Richard John says the Technology Zone is the place to be for any switched-on professional
One of the things that surprises me, even though I’m old enough to talk affectionately about the differences of Betamax and VHS, is that I seem to know more about the new technology that’s around us, in contrast to many of the youngsters I meet (that’s anyone under 50). That’s despite the fact we have numerous blogs, conferences, even dedicated areas within industry trade shows, as well as dedicated pages (and digital platforms) of this august magazine.
In reality, the technology can now impact on every area of your event. Whether it’s reducing costs, increasing delegate interaction, or simply boosting the ‘wow’ factor, the options are all there. If you can imagine it, you can build it.
At the recent IMEX America, the new technology award went to Loopd. Here, attendees wear chips which ‘talk’ to beacons around the showfloor which allows interaction and information exchange with both exhibitors and other attendees. And organisers will benefit from lots of big data about what the visitors get up to.
But there’s no shortage of ideas; IMEX had more than 60 applicants touting new ideas. Many of these are variations on a theme; allowing for better, more structured meetings, an improved ability to interact with educational events, tools for group collaboration, the ability to communicate and share with speakers and attendees. Oh, and the ubiquitous rise of gamification, where every interaction becomes fun!
And when I saw the shortlisted nominees for the Event Technology Awards I have to confess that there were some names (and they are invariably ridiculous, vowel-free names) that I hadn’t heard of, and I had to run for Google.
Not all were technological ideas; ‘sponsormyevent’ is simply a business dating site that does what it says on the tin. Brilliant, nonetheless; wish it had been around when I organised events.
And there are apps, of course; well, I told you, dear reader, about the Meetingapps website years ago, from when it’s gone from strength to strength. Apps galore; even one that can turn every delegate phone into a voting system.
My favourite – which I think is just because I will never stop being a kid, is the throwable microphone. Not for the benefit of hearing delegates’ feedback, of course, but just for the change in the atmosphere of every room where I’ve seen it used.
Back to my main point, though, about the poor event organiser, trying to keep abreast of what’s happening.
My advice? Choose just an industry event, and when you get there, head straight for the Technology Zone; do not let the lure of a free pen from a desperate venue get in your way. And then just soak up what’s possible.
It’ll blow your mind. Promise.