If you run a convention center, this is likely a familiar scene to you: a group of high-profile CEOs, marketing executives and sales teams are rushing out of your venue, sighing with relief that their business event has ended. At last, they can go home to their families. It happens more often than you’d like, I’m sure. Business events can be boring. At best, they’re bearable and at worst, a tedious chore. But the real question is – do they have to be?
Certainly not. You can combat the boredom by being innovative. We’re smack in the middle of one of the biggest technological revolutions of history and by embracing technology, you can engage your disinterested audiences. To improve the customer experience, hotels are going high-tech and so are stadiums — now it’s time for convention centers to follow suit. Whether event organizers are planning a party, fundraiser, wine tasting, gala, or product launch, you can draw more attendees to your convention center; you just have to give the organizers the right tools to customize their events at your venue.
According to a report from Red 7 Media Research and Consulting, 39% of event producers feel that technology is an important new growth area for convention centers. But how? Here are 5 technology upgrades you need to make to boost the level of engagement at your convention center:
1. Live Streaming – Help Connect to Remote Audiences
One way to maximize attendance for events at your convention center? Live streaming. Seminars are long dead. We’ve entered the age of webinars. When most of your competitors are proud of being able to send recorded sessions of their events, you can position yourselves as that convention center where attendees can interact in real-time. Founders, CMOs and CEOs can also be away from important conferences and still be a part of them — you can become the venue that cut its business travel expenses in half.
In today’s digital age, our lives are moving at an increasingly fast pace. So if you want to engage the attention of today’s tech savvy generation, don’t dwell too much over carefully curated modern art — invest in equipping your convention center with live streaming capabilities.
2. Engagement Platform – Foster In-location Experiences
You’ve likely already saved your convention center from being the black hole of connectivity by providing your audience with high speed Wi-Fi. What’s next? Now, it’s time to start leveraging that existing Wi-Fi infrastructure you’ve already invested in. Since network connectivity is no longer spotty at venues, location-based technologies are making their way into events. New technologies now allow you to transform your Wi-Fi network into a customer engagement platform. From assisting in wayfinding to receiving push notifications, you can provide better customer experiences in your location every step of the way.
From the moment an attendee enters your convention center (in fact, even before entering — in the parking lot) to the moment they step out, you can gain more insights into your visitor behavior. No, you’re not tracking their every move. But while you’re already seeing information like which access points are the busiest, you can also engage them in other ways while you’re at it, such as giving them perks (free coffee?) near a particular access point. Plus, you’ll gain additional in-location data, which can give you data into which areas of your convention center are engaging visitors better and which need improvement.
3. AR & VR Devices – Provide Immersive Experiences
If your devices are AR and VR-enabled, you’re taking your convention center to a whole new level — and even into an entirely new world. For once, it will be your VR-powered venue that will lure in audiences, and not a high profile keynote speaker. By providing VR headsets to your attendees, you can redefine visual meetings and increase engagement. You can actually claim to put the sales team ‘in a room’ with their CEO.
And if you still want to up the level of excitement, you can tell them you can have Steve Jobs speak at their conference. Wait, what? Yes, it’s possible. Microsoft’s Hololens is an augmented reality system where you can produce live holograms of people who are unable to participate in the meeting. Sorry, being dead is no longer an excuse to miss the meeting.
4. Smart Mobile Apps – Increase Engagement on Smartphones
Can’t get your attendees to stop compulsively checking their phones? No problem! Time to work that habit to your advantage, and have a mobile app for your convention center that displays all critical information about your venue. Give guests a virtual tour through your app; help them navigate and find the right conference room on time. In the process, you’ll also spare them the guilt of being too addicted to their phones.
A mobile app will not only serve the interests of your participants but also your own — isn’t that another great reason to have an app for your venue? By integrating the correct analytics suite, you can mine a ton of information about your guests, which you can later use to offer them personalized information at future events. Next time if you want to know how many attendees had a great experience at your venue, a show of hands won’t be necessary; you can just run a poll on your app!
5. Wearables – Strap Convenience to their Wrists
Don’t want event organizers calling you each time someone wants the key to a guest room? Have them unlock doors through their Apple watches. Let them receive event alerts on their bracelets and smartwatches without having them fumble through their pockets to whip out their phones.
Make your venue ready for a spate of wearable devices, so that in the future when someone wants to be pointed to a booth selling admission tickets, you can just have them use their wearable device to access the event. You’ll start earning a reputation for eliminating paper and going green, in a world where some convention centers are still mailing physical tickets. Win-win for you and your guests (and, well, Earth.)
Embrace Change – Make Room for Innovation
There are many more innovative ways in which venue owners are experimenting with technology to build world-class convention centers. For instance, the Swiss Tech Convention Center spent $255 million to wow its guests with convertible seating arrangements and its use of Grätzel photovoltaic panels to prevent overheating. While it would be ideal to reach that level of innovation someday, you should at least start by making the basic technology upgrades we’ve talked about here.
Now that you know about the technological trends that are giving venue owners an edge over their competitors, you should consider accommodating these changes to engage visitors at your convention center. It’s important to remember that you have the power to influence how your attendees behave at meetings. Will they be fighting sleep or actively and enthusiastically participating? In the end, it’s up to you.
At July Rapid, we work with convention centers to better serve their visitors through engaging mobile experiences. Improve your venue experience — and your bottom line — today.