Testing event technology at Event Lab
Recently we hosted London Business School at EventLab – a showcase of event technologies. The purpose? To test and explore what’s cutting edge in the event world to the benefit of organisers and attendees a like.
We hosted EventLab because it’s become clear that as time out of the office is becoming more precious, events need to step up the game in order to add real value.
Times are changing – delegates no longer want to just attend events, they want to interact and learn. With that in mind it’s important for all event organisers to think about new ways to inform, educate and entertain.
While new technologies can enable event attendees to do this, it’s important for event planners to use tools in a strategic way, rather than just as a playful gimmick. With this in mind, on the day we created four technology zones:
Zone One: Registration.
When it comes to putting on an event, it’s so much more than the day itself – it’s about the whole narrative. The registration process is not only about interacting with your audience before they arrive, but getting the right bums on seats on the day.
At EventLab, the registration process started with Akero.
Akero is a platform that enables event organisers to set up a registration page for their event, readily capturing data on attendees. What’s more (the clever bit), it syncs with their social and digital activities.
Through the platform you cannot just manage RSVPs to the event, but also engage with your audience before the big day. We, for example, asked anyone registering to attend to tell us about their biggest ‘event bug bear’, in order for us to shape the conversation.
On the day, attendees checked in with NoodleLive
Check in at events is arguably the process that sits furthest in the recesses of the past. The first greeting, usually involves snaking queues and a confused welcoming committee, which can leave delegates with a bad taste in their mouth for the rest of the day.
NoodleLive changes all that – giving attendees an RFID (think Oyster Card) badge with all their details on when they arrive so they can not only check in smoothly, but also find their way around the event – touching the badge to get information at allotted checkpoints.
Zone Two: Networking
Attendees are signed up and checked in. They’ve got their hot coffee. They’re nibbling on a biscuit. Now they want to get down to business – meet new people and learn new and interesting things to impress their boss on return to the office.
At EventLab, networking became matchmaking with the Eventbase app
When it comes to event apps, Eventbase has really thought about what it is that attendees both want and need on the day. From interactive 3D maps of the venue to slick diary management, Eventbase has helped people enjoy events from SXSW to Cannes Lion.
But it is the networking element of Eventbase we focussed on at EventLab. While an event is the physical coming together of a community, delegates often fail to meet the right people or spend time with the wrong people. In response Eventbase has created ‘the Tinder of networking’ – using a clever algorithm to match attendees on the day who might want to grab a drink and chat business.
Learning and collecting as you go with Event Wallet
As well as networking at events, attendees are there to learn and find new information that they take back to their business. But there is a problem; most of the time this information comes in the form of printed brochures and flyers that end up in the bin – in fact 82% of event delegates say they don’t engage with event content.
On the day we used Earnest Labs very own ‘Event Wallet’ app to enable attendees to discover, collect and share content using their mobile device. iBeacons placed around the venue alerted users of the app that there was content, from video to links to PDFs, to collect from the partners attending on the day. Once they’ve collected the content that interests them, they’re either free to view it via the app or log-on to event-wallet.com to check out all the content in their wallet using any device. It’s that easy. Plus exhibitors can see the profiles of delegates who’ve collected their content – and start to nurture them.
Zone Three: Engagement
With so many digital techniques and technologies at our fingertips it’s now possible to inject personality and creativity into everything you do and make your events more fun, relevant and intuitive – enabling your delegates to immerse themselves in your story.
Bigger and better content with Giant iTab.
With so much going on at events, you want to enable your audience to ‘step in’ to a stand rather than ‘step past’. We used Giant iTab on the day to do just that. These oversized iPads can run iOS at full resolution – allowing you to show off any apps or mobile sites at a size that people can truly interact with (and show off to others).
Stepping into a different world
We took our ‘stepping in’ philosophy one step further when we introduced Virtual Reality into the event. Showcasing a number of VR headsets from the cheaper ‘Google Cardboard’ to the higher end ‘Oculus Rift’, our friends from Unit9 showed off how virtual reality can immerse attendees in an event and take a delegate to wherever they might want to be in the world, whether that’s a tour of another office or a beach in Barbados.
Who doesn’t love a bit of gamification?
We decided to spice up the typical discussion format by hiding questions in little bubbles and asking guests to pop them. Yes, you read that correctly. We’re talking, of course, about Traces. It’s an app that works ‘in the space between’ the real world and virtual reality. Users can take a piece of content (photos, videos, articles, etc.) and ‘hide’ it in a defined location. This piece of content then lives as a bubble in the atmosphere – quite literally. Users are then invited to visit the defined location, search the area through their smartphone, find a floating bubble then ‘pop it’ to open the content.
Got a question? Catch!
There are now a whole host of audience response tools you can consider when planning how to engage your audience during a presentation but in particular we love this playful take on a roving mic. Such a simple yet effective idea, ‘Catchbox is the world’s first throwable microphone’, coming in a host of colours and sizes. We ensured that we kept energy and interest levels high right up until the end of EventLab by asking guests to feedback and ask questions by chucking the Catchbox around.
Zone four: Amplification
No longer do your events need to be kept to the confines of the exhibition space. More technology than ever is welcoming audiences across the world to get involved in the event through digital channels.
Streaming to the world using Periscope
Not wanting anyone to miss out on the opportunity of seeing what was going on at EventLab, we used the live streaming app periscope to film the event. Periscope is an app (recently reviewed by Labs) that event organisers can use to stream what is going on at the event online, creating a link that anyone can join to watch the action as well as start a conversation and if they really want, show a bit of love with some hearts.
Keeping the conversation flowing
Of course, no good event is complete without the life blood of social media flowing through it’s veins. On the day we used #techabreak to host the conversation on twitter and all posts were pulled through to big screens around the venue by the power of Tweet Wall Pro.
A technology that knows the power of the conversation, Tweetwall Pro collates all social posts in a smart wall. It also provides the event organiser with analytics behind the online conversations on the day – meaning they can follow up after the show. A great way to round off a great event.
EventLab proved to us, and our guests at the London Business School that technology really can enhance events and each different piece of software added to our four strategic areas in a unique way.
For an overview of the event, please take a flick through this slideshare
To discuss the application of any of these technologies further, please content firstname.lastname@example.org