As a supplier of tech hardware for events, we see a lot of innovative ways that event planners use applications and peripherals to make a memorable experience for attendees. Even participating vendors find ways to make themselves stand out among the crowd while also gaining lead information by effectively using technology in their booths, or through other sponsorship opportunities.
In 2018, we expect to see a lot more of these following trends:
RFID technology was used by many event organizers in 2017 in order to replace tickets and the need for physical payments. But RFID can be used for other purposes as well, and event industry analysts expect this trend to sweep through 2018. For instance, virtual participation for raffles and polls will have greater engagement and create a better opportunity for sponsors to more efficiently gather data.
RFID can also be extended into other popular event hardware, such as the Brightbox phone charging stations we rent to event planners and vendors. Brightbox InCharged lockers are compatible with today’s most popular NFC and RFID event suppliers like Event Farm, Thuzi, Fish Technologies, PDC Solutions, Connect & Go, and more. The RFID tags placed on wristbands, tags, cards, hotel keys etc. that are registered to an individual profile of an event attendee can be integrated with Brightbox to provide access to their charging chamber.
AI is making waves in every industry and the event market is no different. Innovative planners are using artificial intelligence to personalize experiences for attendees, and more efficiently provide needed information.
For instance, chatbots are being used to answer questions at events with thousands of attendees. Chatbots are software programs that have AI components which can interact with users through messenger apps. In 2017, South by Southwest used a bot, “Abby” to answer more than 56,000 questions submitted by attendees. Similarly, a “Frank” was used at IMEX Frankfurt and “Betty” at BizBash Live LA.
There’s also applications like Grip which is like Tinder for corporate networking. This software uses AI to match attendees up for networking opportunities based on what it can find from their social media profiles.
While we’re seeing facial recognition being used now on Facebook for photo tagging, or Apple’s newest iPhone X using the technology to replace its thumbprint reader, it is still fairly new as we enter into 2018. But it is expected to be used more widely next year, even used to detect the general mood of the crowd at an event by reading body language and facial queues—providing instant feedback. It may also be used for check-in, and heightened levels of event security. As security apps continue to develop, not only will facial recognition scan the mood of attendees, but it may also cross-reference faces with criminal databases and alert security forces of any potential red flags.
Utilizing existing facial recognition on social media platforms like Facebook can help increase exposure for events as well. If you create a unique hashtag and tie it to a photo campaign with a reward for participants, you can leverage auto-tagging and reach a wider audience.
VR and AR
Virtual and augmented reality started popping up in events a couple of years ago, with each passing year the technology grows to become more sophisticated and accessible. Headsets can be purchased for reasonable prices, or more high-end sets rented from suppliers like us. Vendors can use VR or AR through an app to feature a product, service, or presentation while creating a memorable experience.
This can also allow vendors to showcase more products with limited space. VR allows attendees to interact with products without having the physical product in front of them. While they may not decide to buy right there, attendees can be impressed with the display and at least given a taste that will make them more likely to respond to follow-up.
Live streaming is currently being used by event planners to extend events to others unable to attend. Crowd streaming stems from live streaming, and is the latest trend in event marketing. Apps like Periscope and Facebook Live allow attendees to live stream your events, and when paired with an event hashtag, can create expansive and authentic views of your events through personal live streams. The event hashtag will help you measure results of your crowd streaming engagement.
2018 Event Technology
There’s much to look forward to in event technology as we enter the new year. And while much of the new technology allows users to interact with their own devices, you always have the option to provide additional hardware for your staff and your attendees when appropriate, with rental options available for temporary use.
Vernon Computer Source rents smartphones, tablets, laptops and more to event planners and participants throughout North America.