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This guide was developed to help event planners around the world make better, more strategic decisions when it comes to onsite event technology. Discover what technology to use and how it will help to improve attendee satisfaction and event ROI.
They say you only have one chance to make a good first impression. When it comes to events, an attendee’s first impression is often made with the technology they interact with; how and where it’s used, how seamless it is, and how it drives convenience as well as engagement.
Despite its importance, event planners still struggle when it comes to fully understand onsite event technology. They may ask themselves: How do I know what technology is best to use at my event? What will increase attendee satisfaction and event ROI? What will help my event stand out?
This guide was developed to answer some of those questions and to help event planners around the world make better, more strategic decisions when it comes to onsite technology.
Whether you want to improve the technology you already have in place or you don’t know where to begin, the following will help guide you to identify and achieve your goals while increasing your event ROI.
Along with producing a more high-tech experience, onsite technology helps enhance meetings and events in several key ways.
Today’s onsite technology can help create a more individualized event experience for each attendee, whether through targeted messaging based on their respective interests or the ability to build their own event agendas.
Self-service onsite technologies allow attendees to help themselves when they need it. Event technology also allows attendees to consolidate several useful tools into one, such as with event mobile apps.
When it comes to saving time and money, onsite technology can accomplish both; from reducing wait time and long lines at check-in with remote kiosks, to delivering badges in just seconds with the latest printer technology.
Onsite technology can improve the carbon footprint of an event. When more interactions happen digitally or more information is kept online, the need for paper decreases.
There are several opportunities to monetize your onsite technology investments, such as sponsored push notifications, lead retrieval, data sharing, and digital ads.
Onsite technology can help you collect valuable attendee data that you can share with your partners and sponsors to quantify the value of your event. For example, with ultra-high frequency (UHF) tracking, you can gather data on which areas of the event were most popular and during which times. This will allow you to know what attendees liked and which areas or content was less popular.
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind about onsite technology is the data it can collect about your attendees and the individual journeys they take throughout your event.
Choosing the right technology for your event depends on your unique goals, which is why you should think about what you want to accomplish before you make an investment. Whether it’s to increase engagement and attendee satisfaction, or to learn something about your organization or services, by setting goals before buying, you’ll be able to invest in only those solutions that solve your specific needs.
This is where measuring event ROI comes into play. Technology is crucial to a positive attendee experience and, therefore, event success and stakeholder satisfaction. So it's important to not only collect data to measure your event ROI, but to take the time to analyze what areas need onsite technology that will make your attendees and sponsors happy and engaged.
Use the opportunity to enrich data and engage in a dialogue with your visitors during the event. Set clear objectives and measure them throughout the event to steer the organization in the right direction. Connect the onsite data to your online and mobile analytics to create a full profile of your visitors.
Check-in is typically the first touchpoint attendees have with an event, but that doesn’t always have to happen at the venue. Self-service kiosks can be set up at local transportation hubs or hotel partners to help attendees get checked-in before they even step foot into the event. These remote check-in kiosks help event planners streamline the check-in process and avoid long wait times and lines at their event. Here’s how:
While offsite kiosks add a level of convenience for attendees, self-service options at onsite check-in can help further alleviate long lines and wait times, as well as provide a service that today’s attendees want and need. When visitors take control of their own registration by typing in their credentials or scanning a QR code from their phones, they are actively doing something, which makes the check-in process feel quicker and more engaging.
However, despite the pros of self-service, the value of human connection cannot be diminished during this initial part of the event journey. Here are some tips for getting the balance just right:
The key to a smooth registration experience? Live badge printing. When you choose to make the move to live badging, you are opening up your event to even more flexibility and a better user experience. There’s so much live badge printing can do along with saving yourself time from flipping through hundreds or even thousands of pre-printed badges.
Today’s options for badging at events goes far beyond a traditional lanyard and paper. With the various badge technologies available, this accessory can be used at every corner of the event to make the attendee experience more customized and provide event planners with the data they want post-event.
Probably one of the most revolutionary event technologies of the past decade, NFC enabled badges give event planners the opportunity to gather data and increase attendee engagement like never before. Holding 30x more information than QR code badges, they allow everyone at the event to gather more information on each attendee.
Some of the uses of NFC technology at events include tap’n go lead retrieval, access control, session scanning, passive tracking, materials distribution and purse management. With apps such as purse management, attendees are able to load money onto their NFC badges and pay for commodities at the show through designated NFC hotspots, eliminating the need for an attendee to carry their wallet and speeding up the purchasing process.
NFC wristbands have all of the same capabilities as NFC badges, just in a different format. These wristbands are perfect for large festivals or events where an attendee wouldn’t want something hanging around their neck.
