Is Your Event On the Edge of Technology?

Event technology is changing events as we know it. From augmented reality to wearable smart badges, event tech is rapidly transforming the way we create and experience events. Because we are living in the digital age, it has become increasingly important to attendees that the world around them keeps up with their fast-paced lifestyles, this includes the events they attend.

Some event profs may be ready for the digital transformation and some may not, but all can agree that elevating the attendee experience is a priority in 2018. Event technology can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. In today’s post we’re going to be breaking down some of the latest and greatest technologies that you can start using at your events.

Here are 5 event technologies to utilize at your next event to create a memorable experience for attendees:

Live Chat: Take your event website to the next level with live chat. Though not a new web feature for ecommerce, it is only now being implemented on event websites. With live chat, consumers can type their questions into a chat box that appears and have direct interaction with an agent in seconds or minutes. So why does this matter? Because 53% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question (Forrester, 2016). This includes tickets to your event, so stay a step ahead with live chat to ensure your attendees are able to get their questions answered and get to purchasing tickets quicker.

 

Digital Registration & Check-In: The last thing your attendees want are to wait in a long line, which is especially hard to avoid when you’re hosting a large event. That is why digital check-in comes in handy, using a QR code or RFID technology, digital registration & check-in software can check-in your attendees in seconds all while tracking their individual information for post-event analytics. Digital check-in enables you to:

  • Scan-in tickets and redeem products in seconds
  • Provide smooth “at-the-door” purchasing
  • Track line times
  • Connect to detailed reports

 

Wearable Smart Badges: Pre-printed badges are a thing of the past and wearable smart badges are today’s most efficient way to credential your attendees. As wearable technology continues to advance, a growing number of event profs are leveraging this technology to turn standard conference badges into wearables that provide a more streamlined event experience, and offer detailed data on attendee behavior and preferences. RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification and uses radio waves to transmit information between two or more devices. RFID wristbands enable you to easily track your attendees as they check-in to your event or specific vendor booths. You can then use this valuable data to improve your event, leverage sponsorship and create your best event to date. The wristbands are light, durable, and are an integral part of valuable event analytics.

 

Augmented Reality: You can’t read about event tech these days without hearing all the buzz about virtual reality. And while virtual reality is cool at events, it’s overshadowing the powerful capabilities of augmented reality (AR). AR is a technology that uses a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world to provide an enhanced view that may include animation. So how does this work at events? Think of a Pokemon-Go-like experience but for events. Like a quest for rewards that leads attendees around an event to win prizes. The idea of AR is to provide an elevated and more interactive experience. While still very new to events, I’m sure we’ll see technology implemented at events in the next year or so.

Sell More Tickets With Live Chat

Did you know that 53% of US online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question? (Forrester, 2016). The last thing you want is an event goer to not complete their purchase because they’re hung up on one question. Time is valuable to consumers and valuing their time is a key part of good customer service. That is why many websites have turned to a web feature called live chat to help them answer their visitors questions quickly and conveniently.

With live chat, consumers can type their questions into a chat box that appears and have direct interaction with an agent in seconds or minutes. Like any product, events can spark questions that affect an event goer’s decision on whether or not to buy a ticket. Event goers may have questions regarding re-entry or even food allergies. If they can get those questions answered quickly, then they can continue with their purchase worry-free. Live chat enables these consumers to get the answers they need from anywhere with an internet connection. Their purchase is also likely to happen faster with live chat because they can get the info they need without having to navigate through your website.

Though we are among a tech savvy generation, there are still many that aren’t as familiar with website functionality. For these event goers, live chat can help them from getting lost in the buying process. Live chat is easy to use and allows people to multitask in case they want to browse around during the chat. It can also tackle language barriers, as many live chat softwares offer translation. So where can you find live chat software?

Live Chat Software

Live chat gives you a competitive advantage and helps you build trust with your buyers. Here are the 5 best live chat softwares available, published on Capterra:

1) Front

2) Zendesk

3) Zoho SalesIQ

4) LiveChat

5) SnapEngage

Live chat softwares can come with an array of functions to take your live chat to the next level like video chat, visitor targeting, and a call me option to name a few. It’s best to set up some demos with softwares you’re interested to see what capabilities they come with. It is even possible to set up live chat on Facebook. You won’t be able to use live chat on an event page but you can use it on any Facebook fan pages.

