The use of the term “event tech” only became prominent in the last few years. Prior to this, most event planners relied on non-tech technology – a.k.a pencil and paper, whiteboards, and physical calendars.
Now, more and more organizers are adopting specialized apps and technologies as ways to optimize the planning process and improve the participant experience at events. It’s still a nascent space, but developments are coming rapidly and the next few years will undoubtedly represent a total revolution in the event planning industry.
But it’s hard to know what exactly the future will hold. It’s probably wise to be skeptical of techno-prophets that foretell events conducted entirely with VR goggles. But it’s reasonable to assume that Augmented Reality and (to a lesser degree) Virtual Reality will be a growing part of the event experience.
Likewise, geo-fencing figures to be a major component of events going forward, especially where bespoke experiences are necessary. That’s not even getting in to the world of consumer micro-targeting based on participant behavior over the course of events. Imagine getting targeted ads based on your drink choice at a mixer. Or perhaps, don’t imagine that, because it’s already happening on a small scale.
The future is bright for event tech and here are the trends that will absolutely factor into the industry’s imminent development:
Let’s begin where we just left off. Geo-fencing, with its many many many potential applications, is a huge technology for event planners to explore. As mentioned above, it provides the opportunity to target participants with suggestions, ads, and bespoke experiences based on their behavior at an event.
But it can also facilitate intra-event communication and networking. Geo-fencing could help guests locate and track each other (a bit 1984-esque I know) , provide additional safety measures for minors and vulnerable groups, and allow organizers to monitor guest progress through specific experiences (like tours or exhibits).
All of this as-of-yet untapped potential means that geo-fencing will factor heavily into the next 5-10 years of development in the event planning space. There’s huge opportunity for companies to roll out consumer-accessible applications with geo-fencing technology that will allow event planners to elevate their experiences whether their focus is on ROI, guest enjoyment, or safety.
2. Augmented Reality
AR is already a well-known technology in the space. There have been many attempts to integrate AR into events with varying success. The major barrier thus far has been reliance on phones for augmented interaction, but new technologies and applications are making device-free AR a reality (pun intended).
It’s not unreasonable to think that soon many events will utilize AR to amplify experiences and provide VIP packages. Many concerts now offer AR experiences during shows (at a premium, of course).
It’s been much-maligned in recent years, but nevertheless companies are still trying to make AR work at scale for events and that’s a testament to the potential of this particular technology.
3. Specialized Planning Solutions
This is one piece of event tech that’s already arrived and having its moment. But, that doesn’t mean that event planning apps are going away any time soon. The efficiency and power offered by specialized software is simply too substantial to disregard as a passing trend.
The introduction of B2C event planning solutions like Eventbrite, Eventene, and evite represents a paradigm shift for the industry. Besides saving time and energy for event planners, guests are beginning to demand to precision that only software can offer. Look for these apps to not only stick around, but continue to evolve and improve.
4. Participant Apps
Like event planning applications, participant-facing apps are starting to become omnipresent. There are simply too many factors at play in 21st-century events like concerts, trade shows, and corporate parties to rely on communicating with participants via paper or email.
Participant apps allow guests to communicate with each other and organizers, find resources, track their experience, respond to updates and questions, and document the event via photo-sharing and messaging.
For large-scale events in particular, participant apps are invaluable. Look at the festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza. These events rely on their mobile applications to communicate information about venues, food, bathrooms, safety, and parking. This is another event technology that will only improve in the years to come.
Finally, we have event peripherals. This is a broad range of technologies covering everything from VR / AR devices to RFID bracelets. In this case, I want to highlight technology that can reduce the burden on participants like RFID bracelets that track location and allow them to easily pay for items at the event.
This tech is also being readily adopted by competitive events like marathons. It’s easy to imagine that in the near future runners’ exact location, pace, and other details will be accessible with a high-degree of accuracy. Furthermore, it would be easy to integrate such technology into events like fundraisers and auctions.