THE YEAR AHEAD FOR… EVENTS

Dig­i­tal en­hances the power of live events, writes GES’s Jo Web­ber

Campaign Middle East - - NEWS - Jo Web­ber is com­mer­cial di­rec­tor of GES Mid­dle East

Live events, brand ex­pe­ri­ences, face-to-face mar­ket­ing (call it what you will) has fi­nally come of age as a cred­i­ble chan­nel for B2B and B2C mar­keters alike.

Far from be­ing eclipsed by dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing the two chan­nels have proved to be com­ple­men­tary. Our es­sen­tial need for hu­man in­ter­ac­tion is mag­ni­fied in the mod­ern dig­i­tal world and brand mar­keters are tak­ing full ad­van­tage of both plat­forms.

The fu­ture of events will com­bine the phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal worlds seam­lessly, al­low­ing event or­gan­is­ers to ac­ti­vate brand ex­pe­ri­ences that res­onate, en­gage and pro­mote change. The dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion of events also means great data cap­ture and mea­sure­ment – the be­havioural in­sights are in­valu­able to mar­keters.

So, what are they key event trends for 2019?

“Tech with purpose” – at­tendee en­gage­ment

Tech for tech’s sake is a def­i­nite turn off. How­ever, when de­ployed with a clear ob­jec­tive and as an en­abler, tech en­hances the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

So­cial plat­forms are al­ready used for eas­ier regis­tra­tion and check­ing out who else in your net­work, per­sonal or pro­fes­sional, is at­tend­ing the same event. Net­work­ing or meet­ing friends and like-minded peo­ple is a key driver of vis­i­tor at­ten­dance, and tech is prov­ing to be a great en­abler here.

Event mar­keters are heavy users of so­cial me­dia but the real gamechanger is user-gen­er­ated con­tent. Get­ting your au­di­ence to share and am­plify your brand in­creases your reach ex­po­nen­tially. De­vis­ing and cre­at­ing ‘in­sta’ mo­ments through­out your con­fer­ence, brand ex­pe­ri­ence or ex­hi­bi­tion is a sure-fire way to har­ness the power of your key in­flu­encers and cus­tomer groups.

Em­pow­ered en­gage­ment is a ma­jor trend for 2019. Smart tech­nolo­gies such as NFC and RFID al­low vis­i­tors to en­gage with brands, con­tent and other del­e­gates on their terms. Us­ing smart badges or bracelets with NFC or iBea­con tech­nol­ogy brings an event to life. From high­light­ing new prod­ucts and high value con­ten, to key­note speaker ses­sion alerts or break­ing in­dus­try news – it all con­trib­utes to an em­pow­ered, cu­rated ex­pe­ri­ence.

Gam­i­fi­ca­tion, al­ready hot, will be main­stream. Cre­at­ing im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences that are fun, mem­o­rable and play to our nat­u­ral com­pet­i­tive in­stincts are a great way to tell your brand story. Want to en­gage your sales team in a new prod­uct launch? Dig­i­tal gameshows, in­for­ma­tion down­loads and in­ter­ac­tive sem­i­nars al­low del­e­gates to col­lect points, cre­ate per­sonal leader­boards and claim re­wards. And you get rich en­gage­ment data into the bar­gain.

Use AV and AI to sur­prise and de­light

Mov­ing video walls, film stu­dio-style mo­tion graph­ics, OLED dig­i­tal dis­plays, pro­jec­tion map­ping and even holo­grams will sur­prise and de­light at­ten­dees, cre­at­ing the wow fac­tor for your event. ‘Death by Pow­er­Point’ is not an op­tion as au­di­ences ex­pect you to reimag­ine your con­tent us­ing the lat­est tech. The re­wards are sig­nif­i­cant: higher brand re­call and be­havioural change are there for the tak­ing.

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) and will con­tinue to grow as the tech­nol­ogy ma­tures. A re­port by Huawei Tech­nolo­gies states that 86 per cent of global com­pa­nies will adopt AI in some form by 2025. Sophia the smart ro­bot (worth a look on YouTube) has been seen fre­quently in the event in­dus­try this year. From be­ing a panel mem­ber to a pre­sen­ter and a del­e­gate, Sophia has gained a rep­u­ta­tion as an ef­fec­tive way to use AI to en­gage au­di­ences.

Data, data, data

A key driver of the adop­tion of dig­i­tal is mea­sur­a­bil­ity. Dig­i­tal­is­ing events af­fords the same po­ten­tial for track­ing – from the cost per ac­qui­si­tion (CPA) of a del­e­gate, to so­cial me­dia reach, to re­turn on en­gage­ment, to sales and con­ver­sion data linked back to your CRM. The data ex­haust is ex­ten­sive and in­valu­able for both cost at­tri­bu­tion and be­havioural in­sight. One of the old­est mar­ket­ing plat­forms is com­pet­ing along­side the new. In the UAE, dig­i­tal plat­forms have gained a strong foothold, par­tic­u­larly with the gov­ern­ment-backed ini­tia­tives such as Smart Dubai 2021, en­cour­ag­ing the use of tech­nol­ogy. This com­mit­ment to dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion will re­in­force Dubai’s stand­ing as a ma­jor desti­na­tion for the rapidly grow­ing global live events in­dus­try. That has to be mu­sic to the ears of live event and dig­i­tal mar­keters across the re­gion.

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