Entry point pricing usually starts at around $15 per month with an increasing number of providers offering completely free plans (freemium) with reduced functionality like Proonto and FreshDesk. Usually you can also try one of their premium packages for a period of at least 14 days. Prices can be as expensive as a couple of hundred dollars per month depending on the features you select. (ChatToolTester).

For a more comprehensive list of live chat tools, visit G2 Crowd.

Setting Up Live Chat

Once you’ve decided to get live chat and have chosen a software provider, you’ll need to set it up to work on your website. Setup will not be the same for every software but here is a generic outline of the process:

1) Install the software. You’ll start by downloading the software you choose to your computer, following the step by step guidelines along the way.

2) Link integrations. If you’re running your website on a popular platform like WordPress, mainstream softwares will offer automatic integrations so that you don’t have to manually install.

3) Download associated app. Most softwares will have an app that you can login to that where your agents will be able to chat with customers.

4) Set your preferences. Don’t have a team of agents readily available 24/7? No worries. You can receive your support emails as tickets by setting up email forwarding, that way you can get to support emails when you’re ready.

*Please note that if you want live chat disabled during certain hours, most softwares will allow you to schedule accordingly so that it turns on and off when you need it to.

Wrapping Things Up

Planning an event is a lot of work and we admire the effort and passion that event makers have for their events. Event makers spend a lot of time making the event an experience to remember, the last thing they want to do is be tied up with phone calls or emails. With live chat, agents can interact with event goers 24/7 giving them the flexible and on-demand experience they’re looking for without taking up valuable event maker time. In the end live chat saves you time, money, and resources all while enabling you to sell more tickets.

In conclusion, If you knew that an event goer’s ticket purchase was being hindered by one small question, you’d want to get it answered as soon as possible. Don’t let your event goers get lost in the buying process. Reassure them about their purchase with live chat and don’t let another minute go to waste.

The Potential of Virtual Reality at Events

Recently, I attended an event where virtual reality stations were set up. At these stations, you could try out and jump into the world of virtual reality, teleporting yourself to new worlds and new experiences. The experience was incredible and unique, and left you amazed at all the possibilities virtual reality brings to the entertainment industry.

During one of these virtual experiences, workers placed sensors on your ankles, your wrists, and even fitted you with a backpack meant to detect your movement so it could be accurately displayed in virtual reality. Once you put on the goggles, you were instantly teleported to a new world. When you walked, your character in the virtual reality world walked, and when you moved your arms, they followed as if they were your own.

The entire experience was mesmerizing, and my eyes, as well as my friends, were opened to the possibilities that virtual reality presents for the future of entertainment.

We imagined how virtual reality could be incorporated in movies and video games, making them completely first-person interactive, or how virtual reality could change long-established games such as laser tag by inserting you into a new world every time you play. Our minds were wrapped up in the idea of what virtual reality means for the future, and how well it will be adopted.

But what didn’t cross our minds at the time was the implementation of virtual reality into the event space. When you think of virtual reality, most people think of how it can be used in video games, TV, and movies – a natural fit. Yet, there is a real opportunity for events to seize the moment and make virtual reality a part of their event.

In fact, the integration of virtual reality at events is already starting to happen. My first interaction with virtual reality didn’t happen at a movie theater – it happened at a live event. And while it wasn’t the main act at the event, it was there to bolster the event and make it more engaging and more enjoyable. I left with a better experience at the event because of virtual reality, than I would have had I not had the chance to use it. Other events could, and should start incorporating virtual reality into their events to make them stand out from other events. Here are three ways virtual reality can be used to improve events.

Similarly, other events could take the technology to help enhance their event and drive attendee engagement. Here are three ways virtual reality can be used to improve events.

Attendee Engagement

Right now, virtual reality is new and exciting. It’s a shiny new toy that most people haven’t been exposed to yet. By bringing in virtual reality demonstrations or exhibits, your attendees will get a completely new experience that they haven’t experienced anywhere else. These exhibits could happen at any variety of events from conferences and comic-cons, to music and film festivals. By acting now and dedicating a room to virtual reality, you can get more people engaged at your event.

