How can event organisers make best use of new technologies and how can they distinguish valuable applications from temporary fads and how can technology experts help them with that, ask Pim Schoonderwoerd and Paul Hassink.
The main goals of any event are knowledge sharing and facilitating personal contacts. Technical developments are creating more and more sophisticated possibilities in these fields. But we need to be aware: technology is never a goal in itself.
It provides opportunities to make events run as smoothly as possible and, more importantly, offer their visitors added value. What does this involve? How does one choose the best solutions? And which tools can be helpful in the process?
Streaming, voting, lead generation, apps, E-Posters, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality – how can organizers of events choose between all these options? Focus on value.
A solid foundation is crucial
To start with, there has to be a solid foundation. A strong network and good internet connections during an event are as self-evident as running water these days. Stability, quality and security are not options… they must be perfect.
However, good and fast networks do not add value in themselves. What is the organizer’s goal and which tools can he use to realize it?
Increasing online visibility
Events are merely a snapshot and the information exchange also continues after the event. The event itself is an excellent opportunity to generate interesting content and make it available via various IT applications and services; both during the event, to create additional exposure, and after, when people go over, discuss or pass on the information again.
We can help organisers by discussing in advance which information they wish to use and in what format. This will allow us to discuss the best technical solutions and help organisers make the most of every presentation during the event.
Live streamed lectures can be recorded and edited later to create accessible videos to be shared in the organiser’s community, or they can choose for a more sophisticated approach and develop ‘tv-shows’ for relevant presentations, including previews, discussions and viewers’ questions. IBCTV is a good example of this.
Of course, the different options involve different price tags. Before choosing the format, it is important to know the organizer’s goal and budget.
Again, make sure you know which goals they want to achieve and start in time. This will ensure that you can provide the required technology and staff during the event, so everybody can concentrate on the live event during the day.
Content collected this way significantly increases the value for the community.
Perfect presentations are the backbone of every successful conference. Medical or scientific conferences, for example, may see hundreds of presentations on a single day, often with complex extras such as live connections to other locations.
How can you ensure everything goes smoothly, and how can technology help? Most organisers have experienced the nightmare of things going wrong: presentations changed at the last minute, incompatible laptops, dead-end links or videos that won’t start.
You can present the alternative dream scenario: presentations have been uploaded, technically checked and provided with walk-in slides and break slides for maximum event branding. The video links work and the sound has been checked.
To realise this, the back-end process has to be well-structured. The ideal solution involves a central system that distributes the presentations to the various locations. This type of professional setup also offers opportunities for testing and even rehearsing presentations in advance and recording or live streaming the performance.
All of the above requires a flawless network and a modern presentation management system – there are several in the market. Make sure the organiser recognises the possibilities and paint them a picture of how it will work in practice.
Hospitality and food service exhibition Horecava attracted 65,000 visitors to RAI Amsterdam this year. Lifestyle event ‘Huishoudbeurs’ welcomed over 220,000 people. The majority of these visitors arrive at the same time. Hence, a flawless and fast visitor registration is crucial.
A key issue organisers need to take into account is the link between their registration system and the venue’s IT infrastructure.
In most cases, the venue will supply the network, hardware and printers. Consider the routing, visitor numbers, timing, and peaks to be able to advise the event on how to connect their registration systems. M
ake sure that all people involved in this crucial process meet well in advance. Together, you can translate the functional requirements into an optimally working system that does what is needed and is not overly expensive.
Also remember to make clear agreements on the service provision during the event. What are the responsibilities in case of problems? Can you properly monitor the network and cushion peak loads? What is the incident response time? Do you need people available on other locations, e.g. the event organiser’s head office?
Determining the desired results
This is easy for us to say as RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre is equipped with a cast-iron network and professional systems to support conferences and exhibitions.
With eleven major events organized by RAI Amsterdam itself, we also have an excellent ‘playground’ to experiment and gain more experience with each event.
As a proud partner of IBC, we can always be up to date with the newest technology and we are happy to share this experience with other organisers, honing in on their specific requirements.
The key factor is to not speak with them in terms of technology but in terms of results: whom do they wish to reach, how can their event add value and what do they want to achieve?
It is our role to translate these requirements into the IT solutions that will optimally support them in reaching those goals.
Pim Schoonderwoerd, Product Development Manager, RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre
Paul Hassink, Product Manager ICT, RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre