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How Technology Has Changed Events And Conferences

17th June 2014
Event Technology

Technology has changed the way we socialise, the way we consume and now it’s changing the way we organise and attend major events.

Over the last 3-5 years, we’ve seen major changes in events and conferences that have really stuck. The days of mailing lists, brochures and awkward networking are far behind us… The Internet, along with other technological developments, are dominating the path to event success.

Join us as we explore how the Internet technology has changed the events industry, how it’s changing attendee’s expectations, and how it can be utilised to create a winning event for both the organiser and the attendee.

Event Technology: The Internet's Effect On The Events Industry

The Internet is a focal cog in almost every industry, but the way it’s shaped the Events industry is particularly notable. Event technology has changed the way we invite, outreach and promote events. PR and public excitement is generated across a range of social media channels, and invitations take a more digital form.

Targeting An Audience & Guest List

Social media gives insight into demographics like no other platform. Before the dawn of the digital age, targeting a relevant audience was a challenge, but nowadays getting the right people to an event is significantly easier.

 Event Invitation - Event Technology

(Image via Danhodgett, Flickr)

Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (along with other social networks) allow organisers to promote their event to a relevant audience pre and post event, targeting people who have specifically expressed interest in the kind of content their event will explore. These demographics can cover several or all of the following:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Job
  • Education level
  • Location
  • Where people have been in the past.
  • Interests
  • Conversations they’re having online

Monitoring the data around your visitors and their usage of social media can enable you to identify who are your most loyal fans, and how you can get people to return to your next event.

Visibility, Networking & Conversation

However, the relationship between the Internet and event organising goes far beyond targeting demographics. It can also be used to generate exposure, excitement, buzz, and attendee advocacy. It can be the most cost effective and efficient way of marketing an event.              

Creating event brand visibility and conversation can make event marketing far more interactive, gaining peoples respect and interest, whilst giving them a taste of what to expect in the event.

How to create attendee advocacy before the event:

  1. Utilise the social media channels the identified demographics are using.
  2. Create an event brand they can recognise and associate with.
  3. Produce content and promote conversation with the intent of engaging your demographic audience, and ensure it matches the content and tone of your event.
  4. Encourage this conversation throughout the year so your event becomes a timeless brand.

The Internet can make the effects of an event last much longer than the actual thing, with the periods before and after being extremely valuable to both the organiser and the attendee. It gives people an opportunity to network online with their peers, finding out who else will attend, what they’re likely to gain from the event, and what other potential attendees opinions on the event are. After the event, the Internet offers a solid connection point with people they have interacted with at the event. It also allows the conversation surrounding the event to continue growing.

Monitoring The Conversation

There are downsides to the Internet being such a vital cog in event success. The Internet allows opinions, reviews and interactions to be made public, meaning that maintaining a good reputation online is a vital necessity to success. For this reason, it’s important to surround an event brand with positive conversation, content and human interaction.

Social Conversation | Event Technology | Senate House Events

(Image via Eye2eye, Flickr)

Before the age of the Internet, potential event attendees wouldn’t have much exposure to how their peers generally perceived an event. Nowadays, they have the opposite scenario. Peer driven reputation surrounding an event and brand is pivotal to its success.

Imagine you share an article from your event brand. Some respond negatively, voicing their concerns openly via social media. This can have a ripple effect, especially if these Internet personas are considered valuable and esteemed to those who might attend the event.

Managing this conversation is vital to ensure you know how people perceive your brand. Knowing this can help you make changes to your content or tone based on the opinions of the masses. This can help you gain advocacy and retain potential attendees. There are many tools that can measure social media conversations. Trackur, is one of them, analysing the conversation of others to discover how a brand is perceived.

Note that a negative reaction isn't the end of the world. How you respond to the negative reactions will determine how your brand is perceived much more than the initial reaction. Responding with an honest apology and a (measurable) promise to do better in the future can generate a lot of goodwill! Essentially, speaking honestly and truthfully is more important than ever before.

Attendees Are All Over The World

Another change in event technology is audience. Nowadays, your audience is far bigger than a pre-defined catchment area. The global village we live in today means everyone can attend everything – all they need is a good broadband connection! Guests and speakers can attend from anywhere, and by allowing parts of your event to be friendly to virtual attendees, your content gets far more exposure.

Global Village | Event Technology | Senate House Events

(Image via Boltron, Flickr)

Live streaming can extend your event to all corners of the earth and is an all-important tool for any high-end event. YouTube and Google Hangout streaming is a really accessible way of broadcasting your events, and gives your event much further scope.

