Location-aware technologies, drones for next-level footage, augmented/virtual reality devices to create engaging consumer experiences – event technologies are rapidly changing and they get easier to use (and less expensive) as they progress!
And this brings both good and bad news.
The bad news: event professionals are hard-pressed to keep up with the arrival of new technologies at breakneck speed.
The good news however: you don’t have to try or adopt every shiny object in the event industry. You can – and should – focus on the absolute essentials and you’ll be just fine!
CUSTOMIZED EVENT WEBSITE
Having an event website (one that’s separate from your company or business website) provides numerous advantages including:
- Greater flexibility as you can include sections for attendees, sponsors, volunteers, etc. without interfering with your company website’s content, giving potential attendees a better experience.
- Better branding since you can design the site around your event’s annual theme and topic, a good way to stand out from the competition.
- Provide better value and extra exposure to sponsors by placing their logos in the most visible areas of the event website.
Now, you have numerous options to create a customized website for your conference or exhibit. You can use the design tools from your chosen all-in-one management software, create a sub-domain with a completely different layout and design, or build one from scratch using WordPress.
Whichever route you take however, you need to pay attention to key elements and features of your website so potential attendees get motivated and pumped up to hit the “Register Now” button:
- Event name: An event’s name can help people tell if your conference or seminar is a good fit. If the name isn’t clear enough to convey what the event is about, include a short description.
- Important details: This includes the date, year, and full location of the venue so visitors don’t have to guess if it’s an event they CAN attend.
- Content sneak-peek: Showcase your speakers, Q&A panel, celebrity guests, and the content they’ll bring to the event. Don’t forget to include other activities like breakfasts, happy hours, games, etc.
- Mobile Responsive: The number of mobile-only internet users has exceeded their desktop counterparts in the US. Chances are, your potential attendees are looking at your website through their smartphone or tablet. Make sure your website and its forms look their best across all devices.
- “Register Now” Buttons: Don’t just leave one on your homepage. Make sure you have one at the most visited pages and sections of the website so visitors can easily sign up.
Trade shows, exhibits, and bazaars have numerous revenue generators: sponsorships, exhibitor fees, merchandise sales, and more. However, registrations top the list by a large margin, accounting for 50% of an event’s revenue!
Making the sign-up process as easy and smooth as silk makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? And that’s what online registration platforms are all about.
Taking your event registration online eliminates the need for attendees to print the registration form, write down their information, and send the form back to you.
And more importantly, attendees won’t have to worry about losing their spot (and payment) as online registration platforms send confirmation emails with registration details they can easily reference.
Event pros too can save a lot of time and money with online registration. No paper forms and spreadsheets to sift through, and no postage and printing costs to take a good chunk of the event’s budget.
MOBILE EVENT APP
Mobile event apps have replaced the thick binders and paper program stacks, and attendees love it! By 2016, 56% of attendees are expected to use mobile event apps, and that number goes up to 94% for the biggest events.
The right mobile event app doesn’t just minimize paper usage at events, it also nails down the top 3 key drivers for attendance:
- Education: People go to conventions and conferences to keep up with the latest trends and developments in their respective industries. You want a mobile event app that shows attendees what’s coming their way – the speakers complete with detailed profiles, topics for discussion, the complete schedule, along with an itinerary builder so participants can choose which sessions to attend.
- Networking: While important for just about every attendee, Generation Y Millennials, in particular, are keen about networking in events as they’re still building up their list of valuable contacts. Your mobile app should contain the list of attendees, private messaging features, and matchmaking tools so people at your event can easily get together with like-minded individuals.
- Socialization opportunities: Face-to-face meetings are still important to attendees even in this day and age when just about every interaction can be done virtually. Look for a mobile app that gamifies and encourages interactions with other attendees.
SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT TOOL
A 2015 research involving 200 US marketers who engaged in real-time marketing (RTM) found that 55% of the participants used RTM to promote events.
The same report agreed that social media is the ideal place to interact with potential attendees and provide timely response to trends and inquiries.
However, event marketing via social media comes with a major problem: it can get time-consuming. And with other tasks to juggle like venue inspection, booking speakers and entertainers, meeting with sponsors and more, staying up to speed with your social media campaigns becomes next to impossible!
Fortunately, tools like Buffer and Hootsuite come to the rescue. These social media management solutions are packed with features that let you build your event’s presence on the most popular social networks:
- Schedule tweets (and retweets) at a time when your audience is most active for maximum impact.
- Monitor and join conversations with your official hashtag before, during, and after the event – indispensable for engaging with followers and attendees.
- Link to RSS feeds of blogs – including those of sponsors, speakers, and yours – so you’ll never run out of industry-related content your attendees will love.
Recommended Reading: Check out this post from the Buffer Blog where Kim Reynolds, a key part of the team behind Social Media Marketing World, shares how she uses social media (and Buffer) to publicize an event.
EVENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE (EMS)
The growing number of all-in-one management software isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Matter of fact, the global market for event management tools is forecasted to grow to $9.28B by 2020 – and it’s easy to see why.
Cloud-based management tools like Cvent, EventBrite, and Bizzabo are cost-effective, easy to deploy, highly scalable, and convenient to access – making them an appealing choice whether you have 50 or 5,000 attendees.
Event planners and organizers can count on the EMS’ centralized database to provide consistent information, which they can use to quickly create reports like the number of registrants, room reservations necessary, revenue generated, and more.
The best management technologies also offer tools for better event marketing: from web design tools to create customized and mobile-friendly sites, email marketing features including easy-to-use HTML editors, to social sharing tools so attendees can spread the word – all under one platform.
GAME APPS AND PLATFORMS
Gamification Defined: The addition of typical game-like elements such as point-scoring, competition, and rules of play to non-game activities to encourage participation by tapping into human’s natural desire for achievement.
The gamification industry is experiencing rapid growth, expected to grow to an $11.10B-market by 2020. Why? Because it works!
Business owners use gamification to create products and services that engage and motivate their target users. For 91% of employees across US companies, workplace gamification improves their work experience and productivity.
And last but not the least, 63% of event planners gamify their breakout sessions to create a sense of friendly competition among attendees while encouraging them to freely share ideas.
But there’s one hurdle to overcome: running games at events with the usual pen and paper is often tedious and time-consuming.
Enter online gamification platforms. LoQuiz and other similar apps allow event professionals to set up games for different events and clients, add engaging elements (ex: images and videos), while staying paperless and minimizing the game’s environmental impact.
Whether you want to run a…
- Simple quiz
- Outdoor photo- or treasure-hunt
- Scavenger hunt
- Or even a “Snake and Ladder”-like game out in the streets
…there’s an app for that!
About the author
Mark Kao is the marketing director for COSRental, a UK-based A/V and equipment supplier for events of all sizes including the Int’l Confex and Event Tech Live.