November 28, 2017

Every day there are advances in technology that have the potential to change and improve the efficiency of your event. While specific event apps are improving and enhancing the attendee experience, here are some of the more significant "big‐picture" advances.

Putting technology to work.  Event and meetings venues are increasingly acknowledging and encouraging the use of both personal and facility-based electronic devices as a way to empower attendees. "At Crowne Plaza®, we've found meeting attendees are responding well to fingertip service enabled by technology. In our Plaza Workspace, guests are able to place food and beverage orders, without interrupting the flow of their meetings, through tablets in meeting rooms. The order for a cappuccino and a power lunch goes from tablet, to our hotel team, back to the meeting table seamlessly," says Meredith Latham, Head of Crowne Plaza. 

Smart badges grow up. The smart badge replaces traditional name badges and is a lightweight, button‐sized Bluetooth device that can be worn with a lanyard or clip. It has the capability to track event entrance and session sign‐in, and gather marketing materials. In terms of your group, it and its app allow people to exchange contact information and keep a comprehensive record of whom they met and what they did throughout the event, as well as manage messaging and social media tools. Along with analytics, it can track attendee actions in real time, so planners can see where attendees are going with traffic flow patterns, time spent with exhibitors and which sessions are the most popular.

Speeding the agenda's pace. If one of technology's goals is to increase efficiency and get more work done in less time, there are many ways that's taking hold. "We're seeing a lot of meeting attendees make great use of technology during breaks between meetings. One example is that our marketplaces are stocked with healthy food and drink options and the meeting attendee can check out seamlessly on tablets in the space. It's grab‐and‐go technology that allows the guest to stay in flow," Latham continues.

New options for lead capture. New lead‐capture apps will give exhibitors the ability to capture attendee information using any of three different features:

• Attendees who visit a company's booth can manually fill out the form using a smartphone or tablet.
• Exhibitors can take a photo of an attendee's business card and transcribe the information from it.
• Exhibitors can use OCR technology to scan business cards and automatically capture the data from them.
This is a boon to one of the basic functions of live events: networking. 

Virtual reality gets serious. We've been hearing for a while that virtual reality was going to transform the events industry. It's not there yet, but it's gradually becoming a useful tool for planners. Driving this is the drop in cost for VR equipment. The cheaper ones don't need to be attached to anything and are powered entirely by an app on the phone, and the cheapest ones are less than $20. So the cost to run a simple VR experience in a trade show booth has come way down. 

Beacons take hold. Beacons can significantly improve the form and function of event content. They're small devices that transmit a message via Bluetooth to select applications on an attendee's mobile device. Among the data that Beacon technology collects are the attendee's identity, the day/time that they arrive to a specific place and the length of time they stay there. Planners can see who visited the trade show floor or meeting rooms, as well as how often and for how long. There's also an interactive feature: with an audience interaction tool, the beacon allows attendees to post comments and submit questions to presenters in real time.

For more information on holding a tech‐savvy meeting at Crowne Plaza, click here.