Transformation is a Must, not a Maybe - Outtakes from 2018 TSNN Awards

August 21, 2018

Wayne Crawford

Wayne Crawford is VP Sales, Core-apps, a leading event technology provider. He is an exposition, sales and event technology professional with more than 30 years experience as both an organizer and supplier.

The theme of last weekend’s TSNN Awards was transformation, which is a common thread that links all shows together right now. The need to reimagine the trade show experience is not a new concept. But what I think is a new way to think about it, is the way the content itself is presented.

The long-in-the-tooth formula of filling up convention centers with exhibitors, sprinkled with education offerings of regurgitated industry buzz – is simply no longer sustainable.

It’s time for event organizers to put the show in trade shows. Organizers need to lead their exhibitors by example too, and everybody will win.

By that I mean, don’t walk around your show with a thought bubble over your head thinking how lame your exhibitors are, and “wouldn’t it be great if their booth experience were more dynamic or interactive.” They’re simply playing second fiddle in your symphony orchestra.

If your event experience is dynamic, engaging and out-of-the-box, chances are you will inspire your exhibitors and presenters to push the envelope on their creative execution.

Here are 5 ideas we walked away with from the TSNN Awards education sessions, that we think all event organizers should consider as they plan for the future.

Events should be unique experiences, not templates

Ask your attendees to provide details of the last few trade shows they attended. Would they call out your event as vastly different from the others, or different from past years? Maybe…but there is a chance they may scratch their heads as they try to remember anything dynamic about it. Give your attendees a reason to not just come to your event, but to talk about your event after the fact. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. The types of ideas that your leadership might be afraid of, are the experiences your audience will remember.

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Technology enabled content experiences are an easy way to engage your audience

We’re hearing a lot of organizers that want to include new tech tools like chatbots and augmented reality into their shows. But some organizations haven’t even mastered social media integration or audience interactivity yet. The content offerings that your organization and event create, should have a sustainable and interactive digital component, that lasts well after the show. From podcasts to audio tours, recorded videos from the show floor, to in-app collateral. There are thousands of ways you can make your content more interactive and engaging with digital tools that are abundantly available through your event tech providers and easy to activate. Ask your suppliers the question, “what aren’t we doing that adds value” before diving in head first with the declaration “we should be doing x because it’s buzzy and cool.”

 

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Create Deeper and More Sustainable Connections

Event organizers know that their end products are ephemeral, but they don’t have to be anymore. Your organization should be a hub for your industry audience to connect with each other in person at your events, and year-round through your digital channels. You should also be finding out much more about who your audiences are and segmenting them into actionable categories that can drive your personalization engine. One size fits all no longer has to be the status quo, especially when it comes to live events. Structure your content around personas. To do that, you’ll first need to create content that gets your audience talking about what inspires them, their goals with your organization and how they perceive your brand ethos. What does your audience think about you, and how can you amplify the positive trends?

Think About the Future

Will the chatbot of today become the organizer bot of tomorrow? Probably not, there is too much nuance and intuition that goes into executing live events that we don’t see that happening any time soon. But future proofing your event with technology tools, content and process should be included in every organizer’s game-plan. One of the best ways to keep your event tech savvy is to lean on your event tech suppliers for their expertise and guidance. Your vendors work inside the event tech industry everyday. They’re there to support your tech needs, but they should also be educating your team and leading you to solutions that make sense for your growth and goals. Challenge them if you’re not getting the right technical direction, that fits your audience profile!

Next Level Analytics

We’ve all been talking about live event analytics for years. But the marketplace has matured with tools and teams that can help organizers harvest the right data and turn it into actionable insights. The first step in the process is to make decisions on our outcomes. Then structure your data aggregation efforts in order to effectively correlate what you’re gathering with these outcomes. For example, if you want to highlight sponsorship ROI, everyone should be aligned on what the ROI is, then set up your sponsorships packages and activation methods to be able to gather that sort of insight. It’s not rocket surgery, it just takes planning!

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There is no denying it, our country is divided over timely, hot button issues. The shows that rose to the top of the podium were all focused on divisive industries; marijuana as a business, religion and firearms. MJBizCon, NCEA Convention & Expo (National Catholic Educational Association) and the NRA show. But the common thread that ties all of these shows together, is that audiences are hungry for trending content!

How can you learn from these trends, and apply this theory to your show? How can you activate your industry specific micro-content trends in a new way, and with more technology enablement for on-demand engagement? These are the top action items event organizers should be considering as they look to the future and their inevitable goal of transformation.

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