From virtual reality to the ‘festivalization of meetings’, the events and conference industries are turning more than ever to tech trends and solutions, emotional intelligence and multi-levelled experiences to stand out from the crowd.
But in a world where buzz-words rule how can you tell if using AR or VR will actually enhance your event offerings?
We’re going to look through some of the best examples of tech in the industry from the last year and pull out some key takeaways from each trend.
You couldn’t move in 2016 for VR demos and experiences.
It’s one of those technologies that gets everyone excited and, when done well, it can still help you stand out from the crowd. However, do it wrong and you can guarantee your audience has a benchmark to measure you against.
As always – content is king.
A great example of experiential marketing taking virtual experiences to the next level comes from hiking boot manufacturers Merrell. They created an immersive game, that took participants through a carefully crafted maze that corresponded to what they saw in their headsets.
By adding in little elements of tactility, like rope walkways and shaking rope bridges, they created an exciting take on virtual reality that mapped onto their core brand values.
Check out this cool video:
Remember, without a great experience programmed that really speaks to your aims, your headsets are just some fancy looking hardware.
Especially considering McDonald’s made their headsets from a happy meal box. Here we can see that the novelty resides in having a game attached which can keep the kids (or adults) entertained.
The high-tech touch points of Merrell’s offering created a memorable experience. But McDonald’s show you don’t always need hardcore hardware to make a VR experience work.
So, get excited about the hype but remember not to just ride the novelty train!
Takeaway for 2017? VR isn’t going away. Either go big or go innovative and lo-fi, the middle ground means a mediocre experience.
With the advent of immersive, augmented reality games there’s another buzz-word to catch up with in the industry: gamification.
The concept has been around for a while (and we probably have Pokémon GO to thank for a renewed interest) but innovations in mobile technology, and geo-tagging means you can really step up your game when it comes to engaging conference attendees, team-building and event planning.
Gamification simply means giving people an incentive to utilize a product, engage with an idea, or listen to a talk.
Attendees can collect points, achieve new levels and win challenges.
They might even catch a Pikachu.
The results of gamification include better attendance at sessions, more aligned meetings, heightened attention spans and improved networking. Sounds like a winner to us!
Even Forbes predict it’ll go from a ‘footnote to a core business strategy’.
Takeaway for 2017? Gaming is good! It’ll take your engagement levels from zero to hero.
It sounds like something out of Blade Runner, but biometric data is going to be making a massive difference to the events industry. Think about it – this clever tech can read facial expressions and body language, showing which products and ideas create a real emotional impact on audiences.
Events are already about getting to the core emotions of enjoyment, entertainment and pleasure. This type of biometric data means making sure that the audience’s emotive responses are at the heartbeat of the event.
eBay recently tapped into this new trend with their ‘emotion powered pop up’ in London.
Off the back of their research that showed heart rates increased by 33% when Christmas shopping (that’s running-a-marathon levels of increase!), eBay took on the stressful Christmas shopping period, they invited people to sit down, relax, and let their emotions shop for them.
Takeaway for 2017? Emotions rule, and now you can use them to personalise experiences!
Bring the Festival to the Boardroom!
So, from the examples of VR, biometrics and gaming, we can see that people love emotional products, personalised experiences and feeling involved in events.
And why should that stop with consumers?
This trend isn’t so much to do with tech products as the tech startup lifestyle that is shaping the way employees approach work. Looking at the model of festival/conference hybrids like SXSW, and the recent Airbnb Open that saw hosts come together to learn and party, audiences and employees alike are looking for stimulation from morning to night.
Team-building and conferences are made more seamless by the introduction of different elements to keep minds active and ideas flowing to become a congregation of people, minds, live music, VR, speakers, tech try-outs and exhibitions.
For example, ‘Future Festivals’ from the likes of Trend Hunter brought together upcoming innovations with an awesome atmosphere.
With break-out events such as mind-reading yoga, urban beekeeping and craft beer excursions, these ‘trend safaris’ bring to life the talks and seminars.
It speaks to people’s need for experiences.
Which is great for those already tapped into the event, conference, and team-building circuit.
Even better, adding the elements of VR, biometrics and gamification described above, you can make sure that events feel like integrated, experimental experiences.
Takeaway for 2017? Everyone is seeking experiences, even your employees! Make sure your team building exercises put into practice what you preach.
What’s interesting is that these trends have been creeping up on us for a while – but they’re going to get bigger, more exciting and relevant in 2017.
As hardware and software both start to align, we’ll see a real need for technology buffs to keep brushing up their knowledge to keep up with changes.
Saying that – you might think tech savvy audiences expect ever-growing access to VR experiences or gamification break-outs. But it is heartening to know that a lo-fi experience can also set you apart from the crowd.
The key is to always keep an emotional response at the heart of an event.
Personalisation, ‘emotion powered’ and multi-levelled events, such as Trend Hunter’s Future Festival, will help you engage your audience long after the event ends.