We live in an age of connectivity. People are constantly looking for newer, easier and quicker ways to connect to the world. Smart-phones, tablets, wearable technology have become essential tools, not only to communicate via texts and calls, but also to be connected with the digital world all the time.
The technology revolution is here and is expected to grow and evolve rapidly over the next years, but how does that impact the event industry? How will technology shape events and event planning?
Let’s take a look at the newest technology trends affecting the events landscape.
A paper published by Active Events, reports that smart-phones and tablets have become an essential tool for event attendees and event organisers alike, as these can extend the lifecycle of events, increase attendee engagement and improve the overall event experience.
Mobile tools, indeed, provide real-time access to attendees check-in, reports, lead retrieval data and customer feedback, and set event organisers free from clunky clipboards, binders and out-of-date data. Mobile technology also allows event organisers to deliver an update, cheap, flexible and “green” event content through apps, which enables attendees to provide real-time feedback about the event.
Finally, mobile technology provide attendees a with a networking tool, where they can connect through social networks, thus building a community platform where they can create discussions.
Music festivals are at the forefront of this trend: Lollapalooza, for example, provides wearable technology to its event attendees, that enables them to link their credit cards information to their bracelets, so they can use it to pay for food and beverages on-site though a simple tap.
Wearable tech, such as Google Glass and smart watches, can also help attendees to put their phone away and only receive essential notifications about the event, such as menu options, travel directions, speakers or appointments updates and contact information. Meanwhile, it could help planners to collect valuable data from attendees that may translate into better service for wearable-tech users.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
These are among the most exciting ways technology can be used to create multi-sensory experiences which seems out of this world.
During an interview with Genioso event magazine, Brandt Krueger, owner of Event Technology Consulting, said:
“I think virtual reality and augmented reality technology are going to start growing rapidly and spill over into meetings and events. Virtual reality is particularly compelling in a trade show context, where attendees are used to arriving at booths to receive demonstrations. We’ll also see an increase in VR/AR experiences as stations at events, much as we currently see photo booths, speciality drink bars, or other activity stations”.
VR is not only becoming popular at meetings and conferences, but it is also growing rapidly in the music event industry, as it enables people to experience events right from their couch. It is a powerful tool that gives people who don’t have an easy access to this kind of entertainment, the opportunity to be part of a crowd at the other side of the world .
The Big Data
Retaining all event and attendees data is becoming a must in the event industry. Planners are increasingly recognising the importance of being the sole owners of all the data, and are now building their own database to handle event registrations and ticketing, rather than using third-party solutions, which often collect the event data for their own marketing purposes and even share it with other partners or sponsors.
“I think 2016 will be the year the events industry really begins to a handle on its data, and how powerful it is for justifying event ROI. Event tech that gathers data will be a must have rather than a nice have” Mike Piddock, Founder and CEO of Glisser Interactive Presentation Software, says.
In relation to this, a study conducted by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, explains how event managers will be able to deliver better products and services by collecting information on customers, the community and the event through big data tools.
An example of this is Rio, which, during the FIFA World Cup and in preparation of the 2016 Olympic Games, has used live data from different traffic and surveillance devices, active social networks and a variety of other data sources, to mobilise resources to appropriate places, ensuring the best delivery at every event.
In conclusion, event tech is definitely changing the face of events. But will it eventually replace face to face events and the role of event planners?
If, for instance, virtual reality, live-streaming and broadcast enable attendees to experience an event from the comfort of their couch as if they were actually there, why would they pay to attend the live event? And if less attendees are to attend face-to-face events, what will be the event planners role in this?
Honestly, no matter how high- tech your event is, technology could never replace face to face events. Regardless of generation and culture, we are human beings with emotions, needs, wants and desires. We need to be connected, entertained and informed and to be part of a community. Only face-to-face communication allows all these things to happen. That is why I doubt technology will ever replace face-to-face communication, as human interaction remain the most important factor of any event. Technology could, instead, expand the way we communicate or solve a problem, such as giving those attendees who, for a variety of reasons, can’t experience the live event, the opportunity to do it through virtual reality or live streaming. But it could never replace the human need to communicate to one another.
*Image courtesy by Getty Images at PostCrescent.com