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Event Intelligence Series Part 4: Finally, We Can Talk About Technology

Steven Yellen |

Event attendees walking through the exhibit hall Welcome back to the Aventri W.I.N. (What I Need) Series Event Intelligence Edition. We’ve come to the fourth and penultimate installment in the series. Today, we will talk about an area of event intelligence that we get a lot of questions on — choosing the right event intelligence technology.

Before we dive into our topic, let’s do a quick recap of the first three posts:

  • In Part 1, we defined what event intelligence is and why you should care. More specifically, we talked about how event intelligence is able to prove an event’s value to your organization.
  • In Part 2, we discussed how you can design and structure your events in order to get the answers you need. You discovered several use cases for event intelligence for both internal meetings and external consumer experiential campaigns.
  • In Part 3, we zoomed in on where event intelligence fits into tracking the offline buyer’s journey.

If you are reading this post but haven’t read the previous three, we suggest going through those first. Links are provided above for easy reference.

With that out of the way, let’s now proceed to the topic of this post — choosing an event intelligence technology.

You might be wondering:

Why only now? Isn’t technology the centerpiece of event intelligence?

Allow us to make one controversial statement.

Technology Doesn’t Matter

You might be scratching your head right now. This may sound odd coming from an events technology (Martech) vendor.

To help explain this, let’s take a look at a discipline that shares many of the practices, strategies, and tactics with events management — strategic meetings management or SMMP.

Strategic meetings management is defined as the “strategic management of enterprise-wide meeting related processes, spend, volumes, standards, and suppliers to achieve quantitative cost-savings, risk mitigation, and superior service."

When first coined by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), it released a “wheel” that represents all the crucial elements for a successful SMMP:

a “wheel” that represents all the crucial elements for a successful SMMP


Image source

Notice how technology is at the center of it all. It was first thought that the effectiveness of SMMP depends on the platforms, software, and applications that meeting planners use. After a few years, the GBTA realized technology is a tool, not the core of SMMP. So, it updated its wheel:

Updated GBTA SMMP wheel


Image source

Stakeholder engagement — getting input from everyone and anyone who has a stake in the successful execution of meetings — became the center of SMMP initiatives. And rightfully so.

This is closely related to the one concept that has so far been the recurring theme of this series’ past three posts.

Event Intelligence in Anchored on Well-Defined Goals

Event intelligence is not about using the latest and greatest technology. It’s about answering specific questions tied into specific objectives in the easiest, fastest, and most cost-efficient way possible.

If you have an internal training event involving 20 individuals from a single department and you just want to know the attendees' feedback, do you really need to spend on advanced technologies like Bluetooth or RFID?

If you’re doing a consumer event with a projected attendance of 1,000 and you want to track different consumer behaviors, is badge-scanning technology the way to go or would NFC serve the purpose better?

Your choice of event intelligence technology merely follows your overall event strategy. At the core of this strategy are well-thought-out goals. If we were to create an event intelligence wheel, it would look like this:

Aventri Event Intelligence Wheel

 

We cannot reiterate this enough: Event objectives first before anything else.

That said, let’s proceed with some of the guidelines that you can use when selecting an intelligence technology for your future events and meetings.

Active Versus Passive Technology

Simply defined, active technology requires some type of participation from your events and meetings attendees in order for you to get the data you need. Passive technology automatically “extracts” the necessary data.

Below are examples of active event intelligence technology:

  • NFC event badges
  • QR codes
  • Mobile apps

Here are examples of passive event technology:

  • Bluetooth beacons
  • RFID

To help you visualize how your choice of event intelligence technology should line up with your event objectives and the metrics that correspond to those objectives, let’s take the example of a B2B external consumer event.

After brainstorming with your team, you determined that your ultimate goal for your event is to acquire more sales, both on-site and through your follow-up digital marketing campaigns. Based on this objective, you identified that one of the metrics that you need to measure is the number of qualified leads your event generated. In this case, a qualified lead is defined as someone who stays for at least 80% of the key sessions during the event.

