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Creative Ways to Use iPads at Your Next Event

Now that iPads have been around for nearly eight years, they’ve gone from being novel to being unremarkable. We’ve all seen iPads used for check-in—they’re better than manual paper-heavy check-in, for sure, but it’s been done. iPads as point-of-sale (POS) systems? Again, they’re faster than taking orders by hand, but still unremarkable. And for surveys and lead capturing? Unless there’s a prize at the end of that survey, the draw of simply “using an iPad” is no longer enough to get attendees involved.

The ubiquity of iPads today puts the burden of novelty on event organizers and sponsors. It’s not easy to come up with new, unique ways to turn a trite device into an attention-capturing exhibit, but it can be done.

Here are a few ideas, for events small to large, that will get your creative juices flowing:

Put slide decks in attendees’ hands. If your event is on the smaller side, consider loaning or even giving an iPad to each attendee. Then, instead of staring at a static screen, attendees can focus on the speaker and advance the slides at their own pace.

Decorate with “digital décor.” Place iPads on tables or hang them around a conference room to share slideshows, photographs, and other media in an intimate way.

Snap pics (and share them!) with a pop-up photo booth. Turn your iPad into a camera and boost your event’s social media presence by taking photos of attendees and then enabling them to share the pictures instantly on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Build a virtual Jeopardy wall. With 36 iPads and a magnetic wall, you can build a game that will grab and hold the attention of attendees while educating them on topics of your choosing. Just like on TV, the game is engaging for participants and spectators alike!

3 VR Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make at Your Next Event

While virtual reality (VR) has been around for several years now, it is still rare enough to maintain the “wow” factor that it had when it first appeared on the scene. Luckily for event organizers, the cost of implementing VR is coming down, making it an increasingly attractive option for drumming up excitement and involvement with attendees. However, implementing new technology comes at the cost of trial-and-error, so here are three easy mistakes to avoid if you’re planning to incorporate VR into your next event.

Don’t make the experience isolating. Because virtual reality often involves one individual wearing one headset, it’s easy to get locked into the idea that only that individual can have the virtual experience at a time. However, there are ways to engage more than just one user: you can immerse multiple people in a shared VR experience or project an individual attendee’s headset images up on nearby screens. This makes the whole experience more fun for attendees and gives you more bang for your buck!

Don’t miss sponsorship opportunities. Companies will pay to be part of an unforgettable experience, so make sure you capitalize on this revenue stream by finding ways to work brand logos and images into your virtual environment.

Don’t limit yourself to games. Games can be great fun and serve many purposes, but they’re not the only experience VR can offer. Try giving a virtual tour of a facility still under construction. Demonstrate a proof of concept. Take attendees back in time. Let them make art. The sky—or, really, your imagination—is the limit!

Event Size Matters: Why Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better

Here in America, we are surrounded by a culture of “bigger is better.” A Big Mac is better than a regular hamburger. A mansion is better than a split-level. And a 5,000-person event is better than a 500-person one… right?

Not necessarily.

Size implies status, which implies success, so you’re likely to assume that a 5,000-person event is just a more successful version of a 500-person event. However, if you’re the organizer of a 500-person event, you actually want to keep the meeting small. Here’s why:

People typically attend events for two reasons: content and connections. If an attendee wants strictly content, then bigger often is better, because bigger events have bigger budgets and can therefore attract more “headline” speakers and put together more robust schedules. However, if an attendee is looking for a combination of content and connections, and especially if their priority is networking, a smaller meeting will probably be the better bet. At a smaller meeting, learning can be more participative, with content shared among speakers and attendees alike, while the intimacy of a smaller conference fosters more organic interaction and connections.

In summary, big events have their place, but small events do, too. That’s why it’s important to know what your attendees want out of your meeting. Growth can be good, but, depending on the wants and needs of your attendees, exclusivity can be even better!

3 Tech Solutions to Keep an Audience Engaged

The events industry, as a whole, has one objective: increasing audience engagement. What “engagement” means depends on the event, but two generally accepted definitions include a two-way dialogue with attendees (meaning they are active participants in the event) and attendee emotional involvement (meaning they are invested and care about the outcome of the event).

