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. 

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.

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.

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!










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.


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