17 Nov 2016
event tech

Event tech: how to ‘zhush’ up your gatherings

Tech events are letting the side down 

We recently went to a fairly high-profile tech event – we won’t say which one – that simply wasn’t up to scratch.

It started off positively. We registered for our tickets online, and downloaded the specified ticket app, as per the organisers’ instructions. Arriving at the event, things seemed a little muddled. The queue was long, the door staff couldn’t work the ticket scanner, and the event seemed far over-subscribed.

We get it: events are difficult, and things go wrong. The frustrating thing about this event was that this was a tech event, and all of these problems could’ve been solved with a liberal dose of technology.

In our opinion, the tech sector should be pioneering the use of event tech to improve meet-ups, training sessions, and conferences. We’re supposed to be a sector known for our ability to think creatively and innovatively. Surely we can apply some of this to the way we organise our events?


The solution: event tech

For starters, let’s not forget about the basics of a good event – the right venue, the right entertainment, and a good incentive for guests to attend. Perhaps they could learn a thing or two from our handy events checklist.

As well as the basics, there’s a great deal of event tech emerging, that can help make events slicker, easier to organise, and generally more enjoyable. The thing to remember about event tech – and all technology, generally – is that it is needless to implement it for its own sake. According to this article on Event Manager Blog, correctly-used event tech can increase attendance by 20%, decrease costs by 20 – 30%, and increase productivity by 27%. However, they argue that when used poorly, it can be off-putting to guests.

If you don’t know where to start, here are a few simple examples of how tech businesses can employ event tech to spruce up their events. Think of the difficulties experienced when organising past events, and pick a piece of event tech that will help tackle those issues. Good luck!


Go paperless 

Apparently, the memo about going ‘paperless’ hasn’t made it to the events sector. We frequently leave events with a bag full of leaflets, fliers, and business cards.

In every other area of our lives, we’re perfectly happy to use our smartphone and other digital devices to communicate information – why not at events? We believe event tech has a big role to play in helping events to become slicker, greener, and more paperless.

Physical programmes, maps, and tickets could all be replaced with a mobile-enabled, digital equivalent. All you need to do is to create a web page.

Once you have your mobile content, you just need a way to communicate it to your users’ smartphones. NFC sensors can be embedded in posters, cards, and other signage. Just by tapping it with their smartphone, a user can load the digital content associated with the sensor. Alternatively, Bluetooth beacon technology could be used to ping information to a visitor’s phone as soon as they enter a particular geographic location – for example, sending them a map as soon as they enter the venue.


The mobile experience 

According to data from Deloitte, smartphone ownership has reached 81% in the UK, but this is likely to be higher in tech industries. Our mobiles are the tools we use to organise our lives – they’re convenient, and they’re always with us. With that in mind, event organisers are missing a trick if they’re not considering the mobile experience linked to the event.

For those with budget, a purpose-built app is the perfect way to keep guests updated with the necessary info. It could push notifications to let guests know about changes to the schedule, delays, or even the traffic around the event. For a more integrated experience, users with a smart watch could receive these notifications straight to their wrist for extra convenience.

And of course, the mobile experience should be considered with any digital downloads mentioned in the point above. There’s no point enabling mobile content if it’s not mobile optimised.


Smarter networking

There are two main reasons people attend tech events: to gain knowledge and to network.

We’ve looked at how event tech can be used to convey information quickly and conveniently, but it’s also a valuable way of making networking slicker, and more high-tech.

One way NFC tech can streamline networking is through the application of tappable name badges or lanyards. Instead of swapping business cards with everyone you meet (think of the environment), imagine if you could just tap someone’s conference lanyard with your smartphone to ping their contact details directly to your address book, or your event app.

There’s also some clever ways event tech can be used to connect with the media. Rather than sending out press packs to everyone, what about NFC-enabled info that journalists tap to download if they’re interested?


Creating a buzz

Marketing an event takes time, money, and effort. It’s much easier and more cost-effective if you can get the same guests coming back each year.

Event tech can help create a memorable buzz and atmosphere around a good event.

Creating a designated event hashtag is old hat: it’s a great way of keeping up-to-date with how people think and feel about your event. If you’re not currently doing so, it’s the very least you should do.

However, linking this hashtag to some extra clever tech can help create an even better buzz. One of our friends, creative design studio Knit, has a great example with some creative use of an Instagram printer. Whenever someone posts a snap to Instagram using a particular hashtag, it will print a polaroid-style picture of the photo. These can then be given to the users as a memento of the event or used to create a collaborative visual display.


Mobile payments

And finally, one of the simplest ways event tech can help zhush up an event is through the application of mobile payment technologies. This is particularly useful for trade shows or other similar events where products are available for sale.

Though things have improved in recent years, it’s not uncommon for traders at trade shows to only accept cash, so increasing possible payment options is always going to be a good thing. Not  only that but mobile payment options are so quick, they can help cut down long queues at popular stalls.

If your tech event has a not-for-profit focus, using mobile payment options has an added bonus. Mobile donation options can be set up to automatically include gift aid, so charities and non-profits are able to maximise every donation.


Event tech is the future 

So there you have it: a variety of ways event tech can help make events more memorable, popular, and successful.

The real beauty of this tech is that it’s simple but effective – these are all tools that many tech businesses already have at their disposal. Really, there’s no excuse for tech businesses not to be at the cutting edge of event tech.

Let’s hope the next tech event we attend is up to scratch!