5 Ways to Turn Your Event Green

Plan a more sustainable and responsible event in 5 simple ways.

1)   Online Invites.

Try executing your entire invite process online instead of wasting paper on invitations that guest will throw away right after the event. Not only will you save paper and energy, but it will also be easier for attendees to sync the time, date, and location directly from their email to their iCalendar.

2)   Central Location.

Choose a location that is easily accessible by public transportation. Encourage attendees to walk, bike, take the bus, or carpool. Provide incentives like a bike valet or free parking for those who ride together.

3)   Donate + Compost Food.

Instead of throwing out full meals, try linking up with a local food bank and donating the food. You can also include a compost bin next to the trashcan where guests can toss their leftover scraps.

4)   Paperless Planning + Presenting. 

Share slides, PDFs and images via email instead of providing handouts during meetings. Encourage speakers to make PowerPoints and not waste paper on brochures.

5)   Paperless Networking.

Networking is key at many enterprise events, but that doesn’t mean you have to carry 50 business cards around in your pocket. Scan leads through event management software and encourage guests to exchange information electronically.

New opportunities with High Attendance and Zapier

In a digital reality, it is always important to walk in time and respond quickly to changes. What makes High Attendance a strong competitor in the market? We always find solutions for the whims of our customers. We are sure the customers are the main stakeholders of any business. We observe, decide and act to make our customers’ life easier.

Nowadays it is significant to be flexible. The ability to integrate is one of the important parts of flexibility. In other words, it should be part of expanding the possibilities. That is why we find solutions providing more opportunities via integrations with the tools our customers like. And now, we are happy to announce that High Attendance has gained new integration with Zapier.

Zapier lets you connect APP to 2,000+ other web services. Automated connections called Zaps, set up in minutes with no coding, can automate your day-to-day tasks and build workflows between apps that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

We made this integration to help complete the vision we trademarked in 2007, to be the Digital Experience Platform for Event Marketers.

Announcing High Attendance

Greetings and thanks for reading. I’m Christopher Justice, Chief Executive Officer of High Attendance. You may have noticed a few changes to our website and our brands for Leading Reach, Captix, EyeFrame or Overpass.

Earlier this year, we acquired Captix for Enterprise Event Management and Overpass for Attendee Identity and united them with EyeFrame under the new High Attendance brand.

We made these investments to help complete the vision we trademarked in 2007, to be the Digital Experience Platform for Event Marketers. Specifically, we will introduce an updated suite of products in June with some welcome surprises for anyone exhibiting or planning events.

INTRODUCING OUR UPDATED BRAND

The High Attendance Platform has (incorporates) all of the features of the current products and quite a bit more. We are passing this value to our customers and every feature is driven by their goals. In short, we have a proven platform that will further allow you to build, engage and retain audience for small and large events.

Here is a quick summary of what we have for you:

Serve More, Be More

High Attendance provides support for the enterprise any events, ranging from exhibiting (exhibitions), executive briefings, roadshows, user groups and corporate events. We have simplified the process for organizing large numbers of events and have direct integration to all leading CRM and marketing automation tools, HubSpot, Marketo, Elqoua (mention Salesforce?)and more.

Integrated Events Management

There will never be a single event management platform for large enterprises, that’s fine. High Attendance allows you to import from any event platform and provide a single, global management, budgeting and procurement process for exhibits and corporate events. High Attendance is a single source of your world wide events, regardless of which event management tools you might use.

Badge Scanning Returns

Leading Reach and EyeFrame were the first apps in the Apple Store to support hundreds of badge types, meaning you have one app for all your event and never rent a lead scanner again. High Attendance has a new app (available on iOS and Android) that includes support for over 160+ lead retrieval vendors including Experient, ExpoLogic, iLeads, XPressLeads, Compusystems and more. We can’t say that you should never buy lead retrieval at your events, but we want to so we are making it more universal (but we want to make sure you always have an alternative/another option). 

Overpass, Overpriced

Overpass has a huge following of users because it eliminates the need for lead retrieval at events. In addition to badge scanning, we will now support electronic business card scanning too! does not work so We have a team of real humans who can transcribe any card and return your essential lead information within 24 hours. transcribe all the essential printed and written information on each business card. All Eyeframe customers are entitled to use Overpass at no cost. We will also introduce new pricing that is 1/10 the cost of the current model (seems to contradict the no cost part in the last sentence).

Unlimited is Essential

High Attendance is based on a completely unlimited model for all event registration, ticketing, badge printing, users, training, digital signage and lead retrieval features, most importantly no fees per event or per attendee. Simple is better, cheaper and effortless for our customers and for us.

Call us at  1-800-216-0816 or email us at ask@highattendance.com, 24 hours a day(, seven days a week, we’ll be standing by to help with you event setup) and we’ll get your events, kiosks and badge scanning setup for you. Our values are our business and we love what we do.

Thanks.

Chris

Events Boost Your Bottom Line

In a digital economy, where there are more tweets, swipes and hashtags than one can keep straight, meeting someone in person can be the game-changer. That’s why events are so important – to truly build rapport, have conversations and create connections that really matter.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 68% of B2B marketers use event marketing and 36% say it will be the most critical tactic for their content marketing success in 2017.

This infographic from NCC Home Learning shows that event marketing gives businesses a way to showcase and demonstrate their products, humanize their brands and create memorable experiences with their ideal customer audiences. Events also help gather customer contact information, browsing and buying patterns and other demographic data.

To see how High Attendance can support you in having successful events, schedule your personal demo today here.

Turn Your Event Green

It can be easy to blame the event industry’s throwaway culture for the millions of plastic bottles tossed in landfills over the years. Tons of uneaten food has been thrown into garbage bins and countless paper business cards lost inside pockets and purses. Since events are generally one-time affairs, the idea of reusing and recycling has been difficult and expensive to implement. Luckily, eco-friendly incentives have been the rage lately and event managers around the world are reconsidering their plans’ impact on the earth.

If you’re ready to go green, here are a few simple tips to put you on the right path.

Choose a venue that is accessible via public transportation.

 1.  Choose a venue that is accessible via public transportation.  You can also encourage your guests to carpool or use services like Zimride.  If you’re wondering about the carbon footprint your event will leave behind, you can use this tool to calculate an estimate.

Choose finger foods instead of foods that require utensils.

2.  For events with a menu, incorporate hors d’oeuvres that do not require utensils to eat. If you can eat with your fingers, you won’t even need plastic utensils. However, if your guests aren’t the finger-food type, don’t worry. There are many sustainable options for biodegradable plates, utensils and dishes, like those made by German catering company fairgourmet.

Choose a "green" caterer.

3.  Speaking of food, make sure you pick your caterer carefully. Hire someone who uses sustainable food practices. Look for a caterer who uses: locally-sourced food, wild-caught seafood, reusable flatware and organic ingredients. Also, work with your caterer to create a donation plan for excess unserved food. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has an excellent guide for food donation if you need suggestions.

Cut paper out of your process- use technology instead!

4.  Cut paper out of your process. Utilize technology to avoid paper as much as possible. Scan leads instead of collecting business cards. Check attendees in online instead of checking them off a list. Have your speakers project their presentations instead of passing out pamphlets or printed notes. Your company will look more tech-savvy and you’ll save a tree or two in the process.

 5.  Provide recycling bins. Although it may seem obvious, this step is very important and often forgotten. The simple presence of a recycling bin increases attendees’ mindfulness of where they toss their trash. Recycling bins also double as a visible proclamation that your company is earth-conscious.

Resources:

How to Plan a Sustainable Event

Photographs-

https://www.flickr.com/photos/10037058@N08/3696670712

https://www.flickr.com/photos/sorbamedia/15650633341/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/geezaweezer/7102406409/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kopitehtarik/4386540258/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/31246066@N04/8711043595/

5 Productivity Hacks for Event Managers

You can work hard, or you can work smart. The old adage doesn’t ring true for event managers. As busy professionals who need to use every hour of every day to get their jobs done, a successful event manager works hard and smart. Here are five productivity hacks we hope will make life a little easier for you as an event manager.

1. Brand the venue.

Make the event venue work for you by creating engaging, branded spaces.  For example, if your event is supporting ocean conservation, create a beach-y backdrop for photographs and stick your company logo on the umbrellas. Guests will line up to take pictures in your tropical photo booth, and they’ll be promoting your brand at the same time.

2. Cut it in half.

Feeding the crowd is important, but you don’t want to break the bank. Keep serving size in mind, and ask the catering company to cut sizeable items like sandwiches or brownies in half.

3. Use an event app.

Tired of running out of paper schedules? Your attendees are tired of carrying them around, too. Instead of passing out paper, ask your attendees to download the app for your event. Many event applications offer a menu of engaging features, including gamification, surveys and social integration.

4. Make budgeting a breeze.

You already have a ceiling to your spending but now you must decide how you will spend this budget. Try making a simple wish list in Excel of everything you’d like to incorporate in your event, regardless of budget. Then, price out each item. Now you can play around with the document, hiding different rows until you find a group that fits nicely in your budget. Remember to leave yourself some wiggle room for emergency spending!

5. Use Self-Service Check-In.

Nothing is worse than arriving to an event on time, and then standing in line for forty minutes while a Check-In team scrambles to find name tags and manually check everyone in. Make your attendees happy by skipping this step at your event. If you use Self-Service Check-In kiosks, your attendees do this step themselves which saves you manpower and time. They’ll also be impressed with your technology prowess.

How to Generate Leads with Email Marketing

1) Research Your Target Audience.

There is no point in pitching your product to everyone in town. As amazing as it may be, there are some people who just won’t need it.

Target a specific audience. For example, at High Attendance we offer event management software so our target audience includes enterprise event managers, as well as sales people who may be interested in our platform to capture event leads quicker or on their own.

2) Personalize The Message.

In terms of marketing, there isn’t anything worse than sending out the same generic email pitch to all potential clients. It’s like receiving a group text — are you more likely to respond to a personalized text inviting you to dinner or a group text with 10 other people in the same thread?

Personalize the email right away with an observation or compliment:

“I noticed that you may be looking for…” or “I enjoyed reading your blog post on…

3) Make Your Pitch Brief And Concise.

We live in a fast paced world where you only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention.

You should relate your pitch to the previous personalized observation and then offer a solution to a problem they may be experiencing.

“I noticed that [company name] is now hosting monthly events. Are you looking to improve your lead generation at those events?  I’ve found that our mobile lead capture has been a successful solution for many clients.”

4) Include A Call To Action.

Without a Call To Action, your email is essentially worthless. You need a clear goal in mind when writing your email. Are you offering a free demo? Do you want to schedule a meeting? Whatever it is, be sure to include a CTA after your pitch.

Speaking of adding a Call To Action, you can learn more about our marketing automation for event lead generation here

4 Applications Every Event Manager Needs

 Whether you need an application to help you get more quality sleep, or one that will increase your productivity, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our picks for the best applications for event managers to download today.


Sleepyti.me – Sleepyti.me calculates when you should go to sleep based on your desired wakeup time. Since it counts backwards in sleep cycles, following its advice will leave you well-rested and ready to start your day! Alternatively, you can enter what time you’re going to bed and the application will suggest optimal wake up times. Sleepyti.me’s strategy is simple but it can improve your nights in a big way. Plus, it’s free!

Rescue Time – This application runs securely in the background of your computer during the workday. It tracks the time you spend on applications and websites to give you an accurate picture of your day. The free version gives you weekly insights and the paid version gives you daily data. The paid version also allows you to log time you spend away from the computer, in meetings, etc. Have an addiction to those cute kitten videos? You can even block distracting websites from yourself temporarily.

Skyscanner – If you’re an event manager, there’s a good chance you log a lot of miles in the sky. Need to book a last minute flight? Look no further than SkyScanner. It scans thousands of airlines to find you the cheapest flight possible and they never charge a fee.

Wunderlist – This app is a dream for any list lover. Whether you want to share a project checklist with a co-worker or write a to-do list for an upcoming vacation, this application will keep you productive, and you’ll get the old-school satisfaction of checking things off when you finish them! Best of all, Wunderlist syncs in real time so that your lists stay up to date, no matter where you are in the world.

Image source: 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/23307937@N04/3929264721


What apps do you use to power your projects? Tell us in the comments below!


Near Field Technology (NFC) on the horizon. Blog post by Captix.

Near Field Technology

Picture yourself at an upcoming trade show.

You look around your booth expecting the awkward dance of attendees adjusting their badges to the light and the back and forth of scanners focusing on those awkward barcodes.  The clumsy lead-capture-shuffle is gone.  Your sales teams are collecting leads in a graceful manner, like a Broadway play of Swan Lake.  Attendee data is collected perfectly, tagged and routed to your sales team in seconds.  It’s flawless and beautiful – and available today. Read more

These tech events are on our list.

These Tech Events Are On Our List for 2017

Playing favorites with events is risky, especially because there are so many great ones out there. Nevertheless, this week we’re throwing caution to the wind and presenting a few 2015 events that have piqued our interest. We’re focusing our list on technology events because we are a SaaS company ourselves, and we’re limiting ourselves to four picks. Some of these events are industry leaders that been around for years, and some are very unique events you won’t find on the beaten path.

SXSW Interactive takes place in our neck of the woods, here in Austin, TX. SXSW Interactive is a self-proclaimed “incubator of cutting-edge technologies and digital creativity”. SXSW Interactive takes place from March 14-March 18th, and includes cutting-edge panels and discussions from industry leaders. It offers many networking opportunities, and has become known as “the place to preview the technology of tomorrow today”.  We can also tell you from experience, it doesn’t hurt that this event is really fun.

FailconThis event’s premise is in its name. Failcon’s motto is “Embrace Your Mistakes. Build Your Success.” During these international events, technology founders, investors, developers, and more share their failures so others can learn from their mistakes. Failcon events take place all over the world at varied times of year; choose to attend in many locations from Grenoble or Porto Alegre to Tokyo or Tehran.

Techweek.  If you attend a Techweek event, you’ll hear from speakers who are authorities in their respective technology ecosystems. This conference is distinctive because speakers are nominated by the Techweek audience, and each group of speakers is unique in each city.  Past speakers include celebrated technology business minds such as the founder of Reddit, and Buzzfeed’s CEO.

Small Business Web Summit.  This conference started in 2011 with the idea to create an event that would bring leaders from cloud software companies into one room. If you’re part of a SaaS company and you cater to small businesses, this will be a great opportunity for you to mingle with peers and potential partners.  Past participants include innovative companies like MailChimp and HubSpot.

Have you heard about an amazing event that didn’t make our shortlist? Let us know- we want to hear about it!

 

how to handle a lead retrieval crisis with captix

How To Handle A Lead Retrieval Crisis

Some of these might sound basic but they can be game-changers in the heat of the (panic) moment.

1. Check that your tablet is turned on.

a. It is surprising how many people have lead retrieval devices that are dark and won’t work  – until they are turned on. Simply hold the on switch to power it up.

2. Check if your tablet lead scanner is in the proper mode.

a. If you’re in an offline mode, put your tablet in airplane mode (with Wifi OFF) to save battery and not interfere with Wifi.

b. If you’re in an online mode, make sure your Wifi is turned on, your network is configured, your password is stored or you have logged into the secure network through the browser. Stay near a router at amplified levels.

Read more

Say Hello To High Attendance / Captix For Events

Welcome to High Attendance / Captix – your new platform created especially as a resource for event managers.

Read more

Best Technology Tools for Planning & Hosting Events to Reduce Stress

Events can be one of the most successful solutions to facilitate business connections, develop relationships, share ideas and recognize people or efforts. However, events are also the one of the most stressful types of endeavors because they have so many minute details that require extreme organization and strategy.

The key to de-stressing an event is to keep everything as simple as possible. We phrase this as an attempt to “reduce complexity” rather than to make something “simple.” “Simple” doesn’t even cover the Herculean effort to takes to streamline processes, make things easy or de-stress.

So, in the midst of a multi-faceted and detail-bogged event, it’s important to choose tools, equipment and a team that wants to make things as easy as possible.

Read more

How To Choose Lead Retrieval Equipment

When choosing your lead retrieval equipment, either because you are organizing the whole conference or are exhibiting in a booth, here’s a checklist to help. Read more

Lead Generation Debate: Quality vs. Quantity

Build your pipeline instantly with Captix for lead retrieval A colleague and I were recently chatting at the Spider House Cafe and ballroom in Austin, Texas over coffee about an age old debate for marketing and sales teams.

When you attend an event, is it about returning with QUANTITY or QUALITY leads? There are several schools of thought.

Read more

4 Gadgets Every Event Professional Needs

Go-Go-Gadget: plan my event. That’s not exactly how it works, but there are a few gadgets on the market that can increase productivity and lower stress for event professionals.

1) Power Bank. A power bank allows you to charge all your devices without any outlets. The portable charger is perfect for working while traveling. However, be sure your power bank is charged before your flight since portable chargers are known to consume large amounts of energy and drain faster than the average smart device.

2) Pocket Projector. These tiny gadgets can fit in your pocket, yet allow you to project your presentation to a room full of people. Pocket projectors integrate well with your smart devices so you’ll be able to share projects on walls, notebooks, or really any blank surface.

3) Chromecast. Although this technology isn’t new, the streaming system continues to be the most efficient way to stream videos from the Internet onto your TV – no cables needed. Anyone in the room can connect to the Chromecast and use their phone or tablet as a remote to share videos via apps like YouTube and Netflix.

4) Digital Tape Measure. It’s lighter and easier to use than a traditional tape measure. Instead of calling over an assistant to help you measure the length of the venue wall, the digital device allows for easy measuring with laser point technology. Although some mobile apps allow for digital measuring, nothing has proven as accurate as laser measuring devices.

Know of a great event management tool that we didn’t cover? Let us know and we may just add it to our post. 

6 Tips for Winter Wellness for Event Managers

6 Tips for Winter Wellness – Event Managers, We Are Looking Out For You!

The hardest part of event season is ending.  You’re ready to pack up your laptop, briefcase, planner, cell phone and tablet (not to mention all the swag you picked up at the trade show) and head home for some turkey.  Unfortunately, everyone around you is coming down with a case of the sniffles and, chances are, you’ll be breathing in recycled air on the plane ride home.

