How technology will change the events industry in 2015 and beyond
Lauren Hall writes on technology’s role in the events industry’s shift to a model of engagement, experience and efficiency.
The events industry will not exist in its current shape in 10, or maybe even five years from now. Technological advances and social media have enabled more immersive experiences, allowing consumers to shape how they engage with events – from planning processes to participating in delivery.
In a $4 billion industry that went up 1.1% in revenue in 2013-2014 in Australia, there is slow shift from creativity and impact to the E3 model of engagement, experience and efficiency. The language has evolved to reflect not only business need for connected experience, engagement and social interactions, but also customer expectations aligned with change everywhere else.
Increased consumer control
The levelling effect of technology will see more people experienced in managing events and, events becoming easier to manage. Cloud-based tools, more simplistic website design, easier to execute webinars and other advances will result in people across different hierarchies of an organisation becoming more involved in planning functions. Mainstream platforms such as Facebook Events will help make this movement more ubiquitous. The role of IT departments in data and CRM management will also reduce as event technologies become more synergistic and easy to use by any stakeholder.
Events will follow the transformation seen in other industries such as travel where software platforms like Expedia and TripAdvisor have enabled instant access to information, allowing consumers to compare and pay.
Data and cloud driven evolution
A whitepaper published by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events highlights how, as big data tools become cheaper and more readily available, event managers will be able to deliver better products and services – having mined information collected on customers, the community and the event. Combined with easy access via the cloud, event planners have the tools to shape content and manage experiences anytime and from anywhere.
Forbes recently talked about how a combination of big data, social and mobile adoption redefined the city of Rio as it hosted the FIFA World Cup and prepares for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. In a country that has the fourth highest Internet usage in the world, Brazil is using technology to power major events and simultaneously create strong business propositions for different sectors. Converging live data from a different traffic and surveillance devices, active social networks, and a variety of other data sources, the city mobilised resources to appropriate places, ensuring the best delivery at every event.
Beyond the macro waves, smaller event planners are also data mining to analyse demographics, gauge engagement, generate leads and measure ROI. Increased data capture across different sources will result in more integrated planning within marketing – especially across social, digital and experience functions.
Print guides will give way to mobile
Mobile event guides and tools will take precedence over print in 2015 and, eventually replace print as the primary guide format. The biggest factor in favour of mobile guides is not just its accessibility, but that they can be easily updated via the cloud to reflect real-time changes. Sponsors can also benefit from being able to see real-time engagement on social media, interest in listings and schedules and information being pushed out.
The fundamental role of the event
What defines the industry will never change – people go to events for a great experience and, in the case of business events, to form relationships for a specific purpose. The event is still there for selling a product and for providing a platform to forge relationships.
Social media engagement has resulted in events playing a bigger brand extension role. Where previously, many events were observed as standalone activities, they now serve a greater purpose – as conversation starters on social media, lead generators for businesses, data mining tools for CRM, experience centres for brands and engagement hubs for sponsors.
The audience are no longer observers. They are active participants shaping the success of the event – in real-time. As technology evolves in 2015, so too will these trends. Just as these changes get entrenched in the industry, new ones will come up. And, the show will go on.
Lauren Hall is the founder and CEO of iVvy, an event management software solutions provider. She is one of the eight Springboard Enterprises Australia alumni for 2014.