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Seven Event Insights from the Frozen Tundra

Last week, I was in the frozen tundra of Minneapolis talking with people about meeting design and event technology. The events people there are creative, innovative and energizing.

In the discussions, we pushed and pulled on the future of event technology in meetings and events. We talked about technology adoption, the future of face to face, the role of Social Media, the backchannel madness, increasing social network adoption, fears with virtual events and much more.

Here are some of the things that captured my attention from these conversations:

  1. Should you seriously consider a paperless event? The average age of people that prefer digital materials over paper based materials is now 50. It makes me wonder how long it will take before we start to see a major push to paperless events. Any ideas?
  2. Generational communication. An event organizer from Augsburg College told me that the college was sending event invitations to students through Facebook, because students are not using email. How are you communicating with the different generations attending your events?
  3. Many events are not using the Audience Response System (ARS) tools effectively. ARS is a powerful communication and engagement tool. However, I continue to hear that event organizers are not maximizing the potential of this powerful tool. I think that we need more people to share their ARS success stories. What do you think?
  4. There is still a strong fear about virtual events. Despite efforts to make event organizers feel comfortable that virtual events are complimentary to face-to-face events, many event organizers are either afraid of virtual events or think that it is a temporary thing.  It seems like there is still a lot of work to do here.
  5. Corporate events need your help to be more innovative.  Many corporate events are cookie cutter because marketers and corporate staff count on us to help them understand what’s new and possible.  We need to challenge ourselves to make sure that we are helping marketers see what is new and possible.
  6. Interactive Hybrid Meetings. By allowing virtual and face-to-face attendees to vote, ask questions or submit ideas regardless of their location, IML has a new service that helps event organizers build bridges between the virtual audience and the face-to-face audience in hybrid events (or regional telepresence events).  I think we are going to see more event tech solutions like this emerge on the marketplace – if they are not here already.
  7. Tradeshow lead capture still needs innovation. It has been awhile since I have been to a US tradeshow. The last time I attended one, I thought the lead capture process was out-of-date and in need of innovation.  The team at Living TradeShow have created a super-simple FOB that simplifies lead exchange, puts the power to exchange leads into the hand of the attendee, gives exhibitors better data and makes the whole process paperless.

Bottom Line

The world around us is creating new ways for us to communicate and collaborate. But it’s messy. There is a lot of trial and error. Best practices are still emerging.  When you solve one problem – two new problems can emerge.  For people that are used to control this can be scary stuff.

What do you make of these observations? Is there anything interesting that jumps out at you?

Note: This Blog Post was written and uploaded in draft form while I was on an airplane. Though the Wifi was terrible and I had to finish it after I landed.
Photo Credit: scelis

Written by

Samuel J. Smith is the Managing Director of Interactive Meeting Technology, LLC. He wakes up every morning to save the world from stuffing attendees in chairs for hours on end at events. Oh, and he has small children who usually want some breakfast.