Event Technology: Technical benefits

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How is technology changing the way an organiser works? Stand Out looks at whether the events industry is set to become a virtual breeding ground…

Our lives and our businesses are shaped by the Internet and it will only become ever more so, so says David Welsh, marketing manager at EventElephant.
“The reality for event organisers is that fully embracing web technology is no longer an option – it is an urgent requirement. Naturally some are still a little nervous about changing from paper based to online methods, and some are wary that their event attendees will be equally as cautious about online registration and ticket payment.
“It’s clear though that at some point every event organiser will have no choice but to join the online revolution. Not doing so is increasing the risk of becoming uncompetitive, of creating attendee dissatisfaction and of rapidly eroding event margins.”

According to Welsh, there are many advantages for organisers who embrace this kind of technology for their event, and sometimes not just for them, for their attendees as well. On average event organisers report a 20 per cent increase in attendee numbers when they offer an online registration and payment facility. Attendees are much more likely to take action and to register and pay straight away if they are presented with just an online option. They are more likely to postpone their decision to sign up if they have to confirm and pay by phone or post.
EventElephant is currently helping the organisers of Sunset Festival 2010, which takes place in Thurstaston, Wirral, from May 28-30.

Andy Carr, director of the Sunset Music Group, explains: “We were searching around for a system that could handle the complexities of festival ticket registrations. We needed a system that could monitor and track daily tickets sales and at the same time receive regular income direct into our bank account so we could keep control over the event finances.

“When we found EventElephant my workload was reduced by half. The system is incredibly easy to use and lets me spend more time in other areas to make the event a success. We are now seeing record ticket sales for the event.”

Meaningful marketing

Launching into the UK market this summer, with its first official public airing at the Event and Exhibiting Show, is N200 – visitor registration and lead retrieval specialists. Based in the Netherlands, the company has a strong foothold in Europe and is aiming to replicate its Continental success under the guidance of Peter Phillips, head of UK operations.

Comments Phillips: “We are ready and waiting to make substantial inroads in the UK market over the next two years. The biggest single hindrance we have are existing contractual obligations between organisers and their incumbent visitor registration companies. It will be a long, drawn out process to get to the players and make our case but we are already receiving some positive feedback.”

N200 is an easy to navigate, web-based system that allows organisers significant control over their event marketing, exhibitor communication and visitor registration.

Bart van Bijnen, chief executive officer of N200, suggests that marketing is not just about giving your visitors a badge; savvy organisers can receive the most value before a visitor is even given a badge.

For example, an organiser is able to measure traffic from partners’ websites and judge the effectiveness of a specific campaign by allocating a URL to a media partner or exhibitor, which when a visitor registers can be tracked back to source. Media partners and exhibitors can then be rewarded for bringing in more visitors; marketing campaigns then become trackable and incentivised.

Exhibitors can invite their own clients through the N200 system by embedding a URL in an online invitation therefore allowing organisations the opportunity to open dialogue with visitors pre-show, resulting in a more meaningful exhibition. The most pro-active exhibitors could even be rewarded with a free or discounted stand at the next event. And if you’re looking to sell badge sponsorship – sell it 10 times over, with a separate sponsor for specific visitor profiles.

Effective mediums

Online registration and event management solutions provider, ActiveEvents has recently joined forces with Eventia. It will now act as the association’s technology partner, with Active’s technology being incorporated into member communications.

Eventia has appointed ActiveEvents, a division of the Active Network, as its technology partner following an industry wide competitive pitch.

ActiveEvents is a provider of integrated event technology solutions and the partnership will see the two companies working together to incorporate this technology into Eventia’s member communications.

Izania Downie, CEO, Eventia “We see the future as a marriage between digital/virtual and live as technology augments the live proposition. Our industry is at a tipping point in its understanding and adoption of technology and how it can be harnessed to engage audiences. The events industry must embrace the digital media age and understand its role and how and when it is appropriate to use each of the mediums. The real question is when and how to use technology and live to communicate your message ensuring you are delivering return on investment and using the most effective mix of medium to deliver to the event objectives.”

Anthony Miller, director of strategy ActiveEvents, EMEA, adds: “Going back to the basics we need to start with the question of what is the purpose of the event??  Why is the meeting or event necessary?  What are the objectives? Who are the audience?  What is the message or output required?  How will we measure success?

“If the objectives are to inform, educate, gather an audience or amplify a message then digital can be a good medium to use, if however the objectives are to network, make contacts, share best practice and encourage engagement and interaction between delegates, then the live environment is essential. Most events form part of a broader marketing initiative and when supplemented by technology such as mobile applications, online communities and social media the lifecycle of the event can be extended and the audience engagement can be maintained over a longer period. This is the best of both worlds.”

Added value

Pennine Events, organiser of cycling events across the UK, has re-launched its website with new technology to allow participants to view and download maps more easily. The company says that the new technology allows participants to download route maps  to their PC or PDA using Memory Map, Google Earth and Google Maps.   

Other features of the new website include a photo gallery of events that participants and other interested parties can view and a facility to buy photographs of events online.

Mark Sandamas, director of Pennine Events, says: “We’ve had the new website designed to prove a better resource for those taking part or thinking of taking part in our events. They can also view photographs of the events and even buy photographs as a memento of the event. We’ve embraced more of the latest technology available and hope that visitors to the website find these beneficial.”

Similarly, a West Yorkshire company has also embraced technology to offer something more to its customers. MRL has become the first commercial organisation in the UK to be granted a licence to operate the German-made, eye-in-the-sky flying unit.

The MRL Eye is a ground-breaking micro-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) with full CCTV capabilities which can be used to survey crowd densities and dynamics and traffic management.

MRL Eye provides constant airborne imaging or data transmission while hovering and flying. With vertical take-off and landing capabilities there are no limitations on where it can be used for surveying. It can hover within inches of a target structure or take wide-angle pictures from high above a crowded event.

On the ground, MRL use a high-tech vehicle in which images from the flying eye can be seen in real time on a large screen and recorded to computer, before been transmitted to anywhere in the world.