Getting Smart With Meetings Tech

How to incorporate cutting-edge technology into your next event.

Technology has changed the way we live our lives every day. Smartphones enable us to connect and interact with others like never before. With technology being such a vital part of our lives, it's no surprise that it's also dramatically changing the events industry. From the organization and delivery through to interactions with content, new technology is revolutionizing the way we stage events.

Whether utilized before, during or after events, technology not only helps make events more memorable, but it also offers delegates a personalized experience that can keep your business several steps ahead of the competition. Here are some of the hottest event tech trends that my events-management organization, Banks Sadler, is seeing -- and how they might inspire you when it comes to organizing your next gathering.

New Advances in Technology

The development of the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) are pushing boundaries in the events industry. 

However, even small changes are making a big impact. Effectively using social media, such as creating targeted, relevant hashtags, allows you to glean insights about what attendees make of your event. This real-time, accurate data and feedback is invaluable, allowing organizers to not only plan successful future events, but also streamline processes during the moment to deliver a better experience.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have smart cities -- areas that use data collection to improve the lives of those living and working in them. Having increased in popularity over recent years, search engine giant Google is even planning to build a whole city from the internet up, complete with sensors that collect data on traffic, noise and air pollution, automated waste removal and parcel-delivery services. While smart buildings certainly have their skeptics, with concerns over privacy and just how much data is being collected, they are becoming an increasingly popular type of event venue, allowing delegates to receive a completely personalized experience.

How to Introduce New Tech

You don't need to build your own smart city to bring new technology to your guests. Even small changes can make a difference. Take AR, for example, which can not only help event organizers map out what a conference will look like before the big day, but also allow guests to view and experience a new product like never before.

Here are some of the innovative ways you can incorporate AR and other new technology into your next event:

ARKit: Developed by Apple, this AR mobile platform can be integrated into iOS mobile devices, allowing consumers to experience AR through their iPhones and iPads. This engages attendees using either their own technology or any technology set up at the event. You may already be familiar with this software, as it's used in Pokémon Go, ModiFace 3D and more.

Visual presentations: Presentations at events no longer have to be seen on a screen in 2D; they can now be brought out to the audience. These are particularly useful for product launches, allowing guests to see every inch and aspect of a new concept in front of their eyes.

Gamification opportunities: Use gamification to engage attendees by allowing them to interact with content. Letting guests wander around and get involved makes for a more enjoyable and productive event for all, especially when compared to sitting down to watch yet another 2D presentation.

Mixed reality: Mixed reality combines augmented reality with virtual reality, thanks to IoT. Also referred to as hybrid reality, this takes AR and VR to the next level. An example is Magic Leap's augmented reality headset, where three devices work together to bring virtual reality into your actual reality, or online life into real life, as they call it. For the events industry, it can give mobile attendees a much more real experience, allowing them to see the event on their headset, despite not actually being there.

Planning an event can be a mean feat, so we recommend asking yourself the following questions before deciding which technology to use during your event:

Does it serve a purpose? The last thing you want is a handful of distractions that your guests struggle to get away from. It's important to stay focused. 

Do I have the experience to set it up? Technology can be daunting, especially if it doesn't go to plan. Having somebody on site who knows the technology and can take charge is essential. Events management companies will have a team ready to handle it all, which means less stress for you.

What's your budget? Depending on the purpose of your event, you don't want to spend all of your budget on technology that won't enhance the experience for your guests. Sure, it may look cool, but cool doesn't justify large tech bills.

Don't be afraid of technology and the options available to you. You don't need to try them all, but experimenting can bring new realities and experiences to your guests and ensure you develop an event like no other.

Harriette Wilmoth is marketing manager for Banks Sadler, an award-winning, full-service venue-finding and events-management agency that delivers corporate events across the globe for many of the world's top brands.