@MPIGNY - Spring/Summer 2017 - 10




s event planners, we should
always keep up with what is
new in our industry. Like a
great many of you, I sign
up for newsletters, join
social media groups
and attend networking and educational
industry events, all in an effort to stay
on top of the latest trends. One area
of our industry that has excited and
disheartened me in equal measures is
event technology.
I have been excited because - well,
wow, there is just so much out there! I sit
in workshops and conferences where a
wealth of new technology is showcased:
Holograms present to audiences, while
wristbands sense their emotions using
minute technological cues. My phone
lights up with messages tailor-made for
me upon passing beacon technology.
Business cards are no longer even
required as contact details and other
information is exchanged with peers with
the tap of a wristband, or via my badge
lighting up as I walk past someone with
similar business interests. Sometimes the
technology means I do not even have to
attend the live event - I can catch-up with
the on-demand version or watch through
a live stream. I leave these sessions
abuzz with how the technology on view
can improve the events I plan.
Then dawns the sobering realization:
I manage events in the financial industry,
which are heavily content-driven and,



like most industries, have extremely tight
budgets, relying heavily on corporate
sponsorship. So much of the "buzz"
technology out there is geared toward
the larger trade show market and a more
tech-savvy audience and companies who
invest in this technology certainly seem
to have larger budgets or strategic event
objectives that incentivize them to do so.
When I imagine going back to my
own internal stakeholders requesting
the additional thousands of dollars it
would take to implement some of this
technology, I come back to earth with a
bump. Without the proof it will work or
that our audience will engage, sign off for
additional budget is difficult to get. All too
often technology is a "nice to have," but it
is not a necessity.
Recently I attended the Event of the
Future at Convene alongside about 150
event colleagues, and with a staggering
1,500+ watching through live-streaming
technology. One comment that resonated
was made by Chris Kelly, co-founder and
president of Convene:
"As the industry moves forward
there's going to be a greater
expectation of a layering of
technology that is unprecedented."
The message is this: Whatever
industry you manage events in, they
cannot afford to stagnate!
So, are smaller conference organizers,
where the priority is cost-saving (such as
in the not-for-profit industry) and where

the audience's focus is not technological,
truly able to experiment with cutting-edge
tech? One of the most highly-ranked
questions at the aforementioned Event
of the Future conference was submitted
anonymously via Sli.do:
Budget is always a major constraint
when trying out new technology.
Organizers do not want to spend without
a guarantee it will work or have good ROI.
How can we drive this as event planners?
Here's the thing. Those of us managing
logistics/event operations are often the
purchaser. Whilst sales and marketing
rack up the dollars in sponsorship and
delegate revenue, logistics spend, spend,
spend. Holding the proverbial purse
strings means you are scrutinized on
your costs and are certainly expected to
save money, especially if revenues are
not met. The impetus to save on budget
sometimes means that we neglect to
explore the potential of new technology
that we think we cannot afford. However,
I would argue that, if an event is hitting
its revenue targets (and therefore under
less pressure to save on the budget),
there is an obligation for us as event
planners to explore technology that will
ensure these revenues will continue
to be hit by investing in the experience
of our delegates and sponsors, which
should in turn improve revenues over
subsequent events.
There is some technology out there
that can make all the difference, and


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