Are you one of the estimated 22 million people who will buy an Apple Watch this year? As an event professional, chances are you've spent some time since Apple's announcement in September 2014 thinking about if and how the watch will affect future events.
Let's face it: If there's one screen that stands a chance of competing with your smartphone, it's your watch. While Apple is still working on optimizing its supply to match current demand for its new technology, it's never too early for meeting planners to explore how Apple Watch will influence the event experience for you and your attendees.
Score one for push notifications
When there is information to push out, Apple Watch gives you a major boost communicating urgent, relevant messages to your attendees. With its haptic (tap on the wrist) touch and high screen resolution, the Apple Watch offers another discrete way of sending important news and updates to your audience.
Never miss a session again
The beautiful thing about live events is all the spontaneous conversations and networking that take place in the hallways, the dining room and at the bar. Not every conversation, however, should come at the expense of planned activities. Notifications set up in the mobile event app will be displayed on the Apple Watch, letting users know when an event is about to begin. They won't miss it, and the speaker will be thrilled with the higher attendance.
Capture traffic and attendance like you've always dreamed
From location-based navigation to check-ins, Apple Watch will help your attendees get around your event and sign in to sessions and activities with ease. You'll also enjoy the benefits of all the data to see and understand where they're spending their time so you can adapt your event plans accordingly on the fly. The low-profile nature of the Apple Watch makes it a far more convenient way to display a bar or QR code for scanning, either by an exhibitor or by an attendant at an activity, session or workshop. With a flick of the wrist, attendees can check themselves in, register for future contact by an exhibitor, etc., without needing anyone to wave a scanner at them. All of this makes the QR code more relevant and more useful. This could take the name badge back to its roots, reserved for a person's name in big, bold, readable letters, without the clutter of a QR or bar code taking up space. That said, when the smartwatch becomes as ubiquitous as the smartphone and everyone's walking around with an app, the app will be able to tell you the name of the person standing in front of you (think beacons or NFC). Admit it: Badges are dorky looking, and there is definitely a smoother way of communicating, thanks to mobile/wearable technology.
Encourage more feedback
How about a subtle reminder to take a poll or complete a survey as attendees file out of a session? If you have a mobile app, then you already know the positive impact it has on survey-response rates. Apple Watch's notification capabilities and touch screen may help increase response rates. You may need to redesign your surveys to fit the user experience, which is a good thing.
Score one for health and fitness
Meeting Planners can tap into Apple Watch's native health apps and encourage attendees to use some of their downtime to get up and move. From tracking footsteps to monitoring their pulse and blood oxygen, Apple Watch provides that little extra push that your attendees will appreciate.
Is your event social? Apple Watch just upped the game
With native Twitter and Instagram apps, Apple Watch will encourage easier social sharing and networking before, during and after your event. If you have a social wall such as QuickMobile's Concerto, then you'll get even better response as attendees join the conversation from their wrists.
Travel planning gets easier
Smartphones are great for apps that help you hail a cab, find a bus schedule or check into a flight. A smartwatch might extend these benefits even further. From Uber and American Airlines to TripIt and Starwood SPG, your attendees can now quickly and easily manage their travel, thanks to Apple Watch. This makes their time spent at your event more productive and allows them be a part of the action, even if it's just for a little bit longer.
I'll buy that
Apple Watch and Apple Pay? From on-site registration to retail transactions, your attendees will no longer have to fumble for their phones __ let alone their wallets __ to pay for a variety of goods and services at your event.
What's in it for the event planner?
We mentioned the increase in event-related data such as traffic patterns and check-ins, as well as the strong likelihood that you'll see an increase in social media traffic (if desired), networking, commerce and feedback. But the impact could be felt beyond these things: Apple Watch and other smartwatches have the potential to materially enhance the attendee experience at your event, increasing their ability to interact hands-free. A happier attendee means a happier you.
It will likely take a year or more for Apple Watch to show up in any real volume at your events, but it's coming. The prospects are as great for you as they are for your attendees, and the time to begin thinking about how to prepare for the advent of the wrist-driven event experience starts now.
Jeff Epstein is director, product and channel marketing, with QuickMobile. He has more than 15 years of experience in product marketing and currently defines the company's corporate and product messaging and leads the development of its lead generation and sales-enablement content.