by Brecht Fourneau, senior director, EMEA & APAC Marketing, Aventri
Event technology is a fast-changing landscape. It can be tough to keep up with all the latest advances. Best to focus on a few that can help you most. To this end, here are three top trends that will drive opportunity and growth in 2020 and beyond.
Trend #1: Rise of the integrated event management software (EMS) platform
Use of all-in-one platforms is on the rise. While industry consolidation contributes to this growth, planner preferences also play a role. So many moving parts go into planning meetings and events. No need to add complexity. From a logistical standpoint, organizers pay a price for having to learn and operate different solutions to build out and manage their events. The more you can streamline the process, the better.
All-in-one platforms simplify workflows. They enable planners to manage the entire event on one platform. There’s no duplicate data entry, no hopping back and forth between platforms and no waits for uploads and downloads. Data flows seamlessly from planning through post-event reporting.
Data integration is another key driver in this trend. All-in-one platforms capture and store information from every stage of the event lifecycle, so it’s easily accessible in one place. This gives organizers unprecedented ability to optimize their events.
For example, as attendees move through the event, mobile event apps, beacons and smart badges collect a goldmine of data. Combined with real-time analytics, these tools alert organizers to challenges. Maybe waiting lines are mounting at check-in. Maybe attendance is light in key sessions. Or, maybe networking is too low with a target group.
With a fully integrated, all-in-one platform, these
issues show up in real-time on an event activity dashboard. Planners can make
informed changes and deploy fixes on the event app and website. The upshot? They
resolve issues on the fly and enhance the attendee experience.
Trend #2: Profound impact of artificial intelligence
Machine learning and AI have been powerful trends for the past few years, as seen by the interest in chatbots and attendee matchmaking tools. These trends will pick up speed as new AI-driven technologies come to market in 2020. The biggest impact will be in enhanced networking and more personalized event experiences.
AI solutions crunch vast amounts of event data, analyze it and make suggestions based on that analysis.
In the coming year, powerful recommendation engines will become available. They’ll deliver curated suggestions for sessions, exhibitors and attendees to meet. With delegates’ approval, recommendations will draw from any number of variables. For example, attendee demographics, session catalog browsing history, badge scans, dwell time, repeat visits to exhibitor booths, career experience, event goals and more.
New real-time recommendation engines will take the technology a step further. They’ll determine the attendee’s onsite location and event schedule. Then they’ll make recommendations that are relevant and convenient to the attendee right at the moment.
Matchmaking for event profs
New AI-powered solutions will make life easier for organizers, too.
When planning teams opt in, AI can analyze how they use the event management system. Then, it recommends how to best leverage the technology for the planner’s specific needs.
AI can save hours, even days, of work by automating processes and sorting through complex data to find trends in an instant. Savvy planners put certain event systems on autopilot and let the technology handle tedious manual tasks. In other uses, AI algorithms match-make the ideal mix of attendees. They also recommend optimal ways to draw them to the event.
In brief, AI and machine learning free planners up from time-consuming, repetitive tasks. They also provide robust tools to drive more strategic decision-making.
Trend #3: Quantum leap for big data
Big Data has been around for a while, but the way companies use event data is starting to change. The first step was using this information to make a better event. Now, companies have begun to leverage attendees’ onsite behavioral data to inform their marketing decisions outside the event world. And this is huge.
You see, most event marketers record the number of attendees at their events. Some look at lead generation and sales data. Very few capture the type of in-depth data that paints a rich, comprehensive picture of attendee behavior. These next-generation, onsite intelligence metrics are critical to understanding attendee interests and buyer intent.
Why are things starting to change now?
In the past, it took a tremendous amount of time to collect, organize, and analyze the data necessary to put together useful event intelligence.
The good news is data-capturing technologies – such as Bluetooth, radio frequency and Near Field Communication – are now widely accessible. Smart badges, wristbands, beacons and mobile event apps are key components of meetings and events.
Ratcheting up conversions and ROI
So what can you learn from these data-gathering devices?
Did an attendee stay in a session five minutes or 45? Dwell time sheds light on attendee interests. Repeat visits to exhibitor booths offer insights on buyer intent.
Session selection provides a window into where an attendee is in the buyer journey. Is he in the Awareness Stage, doing general research to understand a problem? Has she reached the Decision Stage, seeking best practices and product-specific content to compile a list of available vendors and products?
Organizers can tailor content with event intelligence gleaned during the registration process and onsite.
For instance, they might send push notifications encouraging Decision Stage attendees to sign up for live demos and see the product in action. They can prompt Awareness Stage attendees to participate in breakout sessions with more general educational content on the topic of their choice.
By integrating their EMS and CRM (customer relationship management) platforms, event and marketing profs unlock a level of customer insight that was previously out of reach.
For organizers, the opportunity lies in monitoring data over the long-term. At last, they’ll be able to show – with hard data – the role events play in driving revenue.
Marketing teams will leverage event data to inform everything from content marketing to email campaigns, demand generation, digital advertising and more. Next-level event intelligence will give them the deep insights they need to convert customers faster and retain them longer.
Technology is a powerful ally that can elevate organizers to a more strategic role. Event profs who leverage technology to streamline processes and uncover customer insights and growth opportunities will thrive in 2020 and beyond.
About the author
Brecht Fourneau is senior director of EMEA and APAC marketing at Aventri. He is responsible for defining and rolling out the company’s marketing strategy in these regions, introducing Aventri to the market and finding new ways to drive leads through in-person and digital marketing efforts. As a tech entrepreneur, Brecht co-founded mobile app company TapCrowd, which Aventri acquired in the summer of 2015.