“Event planners are so attentive to detail in most respects,” says Julius Solaris, Editor of EventManagerBlog.com, an online resource for event professionals around the world. “But when it comes to event technology, they can make very quick decisions. They need to slow down and give tech the same level of attention that they give to every other aspect of the planning process.”

There are three main categories of event tech, notes Solaris: registration and event management software; mobile apps (used as show guides and networking tools); plus audience engagement tools. These can be live polls and Q&As or dynamic interactive displays — anything that creates a level of live interaction between the presenters and the audience, and among the audience members themselves.



Some technology, however, has more intrinsic value than others. Solaris points out that there is still a lot of confusion towards the real value tech can bring to events. “Some planners think they will make their event shiny and new if they attach bits of technology to it,” he says. “Others use certain tech because their competitors have it. But they don't ask themselves 'why do we need it?' and 'what are we trying to do with it?'”

Event professionals should stay away from what Solaris calls 'the vicious cycle of event technology.' Innovations — such as mobile apps — have their value, of course; but, says Solaris