Corbin Ball’s Crystal Ball


Spotlight

Corbin Ball is all about event technology, and has been for 20 years. A speaker and consultant who focuses on meetings technology, he is well known and recognized for his work. Indeed, in July 2016 he was named by Bizzabo as one of the “most influential event professionals to follow.” He has just published his thoughts on how technology will boost productivity in the meetings sector. Here is an excerpt of what he is predicting for 2018.

Direct meeting space booking goes online. Of the 1.8 million meetings held annually in the U.S. each year, small meetings (50 people or under) make up a large percentage of them. These are often simple, one-day events in a single room with basic AV and catering. However, hotels have often managed these meetings in the same way as with larger events — assigning a sales person and negotiating a contract. This costs time, labour, and money for the hotel and the event planner. This is about to change with many streamlined online options becoming available.

Event wayfinding will advance with the help of augmented reality (AR). Although there are many existing options for venues and conference centres to provide accurate floor plans within around 5–15 meters, true pin-point positioning accuracy still alludes the sector. Now, augmented reality (AR), a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, thus providing a composite view, will soon be added to the arsenal of indoor positioning methods. Currently being developed by many of the major technology companies including Google and Apple, these are exciting times as event planners could also apply this to interactive booths, signs, and displays.

Chatbots, with the help of artificial intelligence, will provide on-demand attendee info in a simple text-based format. Chatbots are computer programs that conduct conversations via auditory or text methods. With the help of artificial intelligence (AI), these systems will become increasingly accurate in determining the sense and context of voice/text requests and responding in a human-like way.

The explosion of voice-activated systems such as Amazon’s Alexa attests to the rapidly increasing capabilities of these systems. However, the voice interface does not work well in crowded environments such as a meeting room or a trade show. Therefore, text-based systems are starting to emerge as an excellent chatbot alternative to answer questions, gather feedback, and to engage attendees at events.

New methods for friction-free event check-in are developing. Technology, when used properly, is not an end — it should be a means to an end. For example, to make the process of checking in at event registration easier and faster, automated check-in terminals such as Cvent OnArrival and other similar products are becoming standard at many events. For smaller events, guest list check-in apps, such as Check In Easy can eliminate cumbersome paper, with check-in spreadsheets replaced with mobile devices with many extras such as QR codes confirmation pass scanning, and VIP notification when special guests arrive.

Whilst these technological changes will no doubt alter the way the industry works, the learning value of meeting face to face will remain intrinsically high in 2018. Good luck and happy new year!

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