Virtual Reality at Events

 Often times at events, there is a lot of sitting, watching, and listening, with very little time for participating. Virtual reality can eliminate that, if even for 15 minutes, by getting attendees engaged in an attendee-friendly technology. Instead of sitting and watching, attendees have to opportunity to plug themselves into the virtual reality experience, which will leave them feeling like they did more at your event.

Virtual reality doesn’t have to be the centerpiece of your event, but it is definitely an exciting feature you can bring to your event to help attendees actively participate. The virtual reality station was such a hit at the event I went to, that the wait time to have a turn was 3-4 hours. The volunteers running the station would have you sign up, and then you would get a text message when it was your turn to go. Sure enough, nearly everybody returned to take their turn because they were excited to try it – and everybody I talked to that tried it absolutely loved it.

To improve attendee engagement at your event, try implementing a virtual reality station.

Old Is New

If you haven’t heard yet, Six Flags, the giant amusement park, recently opened up The New Revolution at Dare Devil Dive, a roller coaster where riders wear virtual reality headsets to transport them into a world that mimics the movements of the real roller coaster. Not only do you get the normal thrill of riding the twisting and turning coaster, but you get to experience an entirely new visual aspect as well, as opposed to seeing the metal rails in front of you. During the ride, you see yourself flying through a city, trying to escape an alien envasion. The mix of reality with virtual reality is perfect in this case, and makes the roller coaster experience seem brand new.

This same application of virtual reality can be implemented at any type of live event. Imagine a music festival, where attendees wear virtual reality headsets that display video that matches the music being performed.

While widespread use of virtual reality at events is a ways away, the possibilities it brings forth are tremendous. Imagine how virtual reality could change a corn maze into an entirely new experience. Attendees would still walk through the maze with their virtual reality headsets on, but could end up in an enchanted forest, a labyrinth, or a spooky town. Virtual reality has the potential to take traditional events and make them new again.

Provide New Possibilities

Many event makers have not taken advantage of new technologies at their events, not because they don’t want to, but because the application of new technology can pose challenging to work into the fibers of the event. In this regard, virtual reality is one of the easiest technologies to incorporate into an event because it can mix human experience with virtual experience. Virtual reality seems like a natural fit to mix with events.

Virtual reality can temporarily transport your attendees to a magical world, all while they are experiencing the attractions at your event. Imagine you run a Comic-Con, and you have a room set-up for virtual reality tours and adventures that take place in the worlds created in comic books and movies. Not only will your attendees get to meet their favorite characters from these shows in person, but they will get to be a part of their favorite fictional worlds made possible by virtual reality.

Virtual reality presents a real opportunities to enhance live events. While it may not be conducive to every type of event, virtual reality can certainly have a place at many types of events. Virtual reality can increase attendee engagement, improve attendee experience, make old things seem new again, and leave your attendees feeling like they had a once-in-a-lifetime experience at your event.

Disney World & RFID

Disney World, the most magical place on earth, just became a little more magical. Starting in late 2014, Disney World experimented with the use of MagicBands, RFID wristbands that connect you with your experience at Disney World. Entering your hotel room, getting fast pass tickets, purchasing lunch, and storing your photos is now as easy as tapping your arm to a scanner and you’re done.

The MagicBand defragments aspects of the event experience and combines them into one friendly, hard-to-lose wristband. Disney is one of the first major corporations to make significant breakthroughs in the way we experience live events by effectively bringing events up-to-date with this latest use of technology – in what has otherwise been a slow-to-adapt industry.

By condensing credit cards, hotel keys, park tickets, and even allowing your location at  restaurants to be triangulated through the wristband, the whole live event experience is transformed into a user friendly experience. The Disney World experience becomes more enjoyable and stress free as the MagicBand eliminates any worries of misplacing items while at the theme park. The user experience for the MagicBand proves to be overwhelmingly positive as 90 percent of MagicBand users rate their experiences with them as excellent or very good, a major hit by any measure. The high ratings send a message to other live experience creators: incorporate technology into your events or get left behind.

The use of RFID throughout Disney World was no small bet, costing Disney World $1 billion in the hopes that the MagicBand leads to better experiences and more purchases, and so far it has. Disney World has paved the way for what is just the first step in an improved live event experience.

