Richard Green, CEO and founder of Evvnt, on how technology is changing the way in which the events industry operates.
Our lives are made up of a steady stream of events. From the celebratory to the sporting, the professional to the cultural, almost every individual will attend some form of event on a monthly, or even weekly, basis.
The result is that the UK has a huge, thriving events industry. In fact, the market is estimated to be worth £42.3bn, according to the 2018 Pulse Report, which represents an 8% rise on the previous year. And it might surprise some people – albeit perhaps not hardened workers with decades’ worth of professional experience – to hear that business events are by far the largest contributor to the sector.
Business events – conference, seminars, networking sessions and the like – have a combined value of £19.9bn per annum. Meanwhile, the more conventionally popular categories like music festivals and sporting fixtures, despite being mass participatory events with huge publicity, were each valued at £2.3bn. This is due to the sheer volume of business-focused events that take place across the UK each day.
However, while these statistics demonstrate the sheer size and variety of the UK’s event industry, they certainly don’t tell the full picture. Specifically, they don’t show just how much the entire sector is changing as a result of new technologies.
How to ensure more people find your event
As one of the more long-term trends within the events space, there has been a significant shift in the way people find events they want to attend. While advertising and mailing lists still have a part to play, the vast majority of events are now discovered through online or mobile event listing sites and social media platforms.
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This has brought about new challenges for the individuals and businesses behind the events – venues, event organisers and marketers. It means that they have to invest a huge amount of resources into creating different listings across as many online channels as possible, and then manage, monitor and update those listings in the period leading up to the event itself to ensure they’re luring people into registering.
After all, with such a huge number of events taking place up and down the country, it is critical that a business makes sure that the desired audience hears about its event. Whether it’s the opening of an art gallery or a startup networking session, an event needs to have reach and give itself the best possible chance of being seen – it does that by ensuring it is posted across all potential event listing sites and social media platforms.
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Using technologies such as automated listing software to help ensure you get as many people to your event as possible is just one part of how digital solutions can be used to enhance the sector. We’re also seeing a steep rise in the number of events now using technology to improve the overall experience for attendees.
For example, many leading business conferences now come with their own apps – these show the attendee a map of the venue, the schedule for the event, further reading materials they may find useful, and provide the option for people to deliver real-time feedback and insight. The result is a slicker, more engaging event, and one that is more in keeping with modern society’s smartphone habits.
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But the scope for digital enhancement within events goes much further. VR is a great example; you can now attend a property exhibition in which developers or estate agents can provide attendees with a virtual tour of properties they are trying to sell, enabling them to walk through the space as if they were there. It is a fantastic way for a company that is paying large amounts of money to exhibit at the event to ensure it is enticing prospective customers.
And naturally, underpinning all of this, there is now a huge need for Wi-Fi at both consumer and business events. Simply put, this is no longer a nice to have but an absolute necessity, so event organisers must make sure they cater to this technological demand. Indeed, a recent survey found that 79% of event planners believe Wi-Fi availability and performance is still a big issue for venues, who need to upgrade their existing infrastructure to improve connectivity.
How to make more noise from your event
So, if you’ve managed to use technology to get people through the doors, and then found ways to use digital tools to improve the experience for attendees once there, the final step is to embrace new innovations to make as much noise about your event as possible. After all, if a company can spread the word about how interesting, unique or entertaining their event is, the better chance there is that people will talk about it and attend future iterations.
A great example of this is the rise of live streaming. Driven by social media giants Instagram and Snapchat – and of course Facebook’s move into this space – the popularity of live streaming is evident to any user of these platforms; as a result, this functionality is opening doors for organisers to increase both audience reach and engagement.
Live streaming can raises awareness of a brand or business among potential customers that are not at the actual event, and it allows them to experience the occasion from a remote location. What’s more, this new trend also works as a two-way lens; the fact that individuals can react to live streams being provided by a celebrity, an attendee, a company or the venue delivers instant, valuable feedback to the organiser – both sides benefit.
Ultimately, amidst the huge number of events being organised in the UK every single day, it is imperative that those commercially invested in the success of those events consider how technology can help. From improving the marketing of the event in the first instance through to adding more value for those at the event – and even those who aren’t – there is huge potential for digital innovations to deliver a more well attended, entertaining, successful and profitable event; such innovations cannot be ignored.