As technology reshapes every experience from the registration kiosk to the closing session, event organizers are regularly discussing terms that didn’t even exist 10 years ago — gamification, wearables, selfies, apps, and more. Leaders in the events industry need to learn more than a new vocabulary, though. “Planning for the Meetings of Tomorrow: The Present and Future of Technology in Business Events,” a new research study commissioned by the PCMA Education Foundation, reveals that they will need to explore the ins and outs of new communication platforms and new tools to be successful in the next generation of face-to-face. The study, conducted by the Association Laboratory, surveyed more than 400 association, corporate, and independent planners and suppliers and found that “the job of a convention management executive will require professional competencies well beyond event marketing, space and logistical planning, and evaluation.”
What will you need to add to your list of credentials? Here are three key areas to consider.
1) Think Outside the Inbox. According to the study, email promotion remains the most-used marketing tactic for spreading the word about events. In fact, 84 percent of respondents indicated that attendees found out about their meetings and events via traditional email. While inboxes provide direct routes to prospective attendees, the communication landscape is evolving as more people spend large chunks of time scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. In another study conducted by the Association Laboratory, “Looking Forward 2017,” 82 percent of association respondents said that developing social-media strategies is key to their marketing efforts.
2) Focus On the Attendees Who Aren’t There. While face-to-face attendees represent the biggest revenue potential for meetings and events, more organizers are aiming to engage audience members who cannot participate in person. Sixty-seven percent of respondents plan to use remote participation tools within the next three years. From live-streaming portions of the event to archiving session content in an on-demand library, engagement will increasingly rely on giving attendees opportunities to consume content on their own schedules and in their own environments.
3) Use New Feedback to Fuel Decisions. The traditional post-event survey still seems to be the go-to tool for understanding how attendees felt about their experiences — in fact, 64 percent of respondents ranked surveys as the most valuable type of feedback. However, there are many new opportunities to get a real sense of how attendees feel — without even asking them. From analyzing event-mobile-app data to tracking where attendees move throughout the conference environment, organizers can gain a more complete picture of which portions of the program are resonating with individuals. That’s easier said than done, though. According to the report, the reliance on old-school, subjective feedback may be a symptom of a major problem when it comes to data analytics: how to integrate data from various sources into a usable format.
You can download the entire report here.