Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Future of Events and Trade Shows

The Future of Events is now! Meeting Planners and trade show managers now, more than ever are faced with managing more with less.  After 2008, marketing and trade show budgets were slashed, and for the first time, the long standing corporate meeting planner’s position was shaken to the core.  The good news is that today’s tools will enable us to automate the process and get better reporting than ever before.  While trade show spending dollars and budgets are being restored, the tenure of staff and number of staff, in many cases has not.  Event-related technologies can improve client relationships, build brand awareness, and increase sales leads. This science fiction type tools are a reality today and will change the way you do events.

First Challenge is marketing events:

Then:  Direct Mail - The trade show post card that is rushed out 4 weeks prior to the show cost about $1 each with printing and postage.  However, costs are not the biggest obstacle and today’s tools can help us improve on this:

1)      Mail house automation:  Turn key services allow mail houses to gather lists, print, meter, and mail, sometimes for the same or LESS cost.  Consumers use companies like Amazing Mail and Vista Print
2)      Email blast: It is very important that the person who is responsible for this task researches properly before taking this on because a simple mailing can blackball your company and block all future emails by not following the rules. It is a must to incorporate an ethical email company.  However, just as important is the design.  Graphic designs are most often blocked and need to be designed in html with a corresponding text version to get through most corporate email filters. This tool can be quite effective if a themed campaign is used and the cost is minimal.
3)      Social Media:  Social Media was a little slow in its start in the business world but has taken off.  It is pretty rare for a company to not have at least some presence in the social media world.  Twitter and LinkedIn are two of the more common platforms used by companies to connect, share, and discover with each other. 
4)      Virtual Tools:  Hybrid & Virtual Events are on the rise and are a great way to learn more about companies without having to pay the cost of physically being there.  Virtual trade shows are a great example of this.  You can receive all the same information online and in some instances, you can even chat live with someone at the physical show.  You save on travel and exhibiting costs and it is less stressful and time consuming.


1)      Tablet tools:  Tablets are becoming an essential part of running a booth/exhibit at shows and events.  These are some of the ways tablets are used at shows:

2)      Automation of exhibit components: presentations, lighting, AV, computers can all be controlled with remote sensors built into the wall and your handy smart phone or tablet.

3)      Lead Generation – Today’s scanners via tablets allow us to survey visitors obtaining data that turn a business card’s basic info into a qualified lead that can result in swift sales. 

4)      Cloud – real time reporting:  Many steps are avoided because this can link to cloud and directly into your database at the show.  This allows management at home to see real time the results of trade shows. Strategy can be modified at show site with quick responsiveness.

5)      Lead Automation:  Tools allow one person to implement lead nurturing campaigns and in essence, multiply your staff.  Eloqua and Sales force are two examples of database management and automation software available.

6)      Asset Management:  Your tablet will keep real time inventory of your exhibit inventory and graphics.  This tool allows you to integrate with your staff and exhibit house to reserve display, specific graphics, tables, chairs etc so that you can see where your assets are at any given time.

7)      Project Management:  This online tool that allows team collaboration with assignments of tasks, budget, reporting and deadlines in one central location.

8)      RFID badges and RFID Antennae:  This is basically a part of lead generation.  RFID badges can simply be scanned at shows and this will give the person who did the scanning all of the attendee’s information.

9)      Mobile apps:  This topic alone could encompass tools for everything under the sun.  However, the mobile app from Cvent via CrowdCompass, allows your trade show to become interactive with workshops, sponsors, games, mingling and push notifications.  CrowdCompass works with you to make your app perfect.  From the layout of the pages to the content within each section of the app, the power is in your hands to make it how you wish.  Features of the apps include:
o   Maps
o   Exhibitor List
o   Social Media Platforms
o   QR Scanner
o   Agenda
o   Attendee/Contact List (only get attendees who share info via app)
o   Speaker Info
o   Games
o   More!

The trade show and event industry has vastly changed over the past few years.  Technology is the future.  To experience the advantage of these technologies first hand, you can attend the Trade Show Technology Summit on July 25-26.  Visit http://www.cvent.com/d/jcqzfy for more info and registration!

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