Today’s episode of the Event Tech Podcast was inspired by a recent Event Leadership Institute summit where Brandt and Will did a fast rundown on ten event technology trends. For each of them, they had to quickly decide whether they truly were a trend or just hype. Most of the trends have gotten their own standalone Event Tech Podcast episode already. If you need a quick refresher on what Will and Brandt think about them, then this episode is perfect for you.
Here are the 10 event technology trends that Will and Brandt discuss in this unique and exciting episode:
- smart glasses & AR,
- community marketing,
- privacy & security,
- machine learning & AI,
- facial recognition,
- attendee tracking.
Which ones will make it to the hot list and which ones are merely hype? Tune in and find out.
First, Brandt and Will talk about NFTs (non-fungible tokens). What are they, what’s their use in the events industry, and are they the next big event technology trend?
“NFT is a digital credential for owning something – a screen grab or a piece of digital art,” explains Brandt. He’s not too excited about this particular trend, though. “Anytime there’s a large number of people trying to get more people in on the ground floor, it usually means they’re looking for an exit. The last person that is left holding the bag is going to lose out.”
“They actually have a term for that in the crypto space, they call it pumping and dumping,” adds Will.
And what do NFTs have to do with events? “You can own your NFT event ticket. Right now, there is a lot of value in people using it as a form of knowing that you are a part of a community or preventing fake ticket sales. But if you’re thinking about this in terms of profit, might as well go to Vegas and put it on black.”
The final verdict? Despite its various use cases, it is still 100% hype in this point in time.
When people hear blockchain, they typically think of cryptocurrency. However, there is more to blockchain technology than that. “Blockchain is the ability to have a digital record of something. Every transaction is kept on the blockchain and everybody has access to those records. Every time someone trades Bitcoin, that’s written to the blockchain,” says Brandt. But at this point, he sees it as hype.
“The biggest potential for crypto and blockchain is decentralized finance. There is a future for this in international events. Think about the fees we have to deal with when we purchase a ticket abroad. This can sometimes hurt a planner. After all, no one wants to be Ticketmaster and charge the fees to the end person,” says Will.
“Imagine you could tell all your international attendees to pay for tickets with crypto and in return, they don’t have to pay massive fees. You hear about volatility and that’s why that concerns a lot of people, but there are stable cryptocurrencies that are matched to USD, for example, USD Coin (USDC).”
“If you’re interested in like the fraud aspect of blockchain, there’s a great YouTube channel called Coffeezilla. He finds fraudsters and exposes their pump and dump schemes,” he adds.
Brandt and Will have talked about the Metaverse before, as did their friends over at the Event Brew. “There is a lot of hype out there. The metaverse, as is being described right now, lacks a clear definition,” says Brandt.
Will likes the idea of having one app to do virtual, hybrid, and in-person gatherings. Also, he thinks the metaverse might disrupt the events industry. “I think the metaverse will reduce the number of event platforms currently on the market. And that’s what the attendees want as well. No one wants to download another event app.”
“The idea behind metaverse and web 3.0 is decentralization, but then, we will all be on one metaverse platform. That means we will be even more centralized and that’s a scary concept.”
Brandt absolutely adores drones and mentions Disney’s drone shows as a great case study on them. “Drones can draw pictures in the air. That patent is nearly ten years old already. Then, they have two other patents: drones towing fabric behind them and using drones to make giant marionettes. They are still loud, but they will get quieter and smaller with higher resolution cameras.”
But Will wonders how event planners can justify the ROI on drones, an investment that can cost thousands of dollars. “Just like Disney, Tesla used drones in Austin, too. But did it generate more press for them? Did it accomplish their event goals? I don’t know.”
“Just like projection mapping or fireworks, drones are fun and cool,” replies Brandt. “It’s a wow factor, people love them.” Simply put, there’s ROI in audience engagement.
Smart Glasses & Augmented Reality: Hot
Next up are smart glasses and AR for events. Brandt and Will both agree that this event technology trend is hot, more so than virtual reality. Apple has been at the forefront of developing smart glasses and named the technology Vision. “Rumor has it that they will come out with smart glasses soon and then work their way into a virtual reality headset,” says Brandt.
