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There isn’t a respected event media that hasn’t published an article about the event trends in 2016, including us (The 4 REAL Event Trends of 2016 You Should be Focusing on). However, as event organisers we need not only to keep up with the current trends but also to be a kind of visionaries when planning our future events. Because in order for your event to be exceptional it needs to have that element of surprise and innovation. That’s achieved not by following the rest but by trying something completely new and forward-looking. After all, we all strive for the “Wow, that’s so amazing and revolutionary experience!” reaction from our attendees and partners rather than “Yup, that’s a contemporary and trendy event, indeed.”, don’t we?

That’s why we decided to look further into the future of the event industry and more specifically to dig down into its (almost) light-speed developing aspect: the event technology. So we asked some of the top influencers in the industry which event technology will have the greatest impact on the event business in the next few years and will hugely influence, change or even disrupt the way events are organized and conducted today.

Enjoy your short, imaginary journey to the event world of the future!

1VR & AR Technology and Display Technology on the Rise

Brandt Krueger | Owner | Event Technology Consulting

“I think VR and AR technology are going to start growing rapidly in the consumer market, so they’re naturally going to continue to spill over into meetings and events. VR technology is particularly compelling in a trade show context, where attendees are used to arriving at booths to receive demonstrations. We’ll also see an increase in VR/AR experiences as stations at events, much as we currently see photo booths, specialty drink bars, or other activity stations.

I also believe that display technology is going to become a larger part of our stage design and event decor. As projection technology gets cheaper, and as flat screen displays get thinner, more flexible, and less expensive as well, I think we’re going to see more and more designers using display technology to change the color and texture of decor and stage backgrounds, as well as full motion video presentations. Imagine an entire stage set covered in flat screen display technology, with no projectors necessary!”

2Event Tech That Gathers Data Will Be a Must-Have

Mike Piddock | Founder & CEO | Glisser Interactive Presentation Software

“I think 2016 will be the year the events industry really begins to a handle on its data, and how powerful it is for justifying event ROI. Event tech that gathers data – both during live events and presentations, and dipping into social media profiles to understand event communities – will be a must have rather than a nice to have. Once this takes hold, the pursuit of more and more useful data and analytics will make the industry feel very different.”

3Event Tech That Supports Networking Will Play an Even Bigger Role

Michael Heipel | Online Relations and Event Marketing Consultant | Concept & Consulting

„One of the primary objectives of events is networking. Hence, event tech that supports networking will play an even bigger role in the future. On the one hand side, this applies to the networking functionalities among participants, speakers and the organizers. An event is successful, when you gain at least 5 connections that will benefit you in your future career and professional life. On the other hand, exhibitors and sponsors demand viable business contacts when taking part in an event – and that is how they measure their success! Therefore, technology that allows sponsors and exhibitors to capture relevant leads at an event will justify the Dollars and Euros spent for such a marketing investment.“

4Crowdsourcing Content via Social Media and Specific Applications

James Morgan | Founder of Event Tech Lab | Founder of ShareXP | Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, London

“Crowdsourcing content: Most events have some form of content on offer for attendees. Educational in nature, there is always the question – is the content relevant? In 2015 there have been some examples where organisers have asked attendees what kind of content they wish to see at a particular show. The advantage of this approach is that content becomes more relevant and the show gets ‘buy-in’ and commitment by those wishing to attend. We are going to see more of this via social media and specific applications such as SharedXP.co in 2016 and beyond.”

5For the Technology to Have a Real Impact, It Needs To Be so Simple That It Becomes Almost Invisible

Juraj Holub | Marketing Manager | Slido

“The events industry is learning to trust technology and last year it took a giant leap in this aspect. Many event planners started appreciating that the technology is playing an important role in measuring ROI, fostering connections and facilitating audience participation, and they gradually began to leverage its full potential.

But for the technology to have a real impact, it needs to be so simple that it becomes almost invisible. Like when you use a clicker to advance your slides. You’re using a piece of technology but you hardly ever realize it, as its use feels so natural.

