The Covid-19 pandemic has changed much about the way business is done, and in no industry is this truer than it is in events. From seeing practically 100 percent of our industry evaporate overnight, to establishing a market for virtual conferences, managed webinars, and experience marketing, 2020 was certainly a rollercoaster.
Though we would never want to downplay the scale of the human tragedy, many of us found we were able to grow in a positive way, despite the challenges we faced. The pandemic led to an acceleration of technological adoption. Yes, this was primarily out of necessity. But since we began to understand the impact of this change, many of us have been saying we are unlikely to be looking back.
In 2017, we established Buzznation as an events technology provider. Much was being written, said and indeed witnessed regarding the transformative impact of new technology paradigms – artificial intelligence, cloud computing, the Internet of Things – across all industries.
We saw that there were clear applications of all of these game-changing technology applications – and many more – within the events industry. Our aim was to become a one-stop-shop for events managers and organisers that wanted to reap the benefits, efficiencies and scalability of cutting-edge tech within their events operations. Just as was being done across every other marketing arm of their organisations – and indeed every other industry!
Many of our customers were very receptive to this, and we were able to create technology-driven installations that truly broke new ground in attendee engagement and experience. Sometimes, though, when we brought up what we specialise in for a new client, or an existing client looking to step up their game, we would be met with a raised eyebrow.
Personalisation? Recommendation? Live streaming? Virtual and augmented reality? AI-augmented registration and attendee journey management? Surely these are the domain of the online marketer? Is there any reason that they’d be needed, or even wanted, at live events and venues?
Discussing how the landscape will look post-pandemic, this isn’t an attitude we come across often anymore. Today, the success of virtual events at forging new connections and driving deeper engagement with existing audiences is clear, and the technology underpinning it has proven its worth. When we’re able to welcome every attendee to our virtual booth by their name and present them with a schedule of their own personal highlights, as well as intelligently match them with sessions and networking opportunities, our clients understand there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to do the same at their live events.
The return of live also brings new challenges, and here a new breed of event technology is already emerging to meet an important need. Systems such as CLEAR’s Health Pass have emerged to help event organisers and managers carry out their responsibilities around attendee health. This system integrates results from 30,000 testing labs with real-time surveying to make it easier to assess risk and make safety-oriented decisions. We expect this technology and other applications with health-focused functionality will become commonplace as we enter the brave new world of live events in the 2020s.
We also see a huge rise in demand for technology-driven hybrid events. Why limit your audience to the number of people that you can fit in your venue, or who can afford the air fare and hotel fees, when your event content can easily be streamed and distributed anywhere in the world? Going forward, we expect most large events – and many smaller ones – to include a “virtual track”, for those who, for whatever reason, can’t travel to your event. We also expect that exciting new technology developments will blur the boundaries between attending an event in-person and virtually. Imagine being able to put on a VR headset in your home and interact with guests who are at the event in person. Vice-versa, a real-world attendee could put on an AR headset and see a virtual avatar, representing a person who is attending remotely from their home, standing in front of them just as if they are really there! This might sound like science fiction but this functionality is under development and we will be bringing it to our customers very soon.
Our customers’ reactions have made it clear to us that, now more than ever, there is a need for events organisations to partner with service providers that understand the full spectrum of technology. What is available, what it can do, and how it can help to create events and experiences that are more engaging, meaningful and real – whether we are there virtually or in reality. Another thing that’s clear is events tech is a trend that’s just getting started – Covid may have put the brakes on it, as far as real-world events go, for a while, but we always knew events would be coming back. And thanks to events technology, they’re going to come back bigger, louder and more exciting than ever!
Buzznation is a full-service events technology company providing consultancy, management and deployment services for real, virtual and hybrid events. Please get in touch with us today if you’re excited to learn how technology can take your events to the next level.