Can tech innovations really improve our meetings and events?

Can tech innovations really improve our meetings and events?

This article was first published on 10 October 2018.

At every new edition of IBTM, we welcome up-and-coming exhibitors from the tech sector; each offering exciting new innovations designed to improve your meetings and events. Yet, there are also people that ask the fundamental question; if we are an industry that’s all about face-to-face communication, what can technological innovation do to improve it?

It’s a good question, and, fundamentally, face-to-face can get by on its own without a great deal of technology. In an increasingly digital world, where we’re exposed to a constant influx of information, and where people struggle to know what is fake and what is real, face-to-face is a medium that we can trust.
In research recently published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, it was found that people tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication. The research found that a face-to-face request is 34 times more successful than an email.

It’s a medium built on honesty, that enables us to look into people’s eyes, see the true meaning and know if these are people we can build lasting relationships with.

However, to look at what technology offers event planners in these terms misses countless possibilities, because it fails to understand what technology can do. We should be clear; none of the technology solutions we’ll see at IBTM World in November are setting out to replace natural human interaction. These tech innovations that we’re presenting run alongside face-to-face to make the experience more memorable, they fine tune attendee profiling to increase the likelihood that the people you meet on your stand are interested in buying from you and they offer tools and solutions that help your speakers and brand engage with an audience more effectively.

Exhibitions and trade shows are big places with lots to discover, and customer feedback research conducted by Reed Exhibitions shows that attendees enjoy this element – the surprise discovery of the unexpected. Yet, their time is limited, and they also need to be productive in connecting with the right people and learning about products and services that are relevant for them.

Connections are the principal focus for exhibition success and these technologies are behind significant matchmaking advances, enabling us to bring the right people together.
Digital tools can help people make the right connections. Innovations in big data, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing and creative analytics give exhibition attendees the tools they need to improve decision-making, be more productive and get better results.
Eva, an AI assistant created by Silicon Valley’s Voicera in 2016 is an excellent example of how technology can assist meetings, Eva, will take notes at the meeting and, rather than just record them passively, Eva will listen and pull out important moments and identify the meeting’s action items and decisions. This approach means AI can do the mundane tasks and free humans to think about strategy and vision.

Customer experience
Technology can also enhance the customer experience at the exhibition or trade show. Take Compass for example; a simple app that attendees can download to their mobile device. It enables users to navigate to various points of interest using QR markers on the floor at shows, even if there is no mobile or Wi-Fi signal available. Compass saves time for visitors and helps them easily find the exact products and services they need for their business, extremely efficiently.

Matchmaking/big data
Finding connections in high volumes of complex data is the key to successful matchmaking between exhibitors and attendees. Innovations in data analytics are driving this technology. By collecting data about attendees’ business objectives and interests before the event, Reed Exhibitions are then able to present recommendations to attendees in digital show planning tools. During events, data analytics provides additional recommendations through on-site matchmaking booths and mobile apps, with real-time analysis making the attendee experience much more worthwhile and delivering greater value to exhibitors.

Post-show, feedback data is collected and analysed to gather insights to inform future decisions on attendee/exhibitor engagement improvements and creating the highest quality experiences possible.

Immersive tech has a role to play too. Once you have made the perfect match, how do you keep engagement alive? Tech innovations such as virtual reality and augmented reality offer some captivating answers. They can be designed to promote brand experiences with the ‘wow-factor’ through play, interaction and amazing visualisation. Creative technology company Codemodeon, which offers a selection of visual engagement products, has brought green screen technology used in blockbuster movies to the live stage.

Its ‘mixed reality’ solution enables a live presenter to appear in amazing settings and interact with virtual items on stage. In reality, the presenter is standing in front of a screen, but to the audience he or she may be on safari, standing in front of a giant version of the company’s product or taking them on a tour of a venue or facility – and all the time interacting with virtual items that appear real to the audience.

There are indeed limitless ways for new innovations and technologies to improve face to face communication, you just need to find the application that’s right for you. Which brings us back to where we started this piece – at every new edition of IBTM we showcase pioneers from the tech sector; each offering bright, whizzy and exciting new innovations designed to improve your events and meetings – why not come and meet them.

IBTM World takes place in Barcelona from 1-3 December 2020. To see innovation in action, register to attend at

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