As technology continues to advance and events are built around individual experiences, this type of technology will spread rapidly, bringing a breath of fresh air to an industry that hasn’t changed much in the last twenty years. It won’t be long before other major corporations and events start using 21st century technology at their events to improve the experience of attendees.

Would it really be surprising to see all large scale events adopt RFID, NFC, or NFMI wristbands for all of their needs? Not with the results Disney World has seen. Technologies like these are just the first steps in creating a new event experience, bringing a whole new set of possibilities to events in the future by personalizing each attendee’s experience. In the future, events will fully incorporate technology as its benefits will greatly enhance live experiences, even amid the costs. Here are some predictions for what events will look like in 2020:

The Internet of Things will be actively working at events.

The Internet of Things is the idea of putting sensors in just about all applications, such as TVs, computers, phones, fridges, speakers, and more. When all of these devices have sensors in them, they can actively communicate and exchange information with each other simply based on proximity or other sensory inputs.

Because the IoT doesn’t require you to opt-in and manually allow exchanges of information, it can change events in the future by enabling proximity based communication.

Imagine you are walking around a convention center at a trade show, and you walk towards a display that recognizes that you are near, and automatically starts presenting a demo. You decide to move on from the exhibit, it stops playing, and offers you an unbeatable offer that you cannot beat.

Or imagine yourself at a concert or festival where the Internet of Things connects you to an interactive game, gives you discounts to restaurants or more. Imagine the Internet of Things connecting you to a drone overhead that can take your photo and send it directly to your device to share on social media. The Internet of Things can connect and enhance any event, and marketers are left to imagine and create the possibilities at events.

NFMI will make events personalized.

Near Field Magnetic Induction (NFMI) is a technology similar to NFC, but which can communicate at further distances than NFC. Think of all the wearable technology you carry on your person at all times – a smartphone, smartwatch, fitbit, headphones and other devices. Now, imagine all of those devices talking with each other, sending each other information and relaying it back to you, the event attendee.

Your wearable technology will tell you when you need to get a drink, go sit down, move around, etc. Technology will inform you on how to make sure you are having the best personal experience at events.

NFMI technology will enable you to easily share information with your neighbor as well. If somebody is within close proximity to you, NFMI technology will easily share photos, coupons, etc. with the person next to you. Imagine that you get a coupon from a food truck at a festival, and it encourages you to share that coupon with the person next to you.

NFMI will also have the ability to recognize when too many devices are using wifi or Bluetooth and can automatically switch to NFMI so that the airways aren’t cluttered with radio frequencies interfering with each other.

You won’t have to miss a minute of the action.

With RFID, sensors will be able to triangulate your location anywhere you are in the venue. Imagine ordering a pizza at a basketball game and never having to leave your seat to go and get it because it will be brought directly to you. An image of you along with your seat number and live location tracker will be sent to the concession stand where they will swiftly bring out your order so you don’t miss a minute of the action.

RFID will take customer service to a whole new level at events. Employees will welcome you by name to their food stand, to the concert, and will know if you have any special requests. With these new technologies, event organizers will be able to ask specific questions at during online registration and will be able to cater directly to your needs.

Disney World is already doing it. Imagine listing your allergies, your preferences, and other important information before as you purchase your tickets online. This information will provide event organizers with information to help them shape their even the best way for their unique audience. Events will be data driven. For example, pretend that before an event, you request that you want a pizza delivered to you at a specific time. Once you enter the venue, the pizza makers will be notified that you have entered the concourse and will start preparing your pizza to be delivered at the correct moment. RFID will make this all possible.

Wallet-less pay will be fully integrated.

NFC, NFMI, and RFID make payment easier than it’s ever been before. As these technologies expand and improve and as people keep upgrading their phones and watches, your wallet will become obsolete. Your ID, credit card, or debit card information will be on your smartphone and smartwatch, making payment and access into venues a seamless experience.

With the adoption of NFC technology into smartphones, event attendees tickets, IDs, and payment information will be stored in their devices. This can correctly identify individuals as they enter the venue, and make them easy to contact in case of emergency.

