New Technologies Create Exciting Possibilities for Corporate Meetings, Events and Trade Shows
The magic of technology is catapulting the events world into a new era of opportunities never before imagined. Innovations in Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Social Media Integration have the potential to transform face-to-face marketing forever. Yet all these possibilities come with the challenge of balancing the Wow Factor with growing complexity and limited budgets.
In this special interview, CDL’s Mark Allen and Judy Geriot explore ways CDL clients can leverage emerging technologies to build brands and win customers.
CDL: It seems like every day we hear about a new technology that promises to transform the world – often in ways that spill over into corporate events. There are more possibilities than anyone could conceivably act upon. Is it possible to keep ahead of it all?
Judy Geriot: In a word, No. Technology is advancing at a breathtaking pace, and I don’t think any of us can predict the future with much accuracy. One way to appreciate the impact of technology, however, is through our own personal experience as consumers. Look at how our expectations have changed in just the past few years. Today we take for granted digital assistants like Siri and Alexa. Streaming video has freed us from the cable box. Virtual reality is becoming … virtually real.
We take these technologies for granted, and so do our audiences. That level of acceptance is what we need to understand as we plan our events.
Mark Allen: Audiences expect technology to perform at events the same way they expect technology to perform in their daily lives. And they expect the same level of quality. You don’t always have to be on the cutting edge – in fact, the cutting edge can be very risky – but you absolutely must be competitive. Flawless execution is a basic expectation.
Judy Geriot: Adequate WIFI, for example, is one of those basic expectations. People arrive at conferences with briefcases full of greedy devices that gobble up bandwidth. Many venues are unprepared for that level of demand. You need to know the right questions to ask the venue and you need to determine if bringing in an outside internet provider is the right choice based on your audience and your conference requirements.
Mark Allen: Yes, WIFI is essential in the meeting space, but there’s also a major trend to expand the event beyond the physical venue through Live Streaming. Not everyone has the time or can afford to take four or five days off to attend a conference. Live Streaming makes virtual attendance possible by broadcasting the event live over the Internet.
The adoption rate for Live Streaming is really taking off. Last year alone there were over 6 million events streamed live over the Internet.
Judy Geriot: Clients fear Live Streaming may decrease attendance, but evidence shows that it typically raises attendance. People who view an event online are more likely to attend in person the following year.
Understanding our client’s content strategy is king when it comes to Live Streaming. What are we going to stream? What exactly will the audience be watching? All of that’s important to understand so we can determine how we will execute the production. We want to make sure our client’s content matches their brand voice and their targeted prospects and customers.
Viewers do not want to watch a graphic slide for five minutes or experience a pause in audio or video. We need to make sure that something’s always happening onscreen. Keep it interesting. That’s what will meaningfully engage the audience.
And…there should always be a call to action at the end of the Live Stream. Viewers should be prompted to follow you on social media, ask post-event questions in the chat, or tune in to your next event.
Audience engagement after the stream is over is critical in turning your viewers into customers.
Mark Allen: Where and how the content will be viewed is also critical. If you’re streaming a private event, it’s a Best Practice to embed the stream on your website or create a password-protected stream. If you’re streaming a public event, your content should live on multiple platforms and web sites. Your livestream can be embedded on your website, on social media and/or on a livestreaming platform.
Judy Geriot: As a corporate event producer, it’s important that we make the Live Stream audience feel like they are present at the event. That’s why we test the lighting, camera and equipment placement with the Live Stream experience in mind. Sometimes we use a multi-camera production so that we can capture a variety of perspectives and maximize the overall production value. One camera may focus on major keynote speakers and feature spokespeople or commentators. Other cameras may roam to different sessions, visit the expo hall and sponsor booths, or seek out individuals to interview on-screen. We recommend at least two to three cameras.
CDL: That raises the growing importance of social media at events.
Judy Geriot: Social media planning is essential in creating a branded environment for the event. It needs to be fully integrated throughout the event, with the event hashtag creating a virtual cocoon for the duration of the meeting. Create opportunities for people to post to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Set up a photo booth so people can post professional photos to their accounts – branded to the client, of course. Provide a social media wall with live feeds to people are encouraged to participate.
It’s all part of building relationships.
CDL: And social media ties in with the event’s mobile app…
Judy Geriot: Event Apps serve many functions — from tracking attendees to keeping your guests engaged with additional content at your event. There’s no better way to deliver event marketing messages and sparking additional engagement than using an event app.
