A very successful low-tech conference – on technology!In our industry, we seem to be constantly told that keeping abreast of technology is essential; our industry conferences would seem antiquated without the obligatory technology streams. But who’s telling us that it’s vital to use the latest technology in events and where’s the proof?
Should they really be banned?According to IMEX research, 40% of organisers would like to ban mobile phones (and other portable devices) from conference sessions. They say they are too distracting for delegates.
The American comedian Kevin Hart recently tried to do that at one of his gigs. Before he came on stage, the audience was subjected to several aggressive Tannoy announcements that the use of mobile phones and cameras was banned and that they should be switched off and kept in pockets.
Simon Clayton is still waiting for it to have an effectTechnology evolves at an ever increasing speed but when it comes to the implementation of the latest gadgets and gizmos in the events industry, I’m still yet to see the promised ‘massive impact’ or signs that it is a ‘game changer’.
Every year we’re told of the major tech trends to watch, as each is certain to revolutionise the way we set-up, hold and report on our events. In this article I’m going to go through five of the trends which were predicted for 2015 to see if they really did change the industry.
It only helps the good presentersOver the years I’ve been to countless conferences and witnessed every conceivable level of presentation – from the amazing right through to the depressingly awful and that goes for both speakers and topics.
I vividly remember one session where the speaker was interminably dull and spent the whole session with his back to the audience. On that occasion I felt compelled to stay - in the hope that he would turn around and I’d see his face when he discovered that most of his initially sizable audience had silently crept out!
Or is it still at the gimmick stage?Last month the Marriott hotel chain introduced its new ‘VRoom Service’, offering guests room-service delivery of a virtual reality kit comprising a Samsung Gear VR headset, smartphone and a pair of headphones.
The devices are preloaded with three different 360-degree 3D ‘virtual visits’ and take guests to an ice cream shop in Rwanda, the Andes Mountains in Chile and the streets of Beijing. The two-minute ‘VR Postcards’ videos feature real travellers who share their stories about how much they value exploring other countries, cultures and experiences.
What to check with your technical teamMore major companies have recently fallen foul to security breaches. Some have seen the direst of consequences, with the Ashley Madison hack even leading to suicides. Every sector must look at how it protects the data of its customers – and this certainly applies to the events industry.
An increasing number of conferences have websites where the delegates sign in, pay to attend, and book sessions – but is their information securely protected?
Some of the onus is on the people registering for these websites to choose secure passwords and this is one place where size DOES matter.
Content is the most important factor for delegatesI’ve attended a lot of presentations at events over the years and it seems to me that the definition of a presentation is increasingly getting lost somewhere along the way.
The dictionary says a presentation is a ‘speech or talk in which a new product, idea or piece of work is shown and explained to an audience’, but I’m seeing an increasing number of presentations that have a brief introduction followed by the speaker telling the audience to get into groups to discuss the topic.
Simon Clayton offers a brief guide to registrationThere have been many articles written about successful registration strategies. The majority tend to have a hidden agenda relating to the author’s own services or products, whilst the rest follow whichever trend is on topic that particular week.
This article falls into neither of those camps. When it comes to registration, success is relatively easy to achieve if you apply common sense and stick to the obvious necessities.
Apps will only be used if they bring obvious benefitsGoogle recently confirmed that in ten countries, including the US and Japan, more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers.
Couple that with research from Nielsen’s latest Smartphone App Report, which explained that adult smartphone users were spending an average of more than 43 hours each month accessing content via applications, and it’s easy to see why the events industry is trying to utilise the power of the mobile and, with it, apps.
Make sure you know the rules, advises Simon ClaytonRadio-controlled aircraft aren’t a new thing by any means, but, lately, drones seem to have captured the public interest like nothing we’ve seen before in this field. Such is the explosion of interest that the UK’s first consumer drone event, UK Drone Show 2015, is being held at the NEC in Birmingham in December 2015.
Some of this interest in the latest selection of drones stems from their advanced electronics. They are gyro-stabilised, which means they aren’t as hard to fly – but don’t get me wrong; that doesn’t mean they are easy to fly either.
Meeting room at the Brooklands Hotel - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
See this example of a hotel meeting roomThere is nothing new about panoramic imagery to capture 360-deg images, but before digital photography it was difficult to view the images. Now, with the technology is more practical and easier to use.
Thanks to digital photography, a panorama can be created using nearly every digital camera and smartphone and the results can be shared easily online and on most smart devices. The technology is now so readily available that it has moved into the mainstream, with even small businesses adopting the trend.
Concentrate on the basics and not the fluffThere have been numerous predictions over the past couple of months announcing the trends that should be adopted in 2015. They are, of course, as usual, ‘going to transform the industry’ and ‘not paying attention to them will be costly’. But, these dramatics aside, what I would actually like to see this year, is everyone, instead, getting the basics right.
It brings multiple benefitsWhen it comes to conference content, I think that the majority of organisers are missing a trick by not curating, or managing, their digital assets post-presentation.
By using simple technologies such as Keynote or PowerPoint, conference content can be transformed into video resources that, once published online, can help to build a bigger audience base for next year.
If a conference delivers compelling content, why would an organiser not wish to utilise it? The answer is simple – the age-old fear of giving everything away for nothing. Fortunately, today the world is different and it doesn’t necessarily mean losing revenue.
Science fiction becoming realityMicrosoft has recently started the preview program for Skype Translator, which allows English and Spanish speakers to converse in their native languages. I find that a wonderful use of technology.
Much like the Universal Translator used in Star Trek, Skype’s system uses speech recognition and intelligent translation technology, which, thanks to its machine-learning, gets smarter the more it is used.
Simon Clayton wonders if Facebook will change the format of future meetingsDiscussions about virtual meetings seem to be on the increase again. Unfortunately some people seem to think it’s all new: in fact, virtual meetings have been around for years, although the technology used to be called teleconferencing. In that guise, it involved groups of people gathering in specially equipped rooms. They would be able to see and hear each other and it was fine as far as it went, but it never really took off.
The old advice for creating a secure password was to have a random string of upper and lower case letters interspersed with numbers and symbols.
Simon Clayton says UX stretches beyond websites and gadgetsThere’s a great deal more attention being paid to user experience (UX) these days. Unfortunately, most people see this as applying only to websites. Obviously the UX of an event website affects reactions to an event, so it’s important to get it right. In reality, though, event planners need to think about the UX of the whole event.
But let’s start with websites, since that’s usually an attendee’s first contact with an event. It’s very easy to get the UX wrong, as demonstrated by any number of sites. Maybe they make it almost impossible to locate interesting breakout sessions. Or they provide only meaningless titles for sessions with no details. Some even forget to show the date and location of the event on the home page.