Tech Trends: Smart technologies for better events

Author: Matthias Schultze, Managing Director GCB German Convention Bureau e.V.


Smart event technologies are key in order to digitise processes and optimise events

Technological progress has taken the MICE sector to another level when it comes to knowledge transfer, networking and how attendees participate in events. Digital platforms and apps as well as smart event technologies have taken root, in particular because of the all-pervasive use of digital devices such as smartphones and tablets. In this context, event planners and venue operators can decidedly improve their offering in six key areas.

1. Digital registration

Even prior to events, digital registration systems make registration, ticket sales and invitations quicker and easier. In addition, relevant information can be collected to customise the event based on the requirements of the delegates.

2. Use of event apps

During an event, all important information and resources should be made available through a continually updated event app as a central and easy-to-use tool. Such mobile applications can contain the registration system and digital agenda as well as speaker profiles and general documents, e.g., speeches and presentations, all in one.

3. Make networking easier

Even prior to events, organisers can support networking with digital matchmaking tools and use digital applications to provide access to all relevant information and resources. Most importantly, however, event planners need to make much better use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to facilitate the exchange of opinions, experiences and information among participants.

4. Use of social media

Social media walls are an easy but effective tool, as screens that display social media content that refers to the event in a tiles layout. Such social walls encourage delegates to participate in the conversation virtually and at the same time address anyone who is interested outside the event.

5. Enable delegate participation

Delegates want to learn something new, engage in discussion with others and apply what they’ve learned. In this context, the use of survey and feedback tools enables them to rate either individual agenda items or the entire event on their digital devices. Or think about providing virtual spaces where they can meet other delegates beyond the physical event. Plus, interactive technologies that allow users to work jointly and regardless of location on documents are very useful tools that provide added value.

6. Adopt technological innovation

Holographic technology, digital interpreters or large-size and intuitive collaboration tools enable communication and collaboration even across great distances, create virtual spaces and extend our real-life experiences. A lot can be done: There are, for example, glasses or contact lenses that can display information, tables that can take notes of conversations or it is possible to virtually meet up with avatars. Augmented reality tools as well are increasingly in demand.
However, at the same time it needs to be understood that not everything that is technologically possible does also make sense for every event. Events must not centre around technology but around participants, i.e. the human element is the most important one. It is therefore important to strike the right balance between “high tech” and “high touch” (John Naisbitt) because personal interaction is and will remain the strongest argument for taking part in events.

The "Future Meeting Room" scenario shows how events can promote interactive knowledge transfer. It was developed by the "Future Meeting Space" innovation network that was set up by the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering IAO, the European Association of Event Centres (EVVC) and the GCB German Convention Bureau.

The results of the research phase will serve as an instruction manual for the design of future-oriented organisational, technological and special future meeting spaces in phase 2 of the project.