By Amanda Peterson, Enlightened Digital
Technology has undoubtedly changed almost every aspect of our lives, and for the event planner, the way we manage events. Technology is progressively changing the way events are planned and executed, what guests do on-site, and even how they are evaluated. Amidst the sea of music festivals, trade shows, and sporting events this season, event marketers have incorporated technology trends in some of the most unique ways to date. We’ve listed the top three trends that are sure to take over the events industry, and included the best ways they have been implemented this summer.
Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is quickly rising in popularity within the events industry. RFID is frequently replacing traditional ticketing and payment methods, as it can be embedded in wristbands and other wearables. Though just a minor change in your registration or ticketing strategy, RFID technology has the power to help you speed up admission, minimize costs, and collect specific data on attendees. It significantly facilitates entrance to your event, providing a solution for multi-day entry and VIP-exclusive passes. RFID-equipped wristbands or tickets can essentially create a personalized “user profile” for each individual which stores admission options, forms of payment, and general information, like age and email address. RFID registration systems have granted event managers access to more data on their attendees than ever before, which they can utilize to assess attendees’ patterns and preferences. Event managers can obtain real-time data throughout the course of the event, detailing sales volume, quantity of guests, and even populated event zones.
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By far one of the most helpful uses of RFID technology occurred at Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City. Music festivals, usually comprised of massive crowds with thousands of guests, are typically faced with many logistical issues. The long lines for food and beverages are often tedious, and incidents like losing your wallet are quite the norm. Citi and Founders Entertainment partnered for this June’s festival to create a solution to these problems. Guests could pre-order their exclusive RFID-enabled wristband, which they could enter online and link to their Citi credit card. Not only did the wristband provide access to a private elevated viewing deck for musical performances, but streamlined the guest experience when waiting in lines. A vendor selling beverages at the event testified to the ease of this technology, stating that “about 60%” of his patrons used the wristbands and that his lines moved more quickly than years past. RFID ticketing systems are a great way to cut down time spent waiting in lines, and allow your guests to truly enjoy the event.
Artificial intelligence is gaining traction across almost every industry, but it has become incredibly effective for event management. Incorporating chatbots into your next event will allow attendees to carry AI technology right in their pockets; they can utilize chatbots as a helpful tool throughout the course of the event. Chatbots enabled through Facebook Messenger can answer guests’ questions ranging anywhere from activity recommendations, to locating the closest restrooms. In fact, 73% of people prefer asking questions through live chat, rather than phone or email. Using artificial intelligence at events minimizes question or confusion within attendees, and provides them with an optimal guest experience. With quick answers to all questions, guests can flow from one activity to the next with ease. Chatbots can also provide useful information to the event’s staff. Attendees can notify the chatbot if a parking lot is full or a room is hot, for example, and staff can communicate with the guest through a private support channel. From there, the event’s team can make instantaneous modifications. When this information is regularly updated for the chatbot, it’s able to answer questions that may not have been previously anticipated. The usage of quick response will yield a positive atmosphere, and create a more satisfying guest experience.
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This summer’s Wimbledon tennis tournament utilized bots powered by IBM Watson to find a new way to serve its global audience. The two-week long tournament obtains a flood of questions regarding player statistics, match times, and even where to buy the best strawberries on-site. Utilizing their tool, referred to as Wimbledon Messenger, people both in attendance and at home, were able to receive proactive alerts about the event. Simon Boyden, chief architect for IBM at Wimbledon, noted that “a social platform like Facebook is where people are increasingly going to get their updates.” The IBM team found that the more questions the chatbot was asked, the better the technology became. Over the course of the tournament, it gained a better understanding of the event, and could answer queries more specifically. Utilizing chatbots in event strategy is an effective way to streamline your guests’ experience, devoid of uncertainty.
Virtual reality is booming in experiential events. It heightens the experience for guests on location, even bringing them to “another dimension,” but also can incorporate those not in attendance. Virtual reality simulates a unique real life environment, immersing the user in both an auditory and sensory adventure. It’s powerful in that it can break through barriers of time and location, which often can be limiting factors for event planners. No matter where in the world people are located, with VR, anyone is able to participate in an event activity. Virtual speakers or performers can be viewed through the many offerings for virtual reality, accessible to anyone with a mobile device. Virtual reality is additionally successful for sales pitches or trade shows; it has been found that when a buyer was presented with a virtual reality version of a product, they were 135% more likely to purchase it. Using VR for a product tutorial or virtual tour is sure to leave a lasting impression on potential buyers and leave them excited to purchase.
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For the 2018 FIFA World Cup, several channels, including BBC Sport and Telemundo, offered virtual reality showings of each of the sixty-four games. For the first time, viewers were able to experience watching each game from the perspective of a VIP suite. The VR experience allowed spectators to watch the game, but also experience things inside the suite like the bar and other people. Soccer fans were able to ditch traditional viewing options, like the television and attain a personalized, accessible, and well-designed experience. The Telemundo mobile app also featured 360° content for both the opening and closing ceremonies. The progression toward digital capabilities were well-suited for the event, as soccer is the most “multicultural and millennial sport in the U.S.,” according to Peter E. Blacker, Telemundo’s EVP of Digital and Emerging Business.
Where have you utilized technology in your event planning? Comment in the box below.