Browsing Tag

Event Technology

Building trust online and managing information overload – Interview with Pauline Kwasniak, founder and CEO at TurnedSee

I’m sure that many of you have met Pauline Kwasniak, the Founder and CEO of TurnedSee, at one of the industry events, and if not face to face, then online. She is the queen of video on Facebook, and a true leader for encouraging the use of technology in the events industry. Hence, it is not a surprise that I first started chatting with Pauline on Twitter; we then met at IMEX Frankfurt this year, and keep in touch on social media to exchange knowledge and ideas. Her company TurnedSee connects corporate buyers with suppliers on the digital platform that she is currently developing, to help make the event planning process smoother. She is also a digital industry influencer who works with hotels and destinations and helps them connect with their target audience.  

Previously, Pauline worked on the agency side, and as a millennial, she understood that there’s a gap in the market for a better venue sourcing experience. Being a target market herself back then, she felt that the current process is not good enough, and not sufficiently fast. She therefore realised that she needs to develop a platform that will fix this. 

Pauline is also one of our speakers for next week’s collaborative Event Planners Talk and Future in 15 event at Allianz Park ‘Is the DMC dead’, joining us remotely via a conference call from Derry. Her mindset for innovation in technology, international experience and entrepreneurial spirit are contagious, and despite not being able to physically attend the live event, she has a very strong online presence that will make for a very interesting interactive video conference during the panel discussion. 

Successfully adopting technology in 2016

Last year the topic event technology was so popular, all industry events held sessions about #eventtech. Then other topics got industry attention, especially Brexit and security, and I haven’t attended any session since mid-2015 about #eventtech. But with the fast and changing phase of technology, it was time for me to revise what’s out there and what other event planners are experiencing so I decided to attend EWL Breakfast event about “How to successfully adopt event technology” hosted by Helen Moon, the founder of EWL Club and Emma Stoker, Vice President, Events, Roadshows & Hospitality at Barclays UK. The event took place at the Belgraves Hotel.

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After giving a short introduction about Barclays, their event and digital strategies, the discussion opened to the audience to share experiences and challenges. Audience represented agencies, in-house planners, media, technology providers, production companies and venues.

To kick off the discussion, first question was “what clients are looking for from venues in terms of technology?” Here the answer was very simple – wifi. Reason for this is that some clients will bring their own technology to ensure data security, so they need reliable wifi to support it.

Then we discussed the different challenges experienced with event technology. Major challenge, from an agency point of view, is to sell it to the stakeholders. Sometimes clients think that they need an event app, for example, but actually they don’t and it’s important not using it for the “sake of it”, but only if it provides a solution. When an agency is involved in recommending event technology, they should be able to give an informed advice and explain clients why an event app is the right or wrong solution for them and how it can deliver ROI. If they fail in doing so they can damage their reputation.

From a corporate point of view, their challenge is that many delegates are still using Blackberry phones. It slowly changes as younger generation is insisting on using smartphones, which are more compatible with event apps. Apps are great to get away from brochures but older generation still insist on using print. So, instead of having a brochure or app only, try and convince people to come away from the paper version by showing them how the app works, but still have both available at the event. By giving tangible examples and showing why it’s better, planners are more likely to succeed and have higher conversion rates. It might not be possible to change delegates’ behaviour and there is no needs to push them use something they are not comfortable with. Alternatively, target business areas where you know delegates will opt for the digital option.

If clients insist on using an event app, it’s recommended to start with single features, and gradually introduce others. For example, start with a voting app, and if it works gradually introduce online agenda, attendee networking, push notifications etc.

In terms of data security, it was recommended to use preferred technology suppliers, and when applicable, those who’ve gone through company security and compliance process. If clients are not able to download apps then the company will create a web based option. If clients will see the benefit of using the event app pre event they will be more likely to download it. Adoption and engagement rates increase when the MC encourages and constantly reminding using the app.

Another challenge is that not everyone knows how to use event technology and some clients would like to have representatives from the technology company with them on-site in case something goes wrong. Clients are not experts.

Next topic on the agenda was social media. Corporates manage social media differently, some have in-house teams responsible for social media and others outsource it. It depends on the business, social media strategy and limitations on what they can and can’t share online. Some don’t have a dedicated social media team but it’s managed by marketing and communication teams.

Companies who work with tech savvy clients must be on social media to understand them because if they don’t use the same channels as their customers they will be left behind. In experiential events, in particular, even if there is no financial return, there will be memories documented on social media and that’s what the brands want. Lastly, social media extends event life cycle and allows spreading the word as much as possible and as quickly as possible.

Talking about current trends, we all agreed that the newest piece of event technology is virtual reality (VR). Stakeholders want to use it because it’s “the next big thing”, but as planners we must ask whether it’s relevant. Main criticism was that the moment attendees put it on they lose interaction with other people attending the event. At conferences the whole point is engagement and virtual reality is taking away the engagement part because it becomes an individual experience.

There are areas where virtual reality can be used effectively without taking from engagement. In venue sales, for example, if you have the headset there is no need to set-up the venue each time, so when clients come for a site-visit they can experience it via the headset and the chances for booking the venue increase. Another area is fundraising events. According to an experiment mentioned by one of the attendees, showing the cause makes the experience more emotive because attendees can actually “experience” the cause, as opposed to a video, and then people will be more likely to donate.

Lastly, if you want to engage people with VR, give it to people who are not attending the conference so they can join-in remotely and still be part of the experience.

Talking about engagement, who is the most engaged person in the room, the one on his/her phone or the one looking at the speaker? Today, the person on the phone can be as engaged, if not more, as the one attentively listening to the speaker. But how about trying to make people be present at event without being on the phone? Someone mentioned the latest Coldplay concert and the LED wristbands they distributed, known as Xylobands. One of the EWL attendees who attended the concert said that she noticed people were more engaged and didn’t have their phones up in the air but the wristbands instead. It changed the engagement and people had a different experience to remember. You can see an example here.

But, is there any #eventtech out there that keeps engaging people three, or six months after the event? It was suggested, that in order to keep engaging event attendees after the event, planners need to personalise their communication. While technology is changing, personalisation stays the same and planners should focus on building relationships over time. Good practice is to have a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in place to know all touch points and when someone engages with your event or content. Another way is engaging via content marketing. By putting content on social media and blog in forms of interviews, updates, behind the scenes etc., event planners can extend their event lifecycle. When events stop producing content after the event, they risk being forgotten.

Event technology should be also accessible to everyone, planners should consider whether someone might have a sight or hearing problem that impacts their ability to interact with this technology. Each person in the room should be able to use technology and be engaged.

One hour was too short to cover this big topic and I hope to continue this discussion! Last piece of advice I can share with you from this event is that if you are not passionate about event technology you can’t sell it to your stakeholders.

Corporate Event Planners Discuss Evolution and Adoption of Event Technology

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, Chetan Shah – founder and CEO of, Anita Howard – Director of,  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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