8 Dec 2016
Proprietary Software and Smart Devices Revolutionising Live Events
Trade shows and corporate presentations will never be the same again, according to exhibitors at Event Tech Live 2016, as a new generation of digital devices and bespoke computer packages changes the way the world meets to do business.
The future of events technology seems to be wholly tied in with custom-made digital devices and proprietary software – at least, that was certainly pretty much the message from Event Tech Live 2016 (ETL). Now in its third year, ETL is said to be Europe's first dedicated exhibition and conference for event professionals. As in its first two iterations, this year's event played host to a series of creative live tech demos, a vast array of immersive educational content and several expert Q&A sessions. Tellingly, it was also supported by many of the leading high-tech companies in the field.
One such company was Lumi Technologies, the London-headquartered company behind Meetoo, a popular digital audience interaction tool. Explaining the concept behind the system, Joe Probert, the company's Sales Manager, said: "Meetoo is a real-time voting app that lets event attendees use their own devices to participate in live polling and messaging sessions. The company has a heritage of 25 years spent developing handsets and comms systems for engaging employees and attendees at AGM meetings. Over the past two or three years, though, we've seen a shift towards attendees bringing their own device, something that clearly saves on costs.
"If you've got to hire 300 or so devices for a conference, it's quite expensive. Organisers can save themselves quite a bit of money with many people essentially turning up with a very sophisticated smart device already in their possession. This is definitely the way things are going."
As well as its London HQ, Lumi also has offices in Singapore, Australia, Germany and Hong Kong. Its focus is on expanding its current reach, with the ultimate aim of providing global coverage.
Another company looking at both global expansion and increasingly sophisticated event hardware is Evotion, a Paris-based specialist in robot rentals. Outlining the range of automatons it has on offer, Delphine Gattaz, Evotion's UK Country Manager, said: "We work with 25 different models of robot, so we offer quite a variety – all in different sizes and shapes and with different functionality. We have, for instance, reception robots. These are particularly sociable robots that you can actually talk to. They pick up on key phrases that you use and then provide you with the appropriate data.
"We also have a range of show robots. While these are less interactive, they have more of a 'wow' factor. The options on offer here include robot arms, bars, photographers, drones and even dinosaurs."
Having opened a UK office, the company is now actively – but not exclusively – targetting English-speaking customers, with Gattaz saying: "I get communications from all over the world – California, the Lebanon and Korea, as well as from here in the UK. In something of a first, yesterday we had an inquiry relating to an event in China."
As a high-tech event focussing on event show tech, it's perhaps unsurprising that the services of a number of exhibitors were freely available to Event Tech Live attendees. One company taking advantage of this prime opportunity to impress its target users was ExpoPlatform, a London-based provider of bespoke event management software, which had cannily agreed to the expo's website.
'Digital handshakes', meanwhile, were on offer courtesy of Konduko, a Swiss content-powered lead generation specialist. This saw every visitor given a smart badge which could be scanned using the reader that had been installed on every exhibitor's stand. This allowed visitors and exhibitors to exchange details digitally in an instant.
Event Tech Live's own app – available to all attendees – had been custom-made by Goomeo, a Paris-based events management company. Introducing her company's services, Florian Courgenouil, Goomeo's Marketing Director, said: "We make mobile apps for trade shows, exhibitions, conferences and other corporate events. Basically, Goomeo is a mobile app that can be used by anyone attending an event, whether as a visitor, an exhibitor, a VIP or a member of the press, with all of the content and features configurable to the needs and access rights of each user.
"In essence, it helps people connect at any given event. It allows users to network, business match and schedule appointments. As you go round the show floor, you can use it to make notes on each individual exhibitor and then generate a visitor report, combining all your notes and the details of any target companies."
Goomeo also has the facility to store and manage interactive 3D floor plans, enabling visitors to navigate their way between stands. This was seen as being particularly useful in the case of larger events, such as this year's London Book Fair, where visitors were able to use the app to work their way around the 1,500 stands on offer. Perhaps less essentially, users can even take selfies within a specially designed frame, which can then be forwarded to an event's organisers via a provided URL and displayed live on screens around the show ground.
Of course mobile apps have another key benefit – once installed by attendees, organisers can stay in touch with them long after an event has finished. Highlighting this facility, Courgenouil said: "Each user has their own profile. When they log in, they can use a range of otherwise inaccessible features. Organisers can then send push notifications related to the profile of each individual user, making it a highly effective marketing tool.
"It helps build a community and then lets you retain it throughout the year. Organisers can then send post-event notifications as part of the build-up to the following year's show."
At present, Goomeo is particularly keen to explore new markets in the Middle East and Asia, particularly around China and Hong Kong.
One company already finding some degree of success in Asia is SmartXpo, a London-based event management consultancy. Explaining its particular approach, Andrew Carney, the Co-founder of the business, said: "We're basically an events intelligence platform. We take all of the data relating to trade shows from around the world – financial information, marketing information, any data that the companies are collecting but aren't utilising at the moment.
"We then present this via a very clean, easy-to-use dashboard. This allows companies to start making intelligent decisions about their event's business from data they had, but hadn't properly organised.
"When your event is struggling, you want to work out just how to turn it around. We can help you identify problems related to your event, whether that's exhibitor dissatisfaction, attendee uncertainty or the wrong people being targetted. Maybe your margins are low because you're spending too much on attendee marketing or venue costs. We pinpoint these things and help organisers develop their strategy accordingly."
Event Tech Live 2016 was held on 9 November at the Old Truman Brewery in London. It featured 65 leading technology exhibitors and attracted 1,262 visitors from 47 countries.
Catherine Jones, Special Correspondent, London