“Right now, nobody is using their phone to do AR at an event, but imagine we all had glasses like that at events. All event signage becomes obsolete. You can look at someone’s badge and their profile pops up above their head. We can merge in-person attendees with virtual ones. Imagine a keynote where you can see chat bubbles or avatars flying up from all the virtual attendees:”
365 Community Platforms: Hot
Brandt and Will have talked plenty about the perks of the community model before, and confirm once again that they believe 365 community engagement on event platforms is a hot trend across all marketing sectors, not just the events industry. But it’s one thing to host a community and another to create a truly outstanding online community. “If you want a 365 platform, you need a platform that’s capable of it, but then you need to get the people in there. Try and keep those people moving, give them an incentive.”
“Community management is a huge trend,” says Will. “It’s being pushed by marketing professionals because the community makes people want to buy more, their loyalty goes up, the lifetime value of a customer increases. If you see marketing behind it, you know that a trend is going to grow huge.”
Privacy & Security: Hot & Getting Hotter
“As an industry, we need to start taking responsibility for our attendees’ data,” says Brandt. “As we start to reincorporate in-person events into our event strategies, we need to understand that we handle a lot of sensitive information: executive names, phone numbers, personal cell phone numbers, addresses, spouse names, flight numbers, and more. It’s easy for hackers to write one email that comes across as legitimate with all that information.”
Will advises event planners to watch Endless Events’ webinar on cyberattacks to learn more about this highly important topic. He also adds that attendees are growing more aware of privacy issues. “People don’t like Facebook and don’t want to give them their data anymore. They might also be hesitant to fill out a profile on several different event apps. They want to know what you’ll do with their data.”
Machine Learning & AI: Hot & Hype
Brandt and Will talked about machine learning and AI in event apps last year. What they said then still holds now. “It’s another one of those important technologies that became a marketing buzzword for a year. When thinking about AI, my head goes to event production and PowerPoints. If you want an image of a person standing on a mountain looking at the sunset, AI can programmatically create that image for you. You don’t have to worry about copyright.”
Speaking of machine learning, Will mentions Clipper. “They have an amazing machine learning algorithm. It allows you to categorize content and make it searchable and findable. Hopefully, we can have them on as guests in the future.”
Will sums the section up by saying that while AI and machine learning are hot, the overuse of AI as a word is all hype.
Facial Recognition: Lukewarm
While Brandt was skeptical of facial recognition in last year’s Event Tech Podcast episode, he also sees value in using it at events. “You can do contactless login or registration thanks to facial recognition and its implementation is going to expand further. As long as it’s done securely, safely, and is compliant with GDPR, there is a lot of potential here.”
“I like face ID,” says Will. “Also, I can use facial recognition at the airport without having to use my own ID. I just show up, scan my boarding pass, and go. It makes everything so seamless.”
Hot or hype? Will says lukewarm. It’s already being implemented and is barely considered a new trend. It’s simply reality.”
Attendee Tracking: Hot
Attendee tracking has become a hot subject when the events industry realized the potential that virtual events hold. “The data you get from online events is incredible compared to in-person. Event planners can see who saw what, when, for how long. They can see which expo booths they visited, who they met, and what sessions they watched. You can go to your exhibitors and show them a list of 200 people who showed at the booth and a list of additional 50 people who didn’t stop by, but went to breakout sessions that have to do with what exhibitors sell,” explains Brandt.
“So in the future, if you only give your exhibitors the attendee list, you will be in trouble,” he adds.
“Attendee tracking is nothing new,” says Will. “We reviewed Klik as a case study on this podcast. But the thing is that you need to budget for it. It takes pre-planning. You can easily get this cost covered by saying we’re the only event sponsors can go to where they get all that valuable data.”
“You’re spending money to prove your event ROI,” agrees Brandt. “You’re not just guessing that a booth was popular because you saw some people there. With attendee tracking, you can see that only 20% of your attendees ever stopped by there, while the VR golf simulator was slamming all night long, for example.”
Technology Should Add Value To Attendees
When it comes to attendee tracking, facial recognition, and similar technologies, it is essential to make them valuable to people. “People are willing to share data with each other and with you as long as it adds value,” explains Will. “If you go to a session, you can then download all the handouts because of attendee tracking. Or you can get contact information from everyone you’ve met.”
Brandt wholeheartedly agrees. “You can also nudge your attendees to check out a product from your sponsors if they attended certain sessions.”