ric Camacho, Vice President of Technology and Innovation, Specialty Food Association
Event providers of technology services are too siloed within narrowly defined buckets of service/technical feature sets. Part of this is for historical reasons: Service providers haven’t traditionally scaled to provide a comprehensive solution portfolio for event management that scales particularly for trade shows. Instead, it has been piecemeal.
For example: Provider No. 1 offers registration technology and lead retrieval, old-fashioned scanning technology to handle access control and session management. Provider 2 provides IoT or wearable technology, such as beacons, Lidar and RFID. Provider 3 provides show mapping and trade show booth management. Provider 4 provides second screen technology for conference/education sessions – the list goes on and on.
Providers take a differentiated approach to how many of these technologies they deliver without a comprehensive approach or understanding of the ecosystem, and the modern way trade show and event managers manage their operations.
In addition, providers are often not sufficiently innovative with their platforms to allow for modern ways of integration so that event managers can navigate the patchwork of providers and manage risk.
My ideal tech scenario would include the following:
- More providers with a larger footprint across the portfolio of technologies that power an event
- Sufficiently sophisticated APIs that assist in platform and data integration across this portfolio so that event managers can solve these issues themselves
- Better data management and data distribution standards by providers to allow for more real-time or near real-time data so that these can power the management and data insights needed to manage shows (some providers may have decent APIs but do not expose the full range of data they have collected)
- A more tightly integrated approach to the range of technologies rather than offering technologies that don’t talk to each other