Event Technology Trends for 2018 – and How to Thoughtfully Incorporate Them

Technology is helping to automate every aspect of our lives. Event planners are seeing this impact to their industry like never before. Attendees are more invested, but only if the event holds up to its end of the bargain by providing visitors with unique experiences (that they can share/brag about on social media). Technology can help you provide these experiences, but there’s a catch. Attendees also want authentic experiences. So, just throwing up the latest tech without thinking about how to incorporate it into your event will result in a disaster.

With that in mind, here are some of the biggest event technology trends of 2018 – and some ideas for thoughtfully incorporating them.


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

“Pfft,” you think, “I already use RFID at my events.”

Great, because its use is about to become even more important. Currently, many events use RFID at check-in and to gather real-time detailed data throughout the event.

However, new technology is going to make those applications easier and more useful. For example, while wearable tech allows ticketed attendees to check-in at kiosks, it is now possible to bypass this step with radio frequency floor mats that scan attendees as they walk. This will allow for check-ins with no wait. But that is simply the start for the possibilities of this tech.

With geo-fencing, a virtual perimeter to track attendees via RFID, ads and special activities can be directly targeted to specific attendees based on their preferences or location at any given time. This can ensure that attendees become more engaged with your activities by simplifying raffles and contests (and winner announcements), social media updates, and media (pictures, videos, etc.) being uploaded and distributed correctly. Most importantly, all of this can be monitored and collected by event organizers.

As RFID technology becomes more ingrained and fine-tuned, it will deliver bigger and better analysis of attendees. This qualitative and quantitative data will make it easier to determine what worked at a given event, what didn’t, and – most importantly – why attendees responded one way or another.


Proximity Sensors

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Along the same lines as RFID tech and geo-fencing, proximity sensors enable organizers to provide location-specific experience.

Attendees are sent content and alerts to their mobile devices that directly impacts the experience they are having at the moment. By receiving immediate, location-specific content, organizers can create instantaneous, personalized events.

This technology can also make navigating the show floor much easier, especially when it is combined with another technology, like… 


Augmented Reality

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First brought into the public’s consciousness by the ubiquitous, real-world hunt for Pokémon monsters, augmented reality is a powerful technology that’s good for much more than watching a Poké Ball bounce across your lawn (as that Pikachu escapes for the hundredth time).

Augmented reality will be utilized to achieve a task that has bedeviled event organizers for decades: getting attendees easily across a crowded show floor.

GPS does not work inside, and indoor mapping systems (while better than nothing) only have a position accuracy of about 15 to 45 feet (5 to 15 meters). This is ok for navigating a large facility, but it’s basically useless for getting someone from one booth to another.

Enter augmented reality. Combined with proximity sensors, which dramatically improve positioning accuracy, augmented reality will layer a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world (currently by using a smartphone’s camera, but AR glasses are going to be widely available in the not-too-distant future). This will allow users to get step-by-step, real-time directions across a show floor.

Yet, that is just scratching the surface of the possibilities. What if, as they made their way from booth to booth, attendees were encouraged to earn badges or coins by visiting specific areas or perform onscreen tasks? The gamification possibilities (and revenue opportunities) are massive. Plus, exhibitors can take advantage of the technology to create animated and interactive booths, signs, and banners.


Chatbots

-Alexa, what’s the temperature in Albuquerque?

-In Albany, it’s 56 degrees and snowy.

-Hey Siri, I need directions to Home Depot.

-I couldn’t find Hermon Depeaux in your contacts.

While we’ve all had experiences similar to the ones above, they are becoming increasingly rare. Once the bane of modern existence, chatbots are becoming very adept at correctly answering our queries as we continue to hurl inquiries into their processors.

Which is why chatbots are increasingly being used at trade shows and festivals to answer questions and manage the user experience. Still, nobody wants to be the maniac yelling into a smartphone on a crowded and noisy show floor. This is why text-based systems are becoming the go-to option at trade shows and festivals.

These chat-less chatbots can be deployed over messaging channels like Twitter, Facebook Messenger, SMS, Slack, and Skype to provide directions, meeting information, Q&A responses, and more.


Multi-Use Apps

Apps for events are a drastic improvement over the old-school method of unwieldly, physical event guides, which were wasteful and couldn’t adapt to scheduling, speaker, and venue changes.

Now, however, event apps are experiencing some backlash. It can be costly and time consuming to produce a new application for every event. Plus, for the end user, there is a learning curve with each new app, and available storage space on devices is becoming a premium commodity. Many are questioning the need of downloading an application they will only use one time.

That’s why event apps are stepping up the game by becoming a valuable, year-round resource for attendees. These apps provide education, information, and a channel for attendees to communicate and network long after the event is over. Users are also able to easily send feedback to event organizers. Plus, they are a great way to keep your event at the top of people’s minds, even when the actual show is months away.


Security

However, with these apps come potential vulnerabilities. That’s why security is increasingly important.

There is a deluge of data created every day, every hour, every minute. Gathering some of that data is an essential part of any event. Yet, all of this available information has made us vulnerable. And recent mishaps have shown us that even in trusted hands, our personal data can be used improperly (or outright stolen).

Securing the data gathered at events is essential – and the responsibility of event organizers. You don’t want the headlines about your event to be associated with a massive data breech or misuse. In fact, there are regulations in place (for example, The Personal Data Protection Act in the U.S. and the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union) for organizers and IT teams to follow to ensure best practices help maintain data security.

The most likely avenue for hackers to attempt to exploit is either an online registration system or the event app. Strengthening cybersecurity for events will be a primary focus throughout 2018 and beyond. 


Innovative Modular Structures

Of course, the most exciting technology for events this year is the innovative line of modular, architectural structures, which is easy to set up and has a sleek, modern look that’s sure to draw a crowd. Our products function equally well indoors and outdoors and are perfect for events and pop-up shops.

For more of our thoughts about the technology trends of 2018 and the groundbreaking line of modular, architectural structures, give us a call at 972-323-9433.

sofia krsmanovic