To Tech, Or Not To Tech, That Is The Question


I recently attended Event Tech Live, anticipating an exciting day of exploring next generation technology that will support our clients’ event activity. The event didn’t disappoint. It was great to get insights into new products but also understand the developments, enhancements and evolution of some of the more established brands in the market.

Don’t worry, I don’t intend to take you through each piece of tech individually. Instead, I thought I would focus on two specific conversations; ROI (through an innovative solution) and the seemingly continued tendency of event organisers to use tech without considering the objectives. Do we always need tech? I know you must be questioning my sanity about writing a tech blog about not having tech. Have I gone mad? Well I’d like to think not, but you can make up your own minds once you’ve digested my thoughts.

All clients want to know about ROI from an event. It is a consistent conversation irrespective of the event type and quite rightly so. Marketing, PR and digital sectors are able to provide metrics to demonstrate the ROI and encourage future spend. The event industry, despite talking about it repeatedly, still doesn’t have a recognised and universally accepted means to do this. How can tech help us with this problem? Tech has allowed us to develop both the speed and uptake of surveys from an event, but how truthful are these? Would you send a negative comment about your experience or would you submit what you thought a company wanted to hear?

Imagine not having to worry about this level of ROI. What if you could get to the end of a conference and display not only how long people had spent looking at an exhibition stand or the footfall that came through the door, but actually how they felt about an experience, without ever having to ask them. This facial recognition tech was showcased through a camera that can track the details of an individual’s actual emotional response to a given item, message or idea. This in itself is information which can not only be used to understand how your message is being received but focus and target your messaging even further on what motivates delegates.

An interesting conversation then ensued, where the discussion turned to conferences, and as the technology is being developed it is hoped that they can advance this into the meeting room environment. Imagine having the ability to actually know when a message is really being listened to and engaged with, or knowing when it’s time to switch to a new topic during a discussion because your delegates attention has lapsed or diverted. Whilst in its infancy at the moment, the data that these systems can collect is unbelievable. Given another 12 months, hopefully we will see a dramatic development allowing this to be deployed in multiple settings.

Onto my next point. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t use and showcase technologies, but it should be done in a way conducive to the message and help achieve objectives. Too many times clients will suggest tech because they want their conference to be seen as innovative or forward-thinking but in today’s world, wouldn’t it be more forward thinking to not use it?

Let’s focus on my earlier pondering of whether we actually need tech at events. Obviously we always need an element of it, be that sound, lighting or visual projection, but beyond this, is our sector guilty of suggesting technology for the wrong reasons – whether that be ignorance, perhaps to increase revenue on a project or a multitude of other possible reasons. I have sat in many meetings where clients say they want to be innovative, so decide on using an app. Now I’m not saying that apps can’t be innovative, but surely the innovation comes from the messaging which we craft for our clients and the relevance and appropriateness of the platform and message delivery method to achieve their objectives.

At SPARK THINKING we pride ourselves on understanding our clients’ objectives and the macro and micro environments they operate in. By having this meaningful understanding we can often uncover concealed insights, unmet needs and can suggest the best programme, content and tech to achieve ROI. Key to having challenging conversations – like talking a client out of using their favoured tech or spending more on a new piece of tech – is forging a partnership built on trust and delivering impactful solutions.

As a closing thought, be strong and persuasive. We are the experts in our field. Lean on those around you and involve your teams to get the best outcomes for your client. Working in production, I am drawn to technological solutions but always question whether (and how) we can deliver the message in other ways.

Event Tech Live 2017

Event Tech Live 2017

Event Tech Live 2017

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