As an event professional, you will always be concerned about the success of your event. But event organizers and planners can be split between attendee satisfaction and proving return on investment when defining, measuring and demonstrating the success of their events. The rise and presence of event technology has brought about the increasing importance of big data in the event industry. With the right strategies for tracking, measuring and analyzing, event professionals can confidently prove event ROI and point to satisfied attendees with the help of big data.
In a previous article, we have discussed how modern professionals measure event success and outlined best practises for doing so. In the following, we will look at how the insights event professionals gain from big data in turn can shape event success and at the same time help them showcase event success with greater ease.
Attendees Are At The Center Of Events
It should be a given that your attendees will define an event successful when their expectations have been fulfilled or even surpassed. In other words: happy attendees contribute to a successful event. This principle is at the very core of attendee-centric event planning and is the reason professionals market their events as experiences. With the latest technology, you can gather data on your attendees in real time and feed analytics, decisions or numbers back into your event for your participants, something event professionals also call crowdshaping. In the event industry, we see the following transformative trends thanks to big data and crowdshaping:
Personalization And Customization
This is the technology that allows event organizers to create unique experiences for attendees where they become participants in the true sense of the word. Advances in technology give event planners the possibility to shape these experiences through RFID sensor, Virtual Reality, iBeacons, geolocation, wearables and Augmented Reality. The trend is that event participants interact with displays and booths and during sessions or keynotes with their devices. Instead of lectures and stands that hold the same information for just one audience, experiences can be tailor-made with automatic and manual input from the attendee to access specific information, unlock special content as part of gamification, and receive updates depending on their location. The important role of big data here is in the insights that can be gained from analytics to segment the audience and attendees into groups for customization and personalization. At the event itself, participants are therefore presented with what is relevant to them and have a personal experience that fits their needs.
Real-time Adjustments Informed By Engagement
With data collection in real time, event professionals no longer have to guess as to the cause of a certain attendee behavior. In turn, informed decisions to make changes to a live setup at the event become possible and feasible. Why is attention not spread evenly across booths? Why are people not responding to certain gamification incentives? What is the best location to create a surprise appearance? Big data is able to provide answers to these engagement related questions while your event is underway. As a planner, instead of going into a panic when things turn out differently than expected, you can observe and make real-time adjustments that will both serve your needs as well as the demands of the audience. The ability to act upon live data allows an event to become a truly engaging experience.
Geolocation Paired With Segmentation
As a planner, you need to know not only the location of your attendees or their distribution in the event space, but also why they are there. Detecting crowd density allows you to identify bottlenecks at entrances, exits, booths, information points etc. and act accordingly to direct, divert or control the crowd, improving their experience, avoiding confusion or shortening wait times. In the future, big data will provide insight into crowd behavior and thus influence how event planners address the crowd with room design, space optimization and management of traffic, lines and flow.
Going one step further and beyond engagement at your event, big data can help improve event travel and safety. Information about transportation use enables fine-tuned timings of shuttle busses and transport services to and from events, paired with just-in-time notifications for those who need travel or traffic updates, pulling in weather data and average transport times as needed. On an even more personal level, crowdshaping with big data can employ health related information to approach allergies, food-related issues, or disabilities such as restrictions in hearing, seeing or movement.
Other Big Data Improvements To Events
On a less futuristic note, the technologies and tools already in use and place at events today provide professionals with an abundance of data that is borderline overwhelming – if you don’t know how to analyze it and what metrics actually matter to your event success. In order to get a wealth of insight from registration platforms, social media, event apps, audience feedback and other collected information, here are a few tools and tips to help you stay focused on using big data for event success:
- Wherever registration is needed, steer attendees toward using social login to help you build more complete profiles of your audience. Demographics and interest lists allow you to filter and segment participants.
- Identify attendees who are digitally active, i.e. who are engaging with the even using their device or with your event app. This can include profiles, tweets, downloads, or digital engagements with other attendees.
- Feedback and surveys need to be integrated with your event registration and app so that you can customize questions and round out the profiles of your attendees to gather meaningful insights. If questionnaires don’t engage attendees, their answers will be generic and meaningless.
- A platform for participants to submit questions (such as within your event app) is great for measuring engagement during presentations or sessions, as the questions themselves (paired with information about who is asking what) will prove valuable. You will gain topics or thematic ideas and the possibility to measure retention.
- Be aware that app analytics of your event app will primarily highlight the success of your app and usually not of the event itself. With that being said, happy app users translate to happy attendees. Just make sure to correlate app usage information with data on attendees who did not use the event app.
- Social channels can not only measure reach beyond attendees, but become a great barometer to gauge audience reaction. Are participants expressing satisfaction, confusion, are they seeking for answers to common questions or are they happy to share information they have found?
- The more tools you use, the higher your risk of having to overcome fragmentation or data silos. Remember, you will need to correlate what you measure at point A with what you track at point B as well as uncover networks and connections you were not aware of before. This is why it is crucial that your tools or your event technology platform is as integrated as possible, ideally pulling your data together into one dashboard.
Big data is trending in the event industry and paired with emerging technologies allows organizers to focus both on attendee-centric elements as well as proving success and return on investment. Participants benefit from engagement through technology in new ways where they can experience a personalized event with a tailor-made feel. Planners gain the ability to make informed on-the-fly adjustments where necessary and collect meaningful insights.
Professionals in the event, interaction and networking industry can already focus on the important element of increasing audience engagement – with Meetmaps, our platform that places increased audience engagement as the most crucial element for successful events at its core. Event planners and organizers can access key indicators for networking and participation in an easy-to-use dashboard.