59% of event professionals are confident or tech-savvy.
Event planners are embracing event technology more and more; the days of the technology-unfriendly planner are gone. This is a great outlook for the industry. Very few planners seem to resist tech anymore.
The more budget (and seniority) an event professional has, the more confidence with tech tools. 33% of planners that plan events with budgets of $5M+ think of themselves as tech savvy – 13% above average.
Play Up Group Tech Experiences
Another hot trend is using tech to create social experiences out of what was previously alone time. Friends are watching movies together from thousands of miles away. They’re competing with one another on video games across continents. This has some fantastic implications for your event attendees and those who are following the excitement at home. They no longer have to be mere voyeurs but can join in. Link up people online for stronger connections:
- Use live 360-degree video (what many refer to as VR) to connect remote audiences. Give them the opportunity to attend an event together in order to bolster buying online-only tickets.
- Create content for sharing. YouTubers make a living out of commentary on videos. Their commentary becomes additional content and a way to enjoy a video or event. You can use industry influencers for play-by-play commentary on your events, creating a secondary event (and additional content) in the process.
- Develop tracks for niche interests at your event. With a virtual ticket and a paired up “host,” guests could experience inside tracks in a way much different than in prior events. They could attend meetups and the hallway track by being able to select from in-person led experiences not just watching sessions.
Employ Voice for Greater Engagement
AI is increasingly becoming the norm behind attendee experience. Even if you haven’t started using it at your events, your attendees are using it at home and work. In fact, according to Google, in 2016 20% of searches were voice searches. Use voice to drive engagement:
- Look into ways for your voice tech to perform actions. People are moving away from asking questions to asking voice assistants to perform commands, from “where is my next session” to “sign me up for the session on X.”
- Create “if, then” scenarios that are helpful to attendees. Be proactive in your voice assistance. For example, if someone asks where vendor X is on the exhibit floor, the assistant could then ask if they’d like to schedule some one-on-one time with that vendor.
- Link the ability to read badges with your chatbot or voice assistant so it has all the information about the attendee it needs to be helpful.
Consolidation Will Dominate
It’s no secret that the past few years have seen an unprecedented rise in both investment in event technology and mergers and acquisitions (M&A).
The market euphoria of 2019 is expected to continue in Q4 2019 and Q1/Q2 2020. Large event technology companies announced bold acquisition programs for the next few years. This trend is set to continue whether the economy will flourish or not.
As large event technology conglomerates grow, smaller companies will feel the pressure, and in most cases, they won’t be able to compete. That means acquisition or repositioning. This is especially true for markets that have reached maturity (particularly online registration and event apps).
Connect with a Greater Number of People Through App Interpreters
Electronic translators aren’t new for 2019 but the technology has undergone some much-needed maturation. These apps are now reliable enough to offer a positive experience for event attendees and help bridge some of the previously-existing communication gaps. Traverse the communication gap:
- Use remote translation services. Finding local translators isn’t always easy. With this type of technology, translators could be available remotely or through an app giving your attendees a good communication experience regardless of time and where they are at your event.
- Save money using remote translation services. Apps don’t have to be paid hourly, for travel, or incidentals.
- Use subject matter experts regardless of their knowledge of the language that most of your attendees speak. This frees up the selection process to find the person who knows the most without sacrificing attendee experience or understanding.
More Investment in Eventtech
Event professionals are investing more in event technology in 2019/2020. 52% will spend more of their budget on making their event technology-friendly.
While the majority of planners surveyed plan to spend more, it is legitimate to ask whether this increase is sufficient for event technology companies to grow and events to be digital-friendly. With many event professionals still using spreadsheets to manage events, it’s not surprising that most planners intend to increase their event tech spend. That said, the success of new ventures rests largely on early adopters with enough budget to try new tech. This is disheartening considering that 45% of respondents will not change their tech budget, and 5% actually plan to spend less.
Some Eventtech Trending More than Others
Comparing planners’ preferences between 2018 and 2019 gives us an interesting picture of the trending tools in event technology.
While online event registration still dominates, the adoption of new registration tools has decreased by 10% year-over-year. This may be a signal of event professionals already having a provider for event registration.
Wifi is Getting Better
When it comes to wifi at venues, event planners turn into populists. Rage, anger and frustration are also common feelings with suppliers. Many throughout the years have lamented poor or expensive wifi as a barrier for growth.
Well, it is still the case with 58% of planners still indicating that wifi availability and performance negatively impact their events.
