2016 is set to be the year when the events world fully embraces everything that technology has to offer, says Richard Dodgson, founder & creative director at Timebased Events.
Brands can see the link between the use of technology and engagement with the consumer – from the use of mobile apps and everyday tech we know and love, to multi-sensory experiences and virtual reality. The idea is to improve efficiency, enhance the experience for the guest and engage them, not just to meet their needs but to surpass their expectations like never before.
Additionally, the increased prominence of tech-specific events is revolutionising our industry as we know it, with CES in Las Vegas and TechCrunch Disrupt being two of the most well-respected and popular out there. These events have become well known for showcasing the most innovative startups and attracting big names – everything from the DVD, to Microsoft’s Xbox and 3D TVs were first shown at CES.
Apps are sure to play a major part in events throughout 2016. They add both another dimension to the user experience (via Periscope, for example) and also allow brands to communicate with their target consumers before, during, and after an event. Fashion and retail brands have been quick to embrace the rise of what’s been dubbed as ‘crowd-streaming’ and have already effectively utilised mobile apps to enhance their events.
H&M, for example, unveiled its new H&M x Balmain collection in New York in October, which was streamed in its entirety on Periscope. A number of designers adopted a similar approach at the most recent London Fashion Week, effectively expanding the reach of premium, exclusive brands and pushing towards something altogether more accessible. We’re sure to see much more of this method this year as more brands jump on board.
The innovations we rely on every day, without even thinking about it, also have an impact on the quality of a brand’s offering and will continue to revolutionise live events this year. Advances in near field communication and cashless technology – such as Apple Pay and Samsung Pay – via smartphone or wristband, mean that the nightmare of long, winding queues for entry or payment at kiosks, bars, and even in-event merchandise stalls could rapidly become a thing of the past.
Last year we saw festivals like the Electric Daisy Carnival adopting cashless payment systems and we expect more events to exploit this technology, improving the efficiency of their services and creating an enhanced consumer experience.
In October 2015 it was reported by CWT Meetings & Events that 78% of event professionals believe events that appeal to multiple senses deliver more memorable and creative experiences. 2016 may be the year that brands finally fully embrace multi-sensory experiences in order to deliver unforgettable events for those in attendance.
In essence, all events are multi-sensory experiences, but those that successfully bring to life all five senses make for truly special occasions. The use of social media during events allows brands to immerse their audience in the experience and create a real buzz. Twitter and Instagram have become the norm, and by providing platforms for hashtags, connections and live streaming, they allow brands to engage their audience on the technology it uses the most.
Last year we witnessed the rapid growth of virtual reality and this is set to continue this year. It’s almost as if virtual reality was built specifically for events. The two complement each other perfectly, with the ability to reach a remote audience or take someone to an altogether different world, or attend an event while sitting in their living room. Oculus Rift took the lead last year when they brought an audience closer to the action with a live-streamed Paul McCartney gig – those watching found themselves next to him on stage.
The connection between brands and consumers is more important that ever and the integration of technology in events is offering more and more opportunities to engage and fully immerse an audience. Last year we saw brands embrace the latest technology and adapt to a changing world of innovations, and this is set to continue throughout 2016, thanks to a continuous stream of developments that will revolutionise the industry once more.
Richard Dodgson is founder and creative director at Timebased Events.