2020 was quite the year. The pandemic has cancelled or postponed practically all traditional events since March 2020 and has thrust the world toward adopting virtual and hybrid events.
Now that 2021 is here, more people and companies are realizing the many benefits of hosting virtual and hybrid events.
For instance, when planning a virtual event you no longer have to get event insurance, because people aren’t traveling and being hosted in a physical venue. Budgets that would have been set aside for food and beverage can be spent elsewhere. And lodging, parking, and accommodations aren’t a concern. Anybody with an internet connection can now attend your event.
Planning a virtual and hybrid event isn’t without its challenges, though. Today’s event planners have new responsibilities they must take on, such as choosing the right event platform, figuring out which software solutions integrate together, and trying to keep people at home engaged.
Luckily, new advancements in event technology can help you manage and host a virtual or hybrid event your audiences will love. But where do you acquire said event tech and how do you infuse it into your event plan? Keep reading to find out!
The Basics: What Is Event Technology?
Event technology is a broad term encompassing all the digital tools and software products available to help you run your event.
Event technology includes virtual event platforms, CRMs, registration pages, live streaming services, chatbots, event apps, webinar platforms, landing page builders, website builders, and more!
Why Is Event Technology Important?
Because of COVID-19 closures, many people have attended or hosted virtual events in 2020 and 2021, some for the first time ever. As venues and states begin to re-open, more events will add a hybrid component to allow for a greater audience to participate. In other cases, many have realized the full benefit of going virtual.
As digital technology has taken off, it has empowered event planners to expand the reach and impact of each event.
Luckily for the modern planner and event marketer, there are thousands of products and event technology that can help with all the stages of a virtual or hybrid event’s lifecycle, including the following:
- Accepting payment
- Sending email reminders
- Hosting a virtual or hybrid event
- Enhancing and tracking attendee interaction
- Collecting leads
- Automatically creating CRM profiles
- Analyzing post-event data
- Sending follow-ups.
For every step of the way, there is a tool that can help make the most out of any event.
The Advantages of Using Event Technology
Through event technology, event planners are capable of greater autonomy by creating an ecosystem of interconnected software products, or an event tech stack.
By connecting, or integrating, several software services, event planners can reduce time spent on tedious tasks so they can focus on the bigger picture. Here are just a few key benefits of utilizing event technology to carry out your next event.
Removes Human Error
With event planning teams running thin, it’s easy to make mistakes along the lifecycle of an event. Event technology integrations can automate these steps to reduce human error, completing specific tasks for you, like data entry, sending reminders, or accepting credit card payments.
For example, having a team member forget to send reminder emails the day of the event could be detrimental to your turnout. Instead, use an event platform that’s capable of sending them automatically.
Still creating new CRM profile pages for new customers based on incoming leads from your registration page? Instead of manually entering this information, a virtual event platform can automatically integrate with your CRM to do this task for you.
Integrating your software solutions creates a more time-efficient system allowing you to plan a more effective event.
Because all of your software programs will interact with each other automatically, this reduces your responsibilities from having to enter duplicate information from one program to another. It also removes many of the logistics required for in-person events.
You can rely on various event technology to track each aspect of your event and make it easier for you to analyze that data. You then have the ability to act on the data and improve your event or audience reach.
Improves Tracking and Data Collection
Traditional events made it difficult to get a grasp on your attendee’s thoughts and interactions, which in turn made it difficult to measure certain key performance indicators (KPIs) such as check-ins, surveys, interactions with vendors, and so on.
But with event technology used for virtual events, all this information is tracked. You can see precisely when users check-in to certain sessions, which videos they watched, who they interacted with, how long they spoke with vendors, and more.
This data is incredibly useful for determining your event’s success, not to mention giving this information over to your sales team can help them qualify leads gathered from your event and move them through the sales funnels.
Caters to Your Strengths
When planning an event you have to wear many hats. Perhaps you’re a people person, that’s why you entered this trade. If that’s the case, then you don’t want to be bogged down by all the boring tasks of sending individual emails, designing registration pages, or entering contact information.
