Digital technology is changing our lives from the moment we wake up til the second we go to bed, and it’s no different in the event industry. Artificial Intelligence, live streaming, robotics, Internet of Things and more are changing the game – it’s not enough to keep up with the status quo anymore. But with so many things at the top of an event manager’s to-do list, it’s hard to know where to start.
One of the most common complaints that plagues events and tradeshows is something which ties all of the above together – WiFi. More than half of trade shows and event planners report ongoing issues with WiFi at events. Good quality internet for the delegates’ needs must be a priority for you. There are a number of digital hacks you can take advantage of to make sure your connection is the best for your event, and serves the purpose of what your audience wants.
1 – Preparation is Key
If a network goes down at an event, it can have an effect on all stakeholders. Speakers can be left frustrated if they can’t use technology effectively while on-stage, and delegates will be disappointed if they can’t connect. This can lead them to vent their frustrations out on other people who may be put off going to your event next year.
As soon as the venue is confirmed and you have an idea of the number of people attending, look into your infrastructure. Many events offer unreliable WiFi which likely hasn’t been designed for open access or public use, and cannot stretch far enough to manage increased footfall and demand. This can also cause the connection to take a dip in peak times. Don’t let technology be an afterthought.
2 – Overestimate your Number of Guests
The larger an event is, the more difficult it is to provide good WiFi. A network that is designed for a house or a business is not going to be able to accommodate an area which has thousands of people logging in. Look into the number of guests and overestimate what they might need and how hungry they will be to use the WiFi. If you’re expecting 500 people, cater your network to more. Of course, trade centres and exhibition halls may usually have their own network in place, but it’s unlikely to be strong enough to withhold a sudden influx of people at your event which may need streaming and other digital tools. Consider working with a WiFi management specialist who can help with the end-to-end network which is right for you.
3 – Digital Comms Tools
Customer experience is arguably the most important element of running an event. Whether it’s a corporate hospitality day or technology trade exhibition, communication plays a main role from start to finish.
Use digital tools which can simplify this process for you. Eventbrite can create a listings page with built-in payment processing and handy analytics tools so you can manage and track sales in real-time, with reporting and analytics from any device at all. Use these insights to make the customer journey even better for next year. CRM tools can help you communicate with customers after the event has taken place to source crucial data on what has gone well, and what can be improved upon for next year. Solutions such as SurveyMonkey allow you to capture feedback digitally and professionally too.
4 – Make Use of Apps
The customer journey during the exhibition is full of situations where an app could come in useful. Apps can increase your RoI, and offer a solution to boost engagement and help make delegates lives’ easier. If they get lost, offer an interactive Google map included in your event app, so they can know where to go for each stand, but also know when keynote speeches are and have extra information prior to the event such as recommended hotels and parking.
An app is an affordable way to help delegates know speech times, but also to promote your sponsors more heavily, to satisfy their advertising needs. And your exhibitors can shine – take note of what this innovative app does and take advantage of technology which tells an exhibitor when a visitor passes their stand with an instant notification.
5 – Interactivity Tools
Speaking of apps, there are a plethora of tools and downloadable apps designed to encourage more interactivity at events. And interactivity is crucial – it’s the digital era, so people want to feel like they can be a part of your event, or at least have their voice heard.
Maybe your keynote speaker wants to ask the audience a question – take advantage of mobile voting apps that give you real-time results. You can also use tools which allow presenters to share slides to delegates’ mobiles during their presentation, to encourage audience members to share the presentation on social media.
6 – Social Media Success
If you want to spread the word about your event before, during and after, then social media is your best friend – and it can be done without spending a penny. Tagging and hashtags go a long way in expanding your reach across various platforms, and delegates will no doubt be keen to post, share and stream their experience.
Consider making use of the ‘stories’ features on Facebook and Instagram, too. By encouraging others to share their experiences on their social stories in real-time, in short clips, they’re raising awareness of your event, putting it in the eyes of people and peers who may not have heard of it before.
7 – Live Stream
Live streaming isn’t as hard or technical as it sounds. It’s especially great if your budget won’t stretch to hiring a video company to capture your event. Opt for a DIY approach. Streaming is a fantastic way to continue to engage your audience with your event and reach new audiences who may be unable to attend – you just need a smartphone.
Thanks to huge advances in technology, live streaming isn’t complex, but it does depend on a decent bandwidth and a good quality phone or camera. Do a trial run first, to make sure it works.
Memorable experiences are crucial – but only if they work. These kinds of tools are dependent on the important internet connection, so people can share their experiences. Use technology to drive data-led decisions into how you can make your event bigger and better year after year.