Transformative Meetings Technology Trends for 2015
a list of technologies to become more familiar with as you plan your association's
communications for next year.
By Corbin Ball
are exciting times. The rate of technology change is accelerating with
thousands of ideas, apps, and innovations bubbling up to help meeting planners,
exhibitors, venues, and other meeting participants to do their jobs better.
are the major events technology trends that association publishers and communicators
should be watching for in the coming year?
event apps have become mainstream. Mobile use at events has exploded, and
mobile event app providers are expanding and refining the options.Much of
the development has focused on replacing existing processes, such as paper
event programs, agendas, attendee lists exhibition guides, course notes, paper
surveys, directional signage, and program maps. Additionally, event apps offer
improved: onsite social media networking, peer-to-peer messaging, gamification
applications, CEU (continuing education unit) tracking, and social media
mobile event apps are not just about improving existing processes. They can be
about providing entirely new services as the next two trends indicate.
low energy (BLE) and iBeacon will provide a wealth of new options for associations
iBeacons are very low power, low cost, Bluetooth transmitters with up to 150
foot range. IBeacons can share information with Apple and later model Android
mobile device apps. This year, iBeacons have been installed in sports arenas, museums, airports, and a variety
of retail establishments.
all of the major event app developers are working on ways to incorporate it.
Here are some possibilities:
and scavenger hunts
information and navigation assistance (example: a geofence can notify attendees
where they are on a map and give guidance on where they wish to go.)
welcome and other location-based alert notifications upon arrival (example: a
badge is printed when the attendee enters the geo-fence with notification sent
via the app to the badge printing location.)
media networking and information exchange (example: iBeacon communication can
be two-way, so with user permission, the phone app can transmit contact
information, social media profiles, specific meeting room access information,
meal tracking, food preferences, and much more. Communication between attendees
can be enhanced with notification/pictures/information about who is nearby.)
demonstrations, videos, etc. for exhibit booth products or any other interest
point in a conference venue.
exhibitor or event management messages to different categories of participants.
action metrics (example: organizers can track where attendees are spending
their time with alert notifications to problems such as an inordinately long
event app developers must take care to use iBeacons very judiciously —
specifically, to provide significant value to event participants. If attendees
feel that this technology is an invasion of privacy with no payback for them,
they will turn off the Bluetooth reception or uninstall the app.
will emerge as one of the most important benefits of mobile event apps. The
onsite meeting used to be the black hole of event data management. Planners
used computers before and after events, but during an event they were flying
blind. Today, mobile event apps offer an unprecedented amount of analytic data
— a goldmine of useful, real-time information to improve the event experience.
Every touch is trackable!
analytics can answer instantly the following questions at any time during the
are trending hot topics?
are the top speakers?
exhibit booths have the most attendance?
speakers/exhibitors are "liked” the most?
are the key connectors/influencers?
are the attendees’ ratings on specific survey and/or polling questions?
these analytic capabilities will also extend to and interoperate with online
registration and membership management systems to provide greater
personalization to participants and greater insight into their behavior (see
data will become a key component of event marketing and design. Big data combines
data from widely disparate sources in an aggregate form to spot trends and make
business decisions and to improve customer interaction experiences. Big Data is "the next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity," according
challenge is that big data takes lots of computer processing and storage
resources — previously only available to large, very well funded entities. Big
Data-as-a-Service (BDaaS) is emerging as cloud providers offer smaller organizations
or associations more affordable access to these huge streams of relevant
example is the collaboration between ICCA – The International Congress and
Convention Association and Human Equation providing BDaaS
for its members. Members can search 436 million articles by 7.4 million
academic authors to find local "champions” to help develop events, track
trends, and a variety of other deep database search capabilities.
these large data integration services work on a broad, enterprise scale, this
same concept will also be used on an event level. Through integrated
registration and mobile technologies, it is becoming possible to combine many
streams of data generated during event registration, web clicks, exhibitor
interactions, mobile app activity, gamification, social media activity, surveys
and more to gain insight to improve events and to facilitate personalization
for event participants.
breaches and app hacking will likely target events in 2015.
recent data breaches of Home Depot, Target, eBay, the Heartbleed bug and the
August 2014 hacker theft of 1.2 billion email address/passwords are examples of
increased and more sophisticated hacking activity. Hackers will almost
inevitably target some events via an online registration system and/or a mobile
event-related app (likely an Android version) in the near future.
limit exposure, make sure your registration company is PCI compliant and take other
steps to guard attendee information captured.
