FACT: Technology is constantly evolving. A permanent state of iteration equals ever-changing trends. When it comes to the relationship between technology and events, one thing remains the same: technology underpins how your audience engages with your event at every step of the way. Your ability to mine the data collected allows you to design more impactful events that truly motivate and resonate. Below we highlight six meetings and events technology trends to try in 2019 and tips to implement each in your future programs.
6 Meetings and Events Technology Trends for 2019
1. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
This uses radio-frequency waves to wirelessly transfer data through a tag that can be embedded in name badges, wristbands, plastic cards, etc. and collect data on your attendee’s journey throughout an event. For example, RFID can be used to check-in attendees at breakout sessions, giving event organizers a much better sense of where their audience is going and what interests them. There are numerous benefits to RFID technology including faster attendee check-in, immediate data on foot traffic and going cashless. But, most importantly, RFID allows for higher levels of engagement. Attendees can interact on-site with sponsors and other attendees through live polling and surveys.
TIP: Add F&B tokens into a Radio Frequency Identification name badge or wristband for your guests to use at a reception.
2. Virtual Reality (VR)
An engaging and innovative way for attendees to interact at events. We see VR being leveraged across events as a digital enhancement strategy to elevate the attendee experience with unique technology advances that they may not have access to in their day-to-day lives. A VR headset allows participants to engage with 360 degrees 3D images, immersing them into places and experiences that are otherwise inaccessible. Additionally, VR is being used during large tradeshows for interactive demonstrations of vendors’ products that would be difficult to be brought on-site. Hotels and DMC’s are using them to showcase their properties or destination to prospects without them ever having to get on a plane.
TIP: Are your attendees competitive? Use virtual reality as part of your gamification strategy at your event. Scavenger hunts have evolved using VR by placing virtual clues around vendors’ booths at trade shows.
3. Artificial intelligence (AI)
This has become THE event technology buzzword today—for good reason. This technology has been at the fingertips of consumers for years through voice activation and ridesharing applications. More recently, it has become a tool that event stakeholders are including as part of their event technology solutions for customers. AI has enhanced the personalization of the attendee experience with more meaningful interactions and is now being used as a matching engine to pair attendees with activities and experiences that align with their own interests and goals for the event.
This matching capability allows for more impactful interactions between attendees, exhibitors and sponsors which, in turn, is allowing exhibitors and sponsors to better understand the unique interests of their audience. AI’s deep learning, which relies on pattern recognition, is allowing event professionals to anticipate what logistical requirements are needed at an event in terms of F&B and crowd control.
TIP: Integrate an artificial intelligence platform into a mobile application for a trade show or networking event. This will allow for better interaction between vendors and attendees while giving the attendee suggestions based on their interests.
Companies around the world are using chatbots to communicate with their audiences when and where they want. In the past few of years, chatbots have become more common in the event space and are slowly replacing stand-alone info booths at meetings, events and trade shows as companies are recognizing the benefits of using chatbots as part of their customer engagement strategy.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, for example, uses a VIP virtual host that goes by the name of Rose. With a sense of humor, Rose can respond quickly to amenity requests and give out recommendations for local bars and restaurants. At the Clarion Hotel in Amsterdam, guests are introduced to their AI-enabled chatbot butler, an in-room assistant based on Amazon Echo. Equipped with power features, it is designed to help guests with many of their requirements such as hailing taxis, ordering room service, finding information online and other hotel-related operations. The future we have been watching in the movies is here!
TIP: Imagine being with your attendees every step of the way during a conference or incentive program. Integrate a chatbot into your mobile app or web page to answer any pressing questions and give local recommendations.
5. Augmented Reality (AR)
This is a technology that overlays a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, creating an enhanced reality. Event professionals have been implementing AR into their events to improve event engagement within product demonstrations. With AR, attendees can interact with new products in ways that create an emotional connection with the experience. To change a user’s perspective on a product at a trade show, AR could allow an attendee to see how it works from the inside out. Or, it could compare the product to different models highlighting the unique differentiators.
AR can also be used to assist a speaker during a general session, creating a unique stage experience by leveraging interactive visuals that support the keynote’s presentation. AR is still in the initial stages of use, but the potential that it has on the industry is infinite.
TIP: Do you want to get more engagement at your trade show or exhibition booth? Try an interactive augmented reality game to show product features – this will both delight and educate attendees!
6. Mobile Applications
Applications have become a no-brainer when it comes to the meetings and event industry. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of apps in the event space each offering customizable solutions for any type of event (including trade shows and user conferences). Mobile apps are a one-stop shop for information for participants—from accessing your agenda, to viewing the attended list, to general event information, to receiving messages and special offers from sponsors.
Beyond just providing important information conveniently, mobile apps are also interactive. They allow companies to implement gamification such as challenges, rewards and leaderboards to reinforce event goals and increase engagement leading to an immersive event experience. While they have been part of event strategies for some time, mobile apps will remain a key player in technology with a continued focus on creating personalized experiences.
TIP: Create excitement for your event before it ever begins by communicating with attendees via your event’s mobile app. Focus on creating value for your attendee: interviews, exclusive content, updates-things that will leave them wanting more.
Download our list of 6 meetings and events technology trends to try in 2019 here.
by Cate Banfield, Senior Director, Solution Strategy & Design at BCD Meetings & Events