Digital tools in the event industry
The meeting industry is very heterogeneous – also with regard to digital tools and services. There are many software providers. This becomes clear when we look at the sheer number of event management software providers. Do you think it will stay that way? We will see about that. I too believe that the market is likely to consolidate. Similar to what was the case with the German intercity bus service market.
Let’s take a quick look at the customer side. The users, both the event planners and the event participants, are very different when it comes to digital tools. There are – just like in many other industries – the early adopters. These are the ones who immediately jump at technical innovations. And there is also the late majority, i.e. those who prefer printed conference programs and traditional lecture formats.
According to a study by Xing-Events, 76 percent of event planners now use digital tools for event management and marketing. However, according to the study, this incorporates standard event marketing solutions such as e-mail, websites and social media. Innovative solutions such as content marketing or viral marketing have not gained traction yet.
Challenges in using digital tools
While many speak of a common MICE industry, i.e. the industry for meetings, incentives, conferences and events, the individual events are very different. Both in terms of their goals, target groups, event formats and the technology used.
I see organizers and locations trying out many of the new technologies. They use VR and AR technology, instant booking platforms, try Facial Recognition for access control and are very active in social networks. They run blogs, email marketing, deal with SEO and SEA, influencer marketing. Some even use messenger marketing. They also use collaboration platforms, install chatbots on their own website, use voting tools, matching apps, digital congress bags and tools for lead management.
All this is standard for some in the event industry. Others, on the other hand, have not even taken the step of becoming an online registration tool.
New technologies are already knocking at the door
And yet another new technology is already knocking on the door. Voice assistants. Especially in the private sphere, they are already enjoying growing popularity.
Just a few days ago, Amazon announced that it would bring its digital assistant Alexa to the hotel industry. If you already use Alexa as a language input tool in your living room, you will soon be able to do so in your hotel. Guests should be able to order room service, order towels or even control lighting and air conditioning via Alexa by voice command. This brings Amazon and the digital assistant Alexa to the hotel industry. Would that also be interesting for the event industry?
Opportunities for voice assistants in the event industry
Once more and more people are using voice assistants, it is only a matter of time before they ask Alexa, Cortana, Siri or their Google Assistant for event tickets to concerts, congresses or trade fairs. Digital assistants such as Alexa & Co. are therefore certainly an exciting option for digital pioneers – for marketing purposes or as a customer service tool.
Amazon has also recently enabled Amazon pay for its smart speakers. Now users are not only able to order products from the Amazon Shop, but any business with a corresponding skill can now sell its goods and services via Alexa. Which means event technology providers have the opportunity to program skills that allow event organizers to sell tickets through voice assistants.
Advantages of voice input
A valid question is: Why should participants buy tickets via digital assistants at all?
Disadvantages of voice input
However, audio is only one-dimensional, because I can only record one piece of information at a time.
Visually, people can record much more. For event managers who sell tickets, this means that they can offer different ticket categories with the help of visual media/channels. The user can see this at a glance.
If a digital assistant had to read and offer me all ticket categories one after the other, it would be too time consuming. This reminds me a little of my first visits to American coffee shops – with the countless coffee variations. In addition, speech recognition does not yet function without errors. This may be due to similar sounding words as well as to our more or less clear pronunciation and dialect-colored voice commands.
The mix could be a solution
Perhaps therefore a combined approach of voice input and visual information makes sense. Meaning, if we combined a screen with an echo dot. Just think of the DB and public transport ticket machines, which are complicated to operate. As already mentioned: With language we are simply much faster when it comes to the input.
Voice as an additional input option
Voice will most likely be another input option in the future. This technology is ideal if we want to quickly and easily obtain structured information.
In the meetings industry, for example, this structured information could be the content of today’s FAQ lists on the event websites:
Furthermore, Alexa’s charming voice could remind talkative speakers of the course of her lecture time thanks to her timer. That would be something 😉
Or we could use voice control to control light, temperature, blinds or other technology. Then we can think again about whether we should train the digital assistant for a few selected voices beforehand. After all, not everyone should be able to switch the light on and off or regulate the temperature, should they?
At the event itself, digital assistants are more likely to be used in quiet rooms. I would probably not hire a digital assistant in a conference centre or in a hotel lobby. Voice simply needs, at least for the moment, a quiet environment. If I have this, I can also imagine the use of this technology here. For example in the hotel rooms, in VIP lounges or in the toilets – to control the light.
After Sales thanks to digital assistants
Another application I can well imagine for digital assistants is the sale of simple products, such as event documentation. The same premise applies here as with event marketing: The offer must be very simply structured.
Digital assistants will accompany us more frequently in the coming years than before. The event industry can also use this technology, above all to quickly find a customer’s ear with simply structured information.
About the author
Katrin Taepke blogs on www.micestens-digital.de and is an event professional with a passion for digitalization and interactive event formats. For more than 20 years she has been organising events of all sizes and orientations. Her credo: Save the world from one-way interaction and use digital tools for your processes!