David Langford is the Vice President of Technology at Smart City Networks, where he is responsible for designing and developing high-density wireless networks for stadiums and convention centers across the country.
Understanding the Technology Needs of Your Exhibitors and Attendees
Every event planner knows technology must be integrated into their events to sustain growth and meet the demands of an increasingly tech-savvy audience. Yet the specific needs of your attendees and exhibitors are often harder to identify amongst the countless options available. Understanding what technology makes sense for your audience goes a long way in pulling off a great meeting, conference or trade show.
Continue reading to better understand the relationship between technology, exhibitors and attendees.
Everyone Needs Reliable WiFi
The foundation of any event—regardless of size—should be safe, secure and reliable WiFi independent of a hotel or other public space’s wireless network. Plan in advance for your number of attendees, exhibitors and their expected WiFi usage to map out a solution and partner with a trusted provider. The right technology, along with signage to encourage usage of the network over cellular connections, is important to not only implement a sound WiFi strategy but get everyone onboard.
Enhance the Attendee Experience
Most attendees bring one or two mobile devices to events and will be glued to their screens, regardless of your choice to enhance their experience with event technology. Ask yourself how a mobile app can integrate with the event and leverage features like interactive exhibitor maps, live polling and speaker bios. Also, consider augmented or virtual reality; does your organization (or your exhibitors) have a product or service attendees crave to experience in a new dimension?
Easier-to-implement technology is also important to identify. Consider the average age of your attendee base and their preferences for social media platforms. Older generations may only use Facebook, while millennials are almost certainly tapped into Instagram, Twitter and even newer channels.
Planning is required to make these decisions. Event planners can use attendee surveys, readily accessible industry information, and even successes and failures from competing or complementary events to better understand the needs of attendees.
Give Exhibitors Valuable Intel
Many attendee and exhibitor needs, such as virtual reality or interactive exhibitor maps in a mobile app, will likely overlap and serve everyone involved. Yet some considerations are particularly valuable to exhibitors and ensure they return for years to come.
Are you using beacon technology to share timely, proximity-based exhibitor information to attendees when they’re ready to be engaged? What about sharing key attendee data with exhibitors before, during and after the event to improve lead information and ROI? Technology like badge scanners also makes the lives of exhibitors much easier at large events.
Pairing the right technology with your exhibitors should start early by emphasizing your willingness to explore new ideas and share valuable attendee data. Consider pitching new technology already in the mix to potential exhibitors and find out if specific needs are shared by a vast majority. A lot of technology takes time and resources to implement, so getting ahead of the game here is vital to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
The Bottom Line
Identifying the technology needs of your exhibitor and attendees shouldn’t be a series of shots in the dark. Ask questions and survey your audience to make sensible choices for everyone involved.