Meeting planners now have the opportunity to rethink meeting design and content delivery thanks to a variety of digital solutions. These new solutions enable meeting planners to improve the quality of the content delivered, streamline the registration process, enhance the meeting experience and expand their audience. While these technologies offer significant benefits to both planners and attendees, implementing them effectively can prove challenging.
American Express Global Business Travel recently released its 2015 Global Meetings Forecast, which highlights four solutions that will help improve meetings in 2015 and offers advice on how to best incorporate them effectively.
1. Attendee Management
Registration can be a difficult process at both large and small meetings. While it may seem like just a technicality, it serves as an attendee’s first impression of the event and can play an important role in setting up communication between the event and attendee.
An attendee’s experience can be improved significantly by implementing technology that allows attendee registration and management to reside in a single web platform that is simple to navigate, while still providing all the necessary information for the specified event. The website, as well as check-in using QR codes, e-badges or the event mobile application, allows event organizers to collect real-time data on attendees and consolidate event reporting. Managing attendees in this way also means that each participant’s experience can be optimized based on his or her unique needs. Participants can even receive customized promotional materials via email and useful information through the event website or event app.
2. Mobile Event Apps
With mobile now infiltrating many aspects of business, event attendees expect a “heads-down” mobile experience. This means that attendees are physically present at the event and benefiting from in-person interactions, but are also able to simultaneously plan their next sessions, ask questions, share comments and answer polling questions all from their mobile device.
Mobile applications also provide a single resource for critical event information that can help attendees manage and organize their time. They also drive greater engagement with event content and encourage interaction between attendees. This presents a significant advantage for event organizers as well, who are able to use mobile applications to extend the lifetime of a physical event.
In order to use a mobile application successfully, event organizers should define the portions of the event life cycle that the application will address and distribute and promote the application at least a month prior to the event using print, QR codes, social media channels, websites or any other relevant marketing channel. Additionally, social “activity feeds” should be tracked and monitored closely during the event to enable planners to make onsite adjustments to better meet attendee needs.
3. Social Media Solutions
A large portion of today’s meeting attendees, in almost all countries, are growing accustomed to reading blogs and consuming information via online and social channels. In addition, they are also interacting, learning from and creating relationships with one another online.
Social media channels can not only help drive attendance and create buzz before, during and after the event, but also ensure that the event received its maximum exposure. Social media channels can be monitored and displayed live through physical social walls where comments from all channels can be brought together for easy viewing by attendees in real time.
Meeting planners should clarify their objectives and the needs of their audience before choosing which social channels are most relevant to the event. For example, during smaller events, planners might consider an activity feed to allow event attendees to share socially within the context of the event itself.
Remember, it is almost always helpful to create a unique event hashtag on Twitter.
4. Hybrid Meeting Solutions
While nobody can deny the advantage of physically attend an event, organizations can complement their face-to-face, on-site, physical meeting with simultaneous online viewing. It is a cost-effective way to boost event exposure regardless of physical location.
By connecting new audiences online, hybrid meetings can enhance and expand the value of in-person meetings by connecting new audiences online. Reaching a broader audience means that there will be increased participation in the event itself. Metrics can be tracked both during live and archived sessions.
In order to effectively run a hybrid meeting, planners must create an online experience that mirrors the face-to-face event. It is also extremely important to engage the audience that is not present on-site. Try polling the webcast audience live and then discussing the feedback from the physical attendees. In addition, providing small details, such as the name of the current or upcoming presenter and presenter biographies, adds context for live viewers as well as anyone joining the webcast mid-event.
Meeting planners are constantly looking for opportunities to elevate their event ‘to the next level’ and taking advantage of one or more of these four digital solutions offers great potential for success. As with any aspect of meeting planning however, none of these solutions will deliver the results you’re looking for on their own. For instance, planners shouldn’t underestimate the effort of managing and monitoring activity on social channels as a key component of the planning and execution stages of the event. The best results are achieved when a planner takes the time to select the right solution for an event, and effectively plan for its integration in the overall event plan.
Alejandro Contreras is a Director of Technology and Platforms at American Express Meetings & Events, a division of American Express Global Business Travel, which offers longstanding experience, expertise and leading capabilities spanning program implementation to budget optimization to deliver powerful meetings and events experiences for clients. The global team is focused on meetings and events sourcing, planning, contract negotiations, budgeting, expense management, reporting and benchmarking, combined with strategic counsel and integration of leading technology. This end-to-end approach focuses on creating visibility, driving savings and enabling effective meeting experiences.
“American Express Meetings & Events” is a service provided by American Express Global Business Travel (“GBT”). GBT is a joint venture that is not wholly-owned by American Express Company or any of its subsidiaries (“American Express”). “American Express Global Business Travel”, “American Express” and the American Express logo are trademarks of American Express, and are used under limited license.