CrowdComms had a stand at the annual Meetings Show in London last week, the biggest one to date, filled with a diverse range of suppliers to the conference and events industry. Participants attended from the UK and all over Europe. Curious to see what was on offer, I left our stand in the capable hands of the CrowdComms team, to see what else was going on.
First stop, a walk around the expo. The first thing I noticed is how nice the space felt. This is down to one thing that’s different to so many exhibition halls: the glass roof. Daylight flooded in and when the sun shone exhibitors and visitors felt its warmth. It was a delightful change from windowless rooms with artificial lighting.
Wholeness and Wellness
I later attended a session on emerging event trends that are shaping the future of events, which verbalised exactly what I experienced with the hall’s light.
The speaker, Michelle Crowley from PCMA, cited a focus on wellness and wholeness as an emerging trend in people’s personal lives that they expect to see reflected in the events they attend.
She encouraged venues to offer a menu of options to planners, including amount of daylight, fresh air and room temperature. This would enable planners to create an environment their attendees would enjoy.
Michelle also cited some other interesting emerging event trends including tribalisation, immersive telepresence and sensory analytics (aka heat maps).
This was discussed in many sessions. Co-creation and crowdsourcing content was mentioned numerous times. At the Future of Events session Michelle talked about the importance of creating experiences at events that encourage discussion.
She gave an interesting example of an event where attendees were invited to take a walk with another attendee under an umbrella and falling snow. While the snow was artificial the experience was anything but. Attendees raved about the conversations they had.
See in real time where event attendees are moving (via a heat map) and tweak the event accordingly in real time. I think it’s great to have access to this sort of information, say when selling exhibition space the following year, but I do think we’re a long way from making major changes to the physical layout of events on the fly.
The other consideration is how to offer value to privacy sensitive attendees so they opt in. I think an event app to navigate the expo, connect with other attendees and create a personal schedule would be a good incentive.
Attendees in the session quickly agreed that this type of technology is already working well for virtual site visits, but our industry hasn’t adopted it in any significant way beyond that.
So no surprise that the discussion quickly moved to engaging online attendees during in-person events and Michelle had a couple of great tips from her personal experience:
Engaging Online Audiences
Have a moderator physically in the room who can verbally ask questions for the online audience. Also, have the moderator encourage discussion between the online attendees on the event app during networking time by asking which side of an issue they fall for example.
She also reported that making events available online through an event app has proven to increase in person registrations for their own events. We often hear that but it was good to hear it again, straight from someone how has experienced it directly.
Sounds exotic but what it means is giving attendees the opportunities to curate their own content as they do in their world outside events.
How this translates to events is in its infancy in my view. We have successfully moved beyond a series of didactic lectures to sessions where audience participation is standard. We have created more small-group discussion style sessions and some more interesting environments with quirky seating, but essentially we still have a set timetable with sessions led by one or more speakers with slide decks.
I participated in three sessions that followed those formats, but thankfully there was discussion and planning amongst myself, my fellow presenters and the organisers, on how we could turn the format on its head for TMS17. Watch this space…
It was a great show and this session on emerging event trends was really interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing a brighter and more interesting future events.
Author: Dee Brannick – CrowdComms, Co-Founder
Working in Event Tech since 2003, Dee has made thousands of events shine by incorporating market leading technology into a diverse range of events. From 3,000 person fundraising galas to large employee events and associations’ conferences, Dee is passionate about finding the right solution for her clients. In 2011 she co-founded CrowdComms to maximise the explosion in smart phone usage at events and now works out of the UK office in sunny Dorset.