FACIAL RECOGNITION: EXHIBITION NIGHTMARE OR THE REALITY DREAM

Last night was not a good night.  I awoke, sweating, screaming, terrified – certain that those darn Whitewalkers were coming for me! But when I’d finally managed to drift back off, rocked to sleep by the gentle sites and sounds of the exhibiton floor running through my mind, the dreams were even more vivid – only this time I couldn’t work out if it was a sci-fi nightmare or a dream evolution.

This was the dream: I registered for the Luxury Fine Dining Show in New York and after I’d entered my details, including the fact I was looking for exquisite crystal glassware in a contemporary design and silk napkins, my webcam took a snap to add to my visitor profile. On arrival at the show, the large screens at the entrance welcomed me personally and wished me success in finding the glassware and napkins I was looking for.  My mobile buzzed in my pocket to advise me that now I was on-site there were 6 suppliers of the specific products I was looking for that would very much like to meet me in the VIP bar if I’d like to confirm a time. Oh, and by the way there’s a seminar on contemporary tableware delivered by one of the world’s leading designers starting in 10 minutes  for which the organisers had already reserved me a VIP seat in the front row and a Meet Up with the presenter afterwards.

YOU TALKING TO ME?

As I made my way over towards the theatre area I glanced sideways at the ”Gorgeous Glassware” stand, where a large screen suddenly burst to life, with a personalised welcome message asking me if I’d care to join the team on the stand to claim my set of 2019 award winning tumblers. Who could refuse that gorgeous little giveaway? So of course, I made my way onto the stand, where one of the squad greeted me by name, along with a coffee and petit fours.  I mentioned I was on my way over to a theatre presentation and couldn’t stop at which point they passed my a beautifully designed personalised gift bag, complete with letter addressed to me from their CEO thanking me for my visit. One of their stand squad asked if I’d like to peruse their literature in my own time or offered to come and meet me after the seminar to escort me to lunch. Bowled over by the experience and giddily excited to see what would surprise and delight me next…. I was rudely interupted by the alarm clock!

 

After such a fantatsic dream, I was surprised to see I was again covered in cold sweat and clutching the bedsheets with a real sense of panic in the pit of my stomach – but I couldn’t work out why? As I slowly came to my senses I couldn’t work out whether I was excited or terrified by exhibitors and organisers knowing that much about me, about taking more control over my visit and filling my time. But then, in that scenario, they were only delivering the solutions to the problems I had already amitted I was having as a business owner – so surely this was a much more efficient and effective use of the precious time I had available at the show?

LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE

No doubt this dream all came about as yesterday I’d been pouring through yet another brilliant issue of Exhibition News, that this month has a feature about ”What Will Define The Exhibitor Experience of the Future?”. Amongst the topics discussed by the contributors were artifical intelligence, facial recognition, personalisation, wearable tech and interactivity. They are themes refected in Head Of European Sales at Cvent Jamie Vaughan’s comments in the digital feature about ‘How Tech Can Help Personalise The Visitor Experience’.   The thing that really struck me about both the printed and digital versions of these comments were the use of phrases like ‘ehance’, ‘engage’ and ‘meaningful’.  So often developments in tech as seen as a threat to the face-to-face environment in which we all work and our clients often think it’s a case of ‘either digital or live events’.

Technology is a part of our lives that isn’t going way – it’s going to keep evolving and changing to shape everything we do now and in the future – just think back to the Google experience at CES this year which showed how Google Assist will power our lives in every room, workplace, school and leisure venue in the future, whatever the time of day. Whilst it might scare some of us who have been rooted in the face-to-face for years, it’s a fantastic opportunity to deliver exactly what younger visitors are looking for in terms of entertainment, education and engagement. Increasingly we’re looking for personlised experiences, our lives based on what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with not what we own. (Check out the previous blog on Festivalisation for some more thoughts on this topic) . I can only imagine that a trade show interaction that made me feel unique, rewarded and valued would be talked about long after I’d ordered my wine glasses and napkins for the restaurant.

I don’t think we have a choice about incorporating more tech into the events industry moving forward, but I absolutely believe we have the power to use it more effectively to create meaningful and memorable experienes that build relationships…. and now I’ve got over the cold sweat, I absolutely can’t wait!

We’d love to invite anyone involved in AI, Facial Recognition, VR or any experiential tech onto an episode of The Exhibtionist Podcast to hear what they think the future looks like – so if you’re our dream guest please get in touch!

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