Choosing Operational Efficiency
We have always strongly advocated against the use of tech to impress. It is refreshing to see that planners are following suit.
When we surveyed planners about their event technology selection criteria year-over-year, the percentage for whom freshness was a factor plummeted from 53% in 2018 to only 33% in 2019.
The focus is now on securing a good ROI through operational efficiency, with cost being the dominant factor, followed by integration and available support. The fact that support dropped by 10% is a testament to both event tech providers creating better self-serve tools and planners getting more comfortable using them.
Bolster Guest Management and Experience with Facial Recognition
Home tech is influencing event tech. Just as in the case of voice search, we’re likely to see facial recognition from devices like Apple spill over into the event industry. The ramifications of this are extraordinary but the processing time is still being fine-tuned. Still, it’s something we all should be watching. Ultimately, we’ll learn how to… Increase efficiency with facial recognition:
- Check-in and registration become much quicker with this tech. Some theme parks are already using this technology. It’s also more secure.
- Ensure greater safety by using facial recognition to spot people on known security lists.
- Improve your social media reach by using facial recognition in tagging people in photos from your event.
Engagement and interactivity are a major focus
Engagement was a top priority across all industries. 60-70% of the features most commonly used across the industries were engagement-focused. In half the industries we analyzed, polling is in the top three most popular features. Polling is an easy, interactive way for attendees to remain engaged during sessions and share their thoughts and opinions in anonymity.
Messaging On the Rise
According to MailChimp, the average email click-through rate was barely 2%, whereas the open rate for text messages is 98% according to a recent Dynmark report. It’s no surprise that messaging made the top ten for favorite features across all verticals, with PR marketing professionals scoring it the highest. Apps are not only becoming an integral part of figuring out who you should talk to, but they remain an integral medium for that conversation, too.
Gamification Drives Desired Action
Gamification is still one of the favorite and most enjoyable ways to drive the desired action among attendees. 10% of the apps we analyzed listed gamification features as part of the app. Planners can drive business objectives by leveraging gaming mechanics, like long and short-term gratification, rewards, and competition.
Drive traffic through the exhibit floor by rewarding points for connecting to sponsors’ booths; let people win rewards for acing a quiz on the keynote. Leaderboards and awards have proven particularly effective, as attendees compete against one another for more recognition as well.
Interactive Maps Mean No One (With an App) Will Get Lost
Some events, like CES and the Detroit Auto Show, are monstrous in their attendance numbers and exhibits. Wandering the floor can be confusing and exhausting. It’s no wonder that events of this size are embracing the technology. Planners within healthcare, tech, and luxury events also listed this feature within their top-ten most popular (#8, #4, #4, respectively).
App Adoption is Increasing
The majority of app developers surveyed, about 68%, say that demand in the event app space is higher than it was last year, and as demand increases relative to the supply, so does the price.
This is a very interesting trend as most commentators in the industry tend to think of the app market as one maturing, with relative potential for growth.
We are not yet past event apps. If you are thinking about an event app but are unsure of whether it will provide value to your event, consider that many, many event professionals are choosing apps for their events.
App Usage on the Rise
52% of respondents in a recent survey of the industry’s most prominent developers revealed that attendees use the app mostly for session information: researching sessions of interest, looking up rooms, creating schedules, taking notes – that sort of thing. About 49% reported the use of engagement-related features. Failure to compete on those fronts means missing out on a huge competitive lever.
As much as you want to innovate, be clever, and use the shiny new module of the moment, bear in mind that attendees use apps for very basic needs – in most cases, just to save time and avoid interaction (hey, introverts!).
A New Role Is Emerging: Event Technologist
38% of event planners in a recent study are confident in the use of technology, and a further 20% are tech-savvy. 8% is a small margin of majority for competence in a skill set that will be so integral to the future of events.
Nevertheless, event planners are evolving into newer, more strategic roles that entail delegation for tasks associated with very specialised skills, like marketing and tech. It’s telling that only 6% of job postings for event planners in another recent study explicitly indicated an expertise in digital tools as a requirement. Given that 45% of respondents expect their organizations to invest more in technology this year, something has to bridge the gap.
That’s where the event technologist comes in. Event technologists will be largely responsible for planning and implementing the technological strategy of their organization’s events programs. They may be involved in sourcing the technology, and will probably be the point-of-contact for tech suppliers. Event technologists will need to be problem solvers with a strong penchant for data collection and analysis. Event technologists will take event and organization KPIs and translate the data gleaned from their tech stack into ROI reports.
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