All of the various NFC technologies available with these wristbands are capable of streamlining the event process and improving efficiency at every level. Using NFC access control, for example, attendees could be admitted or kept out of certain areas at the event by simply tapping their wristbands onto a designated NFC hotspot or having an attendant scan their badge with an NFC device. In both cases, the corresponding screen would either turn green for access granted, or red for access denied.
Access control provides a quick and easy way for event planners to restrict attendee access into certain areas and even at certain times by encoding the rights to those areas onto the badge before the show. For example, if the show floor is only open to exhibitors from 7:00am-9:00am, access control pods with attendants can be set up at the show floor entrance and attendees will be required to scan their badge before entering. Therefore, if an attendee scans their badge at 8:00am, the screen on the pod will turn red for access denied and the attendant will have to tell the attendee that only exhibitors are allowed on the show floor before 9:00am. This allows for quick and easy monitoring of certain areas and makes things like VIP areas and restricted showtimes easy to implement.
When it comes to personalization, nothing is more powerful than a mobile event app; the main benefit being most attendees already have their own device to access it on. A mobile app with a robust toolset often ends up paying for itself. Here are just a few ways to incorporate a mobile app at your next event:
First and foremost, a mobile app is where you can house all of the important information about your event, from the complete program and speaker bios to your venue floor plan and exhibitor directory. With features like the social media activity feed, you can keep attendees engaged within the app. No need to visit their dedicated social media apps to share content around the event.
When your app connects seamlessly to your event management software, you can import your entire program. If you make any changes to your agenda, those updates will be reflected in the app as well. You can also give users the ability to build their own event agenda that they can easily refer back to, eliminating the need for them to flip through paper programs.
With private in-app messaging and an attendee directory, attendees can connect with each other easily. An app with matchmaking capabilities can also enhance the networking experience by pairing up like-minded attendees, as well as finding places for them to meet one-on-one.
Keep attendees engaged during speaker sessions by including live polling and interactive Q&A features in your mobile app. Not only will attendees be more focused when they can use their smartphones to be part of the conversation, but speakers will be able to connect with attendees on a more personal level.
Since attendees have their devices on them at all times, sending out alerts, updates and announcements via push notifications can be the most efficient way to communicate with them as a whole. iBeacons that send more localized and specific notifications are also a great way to connect when them on a more personal level.
Finally, apps are great revenue generators when you offer sponsors and exhibitors monetization options, such as sponsored push notifications and exhibitor listings.
NFC/Beacon technology is really changing the game at events. By setting up beacons strategically around your event in session rooms or at exhibitor booths, such as smart tags, can aid in tracking attendee behavior around the event. This gives event planners information on where their attendees went and how much time they spent there. While that does seem one sided, attendees will benefit from using this technology as well.
An attendee type that many event planners sometimes forget about when it comes to onsite tools are your sponsors or exhibitors! They are easily one of the most important attendee types at any event because they are choosing to invest in your event because they believe they will see some return. One of the primary ways that event planners fall short in maximizing their event ROI is by not providing a lead retrieval option for their exhibitors, and so unless exhibitors have a set lead retrieval provider for all of their shows, they miss out on this key technology.
At the end of the day, the reason why exhibitors exhibit at events is ultimately to gain new customers and increase sales, and the best way to do this is by following-up with attendees after the event. However, in order to follow-up with attendees and have those interactions lead to sales, exhibitors must have a way to correctly collect and qualify leads.
Lead retrieval solutions help exhibitors do this in a variety of ways:
Lastly, lead retrieval can also be a great source of income for event planners, as many lead retrieval companies will share profits with their clients.
With custom systems and technologies, there are a truly innumerable amount of ways that event planners can enhance the event journey with onsite technology. From implementing mobile apps and beacons to exploring the world of NFC and RFID, with so much new technology to choose from, the decision of what to use at your event to increase ROI can be overwhelming.
Remember that the most important thing to do to guarantee success is to identify your priorities and define your goals and objectives. With this in mind, you will be able to identify the best technology for your event and develop a roadmap for successful implementation.
As you can see, however, it’s crucial to analyze every area of your event, as technology can be used in even the most unlikely of places, like sponsored hotels or at show floor stores. Consider how you can improve event ROI with technology in the areas of sustainability, security, personalization, monetization, and more.
Finally, realize that implementing new onsite technology isn’t a one-time process. Just as your attendee and sponsor need to change over time, your technology needs will change over time as well. It’s always a good thing to have continuous ROI measurement in place so that you can stay on top of your onsite technology game and avoid outdated practices like pre-printed badges!