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Worlds Are Colliding to Create New Opportunities for Events

Yesterday, my colleague Ruud Janssen and I delivered a presentation called the 2010 Event Technology Shopping List at EIBTM. I will post the slides and video soon. But, first I wanted to share some of the thinking that was at the heart of our work.

Worlds Are Colliding

Event Technology Worlds Are Colliding

The digital world and the face to face worlds are colliding and I see several new opportunities emerging for events. Yesterday, we tackled these four new opportunities that have emerged for events to use event technology to transform the event:

  • Extending the Meeting
  • Including More People
  • Improved Interaction
  • New Formats

Extending the Meeting

We have the opportunity to stretch event experiences from 1-2 days to several days, weeks and months. Rather than looking at the meeting as an isolated event – we can look at it as one point in a conversation stream. By using your digital touch points wisely, you can start relationships earlier and change the nature of the face-to-face interactions onsite. Webinars, webcasts, social networks and social media tools are some of the technologies making this possible.

Including More People

The people that come to your event are a subset of your event community. For one reason or another, there are some people that cannot come to your event. It has nothing to do with you, your program, the venue, the destination or the price – they just can’t come. Rather than ignore these “potential” attendees – the technology tools like the backchannel and live streaming help you include them in your event experience.

Increasing Interaction

Attendees are smarter than they have ever been. The gap between the experts on stage and the attendees in the audience has never been smaller. The collaboration tools that we have at our disposal have made it easier than ever to create this interaction. Equally important – there are a large number of audience response keypads, gadgets, handheld devices and mobile applications that put the power in the attendee’s hand and make it easier for you to engage them: Ask questions, collect ideas, vote, etc.

Alternative Formats

We still live in a world where good projects (meetings, marketing plans, etc.) are being cut in favor of better projects. Telepresence and Virtual Events are two event formats that have emerged as viable lost cost alternatives (or compliments) to full face-to-face events. While some face-to-face diehards may initially raise their noses at these two formats – I suggest that you take a closer look. I would prefer that you keep some options in your back pocket and fight for your projects – rather than accept defeat when the finance department and management want to cut your event.

Bottom Line

The collision between the digital world and the face-to-face world creates several new opportunities for events. By framing the discussion in terms of these new opportunities – you can strategically approach technology rather than look at it tactically.

That’s my take – what do you think?

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Our company, Cypress Media Group, has made several presentations to prospects encouraging them to embrace the digital world with their planned face to face meetings.

    I agree with you that the benefits include the following that you mention:

    * Extending the Meeting
    * Including More People
    * Improved Interaction
    * New Formats

    Our main pushback has been loss of control. In part we find that this is also a generational objection. The second major objection we have faced has been the idea that digital participation will diminish the physical presence at meetings, around with the current economic models are built.

    I would appreciation any ideas readers could share on how they have overcome these sales challenges.

    December 6, 2009
  2. Randal,
    Here are two ways to answer this objection – one soft, and one not so soft.

    1. For the more senior crowd remind them that movie studios and radio stations feared that the new technology of television would decimate their business in the late ’40s and early ’50s – but it didn’t. Indeed, movies and radio are stronger than ever i.e. Avatar’s $1.3B performance to date, and many radio stations draw more listeners each day than television stations. Like Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez did and transistioned from movies and stage to TV in the ’50s – they need to think of digital media as a great new opportunity, not a threat.

    2. If they don’t take advantage of the opportunity, sooner or later someone else definitely will. That “someone” may be a young entreprenuer that sees a new and better way to create meetings, networking and buy/sell opportunities within an industry. Or it might be savvy senior exec who just lost their job due to the economy and knows enough about business and technology and now has enough time on their hands to start with a fresh approach for their industry….sooner or later it definitely will happen with, or without your client.

    – Mike

    January 11, 2010

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