Your program has a mobile app. You’re using video mapping. You’ve put Amazon Echoes in every room.

Now what?

Technology continues to drive a steady rhythm of possibilities for event planners. SITE recently connected with industry experts to understand the next big thing and discover how new technologies can be used to enhance experiences.

Social Media – Attracting Delegates, Expanding Experiences.

Padraic GilliganIn evaluating social media platforms, Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua thinks Facebook is the place to be. “Facebook has rallied really impressively,” he says. He sees two specific uses as powerful ways to improve events. “It works really well to recruit delegates. Facebook will drill down into a very specific sector for age and geography and allow you to get your message in front of them.” He also cites the value of live broadcasting – both for site inspections and the inclusion of more delegates at an event.

Virtual Reality (VR) – Almost Ready for Prime Time.

“Virtual Reality is actually overhyped,” says Dario Cherubino, President and Creative Director, Azimut – creating emotions. The technology isn’t there – yet, but it is coming. Both he and David Sand, CEO of Uwin Iwin International describe significant possibilities for VR from virtual site inspections to the ability to sell a destination at a tradeshow. “The future holds a full emersion VR experience as a standalone incentive reward offering or part of a lead up to a winning slot for the real thing,” explains David.

Neuroscience Technology – Connecting to Emotions.

Olga NavarroOlga Navarro, Executive Director, ITB Events in Spain has a lot of first-hand experience using technology to enhance participants’ experiences, “We use technology to twist experiences – a traditional walking treasure hunt with a road book turns into an iPad rally, a city tour turns into an innovation tour with stops in 3D printer places to get your gadget, during gala dinners fireworks integrate with video mapping.” With all that in play, it’s emerging technology that monitors the emotions of an audience that is particularly intriguing. “It would be very useful to have a real feel on how participants are reacting to a speech, to a bonding session etc. Neuroscience applied to events, that is pretty cool.”

Events – Bridging the Gap Between Presenters and Audience.

According to Pádraic, is one technology that holds promise for events. “It’s an audience engagement tool and it allows you to connect with the audience in new ways.” You can use to build polls in real time on stage – a great way to crowdsource audience interests for presentations, content and panels, or understand how effective a presentation is. It is also great for Q&A. “There’s an interesting statistic that says that more than 68% of people would never dream of asking a question in a Q&A.  With a technology like  “everybody in the audience can be an active participant. It’s a very dynamic platform.”

Personalization – Making Programs Relevant to the Individual.

Kienan ShawIndustry professionals routinely talk about the value of personalization of events and incentives. As a Strategic Technology Analyst for Maritz Travel Company, Kienan Shaw spends his workday thinking about ways to integrate technologies into programs. “As an attendee in an incentive program, you want to feel important or special. Using technology to deliver those experiences and call outs makes it more personal and memorable.” He sees potential in Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and RFID to customize everything from badging to content for an attendee. He explains a brief example “You can walk into an event and when you cross the threshold, all the displays can personally welcome you.”

Personalization also comes from investment in Augmented Reality (AR), another approach to technology that interests Shaw. He describes a “pie in the sky idea” where attendees can use a mobile app on an African safari. You point your phone at an animal and get information about the species. To make this a reality means a commitment to teamwork. “It would take a larger partnership between event planners, event management companies, DMCs and Hoteliers.”