No longer just a frill or curiosity, technology—from virtual reality to holograms—is becoming a more traditional and even expected feature of meetings and events to create experiences for attendees and collect data on their movements, behaviors and preferences to improve engagement. Of course, to power all of this technology, a hotel hosting a meeting or event must first have in place fast and efficient Wi-Fi. Here’s the trending tech to watch for, and deploy, in 2019:
1. Radio frequency identification (RFID)
Uses radio-frequency waves to wirelessly collect and transfer data through a tag that can be embedded in plastic cards, name badges and wristbands.
How it’s being used at meetings and events: To check in attendees at breakout sessions, giving event organizers immediate data on where their audience is going and what interests them; and to allow attendees to interact on-site with sponsors and other attendees through live polling and surveys. Also, F&B tokens can be added onto RFID badges or wristbands for attendees to use at receptions.
Benefits: Faster check-in, cashless transactions, immediate data on attendees and higher levels of engagement.
2. Virtual reality (VR)
Programming typically accessed via a headset that allows participants to engage with 360-degree, three-dimensional images, which immerse them in places and experiences otherwise inaccessible.
How it’s being used at meetings and events: To showcase hotel companies’ properties and prototypes, taking attendees on virtual tours. VR is also being used by vendors to demonstrate products that would be difficult to bring on-site.
Benefits: An engaging and innovative way for attendees to interact at events, being leveraged across events as a digital enhancement strategy to elevate the attendee experience.
3. Artificial intelligence (AI)
Technology deployed in voice activation and personalization of experiences determined by user activity and selections, for example via a mobile application.
How it’s being used at meetings and events: As a matching engine to pair attendees with activities and experiences that align with their own interests and goals for the event.
Benefits: Allows for more impactful interactions between attendees, exhibitors and sponsors, which results in a better understanding of the unique interests of an audience. AI’s deep learning, which relies on pattern recognition, also allows event professionals to anticipate what logistical requirements are needed at an event in terms of F&B and crowd control.
Artificial intelligence-enabled program which simulates interactive human communication by using pre-calculated phrases to respond to common questions, signaled by keywords.
How it’s being used at meetings and events: To replace stand-alone, informational booths to engage attendees and customers via voice-activated or console-based technology. Hotels might use chatbots as virtual concierges, to respond to requests for amenities or recommend local dining or entertainment.
Benefits: Unlimited potential for engagement with attendees, to enhance and influence their experience and record feedback.
5. Mobile applications
Offer interactive, customizable solutions and a one-stop shop for information for participants.
How it’s being used at meetings and events: To access agendas, attendee lists and general event information; to send and receive messages, as well as provide exclusive content, including offers from sponsors; and to engage attendees via challenges and rewards.
Benefits: Reinforce event goals for an immersive experience; can be used to create excitement for an event before it begins by communicating with registered attendees.
6. Augmented reality (AR)
Technology that overlays a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world, creating an enhanced reality. With projection mapping or holograms, three-dimensional and often interactive images and displays can be projected onto any surface or structure.
How it’s being used at meetings and events: To enhance general sessions by creating a unique stage experience leveraging visuals that support the speaker’s presentation; and change attendees’ perspective on a product with an illuminated demonstration.
Benefits: Efficient and cost-effective method of transforming event spaces and wowing attendees.
Source: 2019 study, BCD Meetings and Events