June meeting of Event Marketing Association (EMA) took place at the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane to discuss the topic “Event Technology – Evolution and Adoption”. Corporate event planners from finance, IT and charities took part in this month’s meeting.
After the welcome aperitif, canapés and networking we moved to the seminar room for the main part of the evening. Each table received a topic from Allan Norbury Editor from M&IT and EMA’s media partner for discussion and then had to share their findings with the group. There was one technology expert invited to join each table, these included Clemi Hardie from noodlelive.com, Chetan Shah – founder and CEO of MICEBOOK.com, Anita Howard – Director of Ya-Yaonline.co.uk, and myself from The MICE Blog.
The topics covered were:
Technology spells the end of traditional meetings: The group agreed that NO. Technology can support events but does not replace them. Face-to-face communication is important and people buy people. Elements such as eye contact and tone of voice can’t be replaced by technology and the tone of voice over email can be easily misunderstood.
On the other hand, relationship building is important and technology is an enabler to communicate with more people, more often and for longer.
Is event technology now a pre-requisite and why? The group suggested that event planners have to start with objectives and what they want to achieve. Wi-Fi, for example, must be fast and accessible at venues and event. Secondly, consider engagement vs. withdraw, such as with google glass or voting pads. Google glass might be intimidating while voting pads can encourage learning and increase engagement.
How does event technology benefit your meeting? Organisers shared that tech will benefit meetings when it’s easily accessible, environmentally friendly and accurate, allows audience engagement and helps to track attendees’ preferences.
On the other hand negative aspects include privacy and security breaches (E.g. – when accepting terms and conditions before installing an app), which are especially important for corporates and can’t be compromised.
The participants added that when choosing a tech provider, brand perception is important to make purchase decision, followed by efficiency.
Best practice in social media: Organisers agreed that it’s hard to control social media and good practice of social media will be to use close groups to share knowledge and ideas. Social media can assist with targeting, and Facebook, for example, offers the opportunity to conduct targeted campaigns, based on gender, location, age etc. It was suggested to start communication offline and transfer online. To conclude, planners can align their aims and objectives with the technology of choice.
Where are the knowledge gaps, challenges and fears? Gaps include Wi-Fi which is not always for free at venues and events, connection speed and social media. The challenges discussed were risk management, the quantity of apps, registration systems and voting systems, how to merge them and have system updates considering the big data volume. Another challenge discussed was finding the time to manage all the accounts, keeping privacy and high technology costs. The biggest fear is not getting the desired ROI considering the time and money invested.
To conclude, questions event planners have to ask: are there too many systems with possible solutions? How about risk management and data security (especially with cloud, e.g. – sales force), what is the place for social media? What is the difference between corporate and personal social media accounts, how much time is required to manage the technology, what are the differences in attitudes towards event tech and lastly what is the price and cost of managing it?
After the session more time was given to further discussion and for networking as we enjoyed the delicious canapés and hospitality at the Four Seasons Hotel, Park Lane. Hotel representatives joined us for the evening and supported the discussion with their know-how from a venue perspective. They shared how they can support event planners and talked about all the resources available. The impeccable service and food were just a small teaser of the 5-star hospitality they provide.
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