Get your event tech strategy back on track

April 24, 2022
Opinion Pieces

Article actuald date: Apr 15, 2018

An event organiser has a million and one things to do, but somewhere right at the top of that list is creating continuous, sustainable and self-growing attendee engagement. Technology seems to be the answer to this problem.

Most events today are empowered technologically because of their tech savvy attendees. Whether technology is being used as an enabler or an unfortunate disabler is a question of understanding how technology is adopted at shows, and how users react and behave around it.

Technology has proven to be the game changer anytime all the time, and that’s why it is important that we are not seduced by “noise”, rather, be highly objective in analysing how the technology that you adopt for your event would improve the bottom-line and boost your event’s brand retention.

Remember to design a tech-enabled event that makes sense to your attendees, customer facing, as well as to your organisation, behind the scenes.

Solve the most fundamental needs first

In the same way that Maslow’s Hierarchy starts with our basic human need for air, water and food before moving on to other things — the same applies to the basic attendees’ need when participating at your event. What is the simplest reason people attend your events for?

Event attendees want to meet other people who are relevant and who are able to engage in meaningful conversations with them, potentially to bring some kind of business value to help them reap tangible returns on investment with their time spent at your show.

Event attendees also want to learn new and exciting content. Whether it be navigating through the grid of exhibitor booths collecting brochures as they pass, listening to sporadic product showcases that litter the exhibition floor, or attending conference sessions hosted by thought leading speakers who are experts in the industry.

Delegate feedback at global events have consistently revealed as good as the experience may be, the chief aspect attracting them to attend the event year after year basically boils down to relevant contacts and enriching content.

Whatever technology thats being used, it needs to solve these two fundamentals first.

It is never a game of who has more features

Have you ever heard the saying — too many cooks spoil the broth — or — simplicity is the ultimate sophistication — or — less is more — ? Is gamification really necessary sometimes?

Always ask yourself whether a feature that you are investing in has the potential to bring real business value to your attendees and your event. If there is no clear value, chances are the feature will come at an unnecessary expense or complexity. Look for technologies, applications, platforms and solutions that are easy to setup. For instance, does the setup require months or days? Also do the features solve an inherent need, or are you being hoodwinked by novelty gimmicks?

In-app games are a good example in some cases. It may seem exciting to gamify your event, but you would need to invest a lot of time and effort into make this feature widely and wildly used by your attendees. Worst, if you managed to get a sponsor for this, then you would also have to prove its value to your sponsors in dollars and cents. Don’t be fooled by the spike in engagement at first launch, the difficulty comes in sustaining that level of engagement throughout the event.

Networking features are another good example. A large number of apps (and the number continues to grow) claim to have networking features, but there is actually a very wide range in abilities among them. Some platform simply allow attendees to connect through social media. Others just provide a basic chat feature. There was once I had to delete the application within an hour of downloading it onsite because I was spammed with messages every minute by different people! In most cases, only platforms with a 360° engagement process, backed by relevant user interest will produce higher event satisfaction.

Learn and be empowered with the data

Our industry thrives on data, that’s why the MICE community is constantly talking about data and investing in data analytics or data mining tools to get as much pertinent information about an attendees’ behaviour, and most importantly interest. As more and more technology is used at events, more digital touch-points are being established with delegates via pre, during and post event engagements. It is at this level where I believe the true playing field for event organising lies.

Any event organiser who is able to marry the technology implemented together with acute data-driven objectives and assessments will be the winner at the end of the day.

A technology that enables you will be able provide transparent engagement metrics — clicks, views, download rates . Because knowing these numbers, for instance the percentage of adoption, not only proves whether you’re using the right channels to get to your audience, but also clearly shows you how your investment into that particular technology is being spent. I know of an organiser that spent over 10K on an application with just 100+ downloads amongst a much bigger pool of attendees. That’s painful.

When you’re ready, take this a step further by also understanding how deeply attendees use various features. This will give you valuable feedback to iterate your process further.

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