But don’t fret! Here are six simple tips to keep you well this winter, designed especially for the event folks out there who are still working hard and starting to feel the chill.Don't blame coughs on colds right away. Allergies may be the culprit.During the spring and summer, people spend more time outside breathing in pollen, so it’s easier to blame our sneezes on allergies. In the winter, we don’t think to consider allergies as the source of our ailments because it’s also cold and flu season.  However, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 1 in 5 people have indoor allergies, which can actually be worse in the winter. If you know you’re allergy prone, don’t skip your daily Zyrtec© just because it’s snowy outside. 3Germs thrive in Airplane seat pockets. The American Society for Microbiology says that “disease-causing bacteria can linger on surfaces commonly found in airplane cabins for days, even up to a week”. Specifically, their study showed that MRSA lasts longest (up to 168 hours) on seat-back pockets and E. Coli lasts longest (up to 96 hours) on armrests. If you stick some hand sanitizer in your bag before you board the plane, and avoid touching the pockets, you will have a much lower risk of picking up a sickness on your flight. 4Eating fiber-rich foods can strengthen your immune system and help keep you healthy during colder months. Breakfast is a great time to fill up on fiber with oats or bran. Snacking on nuts throughout your busy day will also help keep your fiber levels up.

5Layers will keep you warm while you’re outside (or if you find that your booth is under the icy air conditioning unit). They’re also great because you can shed them as soon as you get inside, or pile them on as you head to happy hour after the show is over. Be sure to remember your jacket!

6Ramping up the heat inside is tempting as the temperatures start to fall outside but using your heater too much will negatively impact your health. Typical home and office heaters suck moisture out of the air, leading to worsened allergies, dry skin and general discomfort.Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 4.48.08 PM

Stress and anxiety negatively impact the immune system. Mayo Clinic research indicates that people who work under constantly stressful conditions may have over-stimulated “fight-or-flight” responses.  According to the study, “long-term activation of the stress-response system… can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.” Whenever possible, take a breather – not doing so puts you at risk of developing anxiety, digestive problems, sleep problems, weight gain and memory loss.

[Photography Credit: Hunter Desportes, s58y, HolleyandChris, Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, mcfarlandmo, and Toni Blay; all via Photopin.]

Sales Needs A Human Touch

There is no denying that technology has drastically changed the way we work. While robots have completely replaced some jobs, technology has maximized human efficiency for others.

Take sales for example. Clipboards and landlines have been replaced with CRMs and mobile apps. However, the “human touch” of sales is still completely necessary – maybe more now than ever.

Remember the archaic period before Salesforce.com existed? I don’t. But I can imagine sales and marketing teams spending hours in front of 3-foot deep monitors plugging in each lead and then using their dial-up Internet to log into Yahoo mail to share their list of leads.

That might be an exaggeration but it doesn’t negate the fact that automation and integration have saved sales reps time to, well, sell things.

While some products may sell themselves (insert ShamWow Guy voice), it seems unlikely that robots will replace the influence of a good sales rep.

Converting Leads To Customers Is The Result Of A Good Sales Person

The ability to build relationships is the mark of a good sales person. However Don Draper would frown upon how much this key part of sales is being overshadowed by new and shiny technology. Instead of using a badge scanner as a time-saving tool (which it was meant to be), many sales teams are building strategies around it. They are focused more on capturing as many business cards as possible than building relationships with quality leads.

While your boss may give you a pat on the back for bringing home 250 new leads with the new badge scanner, s/he will not be happy with the lead to customer conversion rate.

However, when used correctly, technology can separate the good sales teams from the great ones.

Organizing And Syncing Leads Is The Result Of Good Technology

Without context, sales reps are sending the same generic follow-up email to every lead captured, which exponentially decreases the customer conversion rate. By using lead capture technology properly, sales and marketing teams can not only capture the context needed to increase the conversion rate, but they can also save time inputting each lead.

The Human Touch + The Tech Crunch

After establishing trust and likeability, sales people need to collect the context needed to send customized follow-ups. Technology makes this much easier.

By using tags in lead scanning apps like Overpass, you can sort leads into categories like “sales-ready”, “marketing qualified” or your own custom field. If the conversation is going well, you can implement an on-the-go survey to gain even more insight. And finally, you need the ability to take notes about this person – not on the back of the event brochure – but on the same device you just scanned the badge, tagged the lead and administered the survey. Then you need to be able to seamlessly integrate all that data into Salesforce, Pardot, Marketo or your chosen CRM.

Combine this simple and intuitive technology with the “human touch” and you have next-generation lead capture.

Ask us how and we’ll be happy to show you!

Keeping Secrets: Why a Little Secrecy is Good for You and Your Event

Keeping Secrets: Why a Little Secrecy is Good for You & Your Event

Make a list. Create your invitations. Clearly relay the time and address of your event.  Tempt guests with your giveaways.  Send attendees a reminder email as the event approaches.

Clarity and organization are sacrosanct to event managers.  It goes against instinct to be anything less.

The idea of using secrecy in events is not widely publicized as a marketing or events strategy, but secrecy is much more prevalent in society than we realize.  Some companies, such as Apple, use secrecy on a large scale to generate demand.  Before the release of a new iPhone, there are whole websites devoted to investigating the phone’s new features, all because they are kept secret.

Other companies use secrecy in different ways.  At the start of the food truck craze, many trucks would Tweet their location daily and their loyal customers would race through city streets to get their food fix before the truck changed locations again.

Even superstars use secrecy to boost sales.

Take Beyoncé.  Her most recent album was released as a complete surprise.  She recorded and produced 14 new tracks and 17 music videos in complete secrecy. Her fans went wild when they woke up one morning to a simple Instagram post from the singer reading “Surprise!” and linking to her new album.

If you want to try using secrecy in one of your events, it’s important to remember a few key things.

  • First, you are probably not Beyoncé.  To pull off a stunt like hers, you need an extremely loyal following of customers.  Using secrecy in event planning can be very fun, but it’s necessary to maintain a balance and not go overboard.  Remember to add enough structure to keep your attendees comfortable, but enough secrecy to engage them. So start on a small scale.  Try incorporating surprise giveaways into your event, or invite a surprise guest speaker!
  • Additionally, it’s best to let your audience in on the fact that there is a surprise coming.  If you want your attendees to have a positive reaction, tell your guests ahead of time that there will be a surprise element to the event.  Not only does it give them something to look forward to, but you also avoid blindsiding anyone.  A good way to do this is by engaging your audience in the secret during the planning and invitation process.  Carlsberg, the renowned Danish beer brewery, has an event called “Where’s the Party?”, in which they do just this. They reveal the famous DJs who will host their event to build hype, but then they keep the event’s exotic location a secret until the day before the party.  Every year, thousands of engaged fans show up excited and ready for showtime!  People love being in on the build up, and look forward to anticipated surprises. (Think birthday parties and anniversary gifts.)
  • Secrecy can successfully be used at business events as well.  Dell hosts an annual event here in Austin, TX, called Dell Unconference.  When Unconference attendees arrive, there are no set schedules or speakers.  Instead, the attendees volunteer to lead sessions when they arrive and create the schedule as they go.  While Unconference may not be a textbook “secretive” event, its makers certainly engage their audiences in the surprise.  Business events can be just as surprising and engaging… it just takes a little creativity and the right technology to pull it off.

Secrecy can be a powerful weapon to keep in your event arsenal, and it certainly adds some spice to the event management routine.  Keep this tactic in mind the next time you’re looking to get creative with your next event.  Happy planning!

 

Go Meet Them.

Go Meet Them

When you are in the lead retrieval technology business, and spend much of your day packaging and perfectly formatting SalesForce-compatible leads, it is only natural that you begin wondering where all those smoking hot leads are acquired.  Where do your clients round up all the good ones?  Are trade shows stuffed with business people looking to make huge purchases?

While my initial thinking was that this was good to be true, I did research and learned that trade shows really are attracting quality potential buyers. There are several reasons companies choose to exhibit at trade shows (brand recognition, industry visibility, testing new products, etc.), the main goal of most exhibitors is lead generation. The leads gathered at trade shows easily validate how much companies spend exhibiting because trade shows are generally packed with targeted, high-quality contacts.

Let’s look at five reasons to get out on the trade show floor and go meet decision makers. Of course, remember to use your Overpass app!

ONE:

45% of attendees only go to one trade show a year. Exhibiting at trade shows can give you extremely unique leads. Exhibiting at many trade shows could give you many unique leads.

TWO:

46% of attendees are executives or upper management.  These people are typically the hardest to reach through traditional marketing and sales methods, yet they are almost half of the attendees you pass by on the trade show floor!

THREE:

86% of event attendees have purchasing power.  Obviously the leads with purchasing ability are the ones you want to meet.  How convenient!  Since 1998, this statistic has stayed consistently within the 80th percentile, indicating that a steady stream of decision makers will keep coming to trade shows in the future.

FOUR:

On average, a company only has meaningful engagement with 52% of its potential trade show audience.  Exhibit Surveys, Inc. defines ‘meaningful engagement’ as “face-to-face interactions like talking to exhibit staff, viewing a demonstration, and/or requesting a follow up”.  While trade shows are already a strong driving force in sales, this shows that most exhibitors have the potential to nearly double the leads they currently generate!

FIVE:

Approximately, 50% of attendees intend to buy a product as a result of attending a trade show.  It’s much easier to sell to customers looking to buy.

There you have it! Now go out and meet your people…!

Resources: www.exhibitsurveys.com and Center for Exhibition Industry Research

A Tiny Horror Story: Bad Wi-Fi

A Tiny Horror Story: Bad Wi-Fi

October is a spooky month so it’s a good time to share our own tiny horror story.  There is no better villain for our tale than that terrifying specter we all dread facing: bad Wifi.

On a dark and stormy night, my colleague, Elizabeth, was attending a large conference as onsite support for our lead capture application.  At the show, the exhibitor booth was using our real time reporting lead capture application on Dell Venue 8 tablets. This real-time reporting version of Captix:Scan requires a local Wifi connection to work properly.

Before the event, the exhibitors had shelled out nearly $20,000 for the costly trade show Wifi connection. However, in the middle of the show, despite everyone’s best efforts, no one could connect to the network!

It was then that Elizabeth first knew things would take a terrifying turn if they couldn’t get online. Without lead capture, leads would be lost and ROI would fall dramatically. Luckily, the clever Captix team managed to solve the problem — getting our client connected and our application running properly — but only at the expense of considerable time and manpower.

The moral of this story is that sometimes Wifi is not the answer but the problem.

In fact, there are two main benefits to staying offline at your next trade show:

 

1.  More Face Time: And no, I’m not referring to the popular iPhone application.

We are part of a business generation that likes to be connected, but the downside of this techno-centric mindset is that most people are glued to their phones.  If you peel your eyes away from your PC, you just might strike up a conversation with your next hot lead.

So, set down your social networks for an hour, and actually be social.  Remember, you can always Tweet or check your email during a coffee break, but you only have so much time at the trade show to make real-life business connections.  If you and your team focus on the real world instead of the online world, your booth becomes more lively and attractive to potential clients and partners.

(Not to mention, less internet time is proving to be good for your own mental health. The first person to be checked into rehab for internet addiction due to wearing GoogleGlass has happened.)

 

2.  Less Wifi Dependency: There are many great lead capture apps out there, but the catch is that most require you to be connected to the Internet.

Unfortunately, even if the application is working flawlessly, any bump in your Internet service can cause you to lose both leads and valuable time trying to get back online.  In essence, when you are dependent on a Wifi connection that you can’t truly control, you risk looking unprofessional.

Thankfully, the truth is that you don’t have to be online to capture leads.  As many of our own clients have discovered, it’s  much more reliable to pick a lead retrieval application that works in airplane mode by storing leads locally on your device until you’re ready to sync with the cloud.

 

There are still reasons to purchase and use Wifi at your show! If you have the budget, and can afford to spend hundreds to sometimes even thousands on a dedicated Wifi connection, then it can’t hurt to provide that option.

Mobile hotspots can also be very useful at trade shows.  You never know when you’ll need to hop online in a business emergency.  However, it is definitely best to restrict online time to only what is necessary for demonstrations and vital administrative tasks. Staying offline can give you an edge and help you engage with your real-life audience.

Escape the horror story. Stay offline.

(Altered) Photo Credit

Crowdsource Your Perfect Event

crowd·source

ˈkroudˌsôrs/

verb

  1. obtain (information or input into a particular task or project) by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via the Internet.

Crowdsourcing allows event organizers to gain deeper insights while actively engaging attendees. For example, South by Southwest has public voters choose 30 percent of their conference sessions via an online “PanelPicker” system. Not only does this strategy give the festival organizers a better understanding of public interest, but it also allows their guests to feel more empowered and involved in the decision making process.

Here are three ways you can crowdsource your next event.

1)   Entertainment

While it’s not always sensible to let attendees vote on the entertainment portion of an event, it can be beneficial in some circumstances. For example, with events like South by Southwest or even smaller conferences, you can release a choice of speaker topics or breakout session options and allow attendees to vote on their favorites. Depending on the size and timeframe of the event, this same strategy can also work when it comes to choosing a theme, band, art display, etc.

2)   Time and Location

Crowdsourcing the time and location of large-scale events isn’t very feasible since there are so many variables beyond attendee opinion that go into making that decision. However, polling attendees and event guests on their time and location preference is perfectly acceptable – and likely appreciated.

3)   Gamification

Gamification is one the fastest growing ways to engage and excite attendees. However, without proper planning, adding games to an event can be a complete flop. Companies invest thousands in event apps that receive less than a 10 percent download rate. Organizers plan trivia games that are completely overlooked and ignored by guests. In other words, it’s not always easy to succeed with gamification – which is why it’s a perfect topic to crowdsource beforehand. Ask guests if they would be willing to download an app, which game they are most likely to play, what types of giveaways they prefer, etc. And remember to check out how we can help!

Have a crowdsourcing idea that we didn’t mention? Let us know below!

exhibitor booth theater best practices from oracle openworld2014 by Captix

Booth Theater Best Practices for Trade Show Exhibitors

The first best practice that is non-negotiable is having a customized lead capture experience so you can track which parts of your exhibit attract the most interest; naturally, we recommend our app called Overpass. Beyond that, here are some best practices that can be game-changers at any show.

1. CROWD GATHERERS (for booth presentations)

Live marketing is a huge trend in events today. Here is an article written in detail about why to use them.

A great crowd gatherer is:

  • An actor / actress (capable of multiple accents and languages and playing the role as a team member)
  • Eloquent (never stumbles across words or falters with industry jargon)
  • Smart (see above)
  • Charismatic
  • Funny
  • Attractive (Disclaimer: beauty is in the eye of the beholder so we mean someone eye-catching and appropriately dressed for the occasion.)
  • Dresses as a team member
  • Makes LOTS of eye contact
  • Well-versed (knows about the booth’s goals of collecting many scans, the theater’s presentations and the booth’s giveaways)
  • Aware of booth promotions (able to highlight the various incentives the booth is giving away to increase lead engagement)

2. PROFESSIONAL PRESENTERS

Professional presenters are hired to give really engaging and informative presentations for increased audience attendance. The presenter is sent a deck before the show to become fluent in the material of the presentation. This ensures their presentations are completely on-point and extremely well-delivered. Everyone wants to listen to someone use subtle and engaging methods to captivate an audience.

Here is a resource for professional presenters.

3. BRAND / PRODUCT EXPERTS

Sales folks, solutions managers or savvy experts within your own company are great people to look to – and easy to find! – for presentations about your company’s brand or products. Anyone who is an expert on a product and who can talk at a very high level is a great person to put in front of an audience. The internal expert will gather even more leads by connecting the dots about how exactly your high level product directly solves the audience’s pain points.

4. GIVEAWAYS & SWEEPSTAKES

It’s really effective to collect leads through a booth incentive. The universal truth is: people *love* free stuff.

As ways to provide fun and engaging ways of getting people to come to your booth, here a few ideas:

  • A relevant product of the booth’s brand (a new tablet, or one that is pre-loaded with content)
  • Money (we’ve seen one tradeshow exhibitor give up to $10,000, which attracted over 5,000 leads at the giveaway drawing)
  • Really fun toys (like drone / helicopters that salespeople demonstrate and fly around while on the floor)
  • Free services from the booth

There is somewhat of a debate around giveaways at tradeshows. Do those who enter have to be there in person for the drawing to win? Or can you just take down their information? Decide in advance if you will require people to be present for the drawing.

You may want to invite a lead who, every time they hear a presentation, to enter into the giveaway drawing for that day (with different giveaways each day).

5. GUEST SPEAKERS

Guest speakers include savvy customers or partners to your company who come and speak. Having a customer speak on behalf of your solution is a really interesting dynamic for the listening audience. It comes across as more genuine because it’s more relatable.

Is there a relevant customer who is an avid user of your product and a fan of your company’s solution? If they’re a great speaker, and can truly identify with the target audience, give them some speaking time of their own!

6. BE FUN & PERSONABLE

The best booth presentations are fun and personable.

Remember that show attendees are already listening to days of speakers and lectures. As incredible as the keynotes may be, you want to make sure that your booth presentation is not just adding to more lecture noise. Be engaging. Use intonation and inflection when you speak. Use industry jargon your audience understands.

More than anything: be personable. Tell a joke. Speak in a different accent for every presentation (Irish, Jamaican, Pirate).

But above all (for goodness sake!) – SMILE! 🙂

If you have other ideas that you have seen work, please share in a comment below – thanks!

How to Draw a Crowd at your Trade Show Booth (& Collect More Leads)

As an exhibitor, it’s your number one job to collect leads to bring home to your sales and marketing teams. What’s the best way to make your booth look approachable?

Following are some creative ideas to spark engagement at your next exhibiting event.

1. Food… preferably *smelly* food.

Those easy-bake-ovens that heat delicious, soft chocolate chip cookies have an aroma that wafts around and attracts any human… whether they’re hungry or not.

Roasted almonds and cashew trucks and popcorn all permeate the entire show floor with smells of honey and reminders of winter time and fun at the movies.

2. Coffee

Booths that bring their own delicious coffee tend to attract a lot of traffic, if only for that oasis of caffeine in the middle of the harsh desert floor.