automated language translation capabilities will be used for events.
days of the UN-style interpretation booths in the back of the room for
international events may be numbered. In 2007, Google Translate, a free text
translation tool, became available. It currently translates text to and from
more than 80 languages. Since then, a range of mobile apps has added more
functionality, including WordLens;
voice to voice translations apps like Translate Voice Free and Jibbigo; and Skype Translator (currently in
beta testing) to provide two-way video conference voice translation
and hotel Wi-Fi is becoming expected and ubiquitous.
to Hotels.com, free Wi-Fi is the most desired hotel in-room amenity. With
hundreds of mobile
event apps now
available, Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity are the lifeblood of event
communications. This has not been without challenges, with hotels and other
event venues scrambling to keep up with the exploding demand.
good news is that the technology exists to provide very high-density,
high-speed Wi-Fi connectivity to large groups – and many facilities are
starting to catch up. Planners are increasingly examining venues’ abilities to
provide good quality, easy-to-use, and reasonably priced Wi-Fi and cellular
connectivity as key factors in making venue purchase decisions.
transition from "attendee" to "participant" will continue. The combination
of social media and mobile technology has provided a wide range of attendee
engagement options. The entire dynamic of meetings is changing; instead of "top-down"
it is "bottom-up." In other words, instead of attendees passively
sitting at event watching a talking head, meeting participants are demanding a
greater say and expect active engagement. This is playing out in several ways:
media apps are used to recruit and engage participants before, during, and
highly mobilized social media tools (Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, and
others) are seeing strong use during many events.
media hubs and moderated live event social walls such as TweetWall, Postano, Hashcaster, and SocialWall are seeing
is being tightly integrated into many mobile event apps to increase participant
engagement and appealing to peoples’ fundamental desire for reward,
achievement, and competition.
and networking options are being built into many mobile event apps.
participants are expecting personalized communication and choices tailored to
are many specialized participant engagement apps and web tools which can be
used by speakers, including Conferences i/o, Crowd Mics, Evenium ConnexMe, MeetingPulse, PollEverwhere, Social Q&A, Klowd, and UberMeetings.
(drone) video will provide new perspective for event photography — if regulatory
hurdles are passed. Convention video has been around for decades, but it
has typically been limited to tripod-mounted and handheld cameras providing
static shots. This is about to change.
multi-rotor helicopters (sometimes referred to as drones), fitted with
professional HD video cameras with stabilizing mounts, are providing an
entirely new prospective for event and meetings-related video.
caution: things are a bit up in the air (forgive the pun) regarding drone
usage. The FAA has yet to weigh in on the topic and significant restrictions
may be coming.
spans will continue to decrease. Human knowledge is doubling every year, and
the rate is accelerating rapidly (IndustryTab, 2014). We are awash in
information and barraged with hundreds of marketing messages daily — not to
mention hundreds of email and text messages as well. About 100 hours of video
are uploaded to YouTube every minute. As we desperately try to multi-task to
keep up, many of us feel overwhelmed.
of the results is decreasing attention spans that are changing how events are
marketed, managed, and experienced:
presentation times are being scheduled (the15-minute TED talk style is becoming
interactivity during sessions is required.
audience engagement tools are used.
need to play a prominent role in articles, blogs, website postings, event
promotional materials, and computer presentations.
video is the new language of the Internet — more powerful than pictures and far
more powerful than text. A good video can be worth a thousand pictures. Tip:
Promotional videos should be no longer than a minute.
Here’s a bonus trend: Despite the increased use of
virtual meetings technology, face-to-face meetings and tradeshows will remain
and other virtual meetings are great for short information exchange. However,
in today’s multi-tasking and often distracting work environment, attention
spans are short. Thirty to 45 minutes is usually the maximum you can expect
someone to pay attention to a webinar while sitting in front of a monitor.
on the other hand, take people to a more focused environment with fewer
distractions. As long as attendees are informed, entertained, and fed, event
hosts can keep them engaged for days. The opportunities for networking,
brainstorming, and relationship building are usually far greater at
face-to-face events than online. For an exhibitor, it is often the best way to
meet so many qualified buyers in such a short time. For buyers, it is a great
chance to meet vendors of interest — all together in one location, categorized,
and mapped for your choosing.
Corbin Ball, CMP,
CSP is a professional speaker and consultant
focusing on meetings technology. With 20 years of experience running international citywide technology meetings, he now helps clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He can be contacted at his website, Corbin Ball Associates-Meetings Technology Headquarters.