Immersive technology and artificial intelligence, chatbots, increased personalisation and facial recognition – these are just some the of the tech trends making a sizeable impact on the event industry.
Moving beyond beacons and tweeted prize-hunts, brands are now using AI-powered chatbots to meet the ongoing trend of personalisation. "With brand loyalty on the decline, brands need to stand out from the rest and become equipped to handle customer-service functions in the new event landscape," Mike Kettles, executive creative director at Momentum Worldwide, says.
Anton Christodoulou, group chief technology officer at agency Imagination, also singles out blockchain’s potential. In essence, the technology, which underpins digital currency Bitcoin, allows important information such as "how much" and "to whom" to be transferred in a secure and private way, enabling large amounts of transactional data to be shared between different parties. From an event point of view, for example, this means that the technology could be used to managed attendees’ data or to validate registrations.
Martyn Gooding, creative director at Jack Morton Worldwide, says one further trend is the integration of tech into the overall space – or "Zero UI".
"As the industry matures, we’re seeing better use of tech-enhanced storytelling rather than gadgets on shelves," he says. "The overall trend is becoming known as ‘Zero UI’ – where the interaction is seamless and reactive to the people around it. Technology-enhanced moments are triggered more naturally and feel more integrated into the overall space."
Experiences, he adds, are becoming more accountable and measurable, with more detailed key performance indicators being placed against the work due to the data available, particularly with improvements in computer vision and motion-tracking.
"We can now follow journeys around an environment and know more about the demographics of attendees without the need for cumbersome data-capture terminals," he says.
Making it personal
David Haas, director of digital solutions at FreemanXP, says event-personalisation platforms such as Feathr are another tool to watch out for. "It possesses proprietary technology that allows marketers and event organisers to leverage data by combining sources like registration, CRM, social followers and website analytics, and to launch multichannel campaigns," he says.
By showing the right ad at the right time, Haas says organisers can enhance the audience experience and appeal to individual interests in new ways. He gives the example of how MCM Comic Con’s website has a section on Marvel superheroes. "We can show the user ads about The Avengers and use bespoke messaging, then we can send personalised emails and social with landing pages."
Facial recognition and tracking integrated with smart technology is also on the rise, spurred on by the availability of more cost-effective solutions. Momentum Worldwide’s Kettles says this is an area that requires caution and an ear to concerns over privacy, but early adopters will reap the benefits. And no discussion on event tech trends would be complete without a nod to virtual and augmented reality, with the next big shift in this area being mixed reality.
"Immersive technologies like AR, VR, gestural interfaces and binaural sound have the benefit of nurturing a more interactive, interesting and deeper connection with potential customers, whilst making consumers feel they have more control," says Dr Adrian Leu, chief executive at technology innovation agency Inition. "These technologies can enhance brand stories – it’s the synergy between story and technology that creates powerful experiences."