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Event Trends from XLive 2019

Event Trends from XLive 2019

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XLIVE convenes industry leaders at the intersection of brand events and activations, experiential marketing, music, sports, film, culinary/beverage, esports, technology, brands and the experiences that culminate at festivals and live events. Alford sent two attendees to XLIVE 2019 to seek out new trends and new ideas to bring to our clients: our Director of Product Innovation, Dave Pooser; and our Marketing and Communications Manager, Allison McMahan. Through sessions and conversations with other industry leaders, these are the most notable trends they found are impacting the events industry and elevating experiential events.

XLive - LiveXperience Symposium

Purposeful Tech

Technology is important, and specific technologies were the subject of much of the discussion, but there was an overarching theme to many of the conversations: Technology has to be chosen to fit the event vision and goals. There’s no shortage of cool technology on the market, but event technology needs to do more than just wow the attendees; it needs to advance the theme and the goals of the event.

This becomes even more important as event attendees become more sophisticated consumers. In particular, the rising generations– Millennials, Gen Z, and now Alphas – tend to be marketing-savvy and demand authenticity; they don’t want to be sold to, and they can see when something is forced. If you’re trying to engage or connect with these groups, it makes it absolutely essential that each element at your event is relevant or really raises the bar of the experience. (Also, don’t stereotype your older attendees; Boomers and Gen Xers are interacting with younger people in their professional and their personal lives, and the generational differences are becoming more fluid as a result.)

RFID, Bluetooth, and Attendee Data

The use of RFID and Bluetooth technology in badges, tickets, and wristbands are becoming more common at festivals and concerts for granting access and unique engagement. How does that impact the corporate meeting space? As this technology continues to become commonplace for consumer attendees it will become expected within other event areas. As attendees get used to this enhanced tech, non-interactive paper tickets or badges will start to seem out of place or outdated.

How can you incorporate RFID or Bluetooth technology at your events? This depends on your goals. If your event offers multiple session tracks or different tiers of access, wristbands or badges with RFID or Bluetooth capabilities can allow or deny access to certain sessions or areas at the events using scanners or beacons placed throughout the event. WRSTBND was one exhibitor whose RFID products offer options for this as well as event management, cashless concessions, and event tracking.

Is your goal to increase one-on-one engagement? One of the sponsors at XLIVE was Klik, which showcased a wearable system that encourages face-to-face interaction using Bluetooth technology. They provided the badges for the event and their badges connected directly to a Web application that stored attendees’ event profiles and contact information. Klik eliminated the need for business cards; if you wanted to connect with someone at the event you both clicked your badges and your contact info was immediately shared. You could track all of this in Klik’s app or via the Web, as well as the event’s schedule, people you might want to connect with (based on profile matches), and the ability to message other attendees. The badges also tracked your movement around the overall event and what sessions you attended. After each session you were in you had the option to give feedback on the presenter and the session overall. You could also pair this with an in-session app to engage with the presenter or the presentation.

Of course, these technologies can provide the event organizers with large amounts of attendee data, which raises another question: Are people comfortable with sharing their data, or is this just creepy? Data tracking and collection is now a part of our everyday lives and we’re seeing it pop up in most retailers and event spaces. We were somewhat surprised to learn that more often than not people are comfortable with sharing their information as long as they benefit from doing so. If attendees’ sharing their information enhances their overall experience– through a unique method of engagement, a cool interactive space, or a more personalized experience catered for them– they are more than willing to share their data and allow tracking of that information. (But again, remember that attendees are increasingly marketing-savvy; it’s vital to be transparent about the data you collect. Why are you collecting it, how will it be used, and what’s the benefit to the attendee?)

Event organizers can use this data to track attendees’ interests – what booth was visited most, which sessions captured the largest audience, and what time slots featured the most or the least activity. For a more personalized application, it’s possible to share relevant content with a specific attendee based on where they spent their time at an event, whether that’s sharing product information or follow up from a session. You gain valuable data to enhance the experience at the next event and the ability to personalize and enhance your attendees’ experience.

Of course, none of this data is any use to you if it’s not analyzed, and the sooner the raw data is distilled into actionable information the better it is. We’re now approaching a place where through using machine learning and AI technology, event planners and producers can start to augment the event’s content in real-time to cater to the attendees’ needs and preferences. Imagine being able to track the relevance of your content or receive instant feedback on day one to adjust for day two; you won’t need to wait until next year or the next event to give attendees the experience they’re looking for or the information that’s most important to them. This really will be a game-changer as events move forward to more personalized experiences and higher engagement.

AR/MR

Augmented Reality(AR) and mixed reality are continuing to grow in the entertainment and concert areas and emerging in conventions and meetings. Moreover, we’re going to see more AR in the consumer market and our everyday lives within the decade. Again, as people become more comfortable with this type of technology and interaction, they’re going to want to see it at events. The benefits of incorporating AR at events are it drives engagement, allows attendees to personally interact with your content, and gives a lasting impression. The major challenge with introducing mixed reality into events is that attendees want a shared experience, not an isolated one. This means Virtual Reality (VR), confined to a headset, is still too isolated of an experience and hasn’t really found its way in the events space. However, it makes AR a great technology to incorporate into events, whether this is through a mobile app, visual effects, or wearable devices… we’re keeping our eyes on Apple’s answer to Google Glass.

The overarching trend is attendees want authentic experiences at their events and interactions and technology that elevate those experiences. If you have any questions about these trends or the specific technology mentioned please contact us. Learn other trends we’re seeing in the events industry and how the industry as a whole is evolving.

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