3. Alcohol

When the afternoon hits and you have alcohol at or around your booth, you will suddenly be the most popular booth. Two things: 1) Have fun with legal getting this approved (maybe you could even put your brand logo at the bottom of the serving glass?), and, 2) those leads may not be “sales-ready” (but who knows?).

4. Branded Swag

This is one of the best parts about the show, right? Take goodies home for yourself, your girlfriend or boyfriend, your kids, your mom… when you’re done collecting everything, you’ll be singing like the Little Mermaid in “Part Of Your World”. But this really is an effective (and expected) way to generate leads as an exhibitor. Some favorite swag items to consider:

  • Bouncy balls
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sweets (candy)
  • Grocery store bags (who can’t have enough of those, right?)
  • Sunglasses
  • Stress balls
  • Stress (material) shaped like a character
  • Stuffed animals (always a personal favorite)
  • Cash (we haven’t seen this done yet but it would be awesome!)

5. Games

An engaging way to attract leads is to have a game. Some really interesting games to think about:

  • A basketball hoop
  • Race car driving games (where you could actually sit in the car to drive)
  • Fastest typing or coding
  • Petting zoos of your products (or having demonstrative ways to showcase what your product does)
  • Slot machine
  • Lottery

By the way, for the last two, see our Games and Entertainment.

6. Caricatures

If you sell hardware or software, you can use your own product to draw, color and print attendee caricatures. Or you can invite local talented artists to sit in your booth. (Here is an example by @nolanium.)

dell charicature

7. Mascots

If you have any sort of brand or product that can be put in a costume, do it. Dress up a character or put them in a suit. You’ll have people lining up for pictures in no time.

Collect leads by scanning their badge, and getting their email address to send them their photo. Here is an example:

liz meets eis

8. Live TV Broadcasting!

Some of the most popular booths at any show are simply interviews of folks on a green screen backdrop live-streaming through their websites or to the event’s website.

on air

9. Flyer Invitations To A Happy / After Hours Gathering

If many of your customers are attending the event, try having some sort of appreciation event for them. Send out invitations and be sure to hand out more when you meet them at your booth.

10. Crowd Gatherers

Having a booth theater in your booth is both informative and effective. Generating leads from presentations gives you informed potential customers. Getting foot traffic to sit down with a crowd gatherer who is funny, charismatic and attractive starts a phenomenon because other people want to know what’s going on – it’s human nature.

11. Race Cars Or Big Show Stoppers

Anytime you can showcase something really special, like a race car, sailboat, trophy, walk-through model or life-size moving display, you’ll draw attention.

racecar

12. A Huge Spinning Sign Of Your Brand Name / Logo Above Your Booth

Anytime you showcase, it’s important to make your company and brand as obvious as possible. There is an interesting debate on whether your hanging sign should spin or not… because you want attendees to see your name every time they look up but movement attracts attention.

trade show signs

13. Use Stark, Bold Colors

Booths that stand out the most are those that use stark colors in their booth’s decor. Having a stark white or red carpet underneath your booth is a great way of attracting the eyes of passersby.

14. Branded Lanyards To Replace Show Lanyards For The Booth Team

Using lanyards that have your brand’s name and colors instead of the generic ones that everyone at the show is wearing is a GREAT way to stand out and attract more conversation.

lanyard

Hopefully this has sparked your creativity in thinking of new ways to stand out and have more conversations with your audience. If you have other methods that have worked well, please let us know below!

Achieve goals playing as a team. like the San Antonio Spurs. Use event management technology to be a team that plays in sync.

Achieve Goals Playing as a Team

Whether you are a San Antonio Spurs fan or not, there is no denying that they play beautiful basketball. The reasons are many and there are timeless truths that saturate every facet of their game. The reasons that the Spurs are great are perfect examples for how greatness, for any team in any industry, is achieved.

1. Unique Players But A Team That Plays In Sync.

Every member of the Spurs team, both on and off the floor, is completely different. Just look at the players: they speak different languages, have different educational backgrounds, ethnicities, talents and positions.

For example, Kawhi Leonard is a 22-year old from San Diego State; Manu Ginobili is from Argentina; Tony Park is from France; Tim Duncan is one of the oldest NBA players in the league from the Virgin Islands; Patty Mills is from Australia; Cory Joseph is from Texas!

Despite their differences, these players still wear the same jersey. The black and silver uniforms unite them on the TV screen and their team basketball style makes them easily recognizable as the champs they are as a team.

2. Practice Basic Fundamentals.

The Spurs have clear goals, achieved through clear best practices. Every second the players are on the court, they keep their eyes on the goal and execute accordingly. Their goal is simple; they want to put baskets through the hoop more times than their opponents. That means excellent offense, high- percentage shots, passing and teamwork; that means relentless defense and a constant fight to achieve it.

3. Create Measurable Goals.

This may be obvious, but the Spurs have goals that are VERY measurable. They track everything… from rebounds, errors, goals scored, minutes played, fouls accrued to time left on the clock. It’s important for them to have people watching, tracking, measuring and monitoring for optimized play.

Imagine a game without a score board. Without the clock. Without the player statistics or the number of fouls counted. Imagine a game without someone counting every time the ball went through the hoop. What is the point of playing? To burn calories? That might afford you a greasy hamburger and milkshake after a hard game but it certainly won’t deliver the same results as with monitoring performance.

3. Little Things Make A Big Difference.

The Spurs: “Do the little things.” Which is what makes them play smart. It’s a fact. The Spurs…

Take open, high-percentage shots.
Give the ball to players with the best position (and give up their own chance of glory to do so).
Set picks and screens to set their team members up for success.
Listen to the plays called by Coach Popovich, clarify and execute.

4. “Everybody On The Spurs Can Pass.”

“Everybody can pass. It’s a requirement… and that’s just picture perfect.”

The Spurs are seamless. Despite obstacles, despite whether you’re a part of the ownership, the organization, the coach, the staff or the player, everyone is working together seamlessly to build the best team, and play the best game, to achieve the highest results. And it shows.

5. Set the Tone. Be Classy.

Tim Duncan has been accredited for this, as the team leader, according to Coach Popovich. He also said that one of the reasons they have this “classy” tone is because the Spurs players have “gotten over themselves.” It means that they hold themselves to a higher standard. “Win or lose – go home,” says Coach Pop. Whatever happens, each and every player does it with class. The Spurs organization has built it’s reputation around this fact.

“There are no egos. No clowns. And there is no one that doesn’t appreciate that.”

Things get STRESSFUL. Things get MESSED UP. There are HUGE stakes. There is a GIGANTIC audience watching live, both in person and on television. Mistakes HAPPEN. Buttons are PUSHED. And, despite that, the Spurs hold themselves to a higher standard that has earned them their reputation.

6. Play As A TEAM.

Perhaps this reason is superfluous… or perhaps all of the other reasons add up to this one. The reason that the Spurs are successful, the reason they play the most beautiful basketball anyone has ever seen, and the reason they are world champions, is because they play as a team.

It’s never about the individual player… whether their role is in ownership, the organization, coaching , playing or staffing, not one persona is more important than the other. Every moving part is working together, measuring EVERYTHING, collaborating, putting others ahead of themselves, sacrificing their own agendas and remaining extremely professional through the entire process.

If you haven’t already seen this video, it might bring tears to your eyes. Even if you’re not a basketball fan, a Spurs fan or a sports fan, there is still something to be learned from the way this group of people synergizes to achieve its goals. Watch:

So how does your team execute at an event? Is there a cohesive dynamic? Is there a clear goal? Is there a professional, selfless, sacrificing team? Is there someone measuring and monitoring EVERYTHING? Is the process by which you share, pass and communicate seamlessly?

At High Attendance, we think everyone on your team should be classy and work together. The next step is getting the tools in order to do that. Make your passes seamless. Get more clarity on your goals and better measurements on your execution. Start with the most seamless event management software: High Attendance / Captix.

 

References:

Selfie pic: http://www.sportsgrid.com/nba/why-the-spurs-are-truly-the-best-team-in-the-league-this-year/

Chris Boss and Heat comments: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2098332-chris-bosh-calls-2014-san-antonio-spurs-best-team-i-ever-saw

Positions: http://www.cbssports.com/nba/teams/roster/SA/san-antonio-spurs

4 Things To Consider Before Hosting A Corporate Event

1) Purpose

Much like investors, event professionals need to focus on their return on investment before they spend any time or money on an event. While events may not have an immediate monetary return, they should profit your company in some way. Imagine the objective of the event is to improve relationships and check in with current clients. While you may not see an immediate return on investment, client nurturing events can be beneficial in retaining long-term business.

2) Scheduling

An event is only successful if you have attendees. Prior to scheduling your event, consider your guests’ preferences. Do most of the invitees have children at home? Are the majority over the age of 65 – or are they all in their 20’s? Planning the event around your guests’ convenience is key. If they have children, make sure you send the invitation weeks, if not months, in advance so they can secure a babysitter.

3) Marketing

You have the goal and you’ve set the schedule. Now comes the hard part: marketing your event. Marketing needs to be tailored to your audience. Creating buzz around your event can be done in various ways. Optimize the buzz by leveraging the platform that majority of attendees use on a daily basis. For example, if most of your guests are on Twitter then create a hashtag, give away free tickets to followers, design games around the event, etc. If your audience isn’t on social media, send invites, giveaways, and reminders via email.

4) Plan B

Your goal is set, the schedule is confirmed and you’ve created buzz around the event — now all you need to determine is the backup plan. The best event professionals plan for every day-of disaster scenario. Rain? Have a tent on reserve. Shuttles break down? Have backup transportation ready to go. The best events are ones where guests never notice the problems because the backup plan is seamless.

Austin City Limits writstbands success

Austin City Limits Music Festival Is A Cash-less, Line-less & Arrest-less Hit (Basically)

Austin City Limits hosts it’s double weekend blow-out at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, with headliners like it has never seen (recently including such celebrities as Eminem, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Pearl Jam, Calvin Harris, Outkast, Avett Brothers & more).

In 2014, nearly 80,000 people attended the festival each day, and only 3 arrests TOTAL were made the first weekend. In 2015, over the course of the entire event, 450,000 people attended Austin City Limits. There might have been tons of traffic, and more parking tickets than ever before, but the crowd was controlled. One of the reasons were the wristbands required for each ticket holder.

Scanning technology allowed attendants to scan and “beep” right in, replacing turnstiles or scanning guns. Crowds could flow past the gates, scanning in and out.

The bracelets were also linked back to the holder’s registration file, where they could put in their credit card information, which then stored on their bracelets. Concessions and beer could be purchased through the “bump” of a bracelet against the vendor’s scanners connected to their iPads. Lines for both gate entrances and beer stands were never more than a couple of folks deep. As a bonus benefit to the beer vendors, the result of making beer purchases so much easier was a corresponding increase in the amount of beers sold.

Perhaps easy check-in and payment were reasons for fewer angry tempers and subsequent arrests. Altogether, many, many people over the course of the festival’s activities were able to enjoy the music they came for without distraction.

Makes you wonder: how is technology working for your event? Let us help.

Creating Business Relationships

Creating Business Relationships: Why Exhibiting or Attending a Trade Show is Like Speed Dating

From the bountiful number of name tags to the occasional awkward handshake, there are many commonalities between attending a trade show and a speed dating party.

First Impressions Matter

You have only seven seconds to impress when you meet someone new.  

Whether you’re standing in a trade show booth or sitting at a coffee table with your first date of the evening, the short timeframe remains the same. First impressions are made very quickly and, during this tiny window of time, both verbal and nonverbal cues say a lot about the person you are meeting. Read more

MOBILE Payment, established 2014 addressing Apple Pay and other technology adoptions. Written by authors at Captix.

Mobile Payment // Technology in New York City

In casually walking Bedford Street in Brooklyn, New York, I noticed several things. First, every single person is dressed in hipster-trendy outfits, which could make you feel really unfashionable. New York City is an American hub of high fashion but walking along the homes of New Yorkers shows that these residents walk their talk.

The other thing I notice is that everyone is light years ahead on technology. Don’t misunderstand me… I’m not saying the rest of the country is missing out on the hover boards that New Yorkers have straight out of Back to the Future II. I’m saying New York, as a people, as an economically thriving metropolis, has adopted technologies in effective ways; they’re truly integrated into their lives and make things more efficient. Which is the whole point of new technologies.

A few of the technologies that are clearly integrated into New York’s daily pulse include:

  1. Mobile Payment by the customer

Many apps have been pushed out that support mobile payment. The first ones that come to mind from back home in Austin, Texas, include Starbucks (upload money, almost like a gift card, and pay from your cell phone screen in the store to stack up rewards), or Belly (offering deals through several local restaurants who offer rewards when you scan the app).

When I am in Austin and see a friend take out their phone to pay, it’s because we are at a very specific store that offers a mobile payment (i.e., Starbucks). Also, the store is likely where the friend frequents enough to remember to take out their phone to pay with (i.e., Starbucks). When a friend pays with their phone, most everyone in the surrounding proximity gives the, “Well, look at you Mr. Fancy Pants” stare or comment. Back home in Austin, paying with a cell phone is still an unnatural reach for payment, away from the casual wallet reach.

In New York City, I have seen at least twice as many customers whip out their cell phones to make a payment. They have truly started to make the switch to pulling out their PayPal app, or other scanning or Near Field Communication (NFC)-powered payment option. It’s surprising where mobile payment options are found as well. Coffee shops of all kinds (from Starbucks to Mom n’ Pop shops), clothing and retail shops, book stores, grocers, etc.

I think my favorite instance was seeing a jogger come into a cafe to purchase a bottle of water. Instead of pulling out a wallet or cash, or even a credit card, he paused his music on his phone, opened his PayPal app and scanned his screen to pay. His apartment keys were tied to his shoe lace but the rest of his life (his music, his phone, his map, his health / running tracker AND his wallet) were all on his phone. (Someday he won’t have to have his physical key tied to his shoe lace either!)

  1. Mobile payment by the business

Maybe this is obvious but, before the consumers can engage with mobile payment technology, the store has to OFFER the option. Most businesses are looking towards mobile payments.

And, if a business is not offering a “scan your mobile phone here” payment method, they at least are using their own mobile devices to accept payment. Almost everywhere I go, someone is taking orders on their tablet, with a “square” plugged in if it’s an iOS device to accept payment or they are connected to some other type of mobile phone swipe or scanning device.

Again, it’s amazing what businesses are using mobile devices to accept payments. It’s more than established businesses. It’s also street vendors, with blankets of vintage Batman signs, and “I <3 NY” shirts; it’s food vendors selling every type of non-alcoholic beverage you could want and a hotdog; it’s the vegan ice cream truck in Williamsburg or the Chinese-owned Taco shop in the Bronx. Mobile payments are everywhere.

  1. Apple Pay

Don’t get too excited. No, NYC hasn’t adapted this overnight. But I wouldn’t put it past them.

Apple’s Apple Pay is revolutionizing the entire mobile payment process for both consumers and business owners. As we have seen, several apps have tried to offer mobile payment but it’s been a hard take for the majority of users (outside of NYC). Apple Pay will store credit card information on your phone (or watch) so that you can instantly share information securely to complete a transaction. Apple has enough of a loyal customer base that it’s likely to be adopted by their iPhone users.

As for businesses, it will be a great investment. Customers will eliminate the 200 million swipes that happen with a credit card every year. Online stores will completely eliminate the hassle of typing in the 16-digit code and the not-so-secure “security code” on the back of a card. The security breaches that happened at Home Depot and Target will effectively be eliminated because information will stay private. If a phone is stolen, codes can be turned off so you won’t lose your information, like you would with a plastic credit card.

If society does adapt the concept of mobile pay, e-commerce and in-person purchases will be more seamless, increasing sales; security will change the way we handle losing our cards or getting information stolen; and, potentially the most interesting: wallets will slowly become obsolete. The one city I know we can look to to adopt this revolutionary payment system is New York City.

But what about you? What about your city? Are ‘we’ ready to make wallets obsolete and antiquated?

5 Apps To Make Life (Even) Easier In Austin

Copious amounts of tacos, sunshine, and live music: life is good in Austin, Texas. However, there are times when traffic is bad and tacos are not in walking distance — here are 5 mobile apps to help you cope with those troubling times.

1)   Favor

Favor isn’t just another food delivery app — this became obvious when they received $13 million in Series A funding earlier this month. The Austin-based company operates by using “runners” to pick up your groceries, dry cleaning or anything else from a store in your delivery area. Much like our next featured app, users can stay in touch with their runner via texting.

  • Pro: You never have to run your own errands.
  • Con: Costs more and takes longer than doing it yourself: $5 fee plus 5% of the cost of the items plus tip to the runner, and a 35-minute average delivery time. 

2)   Uber

Whether you have a 5-star rating or are protesting in front of city hall, by now most Austinites have heard of Uber. The app, which connects riders with drivers, transformed transportation within months of launching in Austin. While the original motto was “Everyone’s Private Driver,” Uber now offers a less expensive carpool service.

  • Pro: Short wait times.
  • Con: The more demand in your pickup area, the higher the price.

3)   Waze

Transportation is an obvious issue in Austin. While services like Uber may be quick to pick you up, they still can’t fly over the traffic on Mopac at 5pm. However, one app has found a way around the congestion. Waze collects real-time traffic and road info and provides you with alternate routes.

  • Pro: Avoiding Mopac and I-35 traffic.
  • Con: The more traffic the app gets, the more traffic the alternate routes will also get.

 4)   Car2Go

Last transportation app, promise. While traffic may be the bigger problem, we can’t overlook the parking issue — especially downtown. Instead of paying $20 to park in a garage, you can rent a teeny tiny Car2Go for .41 / minute and drop it off at any of their allotted spots around town.

  • Pro: Cheap, easy, and your car can stay safe at home.
  • Con: No more than 2 people can fit in a Car2Go.

 5)   TabbedOut

If you’re saving time with transportation, why not save time while you wine and dine? Instead of asking for the check, putting your card down, waiting for the waiter to pick it up, and then finally giving your autograph — TabbedOut allows you to pay for everything within the app, no paper and pen needed.

  • Pro: Saves time.
  • Con: Not every bar and restaurant is integrated with the app.

