Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

August 21 2014

Futurecast: How Your Meeting’s Digital Strategy Will Need To Shift

By Alejandro Contreras, director, technology and platforms, Meetings & Events, American Express Global Business Travel

Contreras reflects on the technologies and trends to look out for at conventions this year.

As we look ahead at conventions and other events this year, social media is a central tool that will be used to engage participants. So far in 2014, we’ve seen meeting organizers create LinkedIn event groups and use Twitter handles and hashtags to ensure a high level of attendee engagement. For instance, at IMEX Frankfurt, the IMEX social media team walked the floor taking photos, which were then posted on high-definition screens at the event. Attendees were kept up-to-date on Twitter about when and where the latest presentation and networking activities were taking place, ensuring nothing was missed! Other events and conventions are using similar approaches with success.

New technologies

I’ve noted two particularly interesting technology innovations this year. First, iBeacon allows mobile applications to pinpoint a user’s location with a high degree of accuracy and trigger an action on Smartphones and tablets. This technology enables event organisers to push out notifications to attendees that can include location-based adverts, event information and allow automatic event check-in.

Second, Google Glass is also gaining interest and there has been much discussion as to how the technology could impact our industry. Google Glass could have a positive effect on live and hybrid/virtual events, by allowing the speaker to achieve a new level of interaction with audiences. Google Glass could live stream the speaker’s view, allowing virtual attendees to see audience reactions in near-real-time. Other practical functions could include real-time language translation of presentations. However, Google Glass is still a very new technology and there are still questions to be answered around practical issues such as privacy. 

Future opportunities and trends

Meeting planners are clearly catching on to the opportunities social media and digital engagement offer the industry, but may still be lagging behind in understanding what attendees want from apps and social media. Planners also recognize there are challenges around designing and managing a digital strategy for large events, such as the effort involved in managing social channels, as well as having the correct corporate digital and social media policies in place for meetings and events. Understanding how attendees want to engage with these technologies is the key to creating an informed strategy that will lead to more effective, and in many cases measurable, engagement among event attendees.

It is clear there are very few mobile app companies designing their products with meeting planners in mind. While some event management mobile apps are beginning to include features specific to meeting planners, there appears to be a gap in the market and there is an opportunity for mobile apps to help planners become more tuned in to the needs of planners.

The concept of extending the ‘life’ of an event is going beyond immediately before and after a conference or meeting. Now, the creation of event social communities enables year-round engagement, where attendees, exhibitors and influencers can continue communicating and collaborating.

Meeting and event executives should look at further adopting digital solutions to boost the measurability and ROI of their events. Technology companies are heavily investing in their analytics capabilities to provide information that links attendee engagement and behaviors with tangible business outcomes.  Attendees and meeting planners are clearly more comfortable with technology, such as hybrid events, and have a better understanding of how and when to use these technologies to maximize the value of the event.

Technology is fast-moving and ever-changing, so meeting planners need to be aware of the need for continuous education and engagement with tech industry leaders to understand best practices and the best way to utilize the right technologies to improve ROI and drive client and attendee satisfaction.

To request a complimentary copy of a new white paper from American Express Meetings & Events that explores the gaps between planner intentions and attendee expectations related to the use of technology in meetings, white paper request. The report will be emailed to you upon release.

Sponsored by American Express Meetings & Events

“American Express Meetings & Events” is a service provided by American Express Global Business Travel.

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