Audience engagement can be achieved in a variety of ways, and technology is not only increasing those options, but is now presenting itself as a way that audiences expect to engage. Here are a few of the latest, most inspiring tech solutions that event organizers are using to engage their audiences:

Virtual Reality—With Google, Samsung, Microsoft, and other tech giants bringing forth more affordable, cutting-edge VR technology, event organizers can offer attendees new immersive experiences. And if the only way to get the “exclusive” experience is to line up for a turn with a headset… now you have double the opportunities for audience engagement!

Social Media Walls—Every event organizer knows that to have a successful, well-marketed event, you need a social media presence. Yet any engagement that has been cultivated pre-meeting will go to waste if you don’t incentivize attendees to engage at the event itself. That’s where social media walls can help: aggregated tweets, photos, and videos from attendees (tagged to your event, of course) will attract the attention of attendees and encourage them to respond and share. It’s a win for them, as they amplify their own voices, and it’s a win for you, as your event trends across social platforms.

Digital Swag Bags—Like the social media wall, digital swag bags are another win-win for event organizers and attendees. Organizers can forgo the pre-event hassle of collecting physical items and stuffing them into hundreds—if not thousands—of bags before an event. They can also track audience engagement, which is a big perk for sponsors who would never see measurable ROI from a free pen or notepad. Attendees, meanwhile, no longer need to keep track of a physical bag throughout the conference; they can open the “bag” on their smartphones, check out the contents, and when it’s time to move on to a session, close their phones, keeping the contents of the “bag” neatly stored away.

These are just three event tech ideas—there are many more out there. The key, as you sort through your options, is to look for solutions that increase audience engagement, because at the end of the day, that’s what event success is all about!

Setting the Mood:The Importance of Having the Right Lighting

Lighting is often treated as the “ugly stepchild” of event technology. But it shouldn’t be this way!

When event planners are writing up their budget, video screens, attendee tracking setups, and even sound equipment often take top line, leaving little remaining money for lighting. However, “making do” with whatever the venue offers is risky, because lighting can dramatically affect the mood of the event. Too low, and everyone will feel sleepy. Too high, and you’ll wind up with squinting exhibitors and attendees complaining of migraines!

However, with a bit of thought, ingenuity, and budget, you can create a lighting scheme that will really enhance your event. Do you want to highlight specific areas of the venue? Spotlights and up-lighting will do the trick. Will you need to film or professionally photograph certain exhibits or presentations? If so, give careful consideration to the lighting in those areas to make sure your video and photographs come out great. You can even broadcast messages and create interactive experiences with big-impact effects like Gobos, intelligent lighting, or projection mapping.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to plan the lighting at your next event!

Why Your Event Needs a Technology Upgrade

2018 is all about having the best event tech. But what does “best” mean? And best for whom?

Some event tech works behind the scenes and primarily serves event organizers. Geofencing, RFID, and other technologies can provide vast amounts of powerful, real-time information while unburdening event organizers of certain responsibilities and reducing necessary manpower to corral attendees or answer questions. Implementing modern technologies like these can consequently enable event organizers to accommodate larger crowds and, ultimately, make their event more successful.

Other technologies are more “in your face.” These are the ones meant to impress attendees and make their lives easier. On-site badge printing services, for instance, can create a seamless check-in experience and help to get attendees in the door faster. Social media screens posted immediately inside the entrance and throughout an exhibit hall can increase attendee engagement. Even basic technology like sound systems can be improved upon to get messages through to audience members more effectively.

Ultimately, no matter what technology your event is using, it is always worthwhile to look up what improvements and advances have become available. Less work for you and a better experience for your attendees are the results that you’re after, so do some research and make those results a reality!

