Caleb Bush, VP &General Manager, George P Johnson Experience Marketing
In the ever-advancing digital landscape we inhabit where technology permeates all aspects of our lives, it is interesting to examine how these technological innovations are changing the way we build events and engage audiences.
"Virtual Reality (VR), which first became widely popular in the 1980’s, has seen resurgence in the gaming world"
For a start let’s take Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, which when integrated with delegate name tags creates a the link that enables the connection between the attendee and a brand experience both physically and online. For the attendee, their experience is enhanced with a personalised and customised interaction at each point of transaction whilst facilitating superior engagement with other delegates, sponsors and the client’s brand by sharing individual profile data and preferences instantly, garnering a tailored and meaningful response in return. For the client, NFC transforms the scope and detail of information to be captured at conferences and exhibitions to better understand the behaviour of their delegates as they move through an event; clearly defining traffic patterns, areas of popularity and exactly where delegates engage on an exhibition floor. As the name suggests, this technology requires contact within a very finite area, which in turn provides very specific data set.
Proximity Beacons on the other hand, extend the experience further by integrating with mobile technology and reaching beyond the confines of the delegate name tag. Operating in a wider area, Beacon’s have the ability to detect proximity and react, which creates opportunities such as location based communications, personalised content experiences and gathering insights pertaining to delegate traffic flows and popular areas on an event floor for further analysis.
Both of these technologies have made it much easier to collect and analyse data with simple ‘touch-on’ scanning devices and proximity readers. Whilst the collection of this data is not new, the real-time analysis and response is. For example, a live event dashboard onsite enables the event production team to instantly identify trends onsite and act accordingly; likewise, leads can be consolidated and actioned directly following initial engagements as presentation links or sales brochures that are sent to delegates instantly as opposed to days later when the connection is cold.
Instant engagement aside, the true value of this technology lies in the analytics of this rich data that empowers us to continually improve the quality and legacy of our events. This analysis enables us to refine content to popular topics and speakers, scale sponsorship package costs according to the busiest locations on an exhibition floor and ultimately design a delegate experience of value and interest so both client and audience alike reap the benefits.
Then we have reality, or versions thereof. Event production, which transforms the physical reality of environments, forms a natural symbiosis with technology that manipulates reality through both virtuality and augmentation.
Virtual Reality (VR), which first became widely popular in the 1980’s, has seen resurgence in the gaming world in the last few years which is in turn revitalising development to open up a multitude of other applications. In the event world, this can allow a guest at an event to take a test drive of the latest model car being launched whilst sitting in the middle of a party, or ski the slopes at Chamonix from the stand of the Travel Show in Sydney. On the client side, this technology can allow organisers to take the client on a walk through of an event space, months before the stage set has been ordered, to help them better understand a floor plan layout in a spatial 3D context.
Augmented Reality (AR) provides that perfect blend of the physical and the virtual, augmenting layers of content over the material event environment. This allows multiple guests to simultaneously create their own unique experience in the same event space; exploring content relevant to their requirements and at their pace and thus personalising their experience and enhancing their engagement. AR can also demonstrate the physicality of an environment that would usually be quite labour intensive, such as how much cargo can fit in the back of a van or how many passengers it can seat – all at the swipe of a finger.
These innovations are just the tip of the iceberg, technology specialists continue to devise and refine products and we are also innovating and evolving the creative application of these technologies into the experiences we create. Clients will continue to be increasingly exposed to smarter options that enable more dynamic interactions with their audiences.