Event technology automation takes care of the repetitive tasks so that you can focus on your strengths, whatever they may be.
What To Consider When Selecting the Right Event Technology for You
Ultimately, picking the right event technology will depend on the type of event you plan on hosting, as well as the goals you hope to achieve.
Here are some considerations to help you decide the right event technology for you.
What Type of Event Are You Hosting?
Are you hosting a webinar, trade show, summit, auto show, or concert series? Each type of event has different expectations from its audience to help you determine which platforms and tools to use.
For example, people attending a trade show or summit will want to have more interactivity and networking features than a concert, which may only require live streaming capabilities to be sufficient.
What Are Your Goals for Your Event?
As we mentioned, it’s important to set goals and KPIs so you can measure the success of your event.
If you want to sell products and collect leads, then adding a webinar feature to your event could be a great way to educate prospective clients in an engaging way.
If it’s a networking event, then adding gamification and breakout sessions are a good way to motivate people to chat with one another.
Need some guidance on what to consider during the event planning process? Check out One Event Marketing Plan To Rule Them All (Plus a Template To Get You Started)
Is Your Event Technology Easy to Use?
Will your use of event technology hinder or help you in your execution of the event?
There are enough options available that you can avoid wasting time with tools that don’t meet your needs or work intuitively for you.
If certain event technology is too confusing to learn or it limits what you want to achieve with your event, skip it, and research other tools with simpler, more intuitive interfaces.
Is a free trial available or does the vendor require you to speak to sales first (usually not a good sign!)
Does Your Event Tech Stack Easily Integrate with Other Popular Tools and Software?
In today’s world, there’s no reason that your software shouldn’t play nicely with others.
Software integration allows for the seamless transfer of data from one product to another. For example, when a new person registers for your event, this information is sent from the registration page to an email marketing system, which then sends an automatic welcome email. This is then all trackable within your integrated CRM.
Is a public API available? If not, move on. This is key to ensuring your integrations run smoothly.
Can the Event Technology Platforms Be Branded?
If you wish to become a thought leader or to position your brand as an authority, find an event platform with a beautiful interface capable of customization to impress your audience.
Appearances count when it comes to events. Nobody wants their event to seem tacky or second-rate. Choose a platform that will wow your audience and continuously remind them who is providing the experience.
Are branding options described in the vendor knowledge base? It can be a sign that personalization is not offered if a platform doesn’t provide additional information.
Will It Adapt to Hybrid Events?
Are you planning on hosting a hybrid event so that people can attend in-person or online? If that’s the case, make sure your event platform is capable of integrating both in-person and online activities so everyone can participate together regardless of their location.
Event apps are a great form of event technology that virtual and in-person attendees can take advantage of. Interactive forms of learning and networking can take place at the click of a button or tap of a smartphone.
Is a mobile app available with built-in live streaming? Make sure it does before signing on.
9 Event Technology Trends You Have to Know in 2021
Ready to enhance your 2021 event? Consider where these event technology trends could come in handy.
Event Technology Trend #1) Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most promising emerging technologies expected to completely revolutionize several industries, including events.
Through AI and Machine Learning, it’s possible to transcribe speech-to-text accurately, allowing those who are hard of hearing to read your speaker’s presentation in live time. There’s also promising software that’s capable of translating speech to create a more inclusive event for multi-cultural attendees.
Chatbots are another example of AI helping with event management. Chatbots are those automatic pop-up windows that appear when you visit a website. Sometimes they connect you to a real person, but it’s becoming more common for these to be AI bots.
Chatbots allow your event staff greater autonomy and are well equipped to answer your attendee’s simple questions, freeing your staff to focus on other areas, while providing audiences with the customer service they need.
Event Technology Trend #2) Gamification
Adding games to your virtual or hybrid event is a great way to keep your attendees engaged from beginning to end, and gives them incentives to participate with other guests and vendors.
If you’re looking to boost engagement with your sponsors, encourage guests to fill out surveys, or network with other attendees, then gamification could be just the thing to get these interactions moving.
Certain virtual event apps allow for event hosts to set up mini-games and challenges to award participants with points that can later be redeemed for prizes or other rewards.
Event Technology Trend #3) Built for Hybrid Events
Virtual and hybrid events will become the norm going forward. Because of shutdowns and restrictions, venues are limited to the number of people who can attend and may in turn be too expensive to justify costs.
Hybrid event platforms allow guests to attend an event either online or in-person, which creates a happy medium for planning your next event. Those who wish to attend in person, have a greater likelihood of getting in. Those unable to travel or get a physical ticket can enjoy your event remotely.
The great thing about using hybrid event platforms and integrated event technology is that whether your guest is online or in-person, they’re still using the same event app, and have the same access to vendors, sponsors, and guest speakers.
This also means that your company still gets great access to all of your guests’ user data whether they attend in-person or not. Either way, you’re still able to put on a great event.
Ready to find the right hybrid event platform for you? Learn more about The 7 Best Hybrid Event Platforms for 2021.
Event Technology Trend #4) Breakout Rooms
Breakout sessions are an important aspect of events for fueling discussion between participants and moderators. After all, people don’t want to listen to a speaker all day, they also want to join in on the conversation! It’s also a great way to motivate introverts or reserved people to share their thoughts and connect to your brand.
Generally, breakout sessions at traditional events were 30 to 60 minutes to allow time for vigorous conversation and for people to move from different parts of the building to separate rooms.
However, with virtual and hybrid event technology, breakout sessions have become break-out rooms. Instead of meeting with other guests in separate conference rooms, guests get assigned their own virtual breakout rooms. Because breakout rooms can transport attendees instantly to their own online spaces, it’s possible to send guests to breakout sessions more often and for shorter amounts of time to keep your virtual event engaging.
Certain event platforms use users’ preferences and interests to automatically match them with compatible guests, facilitating a more natural conversation among like-minded people.
Event Technology Trend #5) Event Apps
Event apps have the power of enhancing traditional, hybrid, and virtual events.
Event apps are downloadable for mobile and desktop and typically allow guests to create profile pages that let them interact and network with other guests and message or video chat with sponsors and vendors.
For virtual and hybrid events, the event app is the online venue, the space where the event actually takes place.
Certain event apps try to recreate the physical space of an event, allowing guests to create avatars that can “walk around” a virtual venue space, and click on vendor booths to gain more information and interact with vendors.
Other event apps are based on the social media user experience, where users can create profiles, view a live feed similar to Facebook or LinkedIn, be able to share and comment on posts, explore vendor and attendee profile pages, and watch live streams or on-demand videos.
Because social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are so ubiquitous, these social-based event apps are more intuitive, creating a better user experience for your guests to attend your virtual event without confusion.
Event Technology Trend #6) Wearable Technology
For hybrid events, wearable technology offers promising insights into the traffic and habits of event attendees.
One of the most promising pieces of wearable technology is a smart badge, usually worn as a name tag or lanyard, that contains an RFID chip. These chips are programmable and are capable of tracking guests’ movements to give event hosts a heat map to analyze guests’ patterns.
These smart badges can also be programmed with guests’ interests and preferences to allow for more effective networking. For example, certain smart badges have lights that illuminate when a vendor or other attendee walks past that shares common interests, helping guests narrow down which guests to speak to.
Currently, smart badges only work for traditional and hybrid events, however sophisticated algorithms and AI in virtual event platforms allow for similar matchmaking abilities to group guests together by similar preferences and interests.
Event Technology Trend #7) Built-In Registration Sites
Getting the word out for your event used to be difficult. Luckily, many virtual event platforms feature built-in registration pages that can automatically handle payments and create new contacts in your CRM. And believe us, this is a huge time saver!
Registration pages are also a great source of user data. For instance, if you wish to survey or collect feedback prior to your event, ask questions on the registration page. Looking for topics to cover? Ask on the registration page. See the same recurring questions coming in? Use this data to create an FAQ page on your website, or better yet, update your registration page with FAQs after registering several people.
