The impact of COVID-19 is one that is unprecedented for the event industry. The call for positive future opportunities and perspectives may not be fair at all for now, but we can prepare for ‘if we can go again later’. We mapped out the current situation and the possible future changes in this article.

Hygiene as a newcomer in the top 3 of checklist points for every event professional and clients? Concepts where 1.5 meters away is the basis? That also combined with a social sense of caution? Welcome to phase 2 of the Corona crisis: dosed LIVE with new requirements and restrictions. How are we going to do that? A few examples of events in the 1.5-meter society.

CONFERENCES AND KNOWLEDGE EVENTS

When it comes to knowledge transfer as the main goal, the first reaction could be online. And rightly so, but in recent years we have also learned that the transfer of knowledge with the stimulation of all senses is even more powerful. So let’s come up with some ideas for knowledge events with a 1.5-meter distance as a condition. From how it is now and how we can change that to completely different …

When it comes to knowledge transfer as the main goal, the first reaction could be online. And rightly so, but in recent years we have also learned that the transfer of knowledge with the stimulation of all senses is even more powerful. So let’s come up with some ideas for knowledge events with a 1.5-meter distance as a condition. From how it is now and how we can change that to completely different …

Same concept, same location, more space, smarter routing

In times of crisis, it is often said that everything will be different, but maybe, who knows, it may be better and we are only entering a bridging phase. A phase where the current market and the current offer are used to fill a 1.5-meter distance in the event industry. So let’s assume that the event chain as we know it, will organize events as we know them, only then filled indifferently. In that case, locations will, therefore, have to provide a different interpretation. 1.5 meters must be used from the parking, which leads to drastic measures.

HYBRID EVENTS

What we as an industry should also seriously consider in phase 2, the phase with limited freedoms to organize events: fewer visitors. Where the conference would first attract 1000 visitors, we are now going through that 1.5-meter distance to 200 visitors max. That certainly does not mean that we cannot serve the other 800. For many years, our industry has been able to come up with excellent hybrid concepts: partly live, partly online. Phase two is pre-eminently the period for hybrid events. If you would normally go to congress with 5 colleagues, one is now going. The other four, and maybe even more, watch from the office. Give the live visitor the role of visitor, reporter and source of information, so that interaction arises naturally and the happy colleague who is present live, can also speak on behalf of his colleagues.

We give you an insight into event innovations of the future:

The world is changing rapidly and this is reinforced by the many innovations in technology. It is impossible to imagine the digital events industry without these innovations and developments. Many event managers no longer have a good overview of all the new possibilities. The new possibilities are therefore endless and much has probably not yet been discovered. Researchers published nine predictions about the event innovations of the future. We list all nine for you, including the latest technological upgrades of these innovations in the event industry. Gamification using online tools are also very common for this e-sport days.

1. Effective use of big data

Many research shows that there will be nearly 26 trillion (!) Wireless devices connected to the internet in 2020. All these devices provide well-known big data: information that shows the interests of the user. You often already know a lot about your visitors, such as their position and interests of LinkedIn that you can respond to.

 

You can also easily ask your guests extra questions on the registration page of your event, which in turn can add personal value to your event. Once you know what your average visitor likes, you can inform them more specifically and get them excited about the substantive sessions. Make your visitors feel like you’ve done it all for them.

2. Integrated sensors for visitor experience and customer loyalty

Bluetooth is an easy and cheap way to bind guests to an event. Thanks to new technologies, it requires little of the battery and can, therefore, be used actively for a long time. There are already various applications of Bluetooth within the event industry, which can only be expanded in the future.

 

In addition to being able to surprise your visitor, it provides real-time insight (heat maps) into the number of visitors at each stand and how much time they spend there. This way you also know where the longest rows were at the buffer bar and which position was the most popular.

You can also easily ask your guests extra questions on the registration page of your event, which in turn can add personal value to your event. Once you know what your average visitor likes, you can inform them more specifically and get them excited about the substantive sessions. Make your visitors feel like you’ve done it all for them.

3. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) change the physical space

VR or AR or sham reality means that an environment is simulated via a computer to stimulate different senses and to realize experience. Special glasses are usually used for VR. Sometimes smell and sense of touch are also added. AR combines computer-generated elements with reality to create an ‘augmented world’. This way your visitors interact with animations generated on their phone while they move on your event. A good example of this is Pokémon Go.