The most important thing to know about Austin is that we are connected AND we are digitally-savvy… now get out there and enjoy the #1 city in the U.S. for small business!

Five Ways To Increase Your Event App’s Download Rate

When hundreds of thousands of people attend a single conference, it only seems logical to create a mobile app for the event. South by Southwest launches a new app each year that includes everything from the schedule to features like beacon technology, which allows users to see what’s happening around them at any given moment.

While your app may not be alerting guests of Chelsea Clinton’s talk and Justin Bieber’s pop-up show, event apps are still very useful in informing and engaging attendees.

Here are five ways to increase your event app download rate:

1) Accessibility: Guests should know about the free app and its benefits before the actual event. Include a download link in the invitation and send reminders that encourage your guests to download the app.

2) Set Goals: Not all events need a mobile app. If you’re hosting a 20-person lunch and learn, you most likely won’t need an app. If you are hosting a 500-person conference twice a year, you may want an app for that. However, the app shouldn’t just be a place for guests to see the schedule — printing brochures is much cheaper than creating a mobile app. In other words, apps are expensive to build and your goals need to outline exactly why it’s a good investment. If each attendee is a current client then your goal should be to create an app that makes their experience as enjoyable and beneficial as possible.

3) Consistency: Much like your website, the event app should have consistent messaging and branding. If you are operating a software company whose brand is white and blue with very technical language, don’t create a trendy neon app.

4) Incentivize: If attendees can get all the information on your website then what’s the point of downloading the app on their phone? Incentivize downloads by offering special benefits to app users. For example, post key speakers on your site but tell guests to download the app to see the full lineup, host an in-app raffle, send special discounts, publish photos or show sneak peeks before the event.

5) Customer Support: Unless your event is at the Genius Bar, some of your guests may need assistance with downloading and navigating the app. Be sure to have an onboarding specialist on-hand to assist any attendees who have questions about the app.

3 Tips for Effective Event Marketing

 

Effective event marketing can be distilled into three keys as follows.

Consistent Branding.

From event apps to brochures, consistency is key. Think about Red Bull – they not only have fixed colors, fonts and format, they also have an “extreme” vibe to everything they produce. Although your events may vary in size, theme and location, your brand should always be clear and constant.

Clear Purpose.

Scott Schenker, Microsoft’s general manager of worldwide events, included “purpose” as one of the 4 P’s of effective event marketing. “You are being relevant to their place and their purpose, and you are being relevant to things that matter to them, and that furthers the sense this was a valuable thing for them to do,” said Schenker during a webinar hosted by BizBash. Whether you are throwing a launch party or hosting an internal meeting, each event should have a clear purpose that benefits the guests.

Social Engagement.

Unless you are planning Beyonce’s highly exclusive and super private wedding, you should be promoting the event on social media. Create a hashtag and start interacting with guests even before the event starts. Answer questions on Facebook and Twitter. Share sneak peeks on Instagram. If done correctly, your social media platforms can be the most valuable tool you have to market your events… and hey, it’s free!

 

By the Numbers: Gamification Success

Do not build a game just for the sake of gamification. Although games can (and should) be fun, you still need to plan and strategize the exact reason behind the game.

First ask yourself the purpose of the game. Is it to create brand awareness, make sales, drive traffic to your site, boost your social media presence, or increase interaction between speakers and attendees? Whatever it is, create the game with that exact goal in mind.

Essentially your game should succeed on two levels: personal and organizational.

Personal.

Personal success is making the game users happy. Research your audience beforehand and figure out the types of incentives that appeal to them.

If you are having an internal event, then perhaps the winner receives extra vacation days.

If your event is for potential clients, then maybe offer a one-month free trial of your product.

If the event is geared towards the public, then try offering cash prizes or gift cards.

Organizational.

If the game isn’t going to benefit your organization, then it isn’t worth building. Organizational success is the product of extensive planning and research. You should know exactly how the game works and the ways in which it can benefit your company. The purpose of the game can be a quantifiable goal such as capturing one hundred new leads or as simple as maintaining brand loyalty.

Want to learn more about gamification with High Attendance?

Statistic Sources: 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/52-percent-people-playing-games-women-industry-doesnt-know

http://www.digitalchalk.com/blog/8-surprising-gamification-statistics

http://elearningindustry.com/30-facts-gamification-in-elearning

3 Major Companies Using Gamification To Boost Engagement

Broadly defined, gamification is the use of game-like thinking in non-game environments.

Incentives and motivators are one way to gamify non-game environments. Think about your LinkedIn account and the profile progress bar that was once only 70 percent complete. Although this may not seem like a game, LinkedIn uses the game-like progress bar as an incentive to complete your profile.

Want to learn more about gamification with High Attendance?

Check out a few games that are building brands and engagement now.

Nike. 

Nike’s running app is the ultimate motivator. Not only can you challenge your friends, but you also receive badges and rewards such as encouraging words from professional athletes when you complete a run.

Verizon.

Launched in 2012, Verizon Insider increased logins to their site by 30 percent. The online entertainment and lifestyle portal allows users to gain points and earn rewards by participating in contests and engaging on social media.

LinkedIn. 

As mentioned, LinkedIn uses a progress bar to incentivize users to complete their profile. However, this isn’t the only form of gamification that the business-oriented social platform applies. Think about the page that displays how many views your profile has received compared to your friends – this is a classic leaderboard tactic that sparks competition.

3 Free Ways To Gamify Your Next Event

Without incentives, there is no tangible reason for attendees to participate in your game; however, offering cash prizes and gift certificates isn’t always an option. Here are three free ways to increase engagement at your next event.

1) Leaderboard. 

Leaderboards integrate well with in-app games like trivia.The more questions the attendee answers correctly, the higher up the leader board they climb.

Pro Tip: Create an interactive leaderboard that integrates with Twitter so guests can encourage, or better yet, trash talk each other on social media – free publicity and attendee engagement.

2) Progress Bar.

Progress bars work well because most people don’t like completing tasks only 90% of the way. Much like the LinkedIn profile completion bar, reward them by boosting their position as they progress in the game. Reaching 100% may be enough for many guests to continue playing throughout the entire event. 

3) Badges.

Badges are one of the most simple and classic ways to increase participation. The Olympics use medals and the Oscars use funny-looking trophies – although both also come with fortune and fame, the gold badge is a very key component of winning.

Pro Tip: Offer an in-app virtual badge with each round of completion to encourage guests to keep playing.  (Think: progress bar + badge reward)

 

Learn more on how to gamify your next event with High Attendance.  

The Best Sources for Austin Events

From massive festivals to citywide runs, there is always something to do in Austin. Unfortunately living in such a fun city can be the root cause of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out.) Visit the sites below for a fast-acting relief if you are showing any signs of FOMO such as:

  • Not knowing what to do with your weekends.
  • Wondering why you didn’t hear about the free Willie Nelson concert at the park.
  • Listening to your friends rave about a food truck that you’ve never heard of.
  • General envy of pictures posted on Facebook after SXSW.

Do512 – Do512 is essentially Reddit for events. While anyone can list an event on the site, the ones with the most “adds” or votes will raise to the top of the feed. From happy hours to concerts, Do512 delivers the ultimate list of things to do in Austin.

Austin360 – While Austin360 acts as a guide on a range of subjects; their “Things To Do” tab covers all the major events in Austin.

FreeFunInAustin – Free Fun In Austin is pretty self-explanatory. You can take full advantage of free events in Austin with their extensive events calendar.

CultureMap – The CultureMap event page is perfect for finding last minute fun. Events are organized by the hour so you can easily find something that fits into your schedule.

Austin Chronicle – Although they are known for their reporting, the Chronicle’s aggregated events calendar has become increasingly popular among Austinites.

365ThingsAustin – 365 Things To Do In Austin is the combination of all event sites. While they offer a comprehensive events calendar, they also have a free section, as well as a “Best Of” category.

Apple Watch Review: Is it worth it for event managers?

Like many jobs today, event management wouldn’t be as nearly as functional without technology. From emails, invites, and reminders to registration and payment transactions – our phones and computers have revolutionized events. However, like many other jobs, there’s room to make event management even more operative with new technology.

Enter the Apple Watch.

By now, you have likely heard about Apple’s first bonafide new product in years (since the iPad).

While there have been mixed reviews of the Watch on various news sites, there’s been no clear message as to who the new technology will benefit the most. Will it replace the Rolex on Wall Street? Will athletes use the Watch instead of a Fitbit? Or will it be an everyday watch for the average Joe? This seems least likely with the starting price at $349.

Let’s delve into the pros and cons of the Apple Watch for event managers.

 

Pros

Reminders:

You spend weeks, if not months, planning a major event. You have meetings, conference calls and send countless emails to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Unless you are Rain Man, you need reminders.

While your phone, computer and assistant can remind you of your next meeting, the Apple Watch may be the most subtle and simple reminder. Using Taptic technology, the Watch notifies you with specific kinds of vibrations. Instead of having your phone loudly vibrate on the table during dinner, the Watch sends a subtle reminder that only you can feel.

“As you learn the taps over time, you will begin to register some of them almost subconsciously: incoming phone calls and alarms feel throbbing and insistent, a text feels like a gentle massage from a friendly bumblebee, and a coming calendar appointment is like the persistent pluck of a harp. After a few days, I began to get snippets of information from the digital world without having to look at the screen — or, if I had to look, I glanced for a few seconds rather than minutes,” said Farhad Manjoo in his New York Times review.

Apple Pay:

Why pull your wallet out when you can swipe your phone over the terminal to purchase your coffee? Why pull your phone out when you can simply scan your Watch and be on your way?

Not only has Apple Pay simplified day-to-day errands for event managers but the contact-less payment technology is also being used at the actual events.

Instead of carrying around credit cards and cash, attendees can simply tap their Watch to purchase food, beverages or any merchandise that the event offers.

“Paying with the Watch is even faster than paying with an iPhone,” said Nilay Patel reviewing the watch in The Verge.

Cons

 Messaging:

The Watch isn’t going to be a tool you use to send text messages, let alone emails. In fact, it isn’t even possible to respond to an email on the Watch. While you can respond to texts, it would be much easier to just use your phone.

“You can reply to texts using canned replies, dictate a message with Siri or send emojis. The canned choices are supposed to be smart: the Watch reads your texts and tries to figure out appropriate replies automatically. Unfortunately, this only seems to work well if the people texting you write complete questions with the answers embedded…” said Patel in The Verge review.

And although Siri is a response option, everyone with an iPhone knows she isn’t always the most accurate when it comes to understanding you.

Lag Time:

You walk out of a meeting, check your email, hail an Uber and are on your way to the airport to manage the next event.

Like many of us, event managers are busy people and don’t have time to sit around while their phone displays the circling loading sign.

This may be the biggest problem with the Apple Watch. Not only are there major lag times with location apps like Uber, there are also delays when you simply want to check the time. Unlike other smart watches that have a screen lit up at all times, the Apple Watch saves battery life by using sensor technology. In other words, you can’t see the time until you move your wrist in a “checking my watch” motion. And that doesn’t even always work.

“Many times while using the watch, I had to swing my wrist in an exaggerated upward motion to bring the display to life. Think about the way people normally look at their watches, then make it twice as aggressive. As a normal watch-wearer, the idea that I might look down at my wrist and not see the time was annoying,” said Joshua Topolsky in his Bloomberg Business review.

Conclusion.

While the Apple Watch may be the only one of its kind, it isn’t yet considered game-changing and it definitely won’t replace your iPhone or computer.

As Topolsky puts it: “It’s not going to make you a better person, or change your life, or change how you look at the world. It’s a great accessory… and maybe that’s enough.”

How To Properly Follow Up With New Contacts After SXSW

If you are a professional attending SXSW this year, chances are high that one of your goals is networking. When you attend these types of events, it’s inevitable that you will make relationships worth maintaining. Here’s a straightforward etiquette guide for following up with new contacts after the festivities are over.

If the contact is a potential friend/peer…

-Swap phone numbers and business cards.

-If you both live in the same city, suggest to meet up for coffee or lunch sometime after the events are over.

-After SXSW, follow up! Shoot over an email or a text, with a suggested time and place to hang out.

If the contact is a potential employer…

-Ask for a business card! You will want to know the person’s official title, and have a way to contact them in the future.

-After the event, send an email saying “It was great to meet you”. Explain why you’re interested in the company and mention a few points of conversation that piqued your interest. If you don’t know each other too well, you should offer a gentle reminder of how you met (i.e. “I’m so pleased that I bumped into you at ABC coffee stand at the SXSW Expo. I loved hearing more about your digital marketing strategy, and it really got me interested in your company…”) If you know the company has a position available, it’s okay to state your interest in it. If you do this, make sure you attach your resume to the email.

If the contact is a potential employee…

-Give him / her your business card. Ask for a resume.

-Hopefully, a potential employee will be attentive enough to follow up with you as well! However, we all know sometimes the good ones can be in high demand – and we advise following up with hot candidates to show them that you’re truly interested.

-Send an email. If you haven’t already gotten a resume / CV, ask for it now. State what position you think they’d be a potential good fit for and encourage them to apply for it.  If you have a job posting, this is the time to send it as well.

If the contact is a potential customer…

-Our friends at Sandler have some good advice here, teaching that it’s best to walk the line between ignoring a new sales prospect and becoming a nuisance. When you meet a contact, it’s good practice to ask what their buying timeline looks like. If they won’t be ready to make a decisions for 90 days, set a reminder to follow up with them – then, instead of pestering them with messages before they’re ready to buy.

-Engage potential customers using your social networks. Connect with them on LinkedIn as soon as possible and, depending on how your relationship began, friend them on Facebook as well.  Don’t leave out Twitter!

If the contact is a potential vendor…

-If they’re a potential vendor, chances are high that they’ll snag your contact information the first chance they get. If you’re interested in a product or service, be sure to request the business card of the representative you’re speaking to while you’re still talking in person. You will probably get better customer service down the line if the salesman can put a face to your name.

-If you want to follow up after the event to get more information, remind them where you met and then directly ask for more information about their product. If they’re a good contact, they’ll happily oblige.

And a few overall tips for following up after SXSW:

-Connect, connect, connect. LinkedIn is always a good way to keep in touch with people you meet at events, and it’s always socially acceptable to connect with new business contacts, or even friends. You should also search for them on Twitter or, better yet, ask if they have a Twitter handle (i.e., “I’d love to stay up to date on your start up’s progress… do you or your company have a Twitter account I could follow?”).

-Practice patience. If you have 25 new business cards stuffed into your briefcase, then your new connections probably do as well. Remember that most people need a few days to decompress after the huge events are over, so don’t panic if you don’t hear back right away.

-If you don’t hear back within a week or so after your first follow up, it is permissible to email the contact again. Be polite (i.e. “Hey there Bob. I haven’t heard back from you about the new product we were discussing, so I wanted to follow up to make sure my email didn’t fall through the post-SXSW cracks. Would love to discuss with you soon! Are you free next Tuesday?”).

-Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need. And when you receive a business card, take a picture of it with your phone in case you lose it later.

Ready for more SXSW advice? Check out another article here!

These Social Media Accounts Will Help You Master SXSW

South by Southwest is a different experience for everyone who attends. Follow these social media accounts, and you’ll be able to smoothly navigate the unpredictable seas of SXSW.

Instagram:

@SXSW – SXSW Official

@SWSWi – SXSW Interactive

@SXSWeco – SXSW Eco

 

Twitter:

@SXSW – SXSW Official

@SXSWPartyList – Your party navigation during SXSW

@FreeatSXSW – Guide to all things free at SXSW

@RSVPster – Helps you RSVP to SXSW events

@unofficialsxsw – Your guide to all unofficial SXSW events

@Rsvpforyourlife – Unofficial RSVP guide to SXSW

@SouthByFreeNOMS – Taking a bite out of Austin one party at a time! Your Unofficial guide to all the free food and drinks at SXSW

@CameronAtSX – News about unofficial parties, showcases, and SXSW rumors

@SXSWLineBuddies – Sharing RSVP’s and +1s to SXSW

@SXSWhoa – Reporting latest news, rumors, shortest lines,

@ChronSXSW –  Austin Chronicle’s take on SXSW Interactive, Film, Music

@Do512_free – Comprehensive list of FREE things for you to do in Austin

@360sxsw – Austin 360’s SXSW music headquarters

@360sxswi – Austin 360’s SXSW interactive updates

@360sxswmovies – Austin 360’s SXSW film updates

@sxswbaby – Unofficial Weblog and Discussion Forum for SXSW

@sxswmusic2016 – SXSW music lineup announcements

 

Facebook Pages:

SXSW – Official Festival Facebook Page

Unofficial SXSW Guide

 

Want us to feature your SXSW event or help you answer a question? Tell us in our Listening Forum!

Need A Mid-Week Pick Me Up? Here Are 6 Ted Talks to Inspire You!

Whether you’re a busy event manager or just a busy person, these TED talks are hand-selected to help you find peace and motivation during your hectic workweek. Pick one and watch it on your lunch break for expert advice that will help you find your zen – and maybe even some inspiration for your next event!


How to Make Stress Your Friend – by Kelly McGonigal

Can changing how you think about stress make you healthier and happier? Kelly McGonigal, a renowned health psychologist, shows you how to beat stress… by befriending it.


The Art of Stillness – by Pico Iver

In the busy, hectic world of event management, planes and planners are the norm. Travel writer Pico Iyer has rushed all around the world but has found that going nowhere is just as exciting as going to Tibet or Cuba. In his TED talk, he gives busy people a few tips on how to find stillness even in the most hectic of days.  

 


Be an Opportunity Maker – by Kare Anderson

Forbes writer Kare Anderson shares her story of overcoming chronic shyness and teaches us how to “become opportunity makers who use [our] best talents, more often, for the greater good.” She encourages building relationships with people unlike ourselves to create serendipitous results that benefit everyone.

 


 The Habits of Happiness – by Matthieu Ricard

Sometimes called “the happiest man in the world”, Matthieu Ricard is a molecular biochemist and Buddhist monk. Here he shares his best advice for how to train the mind to function at its best and happiest.


Play is More Than Just Fun – by Stuart Brown

Need inspiration to bring some fun into your life or your next event? This is the talk for you. If, after watching, you feel inspired to incorporate games in your next event, check out our advice for how to successfully integrate gamification into your event’s mobile app.