Registration pages also allow you to show off your brand and event logo, which is important for brand recognition. The more times you can put your event or company’s logo in front of your customers, the more your event will stick.
Event Technology Trend #8) On-Site COVID Rapid Testing
If you’re set on hosting a hybrid event but worry about the implications of spreading COVID-19, then there’s a safer option to put your guests’ and your team’s minds at ease. Companies like EventScan allow for rapid COVID-19 testing that gives results in 10 minutes.
In addition to rapid tests, thermal cameras are also able to check people’s temperatures, ensuring nobody with a high fever will be able to attend or work at your event.
As physical and hybrid events start to come back, there will be a greater interest in ensuring the overall safety of all who are involved.
Event Technology Trend #9) High-Production Live Streaming
High-production live streaming offers your virtual or hybrid event better quality HD video that can be viewed anywhere with an internet connection.
While live streaming has been around for a while, it’s just now beginning to become fully HD, with some services capable of broadcasting 4K video.
With Vimeo Live, event hosts can add logos, full-screen graphics, and lower thirds to their live streams for a professionally produced stream that feels like a high-budget event. And interactive features on YouTube, Vimeo, and some virtual event platforms’ live streaming allow the audience to participate in chats, polls, and applause to give presenters real-time feedback.
Where Can You Go To Learn More About Event Technology?
Need help figuring out what technology to use for your next virtual or hybrid event? We’ve listed the top sites that can make your search easier.
G2 (or formerly G2 Crowd) is a peer-to-peer review site focused on event technology, virtual and hybrid platforms, webinar platforms, CRMs, marketing automation, accounting software, and more. Think of it like Yelp, but for business software.
G2 currently has over 1,000,000 reviews and over 4 million visitors.
If you’ve ever been curious to see all of your virtual and hybrid event platform options, stop by G2. Their website gives a complete overview of each software product, and rates each software a score out of 5 points.
G2 also lists pricing and software alternatives, and gives in-depth comparisons between similar products so users can quickly determine which software is best suited for their needs.
But perhaps the most valuable feature of G2’s website is its user reviews. If you’re looking for anecdotal evidence and real feedback from people using the software, then G2 is the place to look for it.
Capterra, like G2, is another popular website that helps people search for the best business software through its reviews, rating system, and in-depth overviews of products and services.
Capterra also encourages users to log in through LinkedIn to verify their reviews to provide honest feedback.
It also has over 1,000,000 software reviews on its platform.
Both G2 and Capterra do a fine job of providing reviews and listing product features, however, G2 seems to outmatch Capterra in terms of attractiveness, branding, and getting more traffic.
Capterra also ranks software products on a scale of 0-5.
SpotMe’s blog is a resource hub that features industry trends, tools, and tips, along with SpotMe product updates, best practices and insights, news, upcoming events, and case studies.
We’re not afraid to recommend our competitors’ software or to give honest reviews and feedback about other event platforms either. In fact, one of the key features of our blog is our in-depth comparisons of event platforms and detailed lists of software alternatives.
We strive to help and educate event planners through every step of their event lifecycle, because we’re passionate about creating great events, whether you use our software or not.
SpotMe: Your Source for the Latest in Event Technology
When it comes to planning and hosting your virtual or hybrid event, SpotMe takes the guesswork out of the entire process.
Our virtual event platform brings your audience together wherever they may be, and our intuitive event app is web and mobile friendly with a simple interface and personalized tools.
For event planners, you’ll love that our platform connects with your event tech stack, offers fully-brandable customization, and offers real-time insights into your event’s performance.
Want to try SpotMe for free today? Reach out to us to get started!
If you’re interested in learning how to collect leads from your virtual event, read our Must-Have Virtual Lead Generation: A Marketing Team’s Guide to Generating Leads with Online Events in 2021.
Or perhaps you need help creating a marketing event plan. No problem! Read our One Event Marketing Plan to Rule Them All (Plus a Template to Get your Started.)
If you’re completely new to virtual event platforms and are looking for ideas to help you brainstorm, then check out The Types of Virtual Events That Companies Commonly Utilize.
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