Top 3 Ways to Enhance Your Tradeshow Booth with AV

At every tradeshow, sponsors are battling for attendees’ attention. Whether they’re trying to collect marketing leads, attract potential buyers, or simply hand out samples, it’s all about drawing people to your booth. Here are three tried-and-true ways to enhance your booth and attract attendees:

  1. Initiate an Interaction. Whether you offer a pre-loaded touchscreen or encourage attendees to use their own mobile device, asking them to do something will create a more personal bond and memorable experience for that attendee. The possibilities are limitless, but some especially creative ways to increase engagement and interactivity include virtual reality, augmented reality, and social media screens.
  2. Lead with LED. LED panels, whether they are video walls or digital signs, are not only eye-catching up close, but they can be easily glimpsed from across a tradeshow floor. This will attract the attention of attendees who are browsing, while also making your booth easy to find for those who are intentionally seeking you out.
  3. Tap into Tablets. Fliers and pamphlets are relics of a bygone era, and no one wants to stand around with a clipboard and pen. Tablets solve these problems by consolidating an extraordinary amount of content onto one device (including not just static text, but audio and video content, too!), while making it easy to capture attendee information with a few simple clicks.

3 Reasons to Use a Single Vendor for Your Event Technology Needs

Badge printing, attendance tracking, AV technology… oh my! When it comes to event planning, there are an awful lot of services to consider—which often means a lot of vendors to juggle. However, some vendors offer more than one service, which can be a real advantage. Here’s why:

  • One vendor, one contract. No reviewing—and negotiating—multiple contracts. Plus, companies will often offer a discount on multiple services!
  • Fewer points of contact. If you work with multiple vendors, you will wind up having to interface with at least one person at each company, and oftentimes more than one. By working with one company, you will only need to interact with a few people to get the same amount of work done.
  • Familiarity with your event. By working with a single technology vendor, you save yourself from having to explain and re-explain what your event is and what its goals are. Instead, you can invest your time in helping this partner to become deeply familiar with your event, which can often result in their making suggestions for improvements you never even considered.

Using Screens to Make Your Sponsorship Count

If you’re sponsoring an event—no matter if you are trying to attract new clients, increase brand recognition, or achieve something else entirely—your number one goal is to get noticed. There are all sorts of ways to do this, from plastering your logo everywhere to offering freebies to attendees, but a logo is static, and freebies can run out or get lost. One surefire way to get people to pay attention, however, is to go big, bold, and bright.

And that’s where audiovisual equipment—specifically digital screens—comes in.

Picture attendees waiting in line to pick up their badges or mingling outside a conference room before a session. What are they doing while they stand there? Likely not much of note—perhaps checking their phones or chatting with others around them. This is a prime chance to grab their attention, and you can do it most effectively with a video or other dynamic image. (Just think—this is exactly what Disney World and Six Flags do!) Get a large monitor or video wall and set it up in one of these prime waiting areas. Make sure your messaging is short, to the point, and either clearly answers the question “what’s in it for me” or aims to entertain the audience in a memorable way. After all, once you have their attention, you want to keep it!

Using Mobile Technology to Revamp Your Event’s General Session

Event planners typically plan general sessions around the speakers and what these individuals can bring to the table: the excitement they can generate, the wisdom they can share. All of that’s great, but as engaging and memorable as a speaker might be, there’s a lot of truth to the idea of “learning by doing,” and smartphones offer a lot of new possibilities for audience engagement. Here are a few ideas you can use at your next event to take the general session to the next level:

Ask the audience. Everyone loves to be asked their opinion, and audience members are no exception! Several different mobile apps enable speakers to poll or quiz the audience, so when you’ve booked your plenary or keynote, work with them to see how they might use this audience engagement technology to enhance their presentation.

Move the Q&A. Most Q&A sessions are squeezed in at the end of a presentation, and rarely—if ever—does everyone get to ask their question. But what if this activity happened in the middle of the presentation, and everyone got the opportunity to “speak up”? It would wake the audience up, for one, and you wouldn’t even need to pause the presentation. With certain mobile apps, you can collection questions from the audience at any point throughout a presentation, and then the speaker can answer them at the end. (And if you don’t want to ask people to download yet another mobile app, even setting up a designated email inbox would work! Just make sure you have someone on hand to feed the questions from the inbox to the speaker.)

“Push” the audience. If you have a designated conference app, you can set it up to send push notifications to attendees… so why not use this feature to augment the general session? Doing so will require some coordination with the speaker, but sending a key point straight to people’s phones at an important moment in the presentation can really hammer that point home.