Originally published in Engage Magazine, download your free copy here.
Let’s talk about Marks & Spencer, or any other major retailer with an online and physical presence. Not your typical way to start an events industry focussed column, I’ll admit, but bear with me. We take it for granted that stores like M&S use technology to analyse what products are selling best.
If we accept this approach as normal in our high street, why do we have such a hard time getting our heads round it with our events?
Say a group of your attendees are particularly interested in plastic cups. They’ve registered their unique interests and, with this evidence-based knowledge, you have a way of specifically tailoring their experience.
When they arrive you can provide them with smart badges to guide them towards the plastic cup exhibitors. This type of interaction should be the industry standard.
‘Smart’ technology in events and exhibitions has been around for years, but for some reason there is still low adoption, that we see in everyday life around us. Imagine the possibilities if smart technology was embraced by our industry.
By harnessing technology to create better experiences for all parties involved in our events’ ecosystems, we can create a more sustainable and progressive industry.
Lets look at three core event stakeholders: visitors, exhibitors and the organiser.
Remember a few years back when event apps were the big thing? Everyone said that you had to have one in order to engage your attendees. Well, that wasn’t necessarily true. While apps can be a great resource for both your attendees and your exhibitors, we’ve all realised that 100 per cent adoption is a pipe dream.
This is where technology like smart badges really comes into its own. Smart badges are handed out to every single attendee – from the minute they step onto the show floor they have this powerful little tool at their fingertips.
They’re in control of their digital briefcase and collect the materials that are the most relevant to their needs and goals.
One of the benefits of smart technology for exhibitors is the ability to react in real time to what is resonating on their booth with potential buyers. Exhibitors are now equipped with a multitude of ways to maximise their return from exhibiting.
Whether an exhibitor is collecting qualified leads, for example with the Visit Connect lead retrieval app or via Poken touchpoints, the exhibitor can see, in real time, how their booth is performing.
They can see instantly what products are generating interest, which booth staff are performing well and they can measure how the event is working for them.
For organisers, using smart technology should be a no-brainer. It’s about being smarter about what you’re selling in order to increase your stakeholders’ experiences and your bottom line.
Organisers can start to think beyond selling square metres and, dare I say it, start selling more intelligently. So why this little rant about smart technology? Because this is the way forward for events and exhibitions.
The whole point is to create better experience and enhanced engagement. Organisers, exhibitors and attendees all coexist in an ecosystem, and engagement is the glue keeping that ecosystem together.
We have to change our mentality towards smart technology, it will help us shape a better, more engaged future for our industry.