Technology can elevate the everyday event and help hotels and venues deliver delightful experiences for both planners and attendees. From gamification to artificial intelligence, here's a look at some actionable best practices to help make your venue's next event a supremely memorable one.
Mundane — Yet Very Important
“In the hospitality and sales verticals, technology innovations, including customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and point-of-sale (POS) tools, have come a long way," according to Erick Kobres of the Forbes Technology Council. In the old days, Kobres recalls that salespeople would track prospect and customer activities through handwritten notes. “Before POS systems, we had cash deposit boxes followed by simple cash registers, then barcodes, mobile payments, and now cloud-based technology," he writes.
Today's event planners can take advantage of systems that let them easily manage room blocks, expedite reservations — even large group reservations — and manage payments, cancellations, rebookings, and more. Such CRM and POS tools can also capture and analyze increasingly “big data" to help planners and venues glean important insights about consumer preferences and purchase patterns.
Designed to Delight
For guests, technology has the power to delight and excite, whether it's in a hotel room or at an event.
Room check-in can be quicker and more seamless with technologies such as RFID — or radio frequency identification — which can also be used to make on-property payments.
Even before check-in, guests and event planners can get a feel for the property and its amenities through virtual reality tours and augmented reality apps that bring venues to the people rather than the other way around.
These same tools can be used onsite, during an event, to create fun user experiences. Alen Paul Silverrstieen, CEO of Imagination Park, says. “Attendees can point their mobile device at signage, walls, objects, and more, which triggers AR content that appears on your phone," he says. “This could be a video, hologram, coupon, green screen, ads, etc." Facilities are also using "Pokemon Go"-like scavenger hunts to encourage attendees to visit more sites at a location, says Silverrstieen, which can translate into more sales. And, best of all, he says, “all interactions are tracked so you know who, where, and when someone looked at something." That information can be used for follow-up promotions, he says.
Let Them Play Games!
Karen Shackman, founder of Shackman Associates New York, an event and corporate meeting company, also points to gamification as a natural application for technology such as AR and VR. “Scavenger hunts are hitting a new level in New York City," she says. The item to be found can be an object or an individual. For example, she says, “the item to be found (could be) a 'kidnapped' executive or colleague. This person can be the star of up to four video clues delivered to teams of attendees via their mobile devices. The clues outline a sinister plot against the company, and the group is on a race against time as spies to find secret information — which can be physical items hidden in public or beacons — that helps the rescue and saves the company or group from disaster."
Drones, aerial photography, and even smart phonephoto captures can also serve to generate fun activities and shared experiences, says Bree Carroll, a planner and designer at B Carroll Events, which specializes in wedding planning. “Oftentimes during weddings, the couple will miss the majority of the moments going on," she says. She recommends photo-gathering apps such as WedBox or Ceremony! to get everybody involved in the fun. The same concept can be used at corporate events, conferences, and trade shows.
Whether using technology for lead scoring, registration processing, or gamification, there are plenty of ways that today's venue managers can help event planners augment the event experience for their clients and guests.