Events Industry Forecast: Technology Driving Change

Author: Convene Editors       

technology forecast

John Ondrasik performs a song as part of his keynote presentation at PCMA Educon 2019 in Los Angeles. Event planners are using live music to create memorable experiences for attendees. (Jacob Slaton Photography)

What strategies do event planners use to create memorable attendee experiences?

  • Live music & entertainment: 56% (up from 43% over 2018)
  • Social media display: 46% (up from 36% over 2018)
  • Attendee messaging & networking: 45% (up from 38% over 2018)
  • Event mobile app: 43% (up from 29% over 2018) 32% (up from 26%)
  • Surprises/pop-up events: 35% (up from 30%)
  • Interactive polls: 32% (up from 26%)
  • Activity feeds: 27% (up from 22%)
  • Personalized experiences via real-time attendee tracking (RFID): 25%
  • Second-screen presentations: 25%
  • Mobile gamification: 19%
  • Virtual / augmented reality: 17%

Source: CVENT: 2019 Planner Sourcing Report, Global Edition

Mobile apps are the new lanyards.

Source: 2019 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, American Express

Almost three-quarters (72.6%) of internet users will access the web solely via their smartphones by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3.7 billion people.

Source: World Advertising Research Center (WARC)

3 Ways to Use Technology to Create Better Experiences

Amy Blackman, founder of consultancy group Fruition Co., talked to Convene about how planners can better use technology.

  1. meeting design

    Amy Blackman

    Use a social/audience intelligence platform like Affinio, Helixa, or People Pattern to mine publicly published social data to better understand deep preferences, interests, and passions about participants, in order to create more personalized and impactful experiences on site.

  2. Consider creating immersive environments for high-impact learning and engagement environments — projection mapping, motion design, and kinetic sculptures can transform a static space into a living canvas for deeper immersion, memory-making, sharable moments, and high-resonance teaching/learning environments.
  3. Use video with no audio and visual slides with no text for visual engagement during presentations and keynotes. Remember, slides are pieces of art, and should be visually engaging, surprising, creative, and delightful. Design and aesthetics are paramount — voiceover on beautiful images creates deeper learning moments.

This post is part of Convene’s 2019 Events Industry Forecast looking at the future of technology, travel, lodging, and exhibitions.

technology forecast

Actual robots might not be coming, but automation is working its way into the meetings and events industry.

Automation Arrives

Automation, a hot topic in the meetings and events industry for several years, now is showing signs of creating tangible and measurable benefits for both the planning and delivery of events:

  • The use of chatbots and the ultra-quick analysis of data through machine learning and AI will soon help to create a higher level of personalization for attendees, including during registration and online booking.
  • Passive tracking uses beacons and RFID technology on name badges, which will show if an attendee is attending a session. The technology only tracks where the beacons are set up at the event, so people don’t have to worry about being tracked elsewhere.
  • Interaction tools, such as Slido, allow attendees to ask questions online during sessions without the ritual of waiting for a microphone to be transported to them — saving time and also allowing the more reticent attendees to be more comfortable in asking questions.

The main focus of these types of automation is to make events more efficient by allowing attendees to concentrate on the event content and face-to-face meetings — rather than being sidetracked and delayed by having to go through slow manual tasks such as event check-in and registration. It’s about reducing pain points and creating a frictionless experience.

Source: CWT Meetings & Events: 2020 Future Trends in Meetings and Events

The overall market size for chatbots worldwide is projected to reach $1.3 billion by 2024.

Source: Statista

Forget Disruption: The Newest D Word Is ‘Dismantle’

New ways of connecting, including augmented and virtual reality, are part of the third “connected age.”

We are in the beginning of the third “connected age,” Rishad Tobaccawala, chief growth officer for Publicis Groupe, a French marketing and communications company, told the audience at Skift’s Global Forum in New York City on Sept. 19.

The first connected age began in 1995 with the web, and was built on search and e-commerce, exemplified by Amazon and Google. The second connected age, which was launched by mobile and social, saw the rise of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, which connected everybody to every- body all of the time, he said.

The third connected age — the age we are in — “will completely dismantle and rebuild every industry,” Tobaccawala said. It will be driven, he added, by four kinds of connections: data connecting to data, in deep learning and machine learning; data connecting things to things, which is the internet of things (IoT); faster connections including 5G; and new ways of connecting, including voice, augmented reality, and virtual reality.

Mobile First

This year, for the first time, the average U.S. adult will spend more time — 3 hours and 43 minutes — on mobile devices than on television (3 hours and 35 minutes.). Of time spent on mobile, U.S. consumers will spend 2 hours and 55 minutes on smartphones, a 9-minute increase from last year. Tablet use continues to lose ground, having peaked in 2017.

Users consistently spend the bulk of their time using apps compared to web browsers, with the average person spending 2 hours and 57 minutes daily in apps versus 26 minutes on a mobile browser. Also,

  • Consumers’ use of smartphones will continue to make up the majority of their media consumption, but use is projected to plateau in 2020, as consumers become increasingly uneasy about overuse of mobile devices.
  • On average, adults (16 and older) look at their mobile phone every 12 minutes, they check it within five minutes of waking up, and 78% say they can’t live without it and never switch it off.

Sources:; WorldTicket Solutions’ Mobile Travel Trends 2019


The advent of 5G technology could mean a world where Wi-Fi speed and reliability aren’t concerns at large-scale events.

5G Will Change Everything

Smartphone company Ericsson predicts that 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions will be active by the year 2025. The introduction of 5G will have the effect of taking the speed of the 4G LTE internet that you use on your phone when you are not connected to Wi-Fi and multiplying it by 1,000, wrote Maria Waida, for Social Tables. The speed of 5G will have a major impact on virtually every element of event tech.

What It Means for Venues

5G will come to first-tier cities first. If you’re based in a top city, you’ll have an edge over mid-size cities for a while.

“5G will be mainstream within the next three to five years in most major metropolitan areas. Hoteliers should be looking to redeploy their network investment into ‘smart’ investments now that can easily be repurposed for things like IoT [internet of things], smart room features that will still be relevant even when 5G is in full swing.” Vanessa Ogle, CEO of hotel technology provider Enseo, told Skift.

What It Means for Event Planners

The advent of 5G could mean a world where Wi-Fi speed and reliability aren’t concerns at large-scale events:

  • Attendees and event managers won’t have to worry about connectivity.
  • Planners can choose nontraditional venues that don’t have Wi-Fi.
  • There will be new ways to engage attendees via their devices.
  • Events can more quickly incorporate trends like 3D technology, virtual reality, and more.

Source: Social Tables’ “Four Event Technology Trends”

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