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How is Technology Reshaping the Events Industry?

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Even before the pandemic, technology — like mobile apps and on-demand streaming — was revolutionizing the event industry. Then COVID-19 accelerated the trend, as event professionals were forced to transition their live events to virtual conferences at a moment’s notice. 

Since then, technology has become integral to the event experience, and for good reason: Technology has become integral to the event experience, and for good reason: The use of technology can increase event attendance and productivity so it’s worth considering how we can harness technology to create safer, more inclusive and more successful event experiences in 2022 and beyond.

(Want to hear more? Check out our on-demand webinar on this topic here!) 

How is technology reshaping the events industry? 

1. Breaking down barriers to access 

Traditionally, live conferences have been limited to the top players at a company — your CEOs, CFOs, etc. That’s because — from flights and hotels to the ticket itself — it costs thousands of dollars to attend a typical three-day conference. 

But virtual events are less expensive, nor do they require travel, making them more manageable for junior and mid-level employees to attend. So instead of spending $3000 to send one CMO to a live conference, you could spend $300/ticket to have ten employees attend virtually. This way, everyone in the organization can take advantage of relevant professional development opportunities. 

59 percent of learning and development professionals saying that upskilling is a top priority and 76 percent of Gen Z professionals saying learning is key to their long term success - so virtual events and webinars are no-brainers for any company prioritizing long-term success and employee retention. 

Promoting professional development across all seniority levels is beneficial for its own sake. But there’s a business benefit to it as well: Younger professionals are often the ones doing initial buyer research for products before bringing their consideration set to their managers. So in a virtual format, marketers and sponsors are better able to get in front of the people who will use their product every day — and can advocate their product to senior leadership. 

Here’s how to take advantage: 

  1. Host product demos: Junior employees will be more likely to advocate your product to their managers if they’ve seen it work in real-time. So consider hosting 3D product demos or other hands-on activations in a virtual sponsor booth. 
  2. Use pop-up offers to encourage conversions: Your virtual audience is more likely to be multi-tasking throughout the event. Maybe they’re attending sessions between meetings, or they’re watching while their kids play in the next room. Either way, virtual attendees are more likely to be distracted and forget about your brand after the event ends. To increase conversions among your remote audience, distribute a pop-up offer at the end of your session. This way, interested attendees can sign up for a demo (or even make a purchase) before your session ends — and keep you top of mind after they log off. 
  3. Harness integrations: So you’ve got a lot of leads coming into your booth. Sweet. At a live event, you’d need to travel home, email a list of leads to your sales team, and then wait for sales to reach out to those leads… days or even weeks later. But if you integrate your event platform with your CRM, your leads and their information flow directly to your system of record. So your sales team can reach out to your new leads almost immediately after the event ends, 

2. Providing flexibility and convenience for attendees

At live events, your audience — and impact — is limited by circumstance. 

For decades, marketers have taken for granted that a large chunk of our potential audience just won’t be able to come. And they’ve just lost those potential leads. 

But that trade-off is no longer necessary in a hybrid event format. Because if you publish your event on-demand, your content will be available around the clock, so working parents, new mothers, overscheduled professionals, etc. can tune in wherever, whenever, to listen to your brand. And since they need to register via the l event platform, all of their interactions are still recorded and sent to sales as well. 

This way, each of your past events continues to generate leads weeks, or even months, after its original run date. So if you’re hosting monthly events for a year or more, and each one keeps delivering a steady stream of leads, your pipeline will grow exponentially, all thanks to your event tech stack. 

3. Increasing safety and security 

Even after COVID-19, health safety will remain a critical concern for event organizers. Hosts can harness hybrid event tech to minimize unnecessary crowding and maintain a safe environment. For instance, contactless check-in (via QR code badge scanning) can reduce wait times and thus minimize bottlenecks  around entrances. If necessary, hosts can also conduct health screenings by sending a wellness survey to attendees via the event app. 

And during the event, hosts can prevent overcrowding in session rooms by using real-time capacity tracking. This alerts hosts (and attendees) when rooms are in danger of hitting capacity and when they’re full. With that information, hosts can provide alternative programming to people who are capped out of the session — or attendees can use the event app to stream the session live.   

And health is only one of several safety concerns to consider. Any mass gathering is vulnerable to unruly behavior. But by using badge scanning, you can ensure that only registered attendees are entering the event without needing to manually find everyone’s name on a 10-page long spreadsheet. From there, you can use metal detection technology to ensure that nobody brings a weapon into the venue. However, technology is only as effective as the user, so we recommend shopping around for venues with a dedicated security staff and working with local fire departments and fire marshals on emergency evacuation plans.

While virtual events aren’t vulnerable to global health emergencies or in-person safety concerns,they are subject to cyberattacks and data breaches. Fortunately, hosts can mitigate those risks through their event technology. 