If the tech takes too much effort to use and adds no real value (beyond the ‘wow’ factor) then I expect it won’t be around for too much longer. “

6Data and User Privacy Will Be Imperative, Especially in an Interactive Industry Evolving towards Richer Digital Networking and More Complex Data Gathering

Dimitar Toshkov | Head of Growth | Weemss

We are all enthusiastic about any new event technology bringing innovative ways of interaction, engagement and data gathering. However it’s imperative for us, tech companies, to consider the privacy of event organizers and their participants. If an event is supported by two, three or more event tech providers, where does user data end up? At Weemss we will continue to focus on giving our users and their participants 100% privacy over their event data, and I do believe the words “data” and “privacy” will trend in 2016, even more so in the future.

7Live Streaming and the Ease To Do so with New Apps

Magdalina Atanassova | Marketing Communications Manager | Kenes Group

“I believe the future of the events industry will be largely influenced by live streaming and the ease to do so with new apps as Periscope and Meerkat. 2015 proved to be only the beginning for this type of live streaming and in 2016 and further I believe we will see its true development and the alterations it will bring along to our industry.”

8Mobile Payments Will Be a Huge Game Changer

Liz King | CEO, Chief Event Specialist | Liz King Events

“I believe that mobile payments will be a huge game changer for the events industry. As our attendees become more accustomed to fingerprint technology and the disappearance of passwords, they will expect to have easier (and more secure) ways to purchase event tickets online, bid for silent auction items and purchase merchandise. This is going to have a huge impact on our industry as we will need to find new ways to process payments and engage our attendees.”

9Wearables, RFID, Personalisation and a Transition Towards Platforms

Mark Walker | Head of Content – UK & Ireland | Eventbrite

“Ticketing and registrations software, pioneered by Eventbrite for the last 10 years, has really transformed the way events can be run by anyone in the world now. The next big technology trends to impact the industry will be around wearables, RFID, personalisation and a transition towards platforms, made possible by API integrations with other best in class solutions.”

10Adoption of Emerging Technologies That Facilitate Behavioral Persona Marketing

Leonora Valvo | Director of Swoogo | CEO of InsightXM

“Event Marketers will adopt emerging technologies that facilitate Behavioral Persona marketing. This will revolutionize the event marketing experience, starting with the invitation, continuing to the landing page and finally the actual event. Each touch point will reflect the individual’s interests and preferences, transforming conversion & retention rates.”

11Mobile To Transform Every Aspect of the Event Experience

Michael Balyasny | CEO | Attendify

“We’ve seen tremendous innovation in the past few years, but mobile stands alone in its potential to transform every aspect of the event experience. We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible, in the next few years we’ll see apps become the hub for every interaction between attendees, sponsors, exhibitors, and planners. Those interactions will generate a wealth of data that’s currently not captured and will surface insights that change event marketing forever. This is a very exciting time to be in event tech!”

12Event Technologies Allowing The Evolution of the Event and Meeting Audience from Passive Attendee to Active Participant

Pádraic Gilligan | Managing Partner | SoolNua Marketing

“Normally the process of evolution is so slow that changes cannot actually be perceived. The evolution in the events industry, however, is happening at such a pace that we can actually see the changes materialize before our very eyes – like a kaleidoscope! This makes it difficult to isolate just one event tech that’s shaping the future of our industry as they’re all combining together to create these dynamic changes.

For me, however, the evolution of the event and meeting audience from passive attendee to active participant is the most significant. This is made possible by many new event technologies but Sli.do and Glisser are the truly disruptive ones. Both platforms offer slide sharing capabilities along with live polling, Q&A etc and essentially give voice to the 65% of audiences who would never dream of standing up at an event to ask a question. “

13Event Tech That Cooperates with Human2Human Interaction

Jan-Jaap In der Maur | Owner/Moderator | Masters in Moderation

“The event tech I believe will influence the event industry the most, will be the event tech that will NOT be there in 3-5 years. So far, the eventech industry is all about the tech-part, with far too many start-ups just building gadgets. In 3-5 years time we will know, what really adds value to the design of meetings and only those suppliers will survive.

We need to find a way to have event tech cooperate with human2human interaction. As a moderator, I see it as my mission to have people use event tech and interact person2person at the same time.”

What is your opinion on the topic? Which event tech, app or gadget will be the game-changer for events as we know them now. We’re eager to hear your thoughts as a comment below.

Image: David | Some rights reserved

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Valeria has a vast experience in the field of event management: from medium-sized networking events, roundtables and seminars to big international business forums and conferences, international governmental summits and outdoor expos and fairs. She’s an expert on marketing of events with a passion for content marketing and social media.