I Got 99 Problems… Palsy is Just One – by Maysoon Zayid

The most hilarious of our TED choices for the week, Maysoon Zayid’s talk is equally inspirational as well. If you need a weekly pick-me-up that reminds you to pursue your dreams against all odds, this talk has your name on it.


Did you find any events inspiration from one of these talks? Share what you learned below!

How Gamification Can Increase Your Event’s Success

The difference between a ‘girl’s weekend’ and a ‘guy’s weekend’ is that women drink champagne, talk about everything, go to the spa and watch romcoms while men often do not actually see each other in person. Instead, they will spend the whole weekend playing a video game, say the one called Destiny. This just proves that gaming can be very social – even from the comfort of your couch.

Playing Games to Socialize

Games are fun and most people don’t pause to consider why that is the case. One of the first to ask what drives people to play was Richard Bartle- the inventor of one of the first-ever multi-player video games called “multi-user dungeon” or MUD.

Throughout the process of building and maintaining MUD, Bartle developed a theory about the types of people who play games. He postulated that the most common type of player is the “Socializer”.  The Socializer who plays games because s/he enjoys interacting with other players and working with others to achieve common goals. According to Bartle, about 80% of people who play games are Socializers. This statistic is important because, in a very similar way, many people who attend events are there to network and socialize.

How Games Help Events

If people enjoy playing games as a means to socialize, and a majority of attendees come to events with the goal of networking and interacting with new people, then it follows that games can help better our events.  Let’s explore a few of the many ways gamification can improve your events and your event technology specifically.

 

1.  Gamification encourages attendees to interact with each other.  

One of our customers encouraged their attendees to meet each other by using an interactive leaderboard in its mobile application. Attendees received points for using the event hashtag on their social networks, and the competition quickly became fierce as attendees fought to get to the top of the leaderboard. Competitors could tap on the names in the leaderboard to find contact information and Twitter handles for other attendees, and before we knew it, everyone was interacting with each other!
 
 
2.  Gamification helps engage attendees who are easily distracted.  

Event organizers must wage a constant battle against the smart phone. It is challenging to compete for attendees’ attention when they have an easy mental escape right at their fingertips. One way to help keep your attendees focused is to bring the game to them. If you provide attendees with an engaging application that is relevant to your content, everyone wins!

Think your audience is too professional to fall into the Candy Crush trap? Chances are, you’ll actually be competing for their attention, too. In fact, game designer Jane McGonigal states in her book Reality is Broken, that 61% of CEOs, CFOs and other senior executives say they take daily game breaks at work. Additionally, she discovered that 1 out of 4 gamers is over the age of 50.

Aaron Price, the co-founder of Livecube, puts it well, stating “if you think about the reality of sitting in the audience at an event, you pick up your phone and the event organizer has about 10 seconds to capture your attention before you’re distracted by Candy Crush… Using game mechanics in the event app itself gives people incentives to stay focused, so people are adding valuable content instead of just occasionally tweeting, occasionally mentioning something, [and] probably misspelling a hashtag.”

 

3.  Gamification builds your event’s social media hype.  

In the leaderboard example above, we mentioned that gamification encourages attendees to interact with one another. When attendees begin tweeting at each other, it not only gets people who are actually at the event to start talking about it, but it also makes your event more visible to the outside world.

One way to encourage social media sharing of your event is to include Twitter integration with your event application. Then attendees can log in with their Twitter handles and tweet directly from the application. If an attendee is tweeting from the event application instead of the Twitter application itself, you can control his/her newsfeed, filtering it to include only tweets relevant to your event’s hashtag. Prevent hashtag misspellings by including the hashtag automatically for your guests. You keep your attendees focused, all while encouraging them to promote your event!

Gamification can be a powerful part of your next event. Dr. Stuart Brown, a scientist and psychiatrist who works for the National Institute for Play states that “play is not the opposite of work”.  If you still need inspiration on why game play is important, check out his Ted Talk here.

Are you wondering how High Attendance gamification can help your next event?

Tell me more about Captix!

Resources:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-elements-of-a-gamification-marketing-strategy/

http://www.brainsins.com/en/blog/how-companies-use-gamification-to-amplify-social-media/3210

http://gamifyforthewin.com/2012/08/whats-the-big-deal-about-bartles-player-types/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_LPMud

http://www.bizbash.com/how-to-use-gamification-to-motivate-social-sharing-at-events/new-york/story/27713/#.VKsODYsglAI

http://www.theloyaltygames.com/gametizeblogpost/

http://www.quickmobile.com/mobile-event-strategy/gamification/what-is-gamification-and-how-can-you-use-it-in-your-next-event-app

http://www.eventmobi.com/blog/2011/12/06/using-gamification-to-better-engage-event-attendees/

http://www.eventmanagerblog.com/event-gamification#eykKl7sEwxSEDuMd.99

https://www.flickr.com/photos/all7lwa/9494705197/

Captix: 2015 Statistics

2015 was a big year for Captix. We launched a new product, Overpass and we also hit many milestones with Captix. See below for an overview of some of our accomplishments.

Thank you for being a part of our journey!

Gamification At Work: How Games Can Increase Employee Engagement

What Is Gamification?

Broadly defined, gamification is the use of game-like thinking in non-game environments.

Think back to the days of 5th grade history class. It may not have been especially exciting at the time, but if you were lucky, your teacher made the mundane textbook quizzes more memorable by adding one amazing incentive: candy.

Incentives and motivators are one way to gamify non-game environments.

Now think about your LinkedIn account and the “profile progress bar” that was once only 70% complete. Although this may not seem like a game, LinkedIn uses the game-like progress bar as an incentive to complete your profile.

From teachers to Fortune 500 companies, gamification continues to be one of the most successful ways to increase audience engagement.

Games At Work.

So maybe you don’t have the downtown office with beer on tap and 2pm ping-pong tournaments, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun at work. Games are a way to create a positive company culture while also increasing engagement in the workplace.

For example, instead of measuring employee progress on an spreadsheet and presenting the data during their annual review, create progress bars, badges, and fun weekly incentives.

According to Fast Company, “Spotify and LivingSocial have already replaced traditional reviews with mobile and gamified versions and reported that 90% of employees are voluntarily participating in the programs.”

The Numbers.

According to a recent Gallup report, only 13 percent of employees are engaged in their job, meaning that 87% of employees are either  “not engaged or indifferent—or even worse, actively disengaged and potentially hostile—to their organizations.”

Considering these statistics and the fact that 183 million Americans are active gamers, now may be the perfect time to insert games and incentives in the workplace.

Check out the event games High Attendance clients use to engage their audiences.

7 Marketing Emails That You Want To Open

According to HubSpot, 70% of 18-44-year-olds check their email on a smartphone. This means your subject line and opening image are more important than ever. Consumers will rarely open, let alone subscribe, if they aren’t immediately enticed. Here are a few examples of great marketing email openers.

1. Know Your Audience. Airbnb tailors their emails to an audience who enjoys traveling.

2. Exclusivity. Nike makes the recipient feel like they are on the A-list with an exclusive first look.

3. Personalization. HubSpot Includes the recipients first name in the subject line to give a more personal feel.

4. Eye Candy. Off Set leads with tantalizing photos that users can’t resist scrolling through.

5. Simplicity. Apple keeps it simple with a brief headline and clean image.

6. The Biggest And Best Subject Line. It’s hard not to keep scrolling when you catch a glimpse of the BIGGEST party of the year.

7. Make It Relevant. Jet Blue aligns their deals with major holidays and events.

The Biggest Event Tech Trends of 2015

From virtual reality sales pitches to emotion-based heat maps, check out the three biggest event tech trends of 2015.

  • Beacons: While beacons are not new to 2015 (Apple released the app-pairing technology in 2013), they have become one of the most popular tools to install at major events. The low-energy transmitters provide easier networking and navigation during events like South by Southwest. The Austin, Texas event paired beacons with their SXSW GO app to notify attendees as they moved throughout the festival this year. For example, instead of waiting in a long line, the app sent a QuickCode to attendees when they were in proximity of the registration area for a simple badge printing process. 

Create Marketing Emails That People Actually Read

Send Mobile-Friendly Mail.

According to HubSpot, mobile use has increased 400% since 2011. Today, 70% of 18 – 44 year-olds check their email on their smartphone. To create a more enjoyable mobile experience, format your emails in HTML instead of plain text. This allows for more colors, shapes, formatted photos, and an all-around better email. HTML is a must for newsletters, invites and any other form of mass emails.

Write The Perfect Subject Line.

There’s a fine line between clickbait and boring subject lines. Don’t be the one who leads with “You Won’t Believe What Happened When…” or “You’ve Been Doing This One Thing Wrong Your Entire Life…”

You also don’t want to title your email “January Newsletter.”

Be creative and straddle the line between clickbait and uninteresting. Here are a few of the best subject lines to get your creative juices flowing.

Reduce Your Spam Rate.

Rather than just ignoring your email, 58% of consumers said they would actually unsubscribe completely while 49% would mark you as spam. Email marketing isn’t Twitter – you shouldn’t be sending the same info to all of your contacts.

Create buyer personas to prevent spamming and generate more leads. Start with persona groups like “Marketing Mike” “CEO Shannon” “Sales Scott” and so on. Any time you come across a cold lead, drop them into a persona list based on their title. This will allow you to target and personalize your emails which will reduce your risk of ending up in the spam folder.

 

Six Tips for Better Event Lead Capture Surveys | Next-Gen Lead Capture Part IV

This is Part IV in our series on Next-Gen Lead Capture. Read Part I, Part II, Part III.

Almost certainly you’ve been there: getting scanned at a trade show while the sales or marketing rep also tries to bring you through a series of survey questions. And all you wanted was that cool light up ball for your kid. The quest for more data during lead capture is a noble one, but unfortunately it has become something of an afterthought for event marketers, and thus you are in that awkward scenario where the sales rep dread asking these questions. It is time to reignite this quest, nay this mission, to have a lead capture survey that actually works to turn leads into relationships!

Today, because we love you, we give you six tips for better event lead capture surveys, and we’re counting it down.

#6 TIP FOR BETTER EVENT LEAD CAPTURE SURVEYS: QUALIFY QUICKLY

The point of the survey is to get information that will help your sales team get the prospect to the next meeting, or as importantly, disqualify them from the sales process. Your goal is to qualify quickly, and depending on your business that may be as simple as asking a few very transparent questions such as:

  •      Do you have any plans to buy a <your industry solution> in the next 12 months?
  •      Have you implemented a <your industry solution> in the last 12 months?
  •      Are you answering these questions simply to get a tchotchke?

Sometimes cutting to the chase in the beginning is the best way to save time, and it also sets you up to go deeper depending on the answer.

#5 TIP FOR BETTER EVENT LEAD CAPTURE SURVEYS: TIERED TO GO DEEPER

Let’s imagine that the person does have plans to buy your super-duper widget in the next 12 months — now would probably be the time to ask some more interesting questions. The ability to tier your survey is critical, and it should align with a decision tree like:

#4 TIP FOR BETTER EVENT LEAD CAPTURE SURVEYS: ON-THE-FLY CUSTOMIZE

Survey questions are very personal, not for the participant, but for each member of your team. Every sales rep will want something different and there will be edits needed to be made right up until the event starts. Now you do have to create some ground rules in terms of question workflow, but you also need the ability to adapt to the sales reps needs and even the event attendees.

One great example is when we asked attendees about cloud-based data analytics. On day one of the event we noticed that the folks in this niche industry were  getting turned-off by the term ‘cloud’ and it was hurting our ability to establish relationship capture. Mid-morning we changed the question to read ‘secure SaaS-based data analytics’ and our problem was solved.

#3 TIP FOR BETTER EVENT LEAD CAPTURE SURVEYS: HUMOR WINS

In tip #6 we got a bit humorous around asking people if they were only there for the give-away. But it’s often the best way to engage people throughout a survey, even for the positive qualifying questions. When you align the sense of humor with your brand personality it can be a great way to relate to the person taking the survey.  

One great way to infuse humor is to relate it back to something happening in the current news cycle (CAUTION: Avoid politics). A good example was at an event right after Super Bowl 49 (Patriots beat Seahawks in dramatic fashion) and we slipped in this question in the middle of a 7 question tiered survey:

Should Pete Carroll have run the ball?

If you knew about the game you laughed and answered. And if you weren’t a football fan then you asked ‘Who is Pete Carroll’ and found out something new. Win-win (just like the Patriots).

#2 TIP FOR BETTER EVENT LEAD CAPTURE SURVEYS: VIDEO DAILY DOUBLE

Surveys are typically text based, even for the best lead capture apps, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate some interactive questions. If there is a video running or perhaps a demo then insert a question into the survey that not only gets you some insight into what they were paying attention to, but also sparks a conversation.

One amazing example happened when a travel luggage manufacturer  came out with a new top-line premium backpack. Their video loop had several celebrities modeling the new line in various outdoorsy scenarios and in the survey they would ask which celeb they remembered doing what? If the answer was Clooney hiking that lead to the next question of if they were avid hikers…and so on, and so on (see Tip #6).

#1 TIP FOR BETTER EVENT LEAD CAPTURE SURVEYS: QUIT WHILE YOU ARE AHEAD

That perfect lead is answering every tiered question and going deeper and deeper with you…STOP. Quit while you are ahead. Better yet have the survey graphically pop up a screen with something like “This person needs to go to some sessions now, leave them alone…they’ve told you everything.” It’s a great way to acknowledge their time and to leave the conversation at a point where you both want to talk more.

 

Tell us your tips for a killer lead capture survey at @captixevents, #leadsurvey.

Business Cards, Like a Handshake, Mark The Start of a Relationship | Next-Gen Lead Capture Part III

Part of a weeklong series looking at next-gen lead capture. Read Part I and Part II.

At a mere $20 for a pack of 500, the business card has long been the easiest way to have your professional identity printed on a 3.5 by 2-inch piece of paper. And because it’s so cheap they now get handed out like bingo cards at a nursing home. The problem is, and always has been, the business card is only the beginning, like a handshake, to establishing a relationship. Meanwhile you have a $400 relationship-tracking machine in your pocket.

Business cards have never been productive for large-scale lead retrieval, and it’s not even ideal anymore for small-scale relationship building.  In fact, grabbing a business card alone implies a lack of relationship building. This is a legacy problem because for so long sales and marketing teams have force fed their “lead quota” by collecting one hundred business cards in a fishbowl. It seems nonsensical to label that as a successful event since that contact info could have most likely been found online. Yet, that is the world we created and now must break apart.

Start The Relationship With A Business Card

Capturing leads shouldn’t be like an Easter egg hunt to see which sales team can get the most business cards in their fishbowl – the real success comes with finding the golden leads and controlling the conversation from there. Business cards can and should be the gateway to developing lasting relationships, but it takes more work than just collecting and inputting contact information.

While a handshake and an exchange of business cards is a perfectly acceptable way to start your relationship, you need to utilize technology to further the conversation. Now let’s be clear, by ‘employing technology,’ I don’t mean sending generic follow-ups and offers to every email address you collect. Quite the opposite. The follow-up should be just as personal as the initial interaction.

In comes next-gen lead capture (not only because it’s the name of this series, but it actually works better for sales teams accustomed to the card collecting churn).

Develop The Relationship With Intuitive Technology

Technology is a funny thing. While in some ways it can make communication feel shallower, in other ways it can be the key to building relationships. This is especially true for sales and marketing teams.

Lead capture apps were built knowing that the business card is the first step. After snapping a photo of the card and having the lead information appear on your smartphone, you can then start the personalization by using tags, surveys, and notes.

With apps like Overpass you can use specific indicators to sort leads into categories like Marketing Qualified, Sales Ready, Interested In Learning More About ____, etc. By using tags, notes, and surveys, you are no longer just collecting contact information, but rather compiling in-depth insights to build a lasting relationship. The person whose business card you just collected will now receive a personalized email that meets their exact interests, thus exponentially increasing your chance of controlling the conversation.

Without the initial interaction, technology is useless. You need the business card to build the relationship. And without pairing business cards with an app that understands this balance, they equate to nothing more than a firm handshake and nice gesture.

Evolve Lead Capture to Relationship Capture In Two (Plus Three) Steps | Next-Gen Lead Capture Part II

This is Part II in our series on Next-Gen Lead Capture. Read Part I.

Sales, the actual transaction not the process, don’t happen once a lead is captured — it happens when a relationship is built and the customer conversation is under control. Capturing that badge info or business card and putting it into salesforce.com is only the beginning, the true work begins when you start to build the relationship and control the customer conversation. The most fine-tuned marketing and sales organizations (called ‘Challengers’ in some circles) have started to evolve to this updated workflow of lead to relationship building to conversation control.

Thinking back to lessons learned around renting lead capture devices, one common goal for high-performing marketing and sales teams is reducing the friction around transitioning leads from capture to relationship building, and ultimately controlling the customer conversation. Naturally it seems that marketing, especially event marketing, could do a better job from the very beginning of controlling that conversation in order to reduce the sales cycle and build more longer lasting customer relationships.

In our quest to move towards a next-gen lead capture we should immediately start to look towards ways to more quickly capture relationships and move our sales teams into the customer conversation. But how? It’s easier than you might think and it doesn’t always involve technology. Below are four ways you can start the move towards next-gen lead capture today

The Top Of The Funnel Has Moved: Stop With Lead Count Goals

All too often we head out to events with a lead goal in mind. Even beyond events we all have a top funnel approach that revolves around capturing as many leads as needed to achieve revenue objectives. The problem? This approach is completely wrong, and worse it leads teams to waste resources and money in droves. While some folks believe the funnel has flipped, and it has, I view marketing and sales as a series of filters.

Leads are full of junk and must be sifted a few times in order to figure out who is ready for the relationship building stage —  this process can often take months if not years via strong nurturing programs. Filter one is all about the first “meeting set” stage of that relationship and that is really where you should align your marketing goals. Leads feed the meetings, but when you focus on a big lead number you lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing: the relationship!