RFID, Bluetooth, NFC, and NFMI will shape the user experience at events in the near future. The adoption of these technologies at events is already starting to take place and in a few years they will be more readily available. These technologies will enable better security, faster lines, location marketing, real time marketing, social sharing, and more. What Disney is doing now is just the beginning for improving the event experience, incorporating the timeless joy of attending your favorite concert mixed with the conveniences technology can provide.

Chromecast: A Digital Swiss Army Knife for Event Makers

Flat out, everyone should have a Google Chromecast. How could you not when this handy little streaming stick is only thirty bucks? For your average consumer, it’s a great way to bring all of our favorite streaming services to the big screen. For an event maker, the Chromecast has a lot of nifty tricks up its sleeve, allowing you to take greater advantage of any display at your disposal. Here are few ways we’ve found the Chromecast can come in handy with your next event.

Traveling Office

  • We’ve all been there. You’ve built out the PERFECT presentation only to not have a way of projecting it onto a larger screen. The Chromecast acts as a great backup when these technological headaches arise, allowing you to “cast” your desktop to whatever it’s plugged in to. The Chromecast itself is no bigger than a USB thumb drive, leaving you no excuse to not always have it in your laptop bag. Plug it in to the nearest HDMI port and you’re good to go. Show off all of your potential venues and artists without having to huddle around your tiny laptop screen.
  • Chromecast is also capable of mirroring your Android device. Say you took photos while scouting for an event location or took video when interviewing potential freelancers. Simply connect and share.
  • Hosting and organizing events will often lead to some sort of travel. If these ventures include an overnight stay in a hotel room, the Chromecast helps to create an impromptu office environment. Using the streaming method mentioned above, you can use the hotel TV as a second monitor for your laptop. This could be used for productive reasons, displaying your current project on a bigger screen, or it could be used to have some Netflix on in the background as you work away.

Interactive Events

  • If your event features music but doesn’t have a live DJ, Chromecast works wonders in creating an interactive experience for your attendees. Plug the Chromecast into your sound system and boot up “QCast” on your Android device. It might be smart to have one of these handy, as it creates an easy way to use your Chromecast with any speakers. Having created a playlist beforehand, anyone with the QCast can access your list of songs and vote on what song they want to hear. As the host, you have the ultimate say on what song truly plays next. This allows you to keep the playlist under control, preventing Taylor Swift from being played for the fourth time in a row. Remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Just because you want an endless night of Wilson Phillips, doesn’t mean everyone else will.
  • Pair your Chromecast with a service like strea.ma to create a live social media feed. Not only is it a great way for your attendees to contribute to the experience, but it’s also a smart way of gathering content for future promotions. Setup the feed on your laptop or desktop and then stream that tab to whatever display is connected to your Chromecast.  Make sure a SPECIFIC hashtag is associated with your event. Something as broad as “#DanceParty” will flood your feed with unrelated Tweets and Photos. On the other end, make sure your audience is aware of the hashtag. Have it prominently displayed either on screen or just above or below. Just like QCast, it’s smart to have someone monitoring what content is being funneled though.

Multiple Display Control

  • At $30 a piece, there isn’t a cheaper way to control multiple displays. A great starting point would be using the ideas listed above. One display could show the current votes for the next song while another would display the social media feed. A more involved setup could divide the social media feed into even more displays, each being dedicated to a specific platform. One would show current tweets, another would be for Instagram photos, etc. From curated YouTube playlists to live camera feeds, it only costs $30 to bring another display on board. To make it easy, Chromecast gives you the ability to “name” the device the first time you set it up. A simple method for distinguishing multiple Chromecasts is to name them based on their function. For example, one might be labeled “Music Feed” while another would be named “Social Media.” To change or control each display, pull up the list of available Chromecasts in your vicinity and easily find the one your looking for based on its unique name.

Bonus

  • This idea is less extravagant, but one that I found to be strangely amusing. Using your Chromecast as a virtual window is a great way to supplement whatever ambience you might be striving for. “Open up” a smaller venue by displaying a “virtual window” with open skies outside. For something a little more moody, check out this virtual city scape with moving raindrops. Not going to lie, I had this one up on my second monitor all day.

This is just scraping the surface, as we know there are endless possibilities with this amazing little device. What successes have you had with using the Chromecast? Do you have a favorite or unique idea that we missed? We’d love to adopt any ideas that you might have, so share them in the comments below!