posted on 19 may, 2015

Chris Elmitt, Managing Director of Crystal Interactive led a thought provoking and insightful chat on the benefits and challenges of event technology during our ‘Using Technology in Events’ lunch last Friday.

A full table of 14 #Eventprofs, the lunch was effectively a sell out with plenty of networking and lots of connections being made!

From a quick group exercise it was determined that the main motivation for most of the #Eventprofs attending was to find out what’s out there and who or what they should be using. It was also discovered that the majority of the room were in fact ‘tech geeks’ with 80% favouring their apple devices as favourite piece of tech, prompting a surge in apple shares on the exchange!

The chat kicked off on the subject of  event apps, and the question of market leaders was thrown in. Whilst it was determined that there isn’t currently a market leader in event apps, a market leader is a person or organisation who you trust in your situation to deliver for you so people’s interpretation of this will always be different.

The challenges with event apps were discussed, in particular the challenge of downloads. Chris explained that you should take into consideration the more hold you have over the audience the more likely they are to download for example; for an internal event employees probably will because you’ll tell them they have to, for an external event clients are less likely and probably won’t because you are not in the same situation to be able to tell them to do so.

In this case you need to build the use of an event app into the experience of attending your event and of course have a second strategy for people who are quite simply not going to download it.

Alan Newton, COO of Eventopedia made a very good point – It’s important to focus on the why? Why is it a benefit to delegates to download?

It’s also important to consider the technological experience of the people attending your event, for example, a tech delegate would find it a piece of cake to download and use an app whereas a Doctor or GP at a Pharma event may find it slightly more challenging, in which case make it simple.

Don’t forget to consider the storage aspects when using an event app, how many precious MB is it going to take up on a delegate’s smartphone or tablet.

David Young, Business Consultant for NFS Hospitality also commented that perception can also be a challenge as some delegates feel that it’s just a way for event organisers to capture their data so we should be thinking about how we can overcome this.

Communication was also discussed, if you’re going to use an event app and it’s right for your event, make sure you communicate the fact in advance of the event and do not leave it until the day.

Chris suggested that if you want to read more on event apps you should take a look at the Event App Bible 2015 from the Event Managers Blog, a fantastic guide to help compare and understand event apps.

The conversation moved on to challenges with wifi in venues, and that in most cases the free wifi you may be offered at a venue is probably not going to deliver what you need it to and you may be better off paying. From an event planning perspective we should be having conversations with venues in regards to this in exactly the same way as we do when discussing the catering or the set up, it’s now just as important and shouldn’t be an afterthought.

It’s important to ensure that there is enough bandwidth for the numbers of devices that delegates will bring, which as a guide will be between 1-3, and it’s also important to know not just what the download speeds are but the upload for people uploading images and content to social media.

Email wifi passwords to delegates in advance and always get a technical person on site to talk to you about your connectivity and wifi needs before the event.

You don’t want to be in the same situation as one #Eventprof who had a delegate tweet the following “I had to use my own 3G to tweet and say how c*** the wifi is”!

Lastly the importance of research was discussed and how the longevity and strategy for using technology should be determined, do you really need it and what do you need it for? This will also help if your main challenge is budget as you should think about the objectives of using event technology and then sell the benefits to your stakeholders to find the funding…

Another great lunch with some great debate and we’ll certainly be holding more lunches on Event Technology in the future, watch this space!

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