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The changing face of meetings in 2015


Jan 28, 2015 | Editors

From design to tech, the meetings and events industry is in a constant state of change.  The rise in event apps, big data, event communities and fully immersive events are all a reflection of the need to drive attendee engagement and measure the success of events.

With costs rising at a faster rate than budgets, companies and event organisers are under pressure to get the most out of events by increasing attendee participation and effectively measuring the return on investment. As quoted in the American Express Meetings & Events 2015 Global Meetings Forecast, economic conditions over the past few years have resulted in "a more disciplined approach around approvals processes, increased scrutiny on spend, and a larger focus around accountability and expected outcomes for meetings."

There are a large number of event apps out there that are designed to provide solutions for measuring event participation and success, as well as enhancing attendee engagement. Online communities, scrolling Twitter walls, audience polling, gamification and mobile apps are all being used to crowdsource attendees’ ideas and opinions before, during, and after events. This case study on Eventindustrynews.co.uk demonstrates the dramatic effect an event app, in this case GleanIn’s social registration solution, can have on conversion and engagement.

Big data and analytics are emerging as an instrumental benefit of the use of mobile event apps, allowing organisers to evaluate attendee behaviour and feedback in real time. This information can be used to tailor the events and immediately enhance attendee experience. The challenge for organisers is to ensure apps are downloaded and used by making sure they meet the needs of attendees, are easy to use and provide a measurable return on investment.

Apple have invested heavily in indoor location services and intelligent mapping technologies. Bluetooth (BLE – Bluetooth Low Energy) and iBeacons can interact and share information with Apple and later model Android mobile device apps, and nearly all of the major event app developers are working on ways to incorporate this functionality. The technology will have a dramatic effect on the way events are run. Some of the possibilities include automatic check-in, personalised welcomes, automated demonstrations, navigation assistance, tracking where attendees go, where they spend time and the sessions they attend. 

A really useful initiative to help event professionals navigate through the numerous options for event tech solutions was successfully launched on 20th January. Event Tech Lab, sponsored by Google Campus and the #EventProfs Network, is designed to assist start-ups, developers and event professionals to form a partnership community around event technology and its development and growth. More than one hundred event industry professionals attended the inaugural evening, which included presentations by event technology start-ups and a discussion by an expert panel on the future of event technology and its use at events. Regular sessions will be held allowing for tech start-ups to pitch products and talk about the technological issues in the event industry. Find out more here:  www.eventtechlab.com

The format of meetings and events is changing in an effort to facilitate greater attendee participation. Planners are exchanging PowerPoint presentations and theatre-style seating for problem-solving breakout groups and alternate room layouts to enable collaborative discussions. This development is occurring right through from small meeting groups to large exhibitions, where instead of the traditional speaker format, we are seeing more panel debates and question and answer forums.

This emphasis on attendee feedback and engagement is driving a change in the way events are planned, resulting in more unique events that have been co-created by the attendees. Everything from food to entertainment and décor to content can be polled and discussed, resulting in tailored and immersive events that are sure to inspire and engage attendees.

Whether you are planning an exhibition for thousands or a business meeting for a few, we would love to hear about your event, and whether you will be incorporating any new event technology or ideas. Get in touch with us via editor@venues.org.uk to tell us your event plans for 2015.

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