When you start to measure the success of marketing by meetings set for sales rather than leads, you begin to see a big shift in the mentality, and ultimately the work done by the team. No longer is it about getting as many badge swipes as possible at a trade show (and passing out hundreds of worthless tchotchkes) but rather providing an interactive demo on the show floor and capturing pertinent relationship details in order to help sales get to that next meeting.

Over the years we’ve seen teams dramatically shift resources and their approach to marketing when they focused on meetings set rather than leads.

Chop the funnel!

Turn Lead Capture Devices Into Relationship Capture Machines

Now, a bit of technology advice. Because you have been focusing on that big lead goal as your measuring stick, you have been fine with basic inbound forms and those pesky rental lead capture devices. But when you are focused on relationships and meetings you can shift your mentality a bit and start worrying about capturing relationship details. Empowering your teams, whether marketers or sales, with a lead capture app that fits this mold is key.

We’ve talked about this a bit before, but let’s boil it down to three ‘must-haves’ for your next lead capture solution (assuming you are as sick of those rental ones as we are):

1. Work With Devices You Already Have

Today there is no reason not to simply convert your mobile device(s) into a lead capture tool. Apps now allow that to happen (obviously Overpass by Captix is one alternative…I mean we ARE in marketing here). When looking at these apps consider not only support for both iOS and Android, but also ease-of-use and how quickly you can get sales up and trained on the app itself. Do yourself a favor and test out the app first, then pick a guinea pig in sales to test this out while they are traveling around over the next month. Remember, lead capture is not just about events, a good lead can be captured while running through the airport to make  a connecting flight. Can the app allow sales to capture the lead and the relationship context?

2. Capture Context Not Just Phone Numbers

Speaking of relationship context, be sure that the app can not only collect all the pertinent info on a business card or badge, but that it also allows sales to then collect relationship context. This might simply be an easy way to collect notes, or a survey that can be personalized in real-time depending on the needs of the sales person Legacy rental devices are known for being difficult to change when it comes to surveys so be sure you can do this on the fly to capture the context that builds the relationships.

3. Integrate Into YOUR Workflow

Next-gen lead capture is all about enhancing your current marketing investment through integration of captured leads. Be sure that you have seamless integration every popular marketing automation and CRM solution. But more importantly confirm that your team can easily route lead context data whether at a major trade show, regional roundtable, or dashing through the airport.

Next-gen lead capture allows marketers to collect context to build relationships, control the customer conversation, and realize never before witnessed ROI. But it takes a vision of how to evolve your current measurement standards, technology tools, and sometimes mentality. In Part III we’ll start to face some of the more tactical challenges of next-gen lead capture…the business card as a gateway drug.

Nightmares of Rental Lead Capture Devices | Next-Gen Lead Capture Part I

The name was on the tip of his tongue, and each time he spouted it out loud we all laughed a little bit with our juvenile senses of humor. But that jovial emotion wasn’t shared by the person shouting out the name, now more AT me than TO me, because it was the name of his number one lead after leaving our number one event of the year.

It was 2009 and the event was the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco, a major cybersecurity trade show where my team had just run a highly successful and, what turned out to be, profitable event. But something was amiss while talking to our sales rep in the southwest days later. That great conversation and demo he gave on the show floor to…well let’s just call him Mr. Smith was not recorded in the lead count from the event now living in salesforce.com.

A conversation ensued, one that many marketers might find familiar:

Me: “No worries Wayne, we’ll check the original .csv file that we downloaded from the lead retrieval devices we rented. You remember scanning him?”

Wayne: “Yes, no doubt, we actually laughed about how awkward the device was when scanning the badges.”

Me: “OK, I have the file up…yeah, he’s not listed in here…weird…hmmmm.”

Wayne: “What about Mr. Simmons? He’s not in salesforce either.”

Me: “Yeah, nobody with that name in the original leads. Oh god.”

Wayne: “What?”

Me: “The lead count is way off…some of the devices must have been faulty or the download messed up…or…Wayne, I’ll call you back, we’ll figure this out.”

Fast-forward after many calls to the lead retrieval company (we won’t name names, but it’s one we all have used and still use) who were extremely nice and supportive, but ultimately could not help me retrieve what we estimated at 225 leads now missing. Walking into my boss’s office that afternoon to tell her about the missing leads was not fun, and ultimately it was on me, even if the technology was the fail.

At RSA 2010 I skipped the onsite lead rental service and actually came in with a homegrown solution that cost me a lot of money and time to develop. We didn’t lose one lead that year…but Wayne never got back to Mr. Smith.

Rental Lead Capture Devices: Costly, Clunky, Capricious

It’s more of the same in 2015 when it comes to renting lead capture devices at events. They are not only costly, but the technology is often legacy-based, difficult to use, and seemingly hard to train your staff on the floor. But it’s also been the only game in town, and quite frankly it’s just easier to not have to worry about this piece of equipment with all the other challenges of managing a big (or small) event. Yet, capturing leads and turning those into business is exactly why you are at the event.

In 2010 when we rolled our own lead capture system we not only did it to grab those all-important email addresses and phone numbers, but integrated it with our backend marketing system to more rapidly touch the lead. For example if you visited with us that year you not only got scanned, but in 30 seconds you also told us your main business problem and what your timeframe for purchase might look like. Depending on your answer you had a customized email in your inbox the next morning with links to appropriate resources.

The only problem? The iPad had just been announced a month before, iPhones were only 2 years old (and most people in security didn’t use them) so our hardware was still clunky, and often frustrated the sales reps when capturing leads. Ultimately this was an idea ahead of its time.

Next-Gen Lead Capture: Accessibility, Accuracy, and Affordability

Today the market has spoken and organizations are looking for lead capture devices that are:

  1. Accessible. I can use the hardware my sales team already has in their pockets or bags, and it can extend off the event floor to anywhere a good conversation occurs.
  2. Accurate. I get the exact data no matter if it’s a badge scan or a business card, and it is verified by human eyes and seamlessly integrated into my marketing and sales automation workflow.
  3. Affordable. I don’t have to lock down a big percentage of my event budget simply to capture the leads.

All this week we are going to look at the three A’s of next-gen lead capture and discuss what this means for today’s marketer. Throughout the week we will also be providing tips on how you can transition your lead capture into relationship capture in order to reduce the sales cycle and establish stronger customer connections.

Don’t Simply Capture Leads, Build Relationships | Event Marketing Trends 2015, Part IV

Part of a weeklong series looking at the trends driving event, experiential, and face-to-face marketing. Read Part I, Part II, and Part III.

This entire week we’ve talked about the new trends in event marketing, ranging from how companies are measuring ROI to the use of VR in booths. It is interesting to consider then the crossroads of technology with lead capture since the measurement of overall success will depend squarely on how you gather, integrate, nurture, and close those event leads. Surprisingly this is often an after thought for most marketing professionals, or merely a check box before the event happens.

Rent lead capture device…CHECK.

We all know the technology for lead capture devices need a reboot, not to mention B2B event management software, but rather than harp on the technology itself, lets dive into the way humans need to evolve their use of the technology. Capturing leads is something a machine does, building proper relationships that leads to sales is something we do as humans, and should be a main goal of any event marketer. It becomes paramount then that you train your staff in the fine art of building relationships at events. No matter what technology you use for event management and lead capture be sure to measure that solution by a human-driven criteria of how it will help build sales-qualified relationships at events.

Four Ways to Build Sales-Qualified Relationships at Events 

I)               Minimize Automate Workflow

Marketing and sales have often been connected at the hip, although at the same time often trying to go in opposite directions. The dawn of marketing automation systems (MAS) and customer relationship management (CRM) platforms helped to put these two camps into sync. Today most organizations have a semblance of automated workflow when it comes to inbound leads:

Web Form –> Scoring –> Sales Assignment –> Task Creation

This now all happens between the MAS and the CRM, both marketing and sales is notified, templates are used, and follow up ensues. Every organization is different, but they have worked hard to figure this problem out and automate this once manual workflow. So…why is event marketing so far behind the curve?

Even if you use today’s event management software and rent those legacy lead capture systems the workflow between marketing and sales becomes yet again a manual process. Having run events for many companies it would often baffle me how hard it was for us to not only capture the leads, but then integrate all the business cards collected, notes written on the back of napkins, and wistful memories of a sales guy who talked to some dude named John who really wanted to buy.

In order to really move away from simply lead capture and towards building sales-ready relationships today’s event marketer has to get smarter about automating the entire workflow. This is not simply the ability to quickly port over leads into your MAS or CRM, but empower sales to build relationships outside of the booth, integrate into their workflow, and adapt to their unique personalities and set of skills. Accomplish the three items below and you will accomplish this number one criteria for event management software.

II)              Extend The Reach Off Show Floor

This is a topic I’ve written about before while providing tips on where to physically extend your reach at an event, but for today’s topic it’s important to consider the event management tech you are using. Is it mobile-ready, meaning can you not only incorporate it for management and registration off show floor, but lead capture can reach through every nook of the event. A simple question can help you determine the capabilities here; If my sales guy has the perfect lead lined up at Starbucks two floors away from our rented lead capture device and has zero business cards can he get that info digitally so that it integrates with our full event workflow?

The answer needs to be yes if you want to be able to properly automate event relationship workflow and measure your ROI.

III)            Integrate Into Sales Workflow

Speaking of workflow, your sales team has their own that in some cases they’ve been using for decades. Don’t disrupt it, we do that enough with marketing automation and CRM. Instead learn how they like to deal with event leads, how they want to build relationships, and adapt your event marketing solution into that workflow. A prime example is extending the lead capture device out into the palms of their hand (and yes, Overpass is a good example). But also consider how leads get tagged, tasked, and scored when uploaded into the CRM. Your team will want different levels of information about their leads, and perhaps they have notes they put into the system at the time of capture. How that information goes into the CRM and is then built into the task they get, most likely via mobile, can be the difference between a quick and personalized response and a lead going cold.

IV)           Adapt to User Personalities

Finally, and this is kind of associated with the above, be sure to use technology that adapts not only to all the sales personalities, but also the marketers on your team. The event management solution must be built to not simply be easy-to-use and accessible from anywhere, but it shouldn’t have 15 modules to get the job done. My simple rule here is whenever I hear terms like ‘platform’ or ‘add-on’ I walk away from that technology. It means it’s probably difficult to use, not out-of-the-box comprehensive, and will probably demand a special skillset from a team member. When evaluating systems be sure that during the demo you ask them to show you the product they would deploy if you spent the least amount of money with them…then sit back and watch them scramble.

About the Author: Kyle Flaherty is an award-winning marketing and brand executive, craft beer connoisseur, and devout Boston sports fanatic. He currently runs his own marketing agency and works with the team at Captix (consider yourselves disclosed).

Making Event Marketing Experiential Marketing | Event Marketing Trends 2015, Part III

Part of a weeklong series looking at the trends driving event, experiential, and face-to-face marketing. Read Part I and Part II.

By now we see the writing on the wall after the first two parts of our series on event marketing in 2015, but because we all love bullet points let’s summarize:

  • Event marketing budgets are RISING, and by a lot.
  • ROI remains a critical component of any event-marketing program, but event marketers seem confused by what that means.
  • Marketing folks are putting Facebook ‘Likes’ above actual sales when measuring event ROI.
  • Event marketing technology spend is also on the rise and it is focused in two areas; attendee experience and attendee lifecycle management.

The technology component is now where we begin to tread. Having established many of the business trends pushing event marketing, it’s time to understand the technology drivers. And by the looks of it attendees are in for a big dose of techno-driven event marketing throughout 2015 and 2016. And it all starts with the experience the attendees have come to expect at a conference.

The recent report from GES walks through the top 50 trends impacting trade shows that experiential is becoming event marketing, and therefore technology will play a huge role. Right up front the report lays it out for you:

CMOs agree that this is the year marketers will go “all in” on experiential with bolder budgets, bolder strategies and bolder experiences that tie together creative, execution and data analysis. “And marketers are using big strategies and big data in a meaningful way, to use events to generate meaningful intelligence,” says George Hines, CIO and Head of Innovation at Global Experience Specialists (GES).

Now take this with a grain of salt, since the “E” in GES stands for “Experience” and this is the company that wants to help you with your event marketing. But that being said the writing does seem to be on the proverbial wall when it comes to taking event marketing to the next level. And the most interesting element of the use of technology is how it is being used pre-, during, and post-event. Today we split the hair and focus on the actual event experience and the technology being used to influence attendees.

Experience at Events Means Digital

Walk any event floor, no matter how large, and the digital experience has transcended from the simple monitor-to-monitor walls that are interactive, virtual reality (VR), even digital brochures. People want to experience products and services now in a whole different way, and virtual reality is seemingly the best way to drive this goal. Two fantastic examples of VR came across our desk recently.

First, at Blackhat last week in Las Vegas the team at Raytheon Websense were filling their booth nearly every minute and strapping on VR headsets to attendees. Once on, the folks weren’t simply hearing a sales pitch, they could experience the message in a whole new way, and this is something Raytheon does in other areas. Second is the Lowe’s Holoroom, which can be used by customers to help plan a remodel or refresh project.

Baby Steps Rule When Incorporating Tech into Events

Now a warning; this technology can be expensive AND it can be used poorly in the hands of bad marketers. At the same event last week another vendor had a similar VR experience that was a complete fail because they basically rebuilt a sales pitch into a 3D version of Powerpoint. Listen team, even in 3D, nobody wants to see Powerpoint. And this is an important lesson about involving technology into any event experience; you still must hit the basics around your strategy and content.

VR, BLE, 3D, Drones, Eye Gaze, 3D Printing, Smart Watches…the technology is all out there and a lot of marketers will be compelled to try the latest and greatest. But think for one minute before you go to the cutting edge, have you even successfully accomplished all you can with what is now viewed as basic technology?

One great example is the use of tablets at events. At first they were giveaways, then they were used for lead capture (sometimes, and often poorly), and now people are realizing that tablets can extend their booth presence and provide a great experience for attendees. Again, from the GES report:

Siemens at HIMSS demonstrated a new IT software solution with a 25-foot display of 188 iPad tablets linked to each other to create synchronized media showcases. Other health care companies are using tablets and software-enabled accessories to demonstrate, among things, how to administer medicine with a syringe the correct way. On top of that, inline entertainment magic tricks and trivia games powered with tablet kiosk stations are just tipping the iceberg on how tablets and software will continue to inform but, more importantly, engage and entertain.
So, before you head out for VR or something else that might prove hard to implement in both form and function in these early days, look around and figure out how you can better use the tech you already have. Just always apply the golden rule of event marketing: “Create an experience that drives business goals.” If you stay in that scope you’ll be fine and capturing all those leads…well if you are using the right technology for that too, but more on that in Part IV.

About the Author: Kyle Flaherty is an award-winning marketing and brand executive, craft beer connoisseur, and devout Boston sports fanatic. He currently runs his own marketing agency and works with the team at Captix (consider yourselves disclosed).

How (Not) To Measure Event Marketing ROI | Event Marketing Trends 2015, Part II

Part of a weeklong series looking at the trends driving event, experiential, and face-to-face marketing. Read Part I.

ROI remains a critical component of any event marketing program, and as we discussed in Part I companies are seeing a dramatic rise in overall event budgets, including directly from corporate spend. The research, however, becomes a bit more confusing when you start to look at how brands measure success of these programs.

According to the fantastic EventTrack 2015 report, 79% of brands are measuring event and experiential programs, up from 78% last year and 71% in 2013. That’s good, you have to measure to understand. The confusion sets in when you look at WHAT they define by success:

Interesting, no? While you can’t even start to measure ROI without attendees (so we’ll just put that to the side), simply getting a “Like’ or social media mention does not translate back into an actual return, and the fact that only 58% considered leads a barometer of success is concerning at best. But if you dive more deeply into the numbers it becomes even more odd. According to the report:

The survey asked specifically: What ROI do you expect from events? Forty-eight percent of brands realize a ROI of between 3:1 to 5:1, and 29% indicated their return is over 10:1. Twelve percent say their ROI is 20:1 or higher.

Firstly, those data points don’t really answer the question, but putting that aside the numbers are misleading when you consider that 61% of brands considered a Facebook ‘Like’ a measure of ROI. In that world a 10:1 ROI ration is completely achievable…but it’s still not true ROI since you aren’t measuring it against the total cost of the event itself.

Now, before you get all up in my marketing face I do realize that some events are about brand awareness and exposure, but that doesn’t mean you can’t alter your measurement to define a true ROI. The capabilities are there to track direct revenue through an event, even when it goes from offline to online via social media. And it is obvious that event marketers are confused by all of this measurement simply by the next chart in the report:

This is, of course, the more granular version of the first graph where we see attendance, social, and leads as the top three…but look who is bringing up the fourth spot, SALES! And, in fact, it’s only 1% lower than leads. But wait, look at how the percentage fluctuates year-over-year. In 2012 it was 46%, growing to 49% and then a huge leap to 66% in 2014. Yet in 2015 it has started to recede to 57%. That’s a big drop off and one must wonder why. Although the report doesn’t analyze this it might have to do with the meteoric rise of the influence of social in determining event marketing ROI. It also is more confusing when you notice the other line item of ‘Gross sales related to the event’. If you take both of these into consideration would sales be above social? No.

Why? Well, it’s easier to measure. Facebook and Twitter come out of the book with decent analytics, and if you use a third-party system you are getting even more granular data. It is also easier to accomplish in today’s environment where anyone will ‘Like’ you if you give them a free t-shirt. And this has, in many ways, created a perception of event marketing driven more for overall awareness and less for cold-hard cash. But like all marketing programs before it the pendulum will swing, especially with event budgets increasing, and marketers must be ready to measure ROI directly back to sales.

Technology Enables Event Marketing ROI

One of the reasons this should be easier is the rise of better, more comprehensive, and easier to use event marketing management software. In just the past year we have seen tremendous growth in this market as traditional marketing automation players have struggled to provide event management as a capability. The reason is simple, big brands are, like with any IT purchase, more interested in best-of-breed over comprehensive platforms.

If we take the analysis in this report at face value (and I do for the most part) we know budgets are increasing for event marketing, which will mean the leaders of these programs need better tools in which to manage events. These solutions must have the ability to measure ROI, and that will only come when you can manage the entire lifecycle of an event attendee. From the pre-event emailers and registration, to onsite check-in and collaboration, through to post-event communication and data integration into your CRM, this is the data fingerprint that can be used to measure true ROI.

