Technology is constantly evolving. And with social distancing required to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the meetings and events industry, among all others, has become even more reliant on it. A permanent state of iteration paired with this new dependency equals new and ever-changing trends.
Below, we highlight current meetings and events technology for virtual, hybrid and live experiences.
In this post, learn more about:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Virtual Environments
- Augmented Reality
- Projection Mapping
- Virtual Reality
- Facial Recognition
- Mobile Applications
Top Tech Trends that Will Improve
Your Corporate Meetings and Events
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. This has proven even more imperative when it comes to virtual and hybrid experiences. With a limit on human connection, technology helps to enhance the attendee's experience and create the impact necessary to deem your event a success. Technology also provides the ability to mine the data collected in order to continue designing more impactful events that truly motivate and resonate.
Trends in Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings, for both corporate and social purposes, were one of the biggest trends of 2020. And although we are optimistic about the reality of meeting face to face once again, both virtual and hybrid events are here to stay - for now. Incorporating fresh tech trends, such as extended reality and virtual environments, can help to create that wow-factor we've come to miss with the absence of live experiences.
This has become THE event technology buzzword today—and 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.
Now that meetings and events are being conducted in virtual formats, AI has become no less important of a tool for planners and participants alike. Not only can AI lend a helping hand when planning meetings, but leveraging AI for virtual meetings has the potential to make them more efficient, productive, and intuitive. This technology can help streamline tasks like joining a meeting or adding people to calls. During meetings it can automatically mute disruptive background noise to keep audio clean, leverage facial recognition to help you easily identify new faces on a screen, and keep detailed information on participants to help facilitate smoother human interaction.
Attendee engagement has always remained a top priority when executing meetings and events. When the pandemic forced the industry to transition away from live in-person events that priority didn't change, but achieving high engagement became more of a challenge in a primarily virtual format. Mobile and virtual environments have become an innovative solution to that problem by providing opportunities to create paralleled experiences for attendees on their laptops or tablets that mirror the types of experiences they would have had during a live event.
Using virtual venues allows planners to elevate the attendee experience and immerse participants in their environments, creating customized locations, avatars and in-platform social interaction that facilitates more authentic connection to bridge the gap between virtual and live experiences. Attendees have the ability to use their avatars to chat with other participants, communicate with speakers, or raise their hands to ask questions during information sessions. Tradeshows and conferences can build out virtual stands and booths where attendees can interact with experts to access information, share experiences, and learn about products. Virtual staff can even be present within these environments to help provide technical support, assist with creating avatars, and familiarize attendees with their virtual world to help make the most of the experience.
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.
Although initially utilized during live events, AR has been adapted to virtual and hybrid to immerse attendees in their home environments and create a more accessible, immersive and interactive event experience. AR events can be created from home by triggering experiences from a mobile phone, tablet, or VR headset sent to participants at their remote locations. The accessibility of AR allows for a wide range of possibilities to engage attendees including creating entire tradeshow booths from home, showcasing new products and services, or integrating gamification and virtual training features to significantly increase audience engagement.
In addition to making event experiences more accessible, AR utilized in virtual environments also opens the door to gaining key insights into your event and attendees through accurate data and analytical reporting. Whether you are trying to gauge progress on training or engagement with a new product that’s launching, AR experiences can often have analytics embedded in the experience to expertly track your attendees' experience.
Trends in In-person Events
For the time being virtual formats remain as the safer solution for meetings and events. However, eventually hybrid and in-person events will return and they’ll likely be accompanied by several technology trends that can help elevate the event experience and strengthen attendee engagement. Below are some tech trends that have taken a bit of a backseat during the rise of virtual meetings but are sure to return to live event settings in the future.
Projection mapping is similar to spatial augmented reality or video mapping, where an image is projected onto objects or spaces that are often irregularly shaped. This can turn any 3D shape into interactive displays, fully immersing attendees in the experience. This technology has been around for decades, but has more recently been used by corporate event planners to up their creative game and increase event engagement – and of course these types of displays are ultra-social-media friendly! Here some creative examples of projection mapping in use.
Art on the Mart is a local favorite of those located in our Chicago Headquarters!
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.
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.
When incorporated effectively, facial recognition can be a successful tool to
propel event goals and meet the expectations of today’s event attendees. To implement this type of technology, it’s necessary to collect clear images of participants in advance of the event or during registration check-in.
Facial recognition can assist in streamlining the check-in experience, allowing participants to simply walk up to a camera, scan their face and receive their badge. Meanwhile, exhibitors can do a quick scan to capture that lead. Planners can also easily track attendees as they enter a session, avoiding any bottlenecks at the door.
Additionally, this technology can provide fast attendee information which helps personalize their experience. For example, as an attendee approaches a booth, facial recognition can provide information such as goal for attending the event, to help start the conversation right.
Facial recognition also has the ability to scan your audience and compile data to read the overall emotional charge of the room. You can then, in real-time, communicate this with speakers or performers to allow a change in delivery to better engage the attendees.
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. And in 2020, Hilton introduced an AI customer service chatbot, Xiao Xi, to provide "a quick and convenient one-stop source for travel advisory services." 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.
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.
Discover more meetings and events trends in our
2021 Global Trends Report!