With so much event technology to choose from, it’s difficult (even for the experts) to predict which products, apps and approaches will gain the most traction with exhibition organizers, corporate meeting planners and exhibitors. There are; however, some trends to pay attention to:
Organizers and exhibitors will continue to integrate tablets into the marketing, sales, and operations workflows of their events. As a result, more applications will become available for the popular device. Although the Apple iPad (with its iOS operating system) is the most widely used, other devices using the Android operating system will begin to make headway and capture market share.
“Data” and “analytics” will be the watchwords of 2012 as platform developers further refine the concept of intelligent events—a holistic approach to analyzing all of the data from surveys, mobile event guides, social media, attendee behavior (RFID), and registration to understand the interests and preferences of attendees.
Smartphones will become even more integral to the attendee experience in the next year as adoption in the event environment increases and developers refine their offerings. Applications, data, and capabilities formerly offered by multiple (non-mobile) vendors will be available on mobile phones. The number of location-aware mobile applications will also increase in the next year.
Visual Reporting & Analytics
Intelligent reports—data extracted from multiple sources during the course of the event—will become more visual and more available in real time so that planners can make changes to the event as it unfolds. Post-conference planning will become easier in the next twelve months with standardized decision-making tools.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)
RFID will become even more affordable in the coming year as prices continue to drop and entry-level offerings such as Tap ‘N Go become more widely available. The increased adoption of RFID technology (particularly in the corporate meeting setting), driven by the need to understand attendee interests and likelihood to purchase, will drive costs down across the board in b-to-b exhibitions, conferences, and meetings.
Conversations about the Internet connections—cost and availability—inside convention centers will continue to heat up as demand for the services increases and prices have failed to drop. . Third-party vendors offering 4G cellular connectivity to individual exhibitors and organizers will expand the range of options for event planners and participants when facility services are too expensive.
As the nation and the meetings industry emerge from the economic downturn, the innovation of the last three years will come to fruition. The tech trends to watch in 2012 are those that have been in the early adoption stages for some time and are now ready for widespread use driving the costs for planners down and the value and utility for exhibitors and attendees up.