I enjoy keeping up with the latest technology that is available to our industry. I subscribe to many publications, speak with peers and attend industry trade shows with the intent of learning new and intriguing ways to tell my clients’ stories to an audience.
Most recently, I visited EventTech in Las Vegas. I had attended this conference two years ago and decided to return once again. It is a great opportunity to get hands-on demonstrations of the latest technology and sit in on three days’ worth of best practices, case studies and expanded learnings.
As I walked the exhibit show floor, I noticed that in this fast-changing world the reality was that not much has changed since my last visit. Many suppliers were touting the latest beacons, augmented reality, virtual reality and even mixed reality, but my reality was these have all been available for a few years now. Rather than just receiving a demonstration of the reality bending technology (as per my last visit) I found myself having more informed and educated discussions; both my knowledge and the technology suppliers sales pitch was enriched. The mainstream adoption, advances in technology and reduction of the price tag meant that in that interim period most of us (even outside of the events industry) now have personal experiences and points of reference with virtual technology. This allowed more confident exploration of the more practical and tangible applications for its use in different event scenarios.
This is evident in everyday life as well as the realm of events. Even my nieces have Crayola Color Alive, which is a coloring book that integrates with an app to bring your coloring to life through augmented reality. My cousin has the new Samsung Gear VR and can run virtual reality apps right through his phone.
Most conference attendees have had so much experience with new technology, we can no longer rely on technology alone to pique the interest of our attendees. We need to offer a deeper reward to entice our audience to want to engage with our stories and content.
We are being increasingly challenged by our clients and partners to develop creative ways to deliver content and messages to audiences in a way that makes the engagement as passive as possible in terms of a commitment from the attendee. Attendees are no longer willing to download a special app, wait in line for a VR headset or wear a special bracelet to partake in an experience simply under the guise of it being ‘cool technology’. Is it becoming passé?
So how do we overcome this challenge? I believe there are two areas that we need to focus on when considering how to best implement technology. How can we make the experience as accessible as possible? How can we ensure that it is rewarding enough to warrant the participation of the audience? In other words, how do we create the art of appeal?
Firstly, it is important to explore many options before deciding on the best way to deploy technology at your event. If you intend to do polling or utilize augmented reality, as an example, will you require the audience to download a separate app to engage with or can that be bundled in as a new module into your existing event app? If not, would it make more sense to potentially issue iPads to your audience that are preloaded with any requisite apps for ease of use? These can already be connected to Wi-Fi and contain all pertinent information related to your particular event. Furthermore, if you wanted to introduce RFID to help track attendees, could you not use beacons instead to keep the tracking within the event app that is already being utilized?
There are always a number of ways to accomplish your event goals. The key is to keep an open mind as you explore the objectives, and develop ideas around the potential solutions, rather than speaking with technology vendors attempting to sell you a particular solution.
Next, you need to ensure that you create an experience that is worthy of your audience’s investment. In order to achieve this, you must have a deep understanding of your audience. Without critical insight into your audience, it is incredibly difficult to create an experience that speaks to them. If you can construct a session with personalized messaging built around insights and combine it with appropriate technology then you are creating the art of appeal. This will ultimately lead to more authentic and emotionally moving sessions that inspire actions.
By David Kerr.