Guest blog: How has technology changed? Is it for the better?

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Written by Matt Franks – Director of Events at drp

As we’re all aware, we live our lives with technology all around us, and the majority of us use it every day. Whether it’s staying up to date with the latest news through our smartphone apps, FaceTiming our relatives in Australia, Instagramming a great photo of our eggs benedict, or catching an ‘Uber’, not a ‘taxi’. Even if you don’t do any of that, I’m sure you experience digital tech on a daily basis, perhaps without being consciously aware you are doing so.

Technology has made a significant impact on many elements of an event, enhancing them phenomenally. It’s therefore essential to create events with our ‘digital society’ in mind. Here’s how tech works with us to simplify, diversify and innovate our events:

Online registration

Online registration is huge; it’s a highly effective way to engage with audiences from the moment they receive an invitation. Although the purpose is registration, there are endless possibilities to intelligently tailor it, brand it, and ensure it is a completely bespoke user experience for the client, their event, and their delegates. We’ve seen an increase in demand for custom-made event apps, and this drives live event and communications solutions, which I will touch upon in more detail further on in this blog.

However, there are some organisations that do not have the infrastructure to do online registration, for example, clients whose employees don’t have access to computers at work, and would rather not do it at home. In situations such as this, they often would rather engage by filling in a form and sending it back during working hours, or communicating via a fellow colleague. It’s always important to think about your audience and what is most appropriate for them.

Sign-in solutions

Delegate registration must be an experience from the very start. Engagement and communication must be seamless. Therefore, when delegates arrive onsite, the level of engagement must not falter. We believe in desk-less, open ways of registering, with portable tablets for example, where delegates can approach our friendly team members to sign in through an online portal. This works extremely well when there is a high volume of delegates, retaining a slick and efficient solution for visitors to sign in digitally and face-to-face, simultaneously. It becomes a personal experience ensuring an approachable and welcoming start to the day. So, although digital sign ins are effective, there still needs to be a physical presence and face-to-face interaction when the delegates arrive.

Mobiles, Apps and Tablets

There is an expectation now that everything must be mobile-friendly – we are all mobile now and our smartphones are in many senses an extension of us. Delegates must be able to do everything that they need to do – register, stay up to date with the event schedule, look at a floor map, for example – on their mobile devices.

We integrate mobile usage into all of our solutions and client budget permitting, as this tech is real-time, encourages engagement, allows consistent communication – not only between the delegates but also with us – and supports effective gamification. This is all enabled through an app created bespoke for the client’s event, which the delegates can download pre-event, use on the day and post-event, as well as download onto the tablets that may be used in break-out situations.

Gamification in a live environment enables competition in real time, as well as live polling, and games. However, it must be used in the right way and link to the content, theme, messaging and event objectives. There has to be a purpose behind it – what is the point?, What have delegates learned from the interaction? And how does it link with everything else?

Voting and polling is great because it is live; results are shown in real time and it has the ability to connect the audience to the content. It also voices opinions that people may not have shared if they had to put their hands up.

Our solutions offer the ultimate engagement tool for delegates to interact with an event in real time. Whether that’s to take part in a poll, look up information, or see who the next speaker is, for example. All content is designed to the brand of the company and/or event to remain consistent. Our solutions have the capacity to:

  • provide key information and real-time interactivity
  • allow delegates to submit questions throughout the event
  • vote on key topics with live publication of the results on screen

One of the key benefits is the extended lifespan:, most event brochures or leaflets end up at the bottom of a handbag, desk drawer or dustbin, however, a branded mobile app stays on that phone for as long as you decide to provide content for it. It enables networking and content sharing throughout the year – before, during, and after an event. The lifespan of an event is extended, client interaction is enhanced and people stay connected to the brand. An app can drive engagement beyond just a single event. Another plus point is that there is not as much printed material needed, if any at all.

A challenge with some apps is that, due to them being web-based and not downloaded from the app store, there are certain limitations. However, the benefit of being able to personalise it is greater and creates a higher level of engagement. Additionally, you must be aware of the security that comes with creating and delivering app solutions. At drp we have been accredited with the ISO 27001, which ensures that our clients and delegates feel secure when using these applications.

Another obstacle is quantity of the tablets. One tablet on a table of 10 doesn’t really drive engagement, but one per person provides increased opportunity for engagement.

Interactive Tech

Interactive technologies within events such as AR and VR are sometimes driven as a bit of a gimmick, but with a purpose and objective, they can be highly effective. Otherwise, they’re short-lived and people disengage. All participants need to be engaged with a relevant story or a theme that matches the event.

Personally, I don’t think VR is quite there yet for live environments. In gaming or as a singular experience it works, and in events it is good for experiential and expo, but because it is a solo experience, it has restrictions for large events.

To conclude

Technology ensures quick, efficient, and streamlined processes in organising and managing the content of an event. It allows a two-way conversation – there’s more confidence and anonymity – gone are the days of putting your hand up, because you can send in questions via an app. This data is valuable not only for live, but also post-event analytics. There’s been a rise in experiential and exhibitions in being able to share data too. With tech, there’s ample opportunity to engage with delegates before, during and after the event. Pre-event, there is the chance to constantly update delegates, and post-event, the conversation can continue; the app is a tool for immediate feedback. Overall, technology has improved events for the better, but always question the purpose and make sure it’s relevant.

Matt Franks, Director of  Events at drp.

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