By Christine Wilson, Content Creator at Swapcard
Have you caught on to the buzz surrounding event technology but not sure what all it entails? Fear not, we’ve got you covered.
We can’t deny that our century is a digital one, and the event industry can’t be excused from entering the era of technology. There’s no need to shy away from the idea of implementing technology in your event planning — it’s not, and doesn’t have to be, overwhelming nor complicated.
Event technology is easy to navigate, and when you understand it, you can start to use it to make your planning more efficient, more profitable and more fun! Let’s get started on breaking it down.
Here’s an overview of what we’ll look at in this guide:
- A Short Introduction to Event Technology
- Why Event Technology Matters
- Choosing an Event Platform Vs. Creating an Event Technology Deck
- The Three Main Categories of Event Technology
- Event Marketing, with examples
- Event Apps, with examples
- Event Management, with examples
- How To Choose the Best Tool For Your Event
- Conclusion: Your Next Steps with Event Tech
A Short Introduction to Event Technology
Event technology is any digital tool, whether hardware or software, used before, during or after a live event. This ranges from the initial event marketing, which includes ticketing and registration tools, to an event app, which can be used for everything from organising the event details to facilitating attendee networking, and event management technology, which takes care of logistics, budgeting and scheduling.
Why Event Technology Matters
Every industry needs to continuously evolve, and events are no exception. Let’s look at one well-known example that went from strictly physical to embracing digital: the retail industry.
Before the era of technology, the knowledge and data businesses had on their buyer was extremely limited, as was the scope of their reach. With the advent of e-commerce and online shopping, retail went from one channel to omnichannel.
Going omnichannel opened up new markets, made for greater customer engagement and tracking consumer behaviour allowed businesses to focus their marketing efforts and see bigger returns.
Events can’t be disrupted in the same way as retail because they depend on face-to-face meetings to stay alive, and at their core, they’re a real-life experience. However, technology needs to be a part of the equation in order to stay relevant.
Without technology, not only are processes more manual and time-consuming but measuring success without concrete data isn’t possible. Success lies in the engagement of your audience and constant re-evaluation of how to increase this engagement.
The best way to do this is by using the hard data and statistics that event technology provides. Event technology lets you engage with attendees and monitor their behaviour, making it easier to collect feedback to improve your planning and processes.
Choosing an Event Platform Vs Creating an Event Technology Deck
When you’re shopping around for different technologies, you may notice some companies will offer a product that seems more comprehensive than others. These are referred to as event technology platforms, and they cover a range of categories.
Who does it: Enterprises such as Cvent and Aventri are two examples of event technology platforms. Their scope can include ticketing, registration, logistics, content management and more. These companies operate more like an operating system rather than an event technology product that narrows in on one or a couple of event solutions.
Other the other hand, when you create an event technology deck, you mix and match different tools that suit your event’s specific needs. Building an event technology deck means you invest in specialised products that focus on their solutions really well, rather than the significant undertaking of providing a little bit everything.
Who does it: Below are some examples of different event technology you can use to create a balanced collection of event tech. Each tool can bring something to the table, and often they are used in collaboration.
The Three Main Categories of Event Technology
When you break down event tech, you’ll find that the different options fall under one of three categories (or, sometimes more, if it’s a platform such as mentioned above). Since their objectives are different, often times, you can use them in conjunction.
Event marketing technology is any platform that gets people coming to your event. Between social media, emails and turning to the internet for information, your attendees are online, and there’s where you need to be if you want to capture them.
Event technology tools for marketing include ticketing and registration tools that you can use to promote your event, sell tickets, collect valuable attendee information at the point of registration (which you can then take into consideration in your planning), and keep track of your sales.
Often, these services also allow you to create a dedicated event website. Other features can include email and social media campaigns, custom-branded tickets, insight into top-performing channels and sales reports.
Who does it:
Eventmaker: With Eventmaker, you can create personalised email campaigns, a customised event website through which you can manage ticket sales and registration and use their software for check-in and access control the day of the event.