Technology is not only an enabler to measure event marketing ROI, when used correctly, but can also help establish a brand presence at an event and drive those attendees. In Part III we look at some of the trends event marketers are using to drive a better attendee experience, and that folds in with Part IV and what technologies they use to track the attendee lifecycle. I’ll leave you with this quote from Errol Ahearn, VP of Global Design at GES in their annual trends research report:

“Everybody is sharpening their swords, getting better and better with the help of technology, whether it’s their pull-through strategy or booth rep engagement; it’s rare now to see anyone displaying a stagnant design year over year.”

About the Author: Kyle Flaherty is an award-winning marketing and brand executive, craft beer connoisseur, and devout Boston sports fanatic. He currently runs his own marketing agency and works with the team at Captix (consider yourselves disclosed).

Event Marketing Drives Business, Which Drives Budget, But Brands Still Fail at Measuring Success | Event Marketing Trends 2015, Part I

Part of a weeklong series looking at the trends driving event, experiential, and face-to-face marketing. See all posts here.

Irony, although seemingly hard for some people to conceptualize, can be found throughout the annals of the latest research around event and experiential marketing. In our world of interconnected technologies and the ‘Internet of Things’ the momentum for marketers is squarely found in better face-to-face marketing (F2F). We inherently trust that with which we can see, and F2F marketing via events both digital and analog are clearly growing.

According to the recently published “EventTrack 2015” budgets for event and experiential marketing has increased 6% since 2014. Now when compared to grotesque growth numbers often touted this may seem measly, but one has to dive a bit deeper to understand why this is important. According to 58% of the brands interviewed (these are all Fortune 1000 companies) this budget is being supplied directly by corporate, rather than being from another part of the marketing mix. The significance in this number is that in 2014 it was 35%.

That 23% boost is a big indicator that corporate marketing is seeing results from event marketing, thus they are finding more sources of budget to fund their F2F marketing programs. Brands don’t just directly fund initiatives unless there is a corresponding ROI, well at least not the good brands. And it’s fairly evident from the research that the top two reasons brands are investing in event marketing are sales leads and brand awareness.

“It’s just further evidence that Fortune 1000 companies are using live en­gagements to building their business—and their brand. The data shows a clear and present picture of strengthening strategies, bolder campaigns and definable metrics as marketers use events to drive product knowledge and understand­ing and influence deeper customer involvement.” –EventTrack 2015

What Comes First, The Budget or the Results?

Marketers are forever challenged with grabbing budget to show results, and showing results to grab budgets. When considering other marketing venues such as digital, content, email, or traditional direct it can often be easier to walk before you run in order to establish ROI and then scale up. In terms of event, experiential, and F2F marketing, brands, especially those outside of the Fortune 1000, can have difficulty since these types of programs are often more expensive and certainly more resource-intensive. But it’s still possible to start small.

One of the easiest ways to dabble in the event marketing realm and measure success is the ‘lunch & learn’. These are really ideal ways for teams to get moving on F2F marketing, extend their current event marketing, or even dabble in something experiential (rather than the typical steakhouse, invite prospects to a lunchtime cooking class). Now running a lunch & learn isn’t easy, but if you do it right it can show results and get you that bigger budget (check out this how-to guide on hosting a lunch & learn to get started).

Another suggestion we make to brands is to piggy-back on an event that you have already locked down, like an industry trade show. Last week many brands in the cybersecurity industry were at Black Hat, where big brands owned much of the scene with big off-floor events and experiences. But other companies such as Lancope, a hot startup out of Atlanta, used the event to throw a smaller party focused on customers, partners, and industry luminaries.

Big Brands Still Need Help Measuring 

These are both great ways for a team to measure the impact of their own event as part of an industry event, and then report back the ROI in order to grab budget for future events.

And that brings us back to one of the most critical aspects of any F2F marketing, and that is the ability to track the overall impact to the business itself. All too often we attend events, even those well planned in advance, and see limited check-in capabilities (yes, I’m talking about the sign-in sheet or, shudder, Excel). Within the EventTrack 2015 report we see that 79% of brands are measuring event and experiential programs, up from 78% last year and 71% in 2013. But the interesting fact is HOW they measure event success:

Surprised? I was…because revenue or sales is completely missing from the mix. Why? Well, more on that in Part II!

About the Author: Kyle Flaherty is an award-winning marketing and brand executive, craft beer connoisseur, and devout Boston sports fanatic. He currently runs his own marketing agency and works with the team at Captix (consider yourselves disclosed).

4 Ways to Extend Lead Retrieval at Black Hat 2015

Las Vegas is seemingly always busy, but this week there is certainly a different kind of buzz as the world’s most renowned hackers and cybersecurity vendors descend on Sin City for Black Hat and DEFCON. Tens of thousands of people are streaming through the Mandalay Bay conference center as we speak, and our esteemed marketing colleagues in their booths on the show floor are eagerly getting ready to qualify some leads (most using the in-house lead retrieval). But the potential for great conversations and the need to collect info doesn’t stop when you leave the show floor.

Good marketing and sales folks know that, often times, the best conversations happen in the hall, in line to that sponsored party, or even sharing a cab back to the airport. The problem is, and sure you can blame the Vegas lifestyle, that card you grabbed either gets lost or the general gist of the conversation disappears with your lack of sleep. Companies are now realizing the event lead management is a 24/7 proposition and the onset of apps like Overpass allow your team to make that happen.

For everyone at Black Hat we wanted to provide four tips for extending lead retrieval beyond the show floor, and if you do need an app to manage these go grab Overpass and then let us know how it worked for you!

4 Tips for Extending Leads Off the Black Hat Show Floor

1) Stand in Line. Last night the line to the FireEye party wrapped around the casino floor at Mandalay…and honestly some of the best conversations were happening. We even saw one guy doing a product demo on his tablet. And parties aren’t the only place for good line-standing, just go check out the line for taxis around 6pm tonight.

2) Starbucks, Starbucks, Starbucks. The person who placed the Starbucks as you walk into the conference center was a genius, and it also provides an ideal location to not only run into strangers and old friends, but have a meeting away from the craziness of the show floor. But remember, there is another Starbucks under the escalators to Mandalay Place (the shops), and that actually provides some semi-private areas to have conversations.

3) Party Animal. It’s Vegas and there are marketers sponsoring, so of course there are parties. We’ve found from many years at Black Hat that the best ones are often in the biggest areas (House of Blues, etc) because there is more space to actually sit an talk to other people. But even in the smaller venues you can find nooks to talk folks up. Last night, the team at Lancope had their shindig at Minus5, which is smaller, but if you go to the non-frozen part of the bar in the back it’s ideal for meeting folks and drumming up business.

4) Non-Sales People, REPRESENT! The show floor doesn’t open until 10am and there are sessions throughout the morning. We always encourage companies at Black Hat to make sure they are not only sending actual delegates to the show, but that those people are equipped to gather lead info. These non-marketing/sales folks are actually really key since they will have the best conversations of the show during sessions. Just train them on how to get contact information and transfer that to your team (again, something like Overpass helps).

Enjoy the show!

Jaguar Tracks Fans Emotions At Wimbledon

What do luxury sports cars and Wimbledon have in common? Other than an expensive price tag, they both make your pulse race… or so Jaguar says.

The luxury sports automaker collected masses of data to track excitement during the professional tennis tournament last week. By distributing GPS-enabled wristbands to select spectators, they were able to track both atmospheric and biometric levels. The branded cuffs used sensor technology to measure heart rate, audio levels, and crowd movements. While the crowd’s energy was measured through wristbands, overall opinion (sociometric) was determined via social media by using the hashtag #FeelWimbledon.

Partnered with Mindshare UK, Lightwave, and Maido, Jaguar used these metrics to create an emotion-based picture of Wimbledon. The data-driven heat map pulsated when certain players entered the court or key shots were won.

Chris Cardew, Mindshare’s strategy head, explains the visualization in AdWeek.

“When Andy Murray walks onto the court and everyone suddenly shoots up and moves around, that’s about pride and anticipation the match provides the moment in the story and the data validates it.”

Fans were able to view each individual metric (atmospheric, biometric and sociometric) on a live feed with charts, photos and explainers.

While Jaguar literally made it to center court with this marketing gimmick, measuring emotions of spectators isn’t exactly groundbreaking.

In 2014, Beyond Verbal, a company that uses speech to measure emotion raised $3.3 million. Their app, Moodies, tracks speaker’s mood and tone and then displays the results in an animation which users can agree with, disagree and share the results on their social platforms.

Beyond Verbal demonstrated its capabilities last year during IIeX, a market research conference with more than 500 attendees. The voice-reading app was downloaded by attendees and then used to measure their moods throughout the event.

“It was really useful to understand the ebbs and flows of emotional states throughout the day,” said Leonard Murphy, chief editor and principal consultant at GreenBook. “As event planners it made us step back and realize there were some things we could do structurally to the event to reinforce the positive and reduce the negative.”

Although Jaguar’s campaign was more for entertainment purposes than big data, implementing emotion-reading technology could make a serious impact on the structure of major events.

Industry Leader Interview: Cassandra Grabowski With High Beam Events

She doesn’t go to the pool without packing three different types of sunscreen.

“I’m a Type A planner,” admits Cassandra (Cass) Grabowski.

Although it drives her crazy at times, Grabowski’s formulaic nature has contributed to her success as the Vice President of High Beam Events.

Tell me about the path that led you to event management.

I started in Destination Management Services (DMS) in Arizona. DMS provides assistance for corporations that are coming into town. We would arrange transportation to and from the airport, plan activities for the guests to do in between meetings, coordinate their dinner functions, and anything else they needed. And before that I worked for a team building company, also in Arizona, We would put on things like barbecue cook-offs, build a covered wagon events, and all these really fun but silly team building exercises for people to get to know their coworkers. And then following that I went to South Korea for a year to teach English and actually met my fiancé there. He lived in Austin at the time so I ended up moving here with him after our contracts were up. When I moved here I landed a job at High Beam as a seasonal employee. Every year we hire event contractors to help with our South by Southwest planning because that’s our biggest account — it’s really the bread and butter for our business. I was chosen as one of those people to come on for the season, and our company policy is that we don’t hire anyone until they’ve survived South by Southwest planning. From there I got a permanent job and have been working at High Beam for the past five years.

Tell me about the different services you offer and events you plan.

We can help coordinate all different types of events. We’ve done birthday parties to the Tribeza fashion show. We’ve planned non-profit events for Texas Advocacy Project and different schools in the area. And then we do destination management work — we’re looking to really expand that here in Austin with all the hotels that are being built. And then we do our South by Southwest experimental marketing.

What do you think makes High Beam different from other event planning companies?

I think our staff makes us different. We have a lot of people from different backgrounds and everyone contributes in an organic kind of way. The owner, Sam Staples, really allows us to have the creative freedom to continue to grow and work on the projects that we are passionate about. The company is unique and fun because we all love the environment that we are in and we get along so well. On top of that, we really just like creative challenges. We want people to approach us with a wide range of creative projects, even things we haven’t done before. And if it’s something that sounds interesting to us then we’ll take it on even if the budget is lower or higher than normal.

We are always learning and growing. We even do boot camps over the summer to better educate ourselves. Some of our planners right now are taking courses at ACC on design software. We’ve built a tent at a rental company together so that we understand and appreciate what goes into it and how it works. We go to lighting warehouses and do the same thing. We are always trying to educate ourselves and be exposed to the different elements. I think it’s a combination of all those aspects that makes us stand out.

Tell me about one of your highlight events.

A couple years ago we did a really unique activation for Nokia during South by Southwest. We flew in a huge projection dome where you could project from the inside and see in from the outside. It was talked about a lot because it was something that had never been done at the festival before. I think we have a competitive advantage because we helped build the South by Southwest party program so we know everything that’s been done and what works. It’s coming up with those really out of the box ideas that makes us stand out.

We also did the activation with Grumpy Cat and Mashable a couple years ago and that was the most Tweeted event that year.

Personally, I do the interactive opening party every year for the festival. It’s their official kickoff party.

So High Beam is the official South by Southwest event planner?

Yes, we hold the contract to produce all of their official events. We don’t produce all of them because there are just so many, but we do produce a lot of them. That kick off party has been very fun. It was my first party on my first day of South by Southwest. We had around 5,000 people that year but we’ve scaled down a bit since then because it was getting so big. This past year we had the event on the JW Marriot pool deck and that was a great turnout.

What’s your schedule like? What’s a normal week for you?

It definitely changes a lot. My role involves taking a lot of the inquiries and fielding those calls so I have a lot of meetings throughout the day, and I’m also managing our team. We kind of take multitasking to the extreme because we are usually working on 80 things at once — our schedule is really all over the place.

How many events do plan per year?

That’s a tough question because we do so much during South by Southwest. So we did somewhere between 200 to 250 events for this past South by Southwest. We are preparing all year for the festival and that amount of parties. And then the rest of the year is a bit more infrequent. So our planning season is basically August to April for South by Southwest.

What kind of technology do you use to plan and manage these events?

We use FileMaker to do our planning. During events we are always looking for new technology. That’s what we are doing now, during our offseason. We are researching companies all over the U.S. that are doing something interesting that we want to bring to Austin. We are always interested in projections and lighting. A lot of that comes from the High Beam owner who used to be a lighting designer. She’s instilled that into all of us so we are always searching for new and cool technology.

What makes an event successful for you?

Happy clients. I think the best part of an event is seeing the dream come to life and your client happy. It’s like showing them a picture and then creating that exact picture — that’s what I think makes an event successful. It’s the culmination of the entire process.

What’s the most frustrating part about event planning?

The part I hate the most is relying on other people when you build such high expectations on the service that you’re delivering. You have all of these vendors and people who are on board to help create and bring that vision to life, and then somebody drops the ball and doesn’t fulfill what they were supposed to. That’s the most stressful part for me because there’s only so much you can do when that happens. It’s like when a vendor only brings half the lighting you ordered and there’s no time to go back to the warehouse before the event so you just have to make it work. I hate that because so many people spent time creating this beautiful space and now there’s nothing you can do to fix it. I think that’s the most stressful and frustrating part of the job.

What’s the best part of your job?

As far as being at High Beam, it’s the clientele that we’re exposed to here in Austin. You can’t get that everywhere else, unless you’re in a major city. I am surprised all the time by all of the interesting and cool projects that I get to be a part of. I thought that I would have to live in New York or LA to get that same level of experience — it’s amazing that we can have that here. I never dreamed of working with MTV and here we are producing the Woodie Awards every year. The best part of my job is being able to work on those interesting projects with interesting people, and helping bring a vision to life and stand out.

Industry Leader Interview: Chris Perez With Citygram

Three years ago Chris Perez found himself at a crossroads where he had to choose between continuing on the safe path or taking a leap of faith and starting his own digital magazine.

Today the founding editor of Citygram steps out of his perfectly Austin office with a huge smile. He is beaming with pride as he introduces his team of writers and photographers. We walk through the shared work space where trees hang from the ceiling — it perfectly embodies the creative community.

He notices that I’m intrigued by the eclectic decor and begins telling about the origins of the building. It becomes clear that he chose the right path.

Describe Citygram in one sentence.

It’s an Austin lifestyle magazine designed to read on your smart phone and tablet.

What was the inspiration behind it?

I was an engineer at IBM when I started doing photography for Apartment Therapy on the weekends. I needed a creative outlet so I took this random position and didn’t know where it was going to lead me.

I met a lot of people and got connected to the creative culture in Austin when I was doing photography for this national design blog. It was just so energizing. Everyone I met had a story and they were all doing something that they were passionate about. But I was just doing this on the weekend and still worked my full time job during the week. Eventually it became the whole “Do you work for money or do you work for the joy of life?” But I had a home, car, and family to support, so I knew it would be tough.

I needed a business idea out of it.

I knew I wanted to layer all of my skills so that I wasn’t just writing or taking photos. I needed to take advantage of my engineering background too. I loved media and digital magazines, and the ones I liked the most were the ones that were really well designed for a tablet. Austin had nothing like this at the time so that seemed like an opportunity for me. I downloaded the software, I made some concepts and showed it to the people I trust. There was an overwhelming response telling me to go through with it. So that was the start of it.

Why Austin?

It started in Austin because I was connected here through my past media work. It’s a small town where you have less than six degrees of connection, so that really helps you gain traction. And so many people here read media online already, whether it’s a blog or social media, so that also made it easier to punch through.

I got some of the top writers in all the sections that we cover: fashion, arts and culture, design, everything. We gained leverage right away when they used their following and trust to speak on my platform.

What is the best part of your job? What excites you the most?

The best part of my job is that I get to help people. There are a lot of facets to that.

First, I feel like the stories we write highlight people that may be under the radar and don’t get the same attention from other outlets. While many outlets are just pushing out content like a list or short summary, we try to write long stories and do these people justice. This is one of the reasons that we launched in the app space – we don’t have to compete for Google clicks with those sites.

The other part of helping people is all about the team that we’ve developed at Citygram. I love being able to transfer knowledge and feel like I’m helping my team. Today everyone is so multi-talented so I like to challenge my team and have them do multiple things and watch their confidence grow. It’s so rewarding.

What aspects of your job do you find most stressful?

The most stressful part is running a business. It’s figuring it out and then going somewhere with it but not knowing exactly where that is.

You host events and meet-ups. What is the goal with them?

We’re a digital magazine that can be downloaded or deleted at any time so we have to live not just by our space on social media, but also a physical space. Events are one way for us to do that. And the whole brand loyalty aspect. If they like what we do at the event, they will respect what we do as a company too.

It’s outreach. It’s marketing. It’s connection building. It’s brand loyalty.

What has been the highlight event so far?

The last event we had was our biggest one. It was a 3-day festival called One by One Texas that featured 100 Instagram artists and their work. That was very successful.

Instagram is our most popular platform so that’s where the connection was. Everyone spread the word on their own accounts whether it was the food truck catering the party or the artists. Then when the guests showed up, it was even more than they expected. This is the experience I want people to have within our app. It is getting people to check you out and then having those conversions whether it’s at an event or within the app.

