Technology is affecting all business and personal activities in a positive way. With the growth in Information, Communication and Technology sector a paradigm shift has taken place in every business activity. With this scenario a spike in increase of technology is seen in how corporate events are conducted and managed. With time old methods are taking a backseat and making way for technology, which is improving reach, ROI as well as engagement with the customers and prospects. Marketers need to take full advantage of technology in order to keep up with pole position.
Let’s see how technology is bringing a paradigm shift in corporate event management.
Use of social media
There is hardly anyone today who is not on any social media network. With social media networks, participants interact with planners before the event, during the event as well as after the event. For example, for venue selection, planners pose a question on social media sites, asking prospective participants which venue would be suitable to them? This creates an engagement months before the event take place. Another example is if there is questions and answers session in the event, event managers ask the prospective attendees to tweet their questions. And a best question is selected from such tweets. Again this creates an engagement prior to the event.
With LinkedIn event planners get to know all the professional details of attendees who were unknown to the planners before this. These professional details are very helpful in planning and targeting the event.
Social media is used for post event activities as well. Companies do ask this question on social media as to which part of event attendees liked most. And these answers are used very effectively while organizing next event. Social media is becoming most prominent promotion tool for event managers.
One such example can be given of ‘nh7 weekender’. It is a live music festival featuring number of bands. What organizers did was they posted number of photographs taken from event at different times on Facebook. And they asked people to find their own photograph from the huge set of pictures and tag themselves.
Increasing attendee interaction
With advancements in electronics and wireless communication tools, attendees can interact with speakers, organizers during event. For example speaker wants to check awareness of attendees on certain issue, then he can use a poll. With an electronic device in attendees’ hands they can select the option they think is right and speaker will get the result of the poll almost instantly. This helps speakers in a way that they can mould their speech as per the knowledge level and awareness exhibited by attendees. Specifically an audience response system can be implemented to leverage attendee interaction.
Breaking geographical barriers with help of online streaming and video conferencing
Due to availability of high speed internet, events are going live. With the advent of video sharing sites and video conferencing tools events are no more restricted by smaller geography. With correct planning and promotion event planners can make their event international.
A very prominent example of this can be given as ‘YouTube FanFest – India’ in Mumbai. YouTube fan festivals feature video bloggers, video creators around the world. This event truly became an international event. Although event took place in Mumbai it was streamed live on YouTube. And today that event is seen by close to 3 lac people around the world.
Benefit of online video conferencing is, speakers don’t need to be present on premise of event. They can deliver their message through video conferencing tools like Skype, Google Hangouts or something similar.
Example of this can be given as ‘Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad’ is an initiative of HRD ministry and MIT Institutes, Pune. In year 2012 Anu Aga of Thermax Ltd were supposed to address an audience of students from all over the India in Pune. But due to some issues she was not able to come to location. However her keynote was not cancelled and it was delivered through Skype.
Breaking language barriers
With text to screen converters, participants see the subtitles appearing on screen. This is very helpful for the people who don’t understand the language the speaker or anyone who is conducting event is talking in. This is further extended by showing subtitles in multiple languages, where participant can choose the language of his choice and understand the keynote speaker perfectly.
Today almost everyone owns a smartphone. Event planners take advantage of mobiles and create the content for events which is mobile friendly. This helps in reduction in use of papers and other physical promotional and other material required for events. Even a mobile app can be created to promote the event. Due to emergence of number of online services that provide DIY mobile apps, cost of developing an app is reducing day by day and this is used to great advantage by event planners.
Virtual events go one step ahead of what we spoke earlier about either remote speaker or remote audience. Here in virtual events, both speakers and attendees are in the event virtually and not physically. With the advent of communication tools like GoToWebinar, Cisco WebEx etc. events are conducted online without anyone being physically present at the venue. Here your web browser itself becomes place of an event. With such events, companies are able to plan and manage events with a very low investment. Another benefit is increase in frequency of events. With these events, right from invitations to registrations to actual event to question and answers session and post event activities are all carried out with the use of internet and communication tools.
Recording of events
Time availability is the biggest issue for attendees these days. With the busy schedule people are unable to attend live events, even if they are virtual. Sometimes people are unable to attend the event in case due to time zone difference. So people who were unable to attend event were able to see it on DVDs or CDs. But again it is costly and time consuming way of showing and distributing recordings. However with the rise of online video streaming sites like Vimeo and YouTube, event planners upload these recordings within minutes and distribution of these recorded events takes place very quickly.
Another advantage is these sites provide data analytics of viewers of videos. So you can easily find out the geography, demography of the viewers. This data helps event management companies and organizers in other marketing tools as well as planning of next events.
With the use of technology in events, a lot of data is generated about prospective and actual attendees. This data is generated from various sources, some of these are
- Social media: We can come to know about, who is actively participating in pre event activities on social media, who is talking about our event, who is giving a feedback and what it is?
- Online streaming sites: As said earlier, online streaming sites provide a very detailed analysis of viewers of recorded and live streaming.
- Data generated from website visitors who are visiting a page that is promoting the event or taking the registrations.
- Data collected during the events like feedback forms and questions gathering activity for Q and A session.
This data is an asset to event management team. It can be inserted in CRMs and can be used for other marketing activities as well, of course a permission is required from registrant in this case. Planners can segment this data as per geography, demography, interests etc. And as per the event you are carrying out you can promote this event to a targeted audience rather than general audience. With targeted promotion of events, number of specific events can be carried out for a certain segment rather than few generalized events for masses.
There are new technologies like NFC (Near field communication) that will further enhance the in-event experience of attendee. With NFC, event planners will be able to deliver a personalized experience to attendee. With other mobile technologies also making headway, nametags and ID badges, on premise registration will become automatic and hassle free. Papers will totally vanish from events making it environment friendly as well.
As we can see from above points, technology is helping event planners a great deal. Its increasing use in event management is not at all surprising. All the activities that take place pre-event, during event and post-event are benefitted from technology.Event management companies should take advantage of all the technologies available to them and make sure they keep up with advancements taking place. One thing is clear use of technology in event management is going to increase in corporate world, and event management companies and organizations must embrace it.