By now, most brand engagements, concerts or conference events utilise some sort of technology. It’s common for large events to use e-ticketing solutions, whether it be a music festival or a marketing seminar — it’s simply more convenient for everyone involved. And when the term “digital marketing” has become part of everyday life, it’s a no brainer to place some sort of digital aspect in on-ground brand experiences as well.
Yet, not all event tech deployments are created equal, and it’s easy to lose focus when you’re given a vague brief to “add some digital” to the planned event. Here’s some pointers to manage client expectations and make sure you have an efficient and cost-effective deployment.
Agree on objectives and output with the client
This is naturally important for every event tech deployment — it can’t be just to “show off new tech”, even if you are selling new tech. You and the client should agree on things like what message should be delivered by the event, a reasonable target of visitors (and agree on factors that may influence that target), and perhaps a data objective, like what kind of data insight would you want to gain from visitors.
Designing an experience versus what tech to use
It’s becoming increasingly common to create a “technology experience” as part of a brand activation or even as part of a corporate event. Providing a fresh, “new” experience is always on the minds of committees trying to make their event more attractive, engaging and interesting. But I often see event organisers deploying tech for tech’s sake, without it really contributing to the objectives of the event. Even something as simple as a photobooth has to have relevance to the event — say, through a digital frame automatically added to the photo. VR experiences should deliver relevant content, and don’t forget, you can gain more insights if you track the data of the VR’s users at the event. You could even make a short exit survey, and compare feedback to the visitor demographics.
What is “new”, and what is effective
The pressure on event organisers to create something “new” for their brand or corporate clients is constant. This often drives organisers to look for add-on digital solutions for their events, whether or not the tech is relevant to the event’s objectives. I think we shouldn’t force “new tech” too much, but be more creative in delivering tech within events to reach the event’s objectives. Going back to the simple example of the photobooth — you could spread 4 photobooths at 4 activity areas, so only after users take photos at all 4, they can get a printed photo collage. Unique does not have to be new!
Wowing visitors with, say, an Oculus-based activity may look good on the event pitch deck — but developing content for the VR and making sure you have enough Oculus sets for visitors to try out is something that may be more difficult and costly. Making a custom game to be played on a giant touchscreen may be sexy, but it should also consider the cost, the number of potential players, the output of using such a game, and the possibility of the game being reused for something else. Borrowing a term from tech startups, you should consider the user acquisition cost of deploying an event with expensive tech.
Reusability & reliability
Continuing on the point of cost effectiveness, investing in tech for events needs to consider reusability and reliability. If a certain tech is costly, you and the client must agree on either spending the cost for one event, or spreading it to more events. Furthermore, the tech you use needs to be reliable and help the event go smoothly, instead of creating problems. We can’t just hire some random programmer to make something from scratch — we should hire a team that has a reliable, field tested tech platform, and knows how to deploy it in the field.