5 TECHNOLOGIES THAT WILL MAKE EVENTS STAND OUT IN 2015
IIn 2014 many sectors of the event industry experienced a significant shift in how they use event-focused technologies. Thanks to increased adoption of mobile based technologies, further inroads into advanced reporting and analytics, and new approaches to increase attendee participation, many conferences are benefiting from next-generation thinking and tools. These trends will continue in 2015 and likely define how we will see it a year from now. Here’s a look at 5 technologies that will make events stand out as industry leaders in 2015.
1. Mobile Event Apps
This list isn’t in order of importance but it’s a good bet event apps will be the tool with the largest impact on the conference industry in 2015. I predict this for two reasons. First, mobile device usage is at an all-time high, even amongst self-professed luddites. Second, mobile app providers are more numerous, which has led to innovation through competition and to lower prices. Though incorporating a mobile event app into your event won’t draw attention quite like it would have in 2014, not having one will make it stand out for the wrong reasons in 2015.
Mobile event apps will continue to replace existing processes and improve upon the tools and functionality they already offer. Online event management has already begun to replace replace paper-based assets such as programs, schedules, promotional materials, and maps. Event apps will further improve upon tools for attendee registration, engagement and communication, tracking ROI, and revenue generation. Some notable improvements will be in online and social media networking, advanced polling and surveys, highly interactive and customizable schedules, and integrated gamification. While we will surely see improvements to the conference planning tools already offered, we will also likely see entirely new mobile based technologies.
iBeacons were one such technology to be introduced in 2014 and will likely have a significant impact in 2015. These low-power, low cost Bluetooth transmitters have up to a 50 meter (150 foot) range. They have been used primarily for gamification and highly accurate location services, though we may see new use cases as the technology proliferates. As it stands, iBeacons are used chiefly by large, tech based conferences and tradeshows. We expect to see conferences outside of this sector begin to incorporate them in 2015.
Notable uses to look out for may include personalized welcome and other location-based alert notifications, social media networking and information exchange, and more sophisticated applications for gamification. For more on on this emerging technology check out my article 5 Ways iBeacons Could Make a Splash in the Event Industry.
While analytics won’t likely make an impact that is easily obvious to attendees, it will make your event noteworthy to your clients and sponsors. Analytics give you the power to back up your business decisions with real data, prove your ROI, offer greater personalization to participants and greater insight into their behavior. Analytics can now measure marketing effectiveness, attendee interests, participation levels, preferred mobile platforms, sponsorship and advertising ROI, real-time usage statistics, audience retention rates, level of networking activity, guidance needed, and the impact of your incentives.
Many events currently gather analytics, so for 2015 you’ll have to take the next step and use real-time information to improve the event experience. As every touch is trackable, you can use this data to make informed decisions mid-event that could have a major impact on the success of your event.
In 2015 the combination of social media and mobile event apps will offer a wide range of new attendee engagement opportunities. The most successful conferences will facilitate attendee participation by using real-time polling, gamification, and improved networking. In 2015 we will see the emergence of more conferences, especially the meetings, organized from the “bottom up” rather than the “top down”. At these meetings, session topics and discussions will be influenced by the participants. By polling attendees through online or in-app surveys, event session managers can ensure that the topics are relevant and engaging to their attendees, and attendees will have a real say in what they wish to discuss. At outstanding events in 2015 the transition from “attendee” to “participant” will continue.
In 2014 a number of notable events, including CES 2014, used gamification very successfully. The gamification of events is not new, but with new, powerful ways to implement it we can expect to see a significant increase in adoption in 2015. Armed with mobile apps, iBeacons, and analytics, event organizers can use this method to gather actionable intel to improve the overall event experience. Gamification also gives sponsors new ways to interact with attendees providing valuable new lead generation opportunities. For attendees, gamification provides an entertaining way to experience the event that speaks to people’s competitive nature. It’s not surprising that this technology will continue to emerge as a big trend in 2015. The gamification of events is a logical extension of the trend of gamification we can observe emerging in many other aspects of daily life.
Are you planning to incorporate any of these technologies into your 2015 events? Or maybe you plan to leverage a technology we didn’t mention here? Leave your comments below or you can send us a tweet at @Attendease.