And for those who have attended the event, and want to refer to the information, ensuring slide content is shared on something like slide share allows your guests to have a reliable place to refer back to the event’s content.

Virtual Reality

The Internet has brought with it a post-industrial disruption that’s digitalised almost every industry, including the events sector. So it’s not really surprising that there’s a whole new market for virtual events. Taking the physical event out of the picture entirely, some event organisers are opting to have an entirely Internet based event. Google hangouts alone has made it extremely easy to host live conversations and talks online, with the ability to stream to a pre-targeted and engaged audience. Although it will never replace the hustle and bustle of a physical event, it has a huge potential for reach, and is a good option for those with smaller budgets and a wide audience.

How To Use Technology In Events 

The Internet doesn’t only inhabit our phones and laptops. More and more household objects are being injected with the Internet, meaning objects like fridges, TVs and cookers are far more intuitive than the passive objects they used to be. And the same is happening with wearable technology. Watches and glasses have shown us the first glimpses of wearable technology, and they’re only getting more advanced.

The Internet of Things poses security risks that you shohuld take seriously; however, the general trend is creating a world that 'just works' more smoothly than ever before.

Gather Data With Wearable Technology

Wearable tech is now, arguably, mainstream. And when it hits, event attendees will be utilising this new way of communication to store information gathered at events. If the past development of event technology has taught us anything, it’s to be ready to utilise the new advancements quickly, making the adaptation quick and pain free.

Wearable Technology - Google Glass - Events Technology

(Image via Lawrencegs, Flickr)

Being ready for this eruption will ensure that your event is future proofed and tech friendly. Google glass has got to be the most talked about piece of wearable tech - it's a matter of watching

Event Technology: Mobile & Devices

The mobile device has played a prominent part in conferences and events since its rapid growth in popularity over the last 7 years. It’s quickly shaped the way consumers interact with brands and organisations, including the events sector.

Use smartphones & tablets to collect information with ease

Smartphones and tablets make sharing and storing information easier than ever. And at events, tablets have an array of uses for the organisers: showcasing products, slide shows, data capture and even user interaction via apps and games. The heavy presence of these devices at events requires there to be content and information appropriate to the devices. Most, if not all event goers will have their own tablet or smartphone with them, furthering the need to have event content optimised for consumption on these devices.

Event mobile apps are great for attendee experience

Smart phones are at their most popular in history, so it’s more important than ever to utilise them to target event attendees.

For the events sector, a dedicated mobile app for the event is a must have. They have replaced brochures, providing event attendees with all they need to navigate the event, plan what content they want to see in advance, and most importantly, share information with their peers. Many have become even more responsive, allowing attendees to message one another, create their own personal schedule and use barcode scanning during the event.

Having a dedicated app for an event is a necessity for guest engagement. It’s a place where guests can have an up-to-date feed on the itinerary, content and anything else you want to share. The days of flicking through event brochures are over. And it’s very easy to pick one up!

CrowdComms (EventMobi) is a one of many app creators who can craft a bespoke application for any event. "We have seen exponential growth in this sector with event planners now seeing events apps as an integral part of their event rather than a nice to have" Says Director Felix Stroud-Allen. "Apps are eliminating the need for paper guides and providing an interactive medium for sponsors to position themselves dynamically in front of their target audience." 

Build a responsive website for the event

Websites are a crucial way to market an event, and it’s wise to assume that your audience will be mobile savvy. Responsive websites are a must for any event website; they make the content on your site appealing on any device and ensures the audience’s attention is captured whatever they’re using to access your site.

The number of devices a website must cater to is always increasing; and of course, with an event, there is always the chance that your website will be shown on an enormous projector screen.

What to Expect In The Future

If technology has done anything to the events sector, it’s raised the expectations of event attendees. More than ever, people expect a full technological package alongside their event ticket, whether it’s a product launch, conference, meeting or exhibition. The Internet in the palm of our hands is now the norm, and it’s only going to grow and evolve.

For events, this means bigger, better and more awe inspiring ways to communicate content. Find out how other events have succeeded with technology and visit the Event Technology Awards website. Each year they celebrate up and coming tech used in events and measures the success of the technology used.

Event Venues In London

If you’re looking for an offline event venue in London, find out about Senate House. With a range of rooms all equipped with Wifi that can support your most technological needs as well as your logistical ones, any event can be catered for. Find the full list of services and event technology we can offer at Senate House. 

For updates and information on events at Senate House, check out the Tweets by @UoLVenues and follow the Senate House Events Facebook Page.

Some changes and updates were made to this article on the 4th January 2016 

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