Attendance may have taken a hit this year, but Confex 2018 in London was yet another success, bringing event planners together to discuss all things event tech.
While technology was indeed the focus, it seemed like what most were talking about was the UK's "Beast from the East" storm that coincided with the conference, bringing with it several inches of snow and some of the worst winter weather conditions the region has seen in decades. Because of this, trains were delayed and an estimated 2,000 fewer attendees were able to make Confex this year, but here are some of the highlights we noticed despite the dip:
Fantastic examples of emerging event tech
Event technology is constantly evolving into previously unforeseen territories, like artificial intelligence, virtual reality, facial recognition, and so much more. This was evident when keynote speaker Janet Street-Porter, broadcaster and journalist, wow-ed the Confex audience by taking to the stage next to hologram of herself. With a speech emphasizing on new experiences, she is quoted as saying to event planners: "You need to offer more than the predictable, reliable and familiar...To have a memorable experience changes how I see the world for the rest of the year. We are no longer just buying stuff, but instead we are now spending money on doing things."
Wearables, Biometrics & the Internet of Things
Aventri's Brecht Fourneau, director of digital marketing, led a well-attended session all about another event tech trend: wearables. Wearable devices such as smart badges and biometric measurement tools offer new insights on the engagement levels of event attendees. With the added value of the Internet of Things, he explained how biometric and other wearable devices contribute to great experiences and how to successfully deploy these exciting new technologies for better insights into attendee behavior and a greater return on investment.
GDPR: The big elephant in the room
We couldn't cover Confex and not mention what everyone in Europe is concerned about at the moment, and that is the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With the May 25 deadline to comply looming over our heads, event planners in Europe and around the world are taking steps to ensure they are meeting all of the new requirements listed in the regulation, which revolve around protection, consent, transparency and storage of EU citizen data. With several sessions and even decor devoted to the topic, the need for GDPR resources and education in the meetings and events industry was palpable.