12 Jul “Getting Technical” at Your Next Conference
\A good meeting or convention fires on all cylinders; business is discussed, plans are made, convention-goers are meaningfully networking with one another, and everyone has learned something of value and is fully engaged.
A great meeting or convention, however, goes a step further. A great convention allows guests to tailor the experience to suit their needs and goals. Sherrif Karamat, COO for the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), recently said “…I don’t want the organizers to determine my experience for me. Instead, I want them to create a platform where I can personalize my experience.” Indeed, long gone are the days of guests sitting passively in uncomfortable chairs, watching slide shows for hours on end. Today’s attendees, especially Millennials, want and expect a high degree of personalized service, connectivity, and access. Advancements in technology over the course of the last decade, in particular, are enabling convention organizers to offer just that and more.
Indeed, the importance of technology in marketing, planning, executing, and evaluating a convention cannot be understated. In addition to making predictions about food and beverage, hotel costs, and preferred destinations, convention experts forecast the following trends in convention technology:
- Mobile Apps
Developing an app for your convention is all but a necessity. An app not only provides your guests with detailed information on registration, program and schedule, parking, hotel, meals, and maps, but also allows them to provide feedback, interact with one another socially, and participate in gamification activities, or activities designed to encourage interaction through competition or other motivators.
Analytics provide convention organizers with a “real-time” look at how attendees are engaging with and responding to presentations, speakers, networking events, and trending topics on social media. Sensory analytics use physical sensors in the meeting space to provide organizers with information about how comfortable attendees are (is it too hot, for instance)?
- Virtual meetings
Though in-person meetings are preferred, technology allows convention organizers to engage with participants outside the meeting space. Beam™ technology, as an example, is an immersive telepresence. Selena Hoover of Flavorpill Media used Beam™ and said “It’s a physical embodiment of a person. It’s on a screen. I’ve touched it. I gave that person a high five. And it’s a little bit more participatory than the live stream because you can segway yourself around on your little computer.”
Other things to bear in mind when integrating technology into your convention or meeting? Many scholars cite that participant attention spans are decreasing. Shorter, TED Talk-style presentations might keep your guests engaged. You should also be sure to invest in images and videos, which are more readily shareable through social media and drive views and clicks. Finally, be aware that free WIFI is an absolute must, both in your meeting space and in the hotel. Convention-goers expect to be online.
What new technologies are you incorporating into your conventions this year? Which are you most excited to try?