Some apps act as a local social sharing platform, some connect live presentations to audience members’ smartphones in real time … there’s no end to the potential applications.
Mark Allen: The mobile app has become a prerequisite at any large event. It’s an indispensable virtual assistant that keeps schedules, provides directions, and answers questions. Now we’re starting to integrate Chatbots into mobile apps that can have Siri-like conversations with users to answer questions and provide information.
Judy Geriot: The entire meeting management function is rapidly becoming automated. Long lines at registration are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Wearable pendants and Radio Frequency Identification are tracking activity and feeding into sales information and CRM systems. Facial recognition at registration is happening now. It’s analytics everywhere!
Mark Allen: But with all that data being collected, there’s growing concern about privacy and security. In the European Union, new laws are going into effect this May … so it’s important to have an event partner who understands the rules.
CDL: What about the meeting presentation itself? What’s new?
Judy Geriot: The good news is that sophisticated presentation technology is becoming less expensive. LED technology, for example, is becoming much more affordable. Video mapping – being able to isolate virtually any portion of the screen to do practically whatever you want – is commonplace.
CDL: Will we see the end of the PowerPoint presentation anytime soon?
Judy Geriot: Nobody likes sitting there while presenters read PowerPoint slides. And now the alternatives are almost limitless. There was a time when speaking engagements consisted of passive audience members. Thanks to technology, however, that’s completely changed.
CDL: What about Virtual Reality?
Mark Allen: Realistically we’re still in the headset era, and VR isn’t really ready for large audiences. Consumer acceptance is growing, however, and I wouldn’t bet against VR showing up in General Sessions before long.
Judy Geriot: Augmented Reality will pave the way – integrating real-world experiences with digital technology. In addition to offering an unrivaled event experience, it goes a notch higher to provide extra information on the event.
Augmented Reality superimposes additional information on a user’s view of the real world – creating an interactive aspect to your event and making it more memorable. You can have people use their own smartphones or provide high-tech goggles to wear as they walk through the space, learning more about the objects in front of them. The result is an integrated, robust and interactive event experience.
CDL: How much does a successful event depend on cost?
Mark Allen: In the end, money doesn’t ensure success. Quality is not really a function of cost. Yes, technology is changing and it’s getting better and better, and some of it’s expensive. However, the basic requirements for success haven’t changed. It all comes down to knowing the message and knowing your audience and using the right technology to communicate your important message.
Judy Geriot: The challenge is to leverage technology to gain the maximum benefit within the client’s budget. That’s the skill set and the value our team at CDL brings to any assignment.
Contact Judy Geriot for more information on using Live Streaming, Mobile Apps, Virtual Reality or any of these technologies at your next event.
LIVE STREAMING 101: Keys to Success
Considering Live Streaming for your next conference? Live Streaming is rapidly going mainstream as a critical element in successful events. Live Streaming is a cost-effective audience builder, and it can add enormous value … but it’s important to understand some key prerequisites.
Quality: This should go without saying. Make sure your Live Streams are the highest quality – both visually and audibly — to provide your viewers with an enjoyable live experience.
Content is King: Always plan content first. What are the key messages? Who is the audience? How will the Live Stream be distributed? How will it be used after the event? Make sure there’s always something happening on the screen. Keep it interesting!
Promote Your Broadcast in Advance: If no one knows about your Live Stream, you won’t have an audience. Promote the event on your website, on social media, with email blasts – anything to get the word out!
Plan Ahead: It’s important to plan and test all of your equipment to make sure ensure streaming works the way you want it to. We recommend testing at least two weeks in advance if you are able. At minimum, you should test 24 hours before your Live Stream to ensure bandwidth quality, technical functionality, and redundancy. Test all video and audio settings and tools you plan to use in-stream for at least 30 minutes uninterrupted, and turn off any firewalls your computer may be running to ensure the best Internet connection possible.
Involve Your Audience: Get your audience involved by leveraging social, chat, survey and polling technology during the event. These engagement strategies will amplify and sharpen your message, as your audience shares their experiences and enthusiasm. While not all webcast platforms allow for two-way chat and may be limited to one-way Q&A, you can have a highly interactive experience with your attendees using the chat feature.
Include a Call to Action: Always leave your viewers wanting more. Your viewers should be prompted to follow you on social media, ask post-event questions in the chat, or tune in to your next event.
Rely on the Experts: You can depend on Corporate Dimensions to bring the experience and expertise required to make your Live Steaming event a memorable and successful experience!