 

This technology can be applied at face-to-face events. Consider, for example, demonstrating new products in this way. This gives a more intense experience and fewer physical products need to be taken along. The limitations of the location are also removed: any environment can be created with the use of virtual reality.

In addition to being able to surprise your visitor, it provides real-time insight (heat maps) into the number of visitors at each stand and how much time they spend there. This way you also know where the longest rows were at the buffer bar and which position was the most popular.

You can also easily ask your guests extra questions on the registration page of your event, which in turn can add personal value to your event. Once you know what your average visitor likes, you can inform them more specifically and get them excited about the substantive sessions. Make your visitors feel like you’ve done it all for them.

4. Smart event apps for designing your event

These wearable technologies remain handy, smart objects with which a lot is possible every time. While event apps used to be a nice-to-have, they’ve really become indispensable nowadays. Participants expect a mobile event app because it will help them connect and use the right content, people and sessions.

 

You can also take advantage of this:

  • It gives sponsors / speakers / exhibitors extra exposure;
  • You can collect extra data and data, for example, to view your ROI;
  • It can turn a passive participant into an active participant in the event;
  • Some smart conference apps include features to track and suggest speakers and networking opportunities.

Social media is an important driver in the buying behaviour of both consumers and companies. The event app is the ideal place to show the value of your event to sponsors, suppliers and other parties. It gives the visitor the opportunity to directly take over the content and place it on their own social media channels.

You can also take advantage of this:

5. Improving and strengthening current technologies

Event planners want simpler solutions and work with as few suppliers as possible. With that in mind, suppliers are now looking beyond their core products and services to find out what functionalities they can add to make their products more attractive to event planners. They often improve current technologies to broaden or deepen their offering.

 

Think of the existing technological possibilities, so you can let your event visitors experience an audio adventure, by following a walking route through headphones. For inspiration, watch this video about an Mp3 experiment in which participants download an audio file with a special app and then go to the same public location with headphones. At the predetermined start time, the app synchronizes playback of the audio file for all users. The message continues after the video.

You can also take advantage of this:

6. Biometric authentication for events

Facial recognition software gives your attendees a smoother check-in experience, an experience that is not only fast but also improves the security of the event. This is a trend in event technology that is expected to become more accepted and growing in the coming year.

 

Data captured with cameras placed in your event grounds will help you get to know your attendees better and understand how they feel about the event. Such as eye-tracking. Eye-tracking uses a camera to record eye movements. This provides insight into what people watch and how long they do this.

7. Including drones at events

Drones, small unmanned aerial vehicles, have been increasingly used lately. Often with a camera underneath to take a photo or video recordings. This provides amazing images of your event. Drones can create a  360-degree experience, for example, this experience can be linked to Virtual Reality. Drones are expected to become more and more accessible and will, therefore, be used even more often. The online studio is also very common these days and they arrange different digital events to teach beginners. But this online studio not as such require drones for events.

8. Flexible TV and screen displays

A new type of display technology is currently under development. These screens are made of, among other things, thinner and bendable glass. This would be ideal for use at events: the screens are lighter and therefore easier to carry and can be mounted wherever you want, even around a pillar. This provides more opportunities to involve visitors in the event.

9. Upgrading live streaming

Live streaming is becoming increasingly popular. Because it’s so easy to record and watch videos, it seems that everyone is using it now, from news channels to your neighbour. Almost all social platforms have implemented live streaming tools:

  • Facebook Live;
  • Instagram;
  • YouTube Live;
  • Twitter Periscope;
  • Snapchat Live;

Online streaming allows you to expand your visitor numbers with more than just the event capacity. Encourage live streaming under a common hashtag and sharing on social media and other platforms at your event. Statistics show that over 30% of people who viewed an event online attended the physical event the following year. So you can also use online streaming as a promotional tool. People are influenced by the human factor and the need for interactions.

 

Conclusion:

The need for contact and connection is increasing, but the possibility of organizing a physical meeting is no longer always desirable or feasible. Customers are increasingly opting for an event that can be followed online via a live stream. This way you can continue to inform and enthuse your customers, employees, members or shareholders. Your interlocutors are only not physically present. The advantages are that they can log in when and where it suits them and that they don’t have to travel. You can participate anywhere and on any device, all you need is an internet connection. And it is the future.