OCT 2017

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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Page 15 of 67

⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ O C T O B E R 2 0 1 7 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 16 ANNUAL STATE OF THE INDUSTRY REPORT messages is the domain of video displays that range from LED and 4K displays to touch screen displays, video walls and digital signage. Multiple LED screens can be configured in a wide range of arrays (i.e., with LCD screens or LED tiles arranged in 2 x 2 grids, large back- drops, different shapes and event tunnels) to create high-impact video walls that stop and draw in traffic. These excitement-building event technologies provide a high-visibility platform for conveying news and information, branding messages, and value propositions in a most engaging way. Contrast these video walls to those static exhibit booth panels. There's simply no comparison. Touch screen displays promote an interactive experience and allow individuals to retrieve the information they want, when they want it. When 80-inch screens are used, there's plenty of real estate for multiple touch points/information sectors. Digital signage also offers a convenient way to engage audiences, and it gives planners a medium to display all forms of content – video, photos, text, news and social media feeds, event directories, applications, surveys, travel, hotel information, and more. When combined with dynamic content management software, content can be managed for delivery based on pre-deter- mined dates, times and other criteria. Kiosks are another event technology that promote engagement. They are being used at conventions and trade shows in similar ways as touch screen displays: to promote the event and convey program schedules, session topics, speaker bios, exhibitor locations, and other event information. You will also see them be- ing used to create cyber cafés and social media lounges, as well as for self-serve registration. Charging stations, where event participants can charge their mobile devices, are another engagement technology that planners, sponsors and exhibitors alike are using in today's events. They are often placed in areas where partici- pants gather such as food courts, conference and break-out session rooms, near cyber cafes and registration areas, as well as within exhibitor and sponsor booths. Like kiosks, they also provide an opportunity to convey branding, mar- keting messages and other information while individuals wait for their devices to be charged. Streamlining Event Management Processes Event technology in 2017 is also supporting much more efficient administrative processes at events. Registering attendees using web-based event registration software has streamlined and simplified the otherwise cumbersome processes entailing information and demographic data capture, credit card payments, email confir- mations, corrections, badge creation, real-time event registration tracking, reporting, and au- tomation support of back-office functions (e.g., data import to Excel spreadsheets, integration with CRM and lead retrieval systems, etc.). It also facilitates multiple options for registration: branded on-line registration, on-site manned registration and on-site self-service registration at branded kiosks. Lead retrieval/capture technology is also providing a benefit to both event planners and their exhibitors who rely on it to help build their sales pipeline. This technology is evolv- ing from in the past when it was just scanning a badge. Now, we can qualify, send an email, view documentation and much more. Lead retrieval/capture technology is compat- ible with multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, and badges with barcodes, QR codes and magnetic strips. Its functionality includes customizable surveying, reporting and integra- tion with CRM and other marketing and sales lead automation systems (e.g., Salesforce), as well as event registration systems. The appli- cation of lead retrieval software also serves as a vital tool for measuring ROI from any given event where prospecting is a primary goal. The Territory Ahead While a decade ago, the new buzz words swirl- ing around event technology were engagement, data capture, and experiential marketing, expect to hear more about artificial intelligence (AI), virtual and augmented reality, wearable technology and what some are calling the "fes- tivalization" of events. What we can be certain of is that all trends will depend on cutting-edge technologies, all of which are already here if not yet widely adopted. As long as marketers continue to derive value from their participa- tion in these events (according to the latest data from CEIR: The Changing Environment of Exhibitions, 99% of marketers surveyed are gaining unique value from trade shows and conventions that they are not getting from other marketing mediums), we can expect an ongoing proliferation of new event technolo- gies to make their event experiences and ROIs good ones. n Robert Edwards is the Manager of Software Services, SmartSource Computer & Audio Visual Rentals, (, Hauppauge, NY

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