Envisioning the future is part of the job for event managers and organizers. It is crucial for success to anticipate key aspects of your event. At the same time, the booming event business almost requires everyone involved to be a visionary about the industry itself. What does the future look like for event planning, management and marketing? In a Meetmaps series on the future of the event industry, we will look at what trends, opportunities and challenges to watch closely. In this installment we will outline how today’s emerging technology will transform events in the future.
From Events To Experiences
Already the term experience is competing with the standard “event.” Engagement of attendees and interaction with the audience are no longer limited only to the event or show itself but begin long before and continue well after. New marketing platforms and technological innovations create comprehensive experiences around events, using social media and digital communities. With access to data and technology, we will also see a shift from “one size fits all” to highly personalized events. Rather than hand out the same freebies or gimmicks to attendees, event organizers can tap into preferences of their audience, speakers or even sponsors and offer a more personal and customized experience. Imagine splitting a large and difficult to manage event into smaller ones. Instead of spreading the experience too thin trying to please everyone, organizers can deliver an experience that is more inclusive and purpose-driven, thanks to data segmentation. Mobile will of course play an important role in personalizing events, but the future will see omni-channel experiences (with data collection).
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Along with more personalization, events will also become more immersive in the future. Technology for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are growing rapidly in the consumer market already. Companies like Facebook with Oculus Rift and Google with Magic Leap are driving innovation. In the future, events and meetings can make use of VR technology to offer impressive demonstrations where attendees become virtual participants.
Improvements and innovations in display technology will allow for improved stage and booth designs and event decoration or themes. Holograms or three-dimensional projects, paired with real-time motion capturing sensors, can offer interactive presentations that can be experienced any time, all without a headset.
Augmented Reality is able to assist in navigating the event itself, locating booths, speakers or meetings and guiding through the experience. VR and AR technology also have the great potential to help participants overcome physical disabilities, or allow people to attend and experience an event from anywhere in the world.
Automation and Data Collection Technology
Process automation and data collection enable event organizers to measure everything and arrive at informed decisions. Being able to collect, process and handle and then interpret all that data is a powerful tool in measuring and justifying ROI specifically. It will become more and more mandatory to employ event technology for gathering data, both in real time at the event itself and online from social channels and communities. Wearables, mobile devices and RFID and sensor technology can play a part in this, for example for cashless payments, automatic check-ins and creating interactive displays on the event floor and the corresponding data on the back-end. However, useful analytics has the potential to fundamentally transform the industry, so there will be a rising demand for intelligence instead of just raw data. Analytics platforms and tools will present event professionals with actionable insights.
Interaction and Engagement
Unlike any other marketing channel, events can enable interaction with products and engagement with brands. Together with the shift towards experiences, technology will transform the ownership of events away from organizers and planners towards exhibitors, speakers and visitors. We will see more implementation of interaction technology to engage participants with experimental room and booth setups, interactive sessions instead of delivered lectures and, as a result, more memorable experiences. Once again mobile devices and the mobile platform will be key for this transformation. With apps and mobile sites as the hub for interaction between participants, exhibitors, planners and sponsors, event professionals will gain new insights in the analysis.
The technology of 3D printing is becoming ever more affordable and offers seemingly limitless creative possibilities. 3D printing uses a source from scanned 2D images or a constructed model to create physical objects layer by layer out of materials like plastic, metal, ceramic or cloth. Already companies offer event activities focused on 3D printing such as three-dimensional photo booths by MakerBot where participants receive a miniature replica of themselves. WobbleWorks has a pen for sketches in 3D, great for impressive demonstrations at events. Apart from entertainment, other applications are decoration, which can also be printed from edible material, prototyping, custom hardcopy tickets or badges and individual giveaways.
Robotic and Drone Technology
Regulations for flight are playing catch-up with the advancement in drone technology, proving that we have only scratched the surface of what is possible in the field. Right now, we can imagine drones being used to of course capture aerial photography and video during events. But the future might as well hold just in time deliveries, drones guiding visitors and assisting with crowd control and handling of emergency situations. Robots will play roles as booth attendants, personal assistants, caterers and bartenders and will feature in new forms of presentations. Robots can be part in offering disability access, either directly at the event or through telepresence. MantaroBots with TeleMe offer their vision of this event technology already today.
Video and Live Streaming
Video in 360 degrees paired with live streaming is an all new possibility to attend and experience events. In combination with VR technology, 360 video gains even more appeal and potential to be immersive and powerful. Video is a creative form of communication that has been steadily growing for business communication, and its importance for events is also on the rise. With apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, participants can already stream their own version of events, and in the future, event streams will be a viable and ubiquitous way of tuning into events.
With all that event technology seemingly flooding the market now and in the near future, it is also interesting to envision what gadgets and which technology will not be present in the coming years. The threshold of interacting with a bot might be low, but human-to-human interaction has a priceless value and will never be substituted with technology alone. Incorporating this value into the design of events and technology will distinguish the mere buzz from the lasting innovation. In the future, attendees will favor event technology that facilitates human and personal interaction instead of prohibiting it.
Outlook: A Glimpse Of The Future of the Event Industry…Today
As you can see, engaging event participants and enabling personal interaction will continue to be important for event managers and organizers in the future. You can already focus on this critical element today and increase your audience engagement with Meetmaps. Facilitate new interactions with an active display of real-time engagement at your event. Your participants can use Meetmaps to explore member profiles and use it to plan their person to person networking, before and after your event.