Eventbrite: Eventbrite gives your event free exposure on their frequently visited website, plus allows you to share registration activity on social media for increased visibility.
Event apps come into play following marketing and encompass a wide range of solutions for before, during and after the event, with the primary goal of keeping attendees engaged. While each tool varies, event apps often include features such as a section for the event program, an interactive mapping tool and access to the list of fellow attendees.
Implementing an event app is a crucial next step after ticketing. Now that your attendees have RSVPed to your event, it’s time to direct them to their event community. An event app turns your event into a year-round occasion, where attendees keep the conversation going with the connections they made even once the event is over.
Who does it:
Swapcard: The Swapcard event app and matchmaking platform uses artificial intelligence to expertly match participants based on their profiles and improve their networking experience. Attendees can start matching with other participants within the app before the event begins. They can also define their schedule for the event day(s) by registering to sessions they wish to attend and book meetings.
Event management technology looks after the overall management of your event planning and logistics, which includes but is not limited to scheduling deliveries, managing team projects, organising the event timetable, budget planning and calculating cost ROI.
Consider event management technology your digital planning checklist. It keeps all of your to-dos in a streamlined solution and contributes to the overall goal: hosting an event that’s planned efficiently, run smoothly and creates a memorable experience.
Who does it:
EventGeek: Budget planning doesn’t need to be a spreadsheet nightmare with EventGeek. Thanks to streamlined logistics and automated data entry, EventGeek saves you stress, time and drives your event ROI in a sleek and organized software system.
How to Choose the Right Technology for Your Event
Choosing the right event technology starts with asking the right questions. Here are some to consider when making your decision.
Will it help me achieve my goals?
This is the top question you need to be asking. Ensure the service in question will provide you with measurable and concrete insights into your event. Things to look out for include if it will help you collect detailed participant information, give you feedback on your content and will boost engagement among your attendees.
Will it help my attendees achieve their goals?
Without participants, there is no event, so you’ll want to make sure the tool benefits them as well. Attendees need something that saves them time and helps them get the most out of the event, like acquiring a new business prospect or learning a valuable piece of information in a session.
Is the service flexible?
Every event is different, so you can (and should) expect the solution you’re getting to be different from what was offered to someone else. Make sure that your needs are clear from the beginning of the conversation. A company worth working with won’t sell you something that won’t be of benefit to your event, and they should have a transparent and clearly defined pricing plan with some room for flexibility.
Is the product intuitive?
Most companies will offer a free demo for you to test their product yourself, so be sure it’s intuitive and easy to use. You don’t want to implement something that will leave both you and your attendees frustrated. Things to consider are the onboarding process, whether it’s visually appealing with a clean interface and if it’s organised in a way that makes sense.
Does the product work with my other solutions?
Opt for a product that plays well with others. You’ll want to check that the event technology in question works with other solutions. For example, an event app that integrates with ticketing your solution as well as a CRM for your attendees.
Can they provide support and answer my needs?
Event planning knows no 9-to-5 workday limits. Be on the lookout for 24/7 support to assist you if you run into any snags, as well as dedicated event managers who are there to guide you along the way.
Conclusion: Your Next Steps with Event Tech
Event technology is no longer an idea of the future. Event tech is here, we are in it, and the time to get on board is now so that you don’t get left behind. So, let’s go! Here are your next steps:
- Assess your needs: Take the time to do an inventory on your event needs, looking at aspects such as your audience expectations, your budget and your future goals for your event.
- Do the research: Be sure to ask a lot of questions (including the ones mentioned above, and any others that relate to your event) before deciding. Keep researching the event tech industry to keep on top of new ideas and trends that are continuously unfolding.
- Have fun with it: Now that you’re a pro in understanding the essence of event technology, get excited about everything it will help you do. Watch as your processes get easier, your attendees become more engaged, and your event business flourishes!
Christine Wilson is originally from Toronto, Canada, where she worked in the Incentive Travel Industry for five years. Now based in Paris, France, she’s shifted her industry focus to event tech as a Content Creator at Swapcard, working with leading events like VivaTech, Oxford University, TEDx, Oracle, and Airbus.