Graph showing the impact technology has on event objectives, more specially acquiring more sales

Now, you might be wondering, if active and passive technology can accomplish the same goal, how do you choose the best one?

Limiting Factors of Choosing an Event Intelligence Technology

This is where other factors in your event design, structure, and logistics come in. It’s rare that an event intelligence technology is solely used to gather data. Most of the time, it is tied to a few other event requirements.

For example, a piece of technology can serve both event intelligence collection and access control.

Graph showing how a piece of technology can serve both event intelligence collection and access control.


If you choose to use passive technologies such as Bluetooth or RFID, you’re able to manage the inflow and outflow of event attendees to and from the different areas in your event venue. Passive event technologies ensure a speedy flow of attendees in the different entry and exit points in your events. However, you’re sacrificing some accuracy in your event data gathering.

On the flipside, active event technologies give you high accuracy when it comes to data gathering, as you get 100% accuracy when scanning a badge or QR Code. However, since a certain type of action is required either from your attendees or staff to gain access, long lines of attendees could form in key areas affecting the navigability of your event. For high foot traffic events, this is an important consideration since long queues can easily hamper the overall event experience.

Another use case that influences your choice of event intelligence technology is inventory management for products, gifts, and giveaways. The read and write capability of NFC technology makes it the best option for this use case. NFC can also be used in networking and other applications that require devices to communicate with each other.

Keep in mind that choosing between event intelligence technologies is not an either-or scenario. You can use a hybrid of these technologies depending on your objectives and the data that you want to collect.

Technology Consultant Versus Technology Vendor

When talking about event intelligence technology, it’s inevitable to discuss how to choose a technology partner. Unless you have an army of in-house programmers and software developers, you’re probably going to require the services of a third-party provider for your events intelligence technology needs.

This is where we draw the line between a technology consultant and a technology vendor.

While a technology vendor gives you what you think you need (or what they offer), a technology consultant will take a solutions-based approach. A technology consultant will ask questions and push back if necessary to help you avoid unnecessary costs and ensure you get the required data while being cognizant to your other events requirements.

Naturally, the solutions-based approach will start with a consultant asking you a dozen questions, including but not limited to:

  • What are your event goals and objectives?
  • What are the metrics that you need to measure?
  • What are your event non-negotiables?
  • What are your priorities?
  • How do you want to see the data?
  • What reports are you planning to create?
  • Who needs access to data and how soon do they need it?
  • Do you need access control?
  • Do you need inventory management?
  • Do you need the technology to help facilitate interaction between attendees?
  • Are there any considerations specific to event sponsors?

These questions only scratch the surface of what a consultant could ask you in order to figure out the most effective and cost-efficient technology to give you what you actually need. To demonstrate this, your technology consultant should present use cases culled from previous events they were involved in. They should be able to cite examples of similar events or even similar businesses that did similar events that can guide you in your event technology planning.

Applying the 80/20 Rule

You might already be familiar with the Pareto Principle. It states that roughly 80% of the results you get come from 20% of your investments — whether its investment in time, money, manpower and other resources.

Say you want to measure 10 data points from your event. Don’t be surprised if a technology consultant asks if you can manage with 8. Why? It’s probably because getting the last two will entail a significant jump in costs or require considerably more effort.

Technology as a Means to an End

Having a sound understanding of your event objectives, the metrics you want to track, and the experience you want to give to your attendees is the core of any successful event intelligence initiative. Technology acts as an effective medium to accomplish your objectives.

That brings us to the end of this post. By now, you might be asking, what should I do next? It is just fitting that we will end this series answering this question.

Do you have questions on how to select the right event intelligence technology? Drop us a note below. If you’re already scouting for an events intelligence technology, you may contact us for an exploratory consultation.

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This Post was Written by Steven Yellen

Steve Yellen is the vice president of product strategy at Aventri.

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