Professional event planners know that technology is a critical part of every event. In our first post of the year, we’ve focused on three important pieces of technology: cybersecurity, smart phones, and social media.
Each one is a very dynamic topic. It seems each day we hear of new cyberattacks, whether done by governments or individuals, the potential damage is catastrophic. And you need only look at the phone in your pocket to know how fast that technology is changing. Without further ado, let’s dive right in.
Making a Priority of Cybersecurity
With all the stories in the mainstream media about hacking attacks, it’s no wonder cybersecurity has become important for everyone—event planners are no exception.
Unknown Media and Software
That flash drive that holds your keynote speaker’s presentation, the must-have app that your associates or attendees want to download; they each have the capability of wreaking havoc with your event.
While hackers may have once been your neighbor’s 15-year-old, MaryAnne Bobrow, CAE, CMP, CMM, president of Bobrow Associates says now:
“…today’s “black hats” are professional criminals who spend eight hours a day or more looking for vulnerabilities.”
She suggests immediately requiring all flash drives to be scanned for malware prior to use—it can easily and quickly be done in the speakers’ ready room. And don’t allow the download of software or apps that have not been previously vetted by your security professionals.
Another point of risk for your event is the free Wi-Fi that your attendees count on. The first thing to do is make sure that the Wi-Fi network is secured. Don’t post the password everywhere and ask attendees not to share it with those not attending the event.
But even a simple password is better than none at all, says Meeting Consultant Brandt Krueger:
“…if the password is 12345 and you put it on every piece of paper in the venue, it’s still more secure than an open Wi-Fi.”
Planning for the “Unthinkable”
The most stringent cybersecurity measures cannot totally protect your event. You simply must have a plan says MeetingsNet’s Sue Pelletier. She notes that it should include all the essentials:
“Develop a policy and a plan for what you will do before, during, and after a breach, and train your staff so, should the worst occur, you know how to mitigate the risks.”
Smartphones: Coming Features Will Change the Events Industry
Given all current smartphones can do—and how ubiquitous they are at events—it’s worth looking ahead at new features that will make them even more useful. (And it’s a bit nicer subject than cybersecurity, for sure).
Before the Event
The editors of the Event Manager Blog think there are a number of places in the “attendee journey” that smartphones will play a part.
Starting at sign-up, the phone can help. It knows what events you’ve liked in the past. That knowledge, combined with a list of upcoming possibilities might prompt your phone to ask if you’d like to sign-up. Coming technologies can make that as easy as saying “yes”. But it goes much further than that.
Upon your arrival, a ride from Uber or Lyft could be already waiting for you. Even getting in and picking up your badge is a far cry from the lines we’ve all experienced. Your phone can store your entry pass electronically, and have your badge printed with a simple tap.
Thinking of Your Phone as a Partner at the Event
From picking up your badge, through the rest of the event and even upon departure, the phone is there to help. You’ll never miss another important keynote, it’ll suggest coffee, order it, and pay electronically…the possibilities truly are endless.
Social Media Trends Event Professionals Should Watch
Another area that event professionals are well-aware of is social media. And it’s moved a long way forward from simple Facebook check-ins at the event—but it’s not all about new features, sometimes it’s about using social media channels differently.
Lighten Up that Post
The first suggestion is about a different approach to your social media posts: you need to lighten them up. Many of us have been taught to use very businesslike English when we communicate with our customers; event professionals are no different.
Yet with social media, that’s just not the style of communication that works. Social media users expect—and almost demand—a much more informal approach. Dan McCarthy, writing in TechsyTalk, has a couple of great examples. Where you might have previously written something like:
“The digital expo event is held on Jan 20-22. Please remember to RSVP and bring all registration forms and paperwork outlined in our brief.”
Dan suggests social media readers would prefer:
“Tick the boxes of Jan 20-22 (OMG, a three-day weekend!). That’s the date for our awesomely awesome digital expo event. Remember to RSVP and tote along your reg forms. (insert happy-face or thumbs up emoji).”
Live Streaming Goes Mainstream
Moving way beyond the Facebook “check in”, today’s attendees want to live stream from your event—and you want them to: it’s free marketing. Plus, you want offer live streaming for those who cannot attend.
Some great trends in streaming include use of drones to provide streams of “overhead” video offering a unique perspective on the event, and use of 360° cameras for live feeds.
The New Disappearing Act
Starting with the app Snapchat, and now mimicked by Instagram with their stories, posts that automatically remove themselves after a period of time (or after being viewed) are all the rage.
Popular in particular with Millennials, this trend will only grow. Recent studies show that 30% of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat on a daily basis.
And the Old Standby: Advertising
Where the once was some reach for organic social media posts, that it pretty much a thing of the past. The fact is, if you want your posts seen, you’ll have to pay for that privilege. Yep, good old advertising; it’s still here and as important as ever. (In fact, spending on social media advertising is at an all-time high; it is forecast at $36B for 2017).
Wrapping It All Up
It’s no surprise how important a role technology plays in event planning—that’s pretty much no different than any business today. With all the possible technology subjects out there, we chose three of the most important ones, and those that can have immediate impact on your event.
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