As I speak with meetings and events professionals, there are a few core elements that come up time and again. These elements demonstrate the dedication and hard work that’s goinginto event and meeting planning at every level, as well as the ways that venues like convention centers, vendors and others involved can help make events more unique and productive for attendees, and give meeting and events planners ample reason to keep coming back to a venue because they love working with you and because their event was a huge success.
- It’s all about improving the guest experience, and making visits fun, memorable and useful. With “bleisure” travel on the rise, many convention and meeting-goers are starting and/or finishing business trips with fun activities.
- Avoiding and/or mitigating pain points is critical. Time is limited, and competition for hosting an event is fierce. Processes and technology that can improve efficiency are always welcomed.
- Technology can and will serve an important role, but it must be accessible, user-friendly, and complement - or ideally integrate with - other event tech applications. If the time and effort to use an event technology outweighs the value, it won’t last.
Below are several areas where I see rapid movement to help meet the three areas above. Some of these are a few years out from full realization, but are poised to make a big difference in the industry.
Space Availability & Simplifying the RFP Process
Competition is fierce between major venue locations, particularly convention centers. Making it easy for meeting and events planners to explore and review the space, check availability and even request a custom RFP online, is a critical offering that can give your venue a big advantage. Being able to profile every square foot of space digitally - and make it all searchable based on key specifications like space type, capacity, and square footage, gives event and meeting planners a quick way to find the spaces that best fit their needs, and several steps closer to contacting you to request an RFP. For example, the Hawaii Convention Center has a unique 2.5-acre rooftop garden with stunning views and artwork. It’s one thing to hear about it, but much more powerful to be able to see it and see how your event can create a unique layout for a breakout event or the main program itself.
One of the great challenges of any sizable venue is tracking all of the assets involved in managing the space, particularly during a transition period from one event to the next. As more and more companies and organizations go into the digital transformation era - particularly with digital twinning (creating digital versions of physical objects that are trackable in the digital world using RFID, Bluetooth or other tech), asset tracking is going to become much more visual and useful. A professional will be able to assess where assets are and where they need to be, and get a bird’s eye view of overall progress and estimated times of project completion - like set up or tear-down.
Enhancing the On-Site Guest Experience
There are always unique and fun things that can be done to make your event stand out. But some of the most important are easy to overlook, such as real-time information updates and availability. What if guests could - on their mobile device - see what’s happening across the entire venue, and decide where to go (and how to get there) based on that information? As more and more people start wearing devices with haptic capabilities - such as the Apple Watch - they can get non-intrusive updates and directions to their next location. This type of system would be also have significant application for promotions and concessions, allowing for sponsored updates to guests who have opted in to receive deals and other time sensitive promotions during an event. The application could be similar to the push notifications from Google Calendar, but instead of driving directions the directions would guide you through the event center - for example - “Your next meeting is in 10 minutes, it will take you 6 minutes to walk there from your current location.”
Earlier this year, a colleague attended the Outdoor Retailer show at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. He described how there were always multiple competing events by exhibitors, and it was difficult to know when they were starting and the best way to navigate the massive show floor to where a talk was about to begin, or where a exhibitor event was about to start. Opt-in communications will continue to make big progress, and can be funneled through push notifications, SMS, and/or email.
Enhancing the Overall Guest Experience
As more people look at work travel as an opportunity to have some fun, being able to easily profile the attractions and amenities in the greater region around an event venue is a powerful tool to keep people excited about your venue and coming back year-after-year. Sure, this may be easy for venues in major cities or vacation destinations, but every location has unique and fun opportunities in the area. Guiding people to those opportunities, and making them easy to find and explore, helps your venue stand out among others.
Visualizing workflows is not a new thing, and has been big in the marketing space for years. But akin to the asset tracking example, we’ll see more and more visuals integrated into workflows for events and meeting planners, including how they collaborate with convention centers and other event venues. Visuals are a powerful way to demonstrate how an event space will handle an event, and give planners greater peace of mind - it’s a stressful job, after all! - by providing the ability to visually see how setup is tracking, percentage completion, etc. We all love to watch the Uber of Lyft car’s progress on the app, imagine being able to see your event come together piece-by-piece the same way through your computer or mobile device, based on a visualized workflow that comes together during the RFP process.
It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in the events industry, and these are but a few of the areas that I anticipate seeing major progress in the months and years ahead. Meeting and events planners have a tough job, and the right tech stack can help make the planning process easier while also giving venues a leg up, and offering guests an amazing experience.
About the Author:Chris Munz is VP of Business Development at Concept3D and focuses on supporting convention centers, event venues, hotels, resorts and hospitality clients. Concept3D combines 3D modeling, interactive maps and VR-enabled virtual tour software to bring any physical location into an intuitive and navigable digital format for wayfinding, space planning, data visualization, asset tracking and more, creating a powerful sales and marketing advantage.