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Event planners using tech but face-to-face meetings here to stay

Some said there would be flying cars by 2020, others thought time travel would exist but while both of these predictions are still in the blueprint stage, event technology has surpassed many event planners’ wildest imaginations – but are they utilising it to its full potential?

According to Jim Sharpe, newly appointed CEO of Aventri, event technology is far easier to use than it was a few years ago and because of this, event planners have started integrating it into their events.

“As everyone in the business knows, event planners have incredibly challenging jobs, but savvy planners see that technology improves event quality, while also streamlining their workflow and driving cost savings,” Sharpe told M&IT.

“What’s more, with automated reporting, planners gain easy-to-use tools to show – with hard data – the role events play in driving value and ROI.”

Whether it’s essential technology, such as using a Whatsapp group to stay in contact with your army of event planners or technical technology that measures events metrics, one thing’s for certain, technology makes an event planners professional lives easier.

Sharpe shared his thoughts and predictions on the 2020 event technology landscape.

What’s your take on event tech for 2020?

The event management space is going through significant technological change now. One major trend is the move to all-in-one platforms. They provide a seamless user experience throughout the event lifecycle, helping you plan, promote, engage and measure your events.

End-to-end capabilities make life easier for event professionals. There’s no more hopping between platforms, dealing with separate logins or waiting for data to upload and download. These solutions streamline event planning and management, and they drive improvements across the board in faster onboarding and enhanced event quality.

Another big advantage of all-in-one solutions is they help organisers leverage data to personalise the attendee journey. These platforms provide the richest data pool from all the interactions you collect from attendees. This includes demographic data from registration, engagement data onsite, session tracking data, and more.

With help from artificial intelligence and machine learning, critical data points are ready to pull up at a moment’s notice. Organisers get the business intelligence they need to personalise the attendee experience and deliver more value for all participants

How can we expect the event tech landscape to change this year and this decade?

We all know the biggest event tech trends: full-suite adoption, data analytics and ROI, artificial intelligence and even facial recognition. The next frontier is in leveraging these advances to drive more meaningful connections.

The fact is, the real value of an event lies in the three – ten discussions you have that change your game for the better to help you sell more, build partnerships and learn something new. Toward this end, two of the biggest changes we’ll see come in the form of recommendation engines and event intelligence.

Recommendation Engines

These solutions are improving attendee networking today. If you look ahead a few years, you’ll see more powerful, fully integrated mobile event apps that will partner with attendees to streamline and enhance the experience. For example, attendees will get recommendations through their event app on sessions to attend, ad-hoc meetings to arrange, and attendees to follow up with. These recommendations will be customised to the attendee’s preferences, location and availability.

Recommendation engines will provide suggestions for attendees to connect with who is standing nearby. These solutions will even let you know if you’re not going to make it to your next session on time. Let’s say you’re running late, and the session is too far. The system will suggest a relevant session that’s closer and identify good prospects to connect with there. It’ll even suggest exhibitor booths to take en route to the session.

Event Intelligence

Recommendation engines are part of event intelligence platforms, which have tremendous implications for event and marketing return on investment.

Big Data has been around for a while, of course, but the way companies use event data is starting to change. For example, by integrating their event management and CRM (customer relationship management) platforms, event and marketing profs can unlock a level of customer insight that was previously out of reach.

Tech

Jim Sharpe Aventri CEO.

For organisers, the opportunity lies in finally getting the business intelligence they need to show the role events play in driving revenue. Forward-thinking companies have begun using attendee engagement data to make more informed marketing decisions outside the events world. And this is huge.

Event intelligence gives marketers critical insights into customer preferences and buyer intent. In the coming years, these insights will inform everything, from content marketing to email campaigns, demand generation, digital advertising and more. Next-level event intelligence will give marketers deeper insights to convert more customers faster and retain them longer. And events will play a critical role at the centre of the new martech stack.

Could the 2020s be the decade face-to-face meetings give way to tech-driven meetings?

No. Technology is a powerful enabler. But for converting leads and making valuable connections, nothing beats face-to-face events.

In my previous role, I saw first-hand the value of meaningful connections through the 2,000 events and 300,000 highly curated introductions the company made every year.

Throughout my career, I’ve been to scores of conferences as an attendee. At each event, I learned a bit about the competition and emerging technologies. But more importantly, we inked deals and developed many of our most important distribution partnerships. There’s no better way to do that efficiently than in a conference setting, where every attendee is there with a similar goal – to connect better.

Will awareness of the climate-crisis force technology to become more integrated into the events industry?

We all agree on the important responsibility of managing our carbon footprints. Technology is certainly helping promote sustainable meetings. For one, mobile apps are greatly reducing the need for physical materials, printing and the energy needed to ship them. Additionally, technology is helping to reduce the need for travel, and finding ways to create a virtual environment, where face-to-face was previously required.

Technological change in the events industry is not only impacting the carbon footprint but also changing and upskilling teams. Talent previously dedicated to physical marketing materials are now focused on the digital event experience. It is an exciting time.