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Innovation and Engagement – Conferences in 2019 and Beyond

 

360 Live Media has released their 2019 report on the existing and upcoming trends in the events industry that we should have on our radar. This article will be based on their informative piece, with input from The Association Specialists!

 

Experience Engineering

It is no surprise that members and delegates want more from events. “Experience Engineering” seems to be the common differential between the selected PCO and the rest, so let’s have a quick look at conference experience moving forward.

“Experiences will continue to accelerate as the differentiator in how brands, organisations, houses of religion, shopping environments, and live events dominate the media, shopping, marketing and conference landscapes.” – 360 Live Media

While most of us are aware of this, how many companies really implement it? Too often do we see companies providing the same AV services and spaces for keynote speakers, PowerPoint productions, coffee breaks etc.

An interesting metaphor is used by 360 Live Media – if you are the association of Peanut Butter Jelly Makers, it’s time to start thinking about breaking old habits and incorporating nut-free butters derived from sustainable practice, adopting power-loaded super bread and introducing new unique spins on traditional fruit preserve to bring a completely new product to your delegates.

Would you rather sit and watch PowerPoint productions on the sandwich you’ve made countless times, or have your delegates participating in sandwich-making competitions and sharing the secrets to their perfect sandwich? Would you rather listen to the same keynote speaker or take a virtual reality tour through an artisan bakery? Whilst these may seem like trivial examples, they really highlight how important the partnership is between an organisation and their Professional Conference Organiser in bringing new and innovative ideas to the metaphoric cutting board.

We are seeing rock shows and surfing lessons, virtual reality and bio-metric registration systems all in place of stationary presentations and field updates.

Brands must deliver more interesting and exciting experiences in order to stand out, and this is bleeding into the events industry” – 360 Live Media

It is time to start doing more with your events moving forward into 2019 – we know we are ready to!

 

Technology –  Enabler or Risk Factor?

Many organisations are reluctant to adopt new technologies – a big leap of faith, what if it all goes horribly wrong?

It is interesting that in a world where cash is almost irrelevant, check-out counters at shops are being phased out and cars may no longer require a driver, we still have such manual systems in place for events and conferences. Lengthy registration forms, navigating lines for food and badges and restrictive room set ups that feel more restrictive than inclusive, all of which contribute to a feeling of friction (360 live Media).

New technologies, if used well, can lead to profound delegate experience and interaction. Pre-conference contact between delegates, buddy systems, beacons and wearables all contribute to enabling delegates to interact with who and what they want.

You want your event to be the place where they find their epiphany – the thing that moves them forward. Then your event becomes the place they want to come back to because it’s easy to be there and it feels easy to get insights” – 360 Live Media.

It may seem both costly and risky, but you might find technology enabling conversation, interaction and boosting delegate experience.

 

Sponsors & Exhibitors are Attendees too!

The expectations of partners and exhibitors are changing. They no longer want a list of delegates to follow up, they want creative and meaningful means of engaging with potential clients, making their brands stand out and to engage in problem-solution conversations that open the door to new business (360 Live Media).

Industry partners play a crucial role in the community, providing the tools, products and services to allow the functioning of an industry area. Too often industry partners are a secondary consideration for an event, included just to fill packages with a lack of focus on their ROI. Organisations should focus on building meaningful and long-term relationships with partners, offering them the opportunity to introduce speakers or giving them the space to facilitate product sessions and demonstrations. It should be a mutually beneficial relationship, so do your part to keep your partners and sponsors happy!

 

Thank you 360 Live Media for the article!

 

Jack Slater