TALKING TECH: WHAT MADE US SMILE AT EVENT TECH LIVE 2019
A week on from Event Tech Live and we’re still reflecting on a whirlwind of lights, noise, robots and gadgets – but what a brilliant day we had whizzing around everything that’s new and exciting in the world of event tech. I’m guessing I don’t need to explain what the show’s all about (it does what it says on the tin) and if you’ve seen our social media you’ll be hotly anticipating next week’s Podcast episode when we’re talking to some of the top exhibitors on the floor. So in this post, I’m not going to do a review of the show (check out YouTube for highlights videos for that) but instead share some of the conversations and trends that we loved from the show – oh and one thing we get a bit ranty about at the end!
BELOW: As the stand squad from Immersive AV press the different badges on the back wall (sun, rain, stars, thunder) the images on the walls change accordingly creating different moods and movement.
REALITY & RELEVANCE
There were some fantastic ‘toys’ on display across the show and if I were planning an exhibition stand I’d want absolutely everything on my stand just because it was cool. But what actually really impressed us about the exhibitors we talked to was the drive for relevance, that however cool their tech is, it has to do a job in enhancing your story as an exhibitor. This definitely feels like a shift in the conversation to us – we’ve been in many a meeting with an agency historically who try to sell a tech solution without being able to articulate how it strengthens a client’s proposition. We definitely heard exhibitors this time talking about understanding client objectives and using tech to amplify their brand which felt like a massively welcome shift in tone.
From getting an image of my face transferred onto my coffee froth (weirdly entertaining) to posing in virtual reality images (brilliant experience from Noonah ) and being greeted by robots, experience was everywhere. We hear so much talk of ‘festivalisation’ in the exhibitions industry and it definitely feels now as though there are the tools, technology and tricks to bring it to life in a meaningful way. In enabling exhibitors and organisers to create more interactive displays and engagements, it should facilitate more valuable touch-points for visitors, generating loyalty and advocacy. But, and here’s the challenge – it has to be meaningful to eventually selling something and this is where exhibitors might need some help in mapping out exactly what role it plays in their buyer’s journey – tech suppliers might need to find the ‘So What?’ factor to convince already squeezed exhibitors to invest.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO COST THE EARTH
Mention the word tech in any exhibition planning meeting and quite often the finance person’s eyes start rolling. For many exhibitors already on a tight budget, the thought of spending £200 on a data scanner is the cause of sleepless nights, never-mind the suggestions of thousands on creating a game of how your factory works, or beaming an augmented reality version of your CEO onto the stand. Yep we understand it’s taken years of blood, sweat and tears to get your tech working exactly as it should and you now need to see the fruits of your labour – but exhibitors, and more importantly accountants aren’t really interested in you (sorry!). So it was great to see there was a good range of products and services right across the budget divide. For example, we were interested in audience participation for the live feature areas we manage for organisers, so it was great to speak both with Slido, offering a simple, effective solution for under £500 and Open Audience, where we chatted about Hologram Rafa Nadals that were undoubtedly more expensive! We work with a range of clients, some who spend from £1,000 on their exhibitions to those who spend £150,000 but they all have the same objective of creating impactful, engaging experiences for prospects they want to do business with – it’s fantastic to see there are tech solutions out there for every budget.
OK, HERE COMES THE BALANCE….
So that’s just three things we picked up on that we loved and overall it was a brilliant day spent with passionate creators, analytical geniuses and dynamic disruptors. We haven’t even got the word count to get onto all the other fantastic innovations we saw in the way of AV, data capture, event software and virtual reality where there were some equally brilliant solutions and services. But we did want to leave space for one big plea to the industry and that’s please can we focus more (or even at all in some cases) on exhibitors. We were approaching the show from a slightly different angle, trying to find the tech and solutions that help inspire exhibitors to plan, deliver and evaluate their exhibitions more effectively and generate more sales. So, totally appreciate we weren’t the target market for the majority of exhibitors on the floor.
That said, most of the event management software providers, app designers, registration or lead capture suppliers we spoke to*, spent 90% of their time talking about what their product did for the event organiser – which in most cases was a fantastic solution. When we asked how it can help an exhibitor to meet their objectives before, during and after the show, it became much less clear. And actually in many cases the technology was already there in the software to work much harder for exhibitors, but it’s almost as though the suppliers hadn’t quite joined the dots yet. Exhibitors are the heart of exhibitions and their ability to generate solid commercial returns and grow sales, results in successful re-bookings for organisers. Yet so many exhibitors aren’t quite sure how to use all that valuable data and tech captured inside event software to really power up their exhibition success.
So here’s the thing, event software providers you’re doing a fantastic job delivering integrated, pro-active and efficient solutions for event organisers. Can we take it to the next level and really get inside the heads of exhibitors, understand what they need from your platform and then show them how they can get the best out of it please? If you’re already doing that then please tell us – we’d love to have you on a Podcast or blog. And if you’re not sure how you can develop and sell your platform to help enhance the exhibitor experience why not pick up the phone and see if we could help!
*And kudos to Chris Wilkes at Akkroo who made up the 10% who were able to talk at length and passionately about how they put the exhibitor first in their lead capture products.
So, now you’ve heard our impassioned plea on behalf of exhibitors, all that’s left is to sign off saying a massive thanks to Adam Parry for all his support during the show, a huge well done to exhibitors, visitors and the event team for creating a brilliant couple of days for our industry and we look forward to seeing you all again in 2020!