Here are some of our recommendations: 

  1. Use MFA or SSO: Hackers are getting better and better at infiltrating one-name, one-password systems. So use MFA for larger virtual events or Single Sign-On for smaller, internal events. (BigMarker integrates with Okta for this purpose.)
  2. Make sure your event has a secure SSL connection: SSL connections encrypt data as it moves from each person’s browser, adding another layer of protection to your audience’s data. If your webinar software doesn’t automatically provide an SSL certificate, follow these steps to get your own for free. Note: All hosts are required to register an SSL certificate before creating a domain on BigMarker. Your event’s safety is top priority. 
  3. Use your event platform’s security measures: Security concerns don’t stop once the event starts. We’ve all heard about scammers sneaking into private online events, so lessen that risk upfront with your webinar software’s security settings. Here are some examples: 
  • Domain Allow List / Deny List: This feature allows hosts to block email addresses from certain domains from registering. This is a great way to block competitors. You can also require people to use their work email by blocking Gmail and Hotmail addresses, which prevents trolls from entering your event as well.
  • Include paid tickets: Charging people money tends to deter cybersecurity attacks (and you can sell multi-tier tickets right within BigMarker—  or integrate with Zapier, Hubspot, etc.)
  • Block words from the chat: You can actually block certain words from ever appearing in chat in each session. This can prevent trolls from spamming your event while keeping the discussion constructive and safe for attendees.

Want to protect your event from data breaches and unwanted guests? Get even more virtual event cybersecurity tips here. 

4. Decreasing the cost of sponsorships 

Virtual events can also make sponsorships cost-effective (and more attractive) for companies. 

At your next hybrid event, sponsors can send two reps to the in-person experience while having another two reps manage the virtual experience. This exciting development in event technology allows sponsorship teams to send less staff to events, even when live events start gaining in popularity again. 

Here’s how to take advantage: 

  1. Get creative with your virtual booth offerings: As you plan out your virtual sponsorship booth, think about the use case for your booth and how it can help you meet your event goals. It may make sense to host a full virtual booth — or it might be more cost-effective to use it as a content library, resource hub, etc.

    “You may have a sponsor that has one experience or some elements onsite and then maybe they’re using their virtual booth for something else,” says Elizabeth Schaul, an Account Executive at BigMarker, “Maybe they’re using it as a content library. Maybe they’re using it to provide special offers or add value to specific audiences… We’ve We’ve seen them for job fairs, case studies, product demos. There are a lot of ways to use them, so think about,’ What is the best use case for this and does that apply to my event?’”

    This creates a more curated, venue-specific experience for the virtual and onsite audiences — and makes it easier for sponsors will attract attention and meetings. 
  1. Integrate sponsors into the full event experience: Gone are the days when sponsors could just slap their logo onto their in-person conference table, hand out some swag, and consider their trip a success. But for sponsors to attain positive ROI, they need to be active participants in the event. Maybe they sponsor a networking opportunity and roundtable. Maybe one of their reps speaks on a panel or hosts a workshop. Whatever they do, it’s important that they step away from their booths.

    “It’s very important for sponsors to have visibility across the event space,” says Schaul.” You can’t guarantee that your attendees are going to visit every single booth. You can’t guarantee that they’re going to go to every single session.” 

    “But there’s definitely a higher likelihood that you’ll have some attendees that are more busy in the networking center and maybe more busy in the sessions or expo hall. So by incorporating sponsors into your whole event program, you’re increasing the likelihood that more attendees are gonna have more exposure to your brand.” 

5. Minimizing liability  

If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s the importance of a contingency plan. Live conferences can be disrupted by a wide variety of events, from social/political unrest and extreme weather to your run-of-the-mill snowstorm. In 2000, that would’ve been the end of your event — and cost you tens of thousands of dollars. 

But virtual and hybrid events act as insurance against those disruptions. If you have to cancel your live event, or a snowstorm keeps some people from flying in, you can direct impacted people to attend virtually instead — and since you’ve already set up remote streaming, the transition will be as smooth as possible. This way, your guests are still engaged with your content and brand — and you can lower the financial impact of event disruptions. 

6. Diversifying speaker panels and improve representation  

Most live conferences don’t pay speakers to participate, meaning that only independently wealthy individuals with free time can speak at a live event. More often than not, those individuals happen to be wealthy, white men. While they can yield many useful insights, this also prevents your event from representing the full scope of your audience’s experiences and backgrounds.

But by offering a virtual speaking option, potential speakers only need to devote an hour or two to your event, not days. This opens the floor for people with financial and scheduling limitations, like new mothers, creatives in lower-paying fields, etc. This yields a more diverse and frankly, more interesting range of insights, all of which improves your content as a whole. 

Learn more about hosting more equitable virtual and hybrid events here.

7. Improving evaluate ROI and increase conversions 

At live events, it took something between sorcery and pure speculation to evaluate your success. Do you count the number of empty seats at the keynote? See how many people stick around until the end? And how can your sales team tell which leads are worth reaching out to? 

This is where having a virtual event platform and mobile event app to gather analytics on both in-person and remote attendees is key. After your event, you can see exactly who participated in the chat and what they said, what questions they asked in the Q&A, who clicked which offer, how long did attendees stay in the room, etc. One look at your post-event report and you know not only who’s most interested in your product, but what information they need to make a purchase. With that information, your sales team can better speak to your prospect’s unique concerns (and secure a better conversion rate). 

Better yet, these benefits aren’t limited to fully virtual events. Mobile event apps also generate more data from in-person gatherings: Say your guests swipe a QR code to access sessions and sponsor booths. All of those entries and exits are recorded in the event platform. And if live attendees submit questions to speakers through the mobile event app, those are also stored in the app as well. 

Thus, event technology allows organizers to better evaluate the performance of their content and speakers, allowing them to make better decisions and improve their ROI for future events.  

Want to learn how to use event technology to reach your marketing goals? Our team of event experts is here to help. Contact us at sales@bigmarker.com to schedule a demo and get started.

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