Technology Revolutions = Event Industry Evolution

As both consumers and professionals, we either attempt to keep up with the numerous technological advances taking place in ever shortening timeframes or we make conscious and/or economic decisions to stick with the status quo. Meetings and events professionals must embrace new platforms and apps in order to help our industry evolve. New technologies allow for improved events, as well as better experiences for attendees, sponsors, clients, and, quite frankly, ourselves.

Last month I attended the IBTM (Incentives, Business Travel & Meetings) America (formerly the AIBTM) conference in Orlando. My key take-away: Technology is THE hot item in the events industry. Countless “water cooler conversations” focused on the latest technology and how to use it, Jim Spellos presented the Keynote, “App-tastic: 60 Apps in 60 Seconds”, and, by far, the busiest area of the expo floor was the “Innovation Zone”.

This year’s 24th Annual CEMA Summit (July 13-15, Torrey Pines) will embrace event industry innovation and include a “Technology Shoot Out” – a battle where attendees will vote for the best cutting-edge technologies designed for the event industry, Jim Spellos will dive a little deeper as he expands his presentation to showcase “75 Apps in 75 Minutes”, and presentations and discussions will include how technology can benefit and streamline key areas including: registration, survey, R.O.E. measurement, and gamification, to name a few.

Reluctant to change? Don’t be. Gone are the days of event professionals showing up with 3-ring binders overflowing with information (there are web-based portals and apps for that); instead, bring your tablet on-site. Your electronic device can hold far more than a binder ever could, plus, it allows you to update and share documents. Remember when attendees were asked to turn their cell phones “off” (which quickly became “ringers off” as phones became “smarter”)? Today, audience members are encouraged to bring their tablets and smart phones not to be distracted but to be engaged.

We are all professionals who cannot underestimate the impact of technology. Yes, it may be overwhelming, especially since there are an increasing number of apps and platforms available to you. Confusion often sets in when technology is packed with a large amount of “bells and whistles” with costs from free to “astronomical”. How can we help our industry when it comes to technological advances? Share. What apps and platforms perform best for your events? Get feedback. What did users of event App/platforms think of the technology? Talk with developers. How can they improve their products and services to provide better experiences for attendees?

Sometimes we feel that we are at the mercy of technology, however, as meetings and events professionals we can provide our expertise, coupled with the wants and needs of our attendees, clients, speakers, sponsors, and alike, to drive development of better apps/platforms at potentially lower costs.

Why is this important to you? Within the event industry we are now seeing a migration from apps to platforms. Platforms are powerful tools that allow users to track, communicate, and integrate data for the entire event timeline from event planning through measurement. These platforms serve to “close the gap” between marketing and sales and allow you to integrate with your company CRM and other marketing platforms such as Salesforce.com, Marketo, and ExactTarget’s Marketing Cloud.

At Event Marketing Partners, we have done extensive research to try to identify the ideal events management platform for us and our clients. We have determined that no one platform meets the diverse needs of our client base. This research helped us develop a platform and tool strategy for both our team and our clients. First, as an agency, we invested in the development of our own platform- a cloud based global events database and calendar plus a planning and management tool. In addition, we invested with an online registration company to address the specific needs of our clients’ requirements of events that we manage.

I look forward to attending this year’s CEMA Summit and to discuss how you, and other industry professionals, are using technology to manage your events more effectively.

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