A lot has changed in the last 12 months for everyone, not least for the events industry. The pandemic has changed the way we communicate, as well as the way we perceive and experience events. As we start to see a route out of government restrictions, we take a look at how technology has taken a leap forward and is reshaping the events industry.
With virtual event experiences and webinars now the norm as part of the B2B marketing mix, buyers are looking to future proof their investments through innovation and ensuring the solutions used are being continually developed to stay ahead of the curve.
Expectations have risen and a simple webinar is now not enough for audiences.
The number of virtual event platforms has rocketed in the last 12 months, with functionality now offering more audience engagement and networking. Artificial intelligence (or AI) has taken a central role in this, using machine learning to suggest networking connections and targeted content to participating attendees.
AI is set to only grow further in the coming years with voice activated commands used for events – both virtual and in-person. Attendees asking their ‘virtual assistant’, enabled on their device, “when/where is my next session?”, “sign me up for x session” or commands “Bookmark Y exhibitor” – the technology will be programmed for “if, then” scenarios so the virtual assistant can ask if the attendee would like to book a meeting with the exhibitor.
Other functionality driven by AI will include AI powered interpreters – using machine learning software to translate content in the virtual live environment and present as closed captions in real-time. This is in its early stages at the moment and needs some refining to ensure the translation is accurate. Preferences and corrections will be saved to ensure continuous improvement in the translation.
As we start to plan in-person events again later this year, hybrid options will be vital for bridging the gap between the virtual events everyone has become used to and the in-person experience. The challenge will be to make a personalised experience for every attendee whether in-person or virtual.
Event technology is key to merging these two worlds to offer ‘shared experiences’.
Virtual platforms who offer a mobile app will ensure a cohesive event experience for all, seamlessly integrating the virtual event platform functionality for the in-person attendees, to engage on the same platform.
Hybrid events will be more ‘TV show’ than conference and high-tech venues will be a must – with super-fast internet, built-in technology for streaming and professional AV support becoming top of the venue wish list. As we see a portion of the audience log-in virtually, we will see parts of the food and beverage budget migrate to a larger AV budget.
Safety concerns will drive contactless tech for in-person events, allowing the digitisation of all event interactions will reduce the need to ‘touch’. These innovations are also driven by the need for sustainability which is a key consideration and an issue the industry is under pressure to comply with moving forward.
Facial recognition will be key to this and the apps will eventually replace badging, allowing attendees to exchange data via the mobile app alone.
Globally, we are all using technology more to create social experiences, whether it’s playing video games together remotely, having watch parties of your favourite movie or escaping a complicated puzzle room with your friends. This is set to continue and will grow in the events industry as a format for creating engagement and social aspects to virtual and hybrid events – gamifying knowledge exchange and learning.
360 degree/VR guides will be offered to virtual attendees at in-person events, offering a live VR experience including commentary from an on-site host, therefore allowing virtual attendees to feel like they are at the event and immersed in the atmosphere and buzz.
As Zoom fatigue has kicked in, more people are feeling less inclined to join virtual events which pin them to their desks for hours at a time. Giving audiences the opportunity to choose how they consume content and allowing an audio only channel at virtual and hybrid events, will let attendees multi-task and give them the freedom to move away from their desk when engaging with the content. Listening uses a different part of the brain, which allows us to visualise concepts – bringing with it more imagination and understanding.
The pandemic has driven innovation faster than at any other time in history and will continue to do so in the coming months and years, as we strive to find new solutions to ensure safe connections and meaningful experiences.
Ultimately, marketing is driven by data analytics and the return on investment each activity generates. Technology will offer more data than ever before, allowing marketers to build more detailed, personalised and effective campaigns.
To find out more information about how Outsourced Events can help you enhance your events, navigate hybrid and the developing technologies, get in touch with us today on 0330 460 6007 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org .