Event organisers are always looking for new and interesting ways to engage with and keep their attendees engaged during and after their event. From the increasing variety of vendors, dedicated areas to network, and recognizable speakers, to modern event attendee tracking technology and digital rewards. In this article explore the tools and strategies used to attract and engage event attendees so they return year after year and are motivated to get their peers involved.
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The Importance of Event Engagement
Without engagement, events are doomed to fail. It may not be straight away but over time the audience dwindles, tickets fail to sell, and organisers can no longer fund the event. Many events have gone this way over the years as organisers fail to prioritise their attendees. Attendees expect more from today’s events. They are over the excitement of returning to in-person events after several years of hybrid and virtual events and are experiencing increased costs for travel and accommodation. This is why attendees and their employers need assurance that the event they attend will be providing value for their time.
How Technology Improves Event Engagement
Technology is woven into events. Organisers use tools and technology to streamline the administration behind the event, from selling tickets to onboarding vendors, to analysing results. Some of this technology is already being utilised to engage event attendees. Ticket platforms provide information, agendas, maps, and more for attendees to familiarise themselves before turning up to the event. Visual technology like screens, projectors, and speakers are used around the venue to show attendees where to go, what’s going on, or what sessions are coming up. Aside from the common technology used in events, organisers also benefit from the use of QR codes, footfall data, digital awards, and live translations.
QR codes are a fantastic technology that almost slipped by the world without much attention. Fortunately in the last few years they have drastically grown in popularity and many organisations are using QR codes in different ways. Restaurants use them to replace and supplement physical menus, advertisers use them on billboards, and estate agents feature them on ‘For Sale’ signs. Users scan the QR code with their smartphone to access information, register interest, watch videos, and more.
Event organisers can utilise QR codes in several ways; featured on the event ticket linking to exclusive attendee offers, at entry points to streamline checkline, and on vendor booths to measure interest. The use of QR codes also helps to reduce physical touch points which is in keeping with the latest health guidelines and reduces the risk of illnesses spreading. QR codes are cheap to create and maintain, easy to use, and can be designed with imagery and brand colours. They are an ideal technology for event organisers to explore as a way of engaging their attendees.
Foot traffic data or footfall data are the metrics tracked from real-world footfall; the movement and behaviour of individuals and groups. Metrics can be tracked in several ways, by aggregate visits to a location, individual visits to a location, characteristics of visitors at a location, and comparisons of visitors to a location. The data comes from different sources depending on the application. For example, geospatial/location data is gathered from mobile devices that can be set-up in multiple locations. Sensory data is the data commonly collected by retail stores using physical sensors that are installed at the entrance. Purchase data are the metrics gathered from payments and purchases.
Event organisers can use geospatial/location data collected from devices placed around an event venue to understand what their attendees are interested in. Whether certain vendors were more popular, how long attendees spent at different vendors or stands, and how groups moved through the event. This provides actionable insights for attendee engagement. Based on the data, organisers can understand what sort of vendors best resonate with their audiences and whether stands need to be moved to improve attendee flow.
Digital awards such as digital credentials, digital certificates, and digital badges are a popular method of rewarding and engaging learners, members, candidates, and attendees. They are extremely versatile and are used in a variety of environments including higher education, associations, professional certification, and events. Organisations issue digital awards to individuals to recognize effort and illustrate growth. Recipients then share their digital awards in celebration to social media platforms, add them to LinkedIn profiles and professional resumes, and embed them online and in email signatures.
Event organisers can use digital awards to recognize attendance, reward volunteers, and credit speakers. Attendees are issued digital badges that are fully portable meaning they can be uploaded to smartphone devices where they are used to streamline check-in. They share their attendance badges to social media increasing visibility for the event and creating discussion. The increased visibility helps to drive referrals, increasing future attendance, and keeping the event at the top of conversation for longer.
English is the most common language spoken at events, conferences, and tradeshows in the UK and the US, but international attendees also frequent events in these locations. Especially large, industry-leading events where there are plenty of opportunities to learn and network. Live translation are tools that enable real-time language interpreting for live streams and in-person presentations. The tools became readily available during the pandemic following the rise of virtual events and should be a must-have for all future events. Live translation tools reduce barriers created by language, make the event more accessible, and serve as a valuable way to engage with greater audiences.
Embracing technology in events to engage attendees is a must for organisers that want their event to succeed and stand out amongst competitors. This is especially important for organisers that intend to bring their event back year after year. They need to be prepared to understand, research, and explore the demands and expectations of their audience and ensure their needs are met and surpassed to keep them interested and returning. Through research, strategizing, and innovation, organisers can ensure that the technology used delivers a great user experience for themselves, the sponsors, the speakers, and most importantly, the attendees.
James is the head of marketing at Tamoco