April 12, 2019
By Mike Fletcher

5G will have a transformational impact on society during the coming decade. Have you thought about how your event marketing and planning will be impacted?

Imagine an exhibition or event environment where the associated cost of WiFi disappears.

Within the next five years, attendee mobile phones will operate on networks so fast they’ll allow you to download an entire HD film in less than a second, or live stream the conference keynote from an exhibition stand in 4K resolution, without the lag or buffering we see today. These are just two of the things we can expect from fifth generation mobile wireless, or 5G as it’s better known.

The evolution of mobile is such that something historic now happens once a decade. The first mobile networks appeared in the Eighties, the Global System for mobile communication (GSM) followed in the Nineties, 3G arrived in time for the Millennium and LTE (the 4G communications standard) went mainstream in 2010. The arrival of 5G as we enter the 2020s, however, will change everything.

Mobile technology will give access to everything

Yet, we won’t just wake up one morning to discover a hyper-connected 5G world. The head-scratchers at mobile trade body GSMA forecast that 5G networks will only cover around 40% of the global population by 2025. More connected cities, smarter venues and the Internet of Things (IoT) will accelerate from there.

The long-term impacts that 5G will have on event marketing means that planning for the age of the ‘Gigabit Smartphone’ now is vital for the longevity of business.

For example, people’s basic interactions and their ability to ‘be together’ and collaborate will significantly change with 5G. People will have more choice to ‘meet face-to-face’ in cyberspace, so the proposition of a physical event will need to be consistently stronger and more engaging.

Access to virtual environments and augmented reality overlays will form part of the mainstream for retail, e-commerce, gaming and other leisure pursuits. It will, therefore, need to be integrated into event environments as well.

Exhibitors will be able to offer more immersive 3D product experiences on-stand. While planners will need to re-evaluate the attendee journey so that they can tap into those opportunities, which smart city infrastructure and smart venues will present for real-time communication and access to information.

Immersive mobile event experience

Lower latency means that 5G will also bring with it lower battery consumption and support more devices, enhancing our use of the IoT.

For event planners, the opportunity to capitalise on wearables, RFID and beacons will have higher potential than ever before. Event apps will also get smarter at pinpointing attendee locations, enhancing and customising attendee experiences and suggesting personalised actions or people to meet.

Video marketing meanwhile will overtake more traditional ways of event communication. Attendees will expect more and more immersive, impactful, and visually dynamic marketing and promotional strategies broadcast in 4K, 8K, 3D and 360-degree. So, the skills and training required to design these strategies and attendee experiences should be invested in today.

Finally, 5G will also create safer event environments. As these networks improve connectivity between event management and emergency personnel, reaction times to emergency situations will become almost instant. Planners will know the location, hazards and number of people affected in an incident, giving increased security and control. Event attendees will be instantly updated with all security notifications.

So, although the promise of saving event planners the serious amounts of money currently associated with event WiFi connectivity is one particularly attractive reason to get excited about the roll-out of 5G, now is also the time to invest for this super-fast mobile future so that your events benefit, rather than battle against mobile’s next historic turn.

While you wait for the arrival of 5G, take a look through the eyes of your event attendee in this immersive interactive attendee journey experience.

Mike Fletcher

Mike Fletcher

Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for almost 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.
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