How do you select the location and vendors?

At Citygram, we try to be tastemakers of the city and tell you about things that we really love. This works the same with our events. We choose what we would want, so with One by One event it was a lot of barbecue and beer. We choose what we think is the best in town and would make a fun experience.

What about the smaller events like the one where you had a bartender teach guests how to make craft cocktails?

Some of those are pitched to us. We are a media company so restaurants and bars will pitch ideas to us. Sometimes it’s organic and we find each other and other times it’s them asking us to be part of it, but we wouldn’t agree if we didn’t think the event would be cool.

How do you promote these events?

Social media mostly. We post it everywhere but we get the most reach and feedback on Instagram. It’s the media platform of the moment.

What makes an event successful for you?

The amount of people who show up. I always have a number in mind and if it meets or exceeds that number then it’s successful for me. We were hoping for 1,000 people at the One By One event and ended up getting around 3,000 throughout the weekend so that was a success.

In what ways has Citygram changed the way you look at Austin? Has it at all?

It has. There’s good music, art, and design everywhere… but there’s something about the people in Austin. We try to tell interesting stories about people through our app so now when I go around Austin I’m trying to find those people and those stories. When I look around I don’t just see another building, instead I think, “Who is behind that? Who is developing it?”

And then on the business side, you start seeing the linkage and network behind everything. Before Citygram that wasn’t something I looked at. It’s about seeing who the influencers are and realizing things like “oh that restaurant is there because of that person.” You start seeing where those people planted their seeds and how other people are growing from them. It’s really cool to see the lineage and how it all works.

What is the ultimate goal with Citygram?

I want to tell stories. I want to bring back some of the joy that people had with print, whether it is the photos or the long stories that you can spend an afternoon reading. We want to bring that into the digital world. In this fast paced world where people are just pushing out content at such a high frequency, we want to be the breathe of fresh air. I want to give people who are proud of their craft a digital platform to showcase their work.

Anything else that you want people to know about Citygram?

Check out our new issue and let us know what you think. We’re always interested in feedback and respond to everything we receive. Be part of the conversation.

You can download Citygram in the app store (iTunes, Google Play) or check out their site:  http://citygrammag.com

Photos courtesy of Citygram. 

Industry Leader Interview: Madeline Fauntleroy With Pier Sixty

From 3,000-person Super Bowl parties to opening nights on Broadway, Madeline (Maddy) Fauntleroy’s job is never uninteresting. However, planning events in New York City is a lot more than glamorous venues and VIP guest lists. Maddy gives us a glimpse into her daily life as an Event Manager at Pier Sixty.

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Tell me about the path that led you to event planning in New York City. 

Thanks to city college courses, I ended up graduating high school a semester early and using the ‘hectic pre-college period’ to try and figure out what in the world I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t exactly figure it all out, but I did end up with an internship at The Goleta Historical Society. I worked with the Marketing Director to plan small events and oversee the venue. The internship helped me narrow down my interests and seek acceptance to the Tisch Center for Hotel & Tourism Management at New York University. On a site visit with one of my classes, we ended up at Pier Sixty & The Lighthouse, two event spaces on the Hudson River in New York City, and I’ve been working for Abigail Kirsch Catering Relations at Pier Sixty, The Lighthouse and Current (our brand new venue!) since I graduated in 2012. We plan, cater, and host over 500 social and corporate events per year between our venues. I started as a Sales Assistant with the company and was promoted to Banquet Administrator a year later where I am responsible for managing our 100+ person in-house banquet staff and making sure the details from every department come together to produce a flawless event. I was recently promoted to Event Manager and look forward to planning weddings on my own and running our corporate events!

I’ve seen The Wedding Planner but I’m guessing there’s more to it than what J-Lo shows us. Tell me about the process of planning an event. 

I happen to love that movie and definitely wanted to be a wedding planner after seeing it. While the movie accurately portrays the countless details that go into planning a wedding, there is one part that irritates me a bit… her high heeled shoes and fitted two-piece suites. The day of the wedding I may be on my feet for 12 hours – from the arrival of our vendors and staff all the way through to the last guest’s departure at the end of the night. Realistically, I’d be rolling myself home in a wheel chair after a week of running events in those heels and tight skirts. My respect goes out to any planner pulling off a wedding in high-heeled pumps!

What is your schedule like? Do you have a daily routine?

I am a very routine oriented person, but it’s difficult to maintain a set routine in the event industry. As you’ve probably noticed, people prefer to have parties on evenings and weekends therefore my schedule adjusts accordingly on a weekly basis. Every weekday at 11am our planning team has a “Banquet Event Order” meeting to review the final event details for the next 48 hours. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer corresponding with clients, staff, and vendors. Fortunately, my time in front of the computer is balanced with time on my feet meeting clients and working the night of the event.

What’s the best event you’ve ever planned and why? 

First off, I cannot take full responsibility for any of our events. All of our events are the joint effort of five departments full of extremely talented people. One of our biggest productions was a media event for the 2014 Super Bowl in NYC. The open-air parking lot leading up to the front doors of our Pier Sixty venue was completely enclosed and filled with food vendors from around New York City. There was a massive 25-bartender bar in the middle of the lot along with separate beer stations. The space was filled with over 3,000 guests who entered through a long white tunnel. It was about 10 degrees that day in February so it was a challenge to keep the outdoor space warm, but the event ended up being a great success despite the cold.

Another of my favorite events featured design by David Stark for the opening night of the Broadway musical “The Last Ship.” We had a VIP lounge filled with celebrities like Sting, Blondie, Melanie Griffith and Queen Noor. The VIP lounge was set on our Glass Terrace on the Hudson River with vignettes of leather couches, ottomans, and oriental rugs. The main bar in the ball room was set under a few hundred champagne glasses hanging from silk ribbons — when a guest ordered champagne, a glass was cut from the installation and used for service.

Most recently we featured our brand new venue Current with a cocktail reception that displayed our signature Abigail Kirsch roving carts including a slider cart with crab cake and duck foie gras sliders along with a deviled egg bar and Asian food station (the food was to die for!) Our culinary team did a spectacular job designing the menu and the event perfectly represented the endless opportunities for our new space.

Any event horror stories? 

Always! I don’t want to divulge too much but I’ve seen everything from university seniors who mobbed and completely crushed a square quad bar at their senior formal to the police being called during a wedding due to a badly behaved bride. There are always going to be horrors that pop up unexpectedly and our job is to deal with them in a manner that impacts the fewest number of our guests possible. If we’ve done our job, most of the guests will leave with smiles on their faces and no clue as to what went on behind the scenes.

What kind of technology do you use when planning/ managing events?

Our new venue Current features an entire ceiling of LED lighting covered with wavy white panels. The LED lights can be changed to any color on the color wheel acting as a dramatic mood-setting feature for any event. GOBOs are used often to control the shape of light being emitted. We use GOBOs for many corporate events to display the company’s logo. We’re currently looking into a coat check system that scans and logs every item onto an iPad and texts your coat check ticket number to your phone. The technology is amazing and opportunities seem to be quite endless so long as the client is willing to pay!

What is the most frustrating part of planning process?

I used to get very frustrated with all the last minute changes. I’ve since learned to roll with the punches as it’s the nature of our business. We are constantly making adjustments based on ever changing guest counts and table changes. Dietary restrictions have also become an important part of our planning process. It is no longer enough to have a fish and vegetarian alternate available, we make sure to check in with client’s regarding all guest’s dietary needs including gluten-free, vegan, dairy free, sugar-free, cilantro-free, no strawberries, no nuts, no shellfish (the list is endless!)

What makes an event successful for you? 

My success is directly measured by the success of our clients in reaching the goals set in place for their event. If we are planning a fundraising event, we succeed by creating an environment that effectively displays auction items and by supplying ample amounts of liquor to encourage bidding. A wedding is more personal and depends on the planner’s ability to create a day that will go down in history as one of the happiest of the couples’ lives. Ultimately my success is measured by the happiness of our guests at the end of the event. The positive feedback from guests is how we know we’re doing a good job.

There are so many steps and “to-do’s” when planning an event. How do you manage all of them?

To-do lists! I write down everything and keep a detailed calendar on my PowerBook. I never expect to get through the entire to-do list by the end of the day; I simply move the unchecked items to the following day’s list. I also try to respond to emails on my phone during my 30-minute walk to the office. This way I face a much more manageable inbox by the time I arrive. Writing everything down sounds simple but it is the technique that keeps me on track. I have become very good at prioritizing, since I know I won’t get everything done, I make sure to at least do the most important parts of the list.

What is the best part of your job? 

The best part of my job is the fact that I get to design an environment for people to gather and create positive memories. I also love to watch the spaces transform from one day to the next. It’s incredible to take a blank space, dress it up, tear it down and then do it again in a completely different style the next day. I’m blessed to work with an amazing group of people who love what they do and make going to work something I can look forward to.

SXSW Without A Badge

Don’t want to spend $800 or more on a SXSW badge? Luckily for you, there are thousands of people every year who do South by Southwest without a badge. Here are a few ideas for those of you are who are courageous enough to brave the streets of Austin, TX, during SXSW without a badge or a wristband. 

  • Firstly, it’s important to note that in order to attend many SXSW (especially music and film events), technically you don’t have to have a badge. Many times, if you’re willing to camp out early and get a good spot in line, you can get in immediately following folks who have badges or wristbands. So if there’s an event you really want to go to, go for it! Just know that even though you wait in line, there’s still a pretty decent possibility you won’t get in. At most SXSW events, admission is granted in the following order.  
1. Badges
2. Wristbands
3. Everyone else in line (you’ll likely pay a cover so bring cash)
  • Attend smaller shows. If you are looking to discover new music, then doing SXSW without a badge may actually be in your best interest. While the well-known bands will have mile-long lines and require ID, wrist band and blood sample to get in, many of the best new artists in the country world head to Austin every year for SXSW, and they’re not always in the official venues. If there’s a stage at SXSW (or a corner, or a bridge, or a bar, etc.) you can bet a band will be playing there 24/7. Most of these smaller shows are shorter (30-45 minutes) and either free or low cost (think $5).
  • RSVP to everything. We really can’t stress this enough. If you plan ahead, you can get on some selective lists without a badge or wristband. In addition to following social media accounts to hear about new events and get on the lists, we recommend scouring the internet for SXSW RSVP options. It’s a good organizational idea to create a separate email address for RSVPs and monitor it closely. 

The moral of the story is that SXSW is a unique experience for each person. If you don’t buy a badge but are willing to wait in line, plan ahead and be flexible, you will still have a fantastic time. It’s good practice to pick one to two things you definitely want to do each day but don’t be afraid to let the wind take you from there. Some of your best SXSW experiences will likely be unplanned surprises! 

Hungry for more SXSW details? Check out our other articles here.

CES Shows The Future Of Events

CES 2015 is officially in the books. With over 170,000 attendees and 3,600 exhibitors we watched the hype unfold. For a week we heard all about everything from self driving cars, to 3D printers all the way to multi-tasking washing machines. We’ve combed through the impressive list of products and have compiled the best products for event managers!

Nabi Big Tab:
Imagine the possibilities of a 43, 55 or 65 inch tablet available at your booth. The products you showcase, the demos you’re able to perform. These tablets will let your attendees be hands on. No need for slide shows or presentations, let them dive in themselves.

Compute Stick:
What on earth is a compute stick you may ask? Oh you know, just a computer that fits in the palm of your hand! This Intel Compute Stick will come loaded with Windows 8.1 or Linux, so there is no longer a need to bring all of your big desktops to your booth. All you need is a screen and your stick and your good to go.

SuperStar BackFloat Speaker:
How could we not include a speaker designed by Shaq! He teamed up with Monster to create the SuperStar BackFloat, a wireless, waterproof, Bluetooth speaker. This may not be necessary at an average event, but for those outdoor soirees you’re throwing, this is a must-have!

Allie Camera from IC Real Tech:
This is a product just perfect for event managers. This camera has duel 360-degree cameras for full coverage viewing. It allows you to live-stream and control from your mobile device. The best part is the price point which make it a completely affordable option to record or live-stream your events so no one misses a beat.

Ring:
CES was buzzing with wearables this year and one of our favorites for event managers is the Ring. This product also happens to be a 2015 CES Innovation Award honoree, so don’t just take our word for it! All it takes to use is one gesture. Unlock the potential of customized gestures with this, still stylish, Ring wearable device.

OSVR:
Open Source Virtual Reality can not be missed! While it may not be the easiest to implement at your events, since it’s more targeted towards gamers, I think we’re going to see a lot of growth in this area over the next year. It will be interesting to see how this evolves, but certainly should not be overlooked. If you’re hosting any type of gaming event, this is a must have!

Drones with Spatial Awareness:
In 2014, we saw the rise of the drone. The technology is quickly improving and we predict drone usage will become much more mainstream in 2015. With the affordability and the ability for video and photos from such a unique perspective, drones at conferences should become commonplace. Intel debuted Real Sense, which actually gives the drones senses so that they avoid objects they may be approaching. This is a big first step in drone safety and we can expect to see more of this as drone usage evolves.

E Ink Prism Color Changing Walls:
We had to save the best for last, as this product is the perfect match for event managers. E Ink has developed Prism, a material that lets you change the colors and patterns of walls on the spot. Imagine the ability to have custom textured exhibits or animated walls. Every exhibit could be custom for every tradeshow or conference because designers have the ability to customize endless options of changeable colors and patterns.


While we’d all like the self-driving Mercedes-Benz, for the time being we may just have to settle on some of these new up-and-coming products to make our lives, as event managers, a little easier and a lot more innovative!

 

Sources:

http://www.androidheadlines.com/2015/01/fuhus-nabi-big-tabs-grow-massive-42-55-65-inch-models-ces-2015.html

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/compute-stick/intel-compute-stick.html

http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/06/shaquille-oneal-built-a-water-proof-floating-speaker-called-the-superstar-backfloat/

http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/04/allie/

http://www.engadget.com/2015/01/06/intel-realsense-asctec-firefly-drone-ping-pong/

http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/04/the-ring-is-real/

http://www.cnet.com/news/ces-2015-the-final-word/

Event Trends 2015

Predictions: Event Trends 2015

This is the time of year where it is important to reflect on the current year and predict what is to come in the next year. The predictions for event trends in 2015 are here. The ever popular Event Manager Blog published their annual report, citing that the word defining the event industry in 2015 is “drench”.  They state that, “The event of 2015 will drench attendees. It will make them feel they own the space and the content being presented. The role of technology will be crucial in facilitating this incredibly immersive experience.” View their full report and all predictions here: 10 Event Trends for 2015.

Corbin Ball Associates also released a top 10 trends for 2015 list and we think they’ve hit the nail on the head with these predictions in particular:

  • Mobile event apps have become mainstream and will continue to grow in 2015.
  • BLE (Bluetooth low energy) and iBeacon will provide a wealth of new options for planners and participants.
  • Analytics will emerge as one of the most important benefits of mobile event apps.
  • The transition from “attendee” to “participant” will continue.
  • Aerial (drone) video will provide new perspective for event photography (if regulatory hurdles are passed).

The IMEX Group has identified these as four key trends for 2015:

  1. ‘Play’ gives new meaning to profit – According to IMEX guest speaker, Creativity Guru, Rhea Blanken, Einstein reputedly said: “Play is the highest form of research.” Gartner has been predicting for the last few years that in 2015 up to 40 percent of Global 1000 organizations will use gamification as their primary mechanism for transforming business operations
  2. 50 Shades of Apps – Apps continue to be ‘sexy’ (in advertising parlance) and their strength and novelty will be unbounded in 2015. But this is not apps for app’s sake, as paper swaps or standalones. Rather meeting and event apps will be seamlessly linking across other media platforms, and especially websites, in line with customer/community market needs and pain points, deeply connected to real-time analytics and incorporating interactions such as live messaging, polling and other instant engagement and feedback mechanics.
  3. Let’s Take it “Outside” – In 2015 expect to see meeting spaces and formats going through even more of a revolution as the principles of meeting design become more firmly embedded throughout the supply chain. Where wifi allows set meetings free to ‘roam’ it also creates a subtle pressure to be ‘always on’.
  4. Wellness is Fit as a Fiddle – Beyond drinking water, eating protein-laden nuts and taking a quick, rejuvenating massage there is a higher level of spiritual awareness starting to make its way into meeting keynotes, sessions and formats.

So what do we think?!

The High Attendance team put their heads together and we have some thoughts around some of these predictions, as well as some new predictions of our own.

  1. We completely agree with Corbin & Associates and IMEX, we too believe that we will see a significant boost to gamification during events in 2015. We saw a little bit of it during 2014, like at the Dell UnConference, and each time it was a huge success with organizers and participants alike. Event gamification will continue to get more advanced, the attendees will truly turn into active participants and a whole new door of possibilities will be opened.
  2. Traditional event management tools for organizers will not go away, but they will become simplified. Event managers do not have time to produce tens or hundreds of events a year while using and maintaining multiple tools for each event. The need for spreadsheets, an event invitation and registration site, a mobile check-in app, analytics platform, Salesforce, Marketo or Eloqua and so on is just crazy! It’s an antiquated way of putting on events and we’re seeing a shift away from this. Out of the box just doesn’t work for everyone – there is a need for a customized tailored solution to simplify and streamline this process into one tool, like we’ve done at High Attendance (Captix).
  3. Personalization will rise. With today’s technology, the ability to access so much data is right at our fingertips and the tools are making it easy to connect on a personal level. At events, the use of NFC, RFID and iBeacons allow organizers the ability to follow the participants around, know exactly what they’re looking at, where they’ve been and who they are talking to throughout the event. This knowledge allows event staff to personalize communications, messaging and follow-ups.
  4. There will be greater pressure to see ROI from events. With event budgets expected to increase, the need for clear data, easily showing ROI (Return On Investment), will become critical. Executives want to see what the return is on this increased budget and it will be on the event managers to provide this data. Something we hear consistently from event managers is that they feel they are constantly trying to prove their worth and lobby on behalf of the need for events; ROI is the simplest way in which this is accomplished.

UPDATES:

Nine Amazing Technology Trends To Watch In 2016

Seven Technology Trends To Watch for 2017

What are your thoughts? We want to hear your predictions!