What makes an event smart?

A smart event is one that uses technology and data in an intelligent way. And although the word ‘smart’ is now normally associated with a device of some type or other, the technology at a smart event is just a way to tailor the meeting for each and every delegate. It’s not about the technology, it’s really about making the delegate experience as personalised, as relevant, and as rewarding as possible.

Delegates will normally have only one thing in common and that is they are all at the same event. Everyone is unique and although they might have similar thoughts, opinions and goals, they won’t necessarily share all of them with everyone. And that diversity is what makes meetings interesting; they are where people can find a safe place to challenge themselves to think differently and to learn from their peers. 

So a smart event identifies and celebrates that diversity of thought and opinion, helping delegates make the most of their personal investment in the event they are attending.

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The delegate journey

For an event to be smart, organisers need to build on what they know about their delegates and use that information to personalise the event. At the simplest level, this can be done by asking which breakout sessions or topics attendees would like to attend or see discussed during the event. But personalisation can go much further.

You should imagine your delegates on a journey of discovery from the moment of first contact (the registration site perhaps?) right through to post-event follow-ups. By allowing them to participate and give their opinions at each and every one of these touch points, organisers can build a much better picture of the motivations and desires of their attendees.

For the delegate, it can start by receiving a personalised agenda at the registration desk. We do this via our RFID badges and tablets. Depending on the complexity of the event, we can even print a personalised agenda for each delegate on the reverse of their badge. 

Sessions can be created ad-hoc according to questions or comments sent in by delegates. If 80% of the audience want to discuss a certain relevant topic, then shouldn’t you let them?

Another possibility is for delegates to be assigned to groups for a networking session where each group shares the same issue or challenge. This allows delegates to discuss their own experiences and understand and reflect on how their peers in other areas, companies or locations are handling a common problem.

Through the use of technology, we have seen a change in how events are created and managed. In the past events were designed for the whole group with the aim of pleasing most of the people most of the time. Nowadays ‘smart’ implies an event is in fact the sum of a lot of individual needs and desires and this allows delegates to follow their own path through the event, maximising their engagement and opportunities for learning.

The added value

The by-product from all this personalisation is data. Attendees are happy to share information as long as they see a benefit to themselves in doing so and the more benefit they see, the more data they will generate.

This information allows individual stories to appear, and it gives context to the attendees’ interactions. By getting to know your delegates better, you can build better relationships with them, which means they will learn more, go away more satisfied and want to come back, again and again. 

A smart event is therefore one that adapts as much as possible to each and every attendee, ensuring they extract as much worth as they can from the event, whilst also creating extremely valuable insights that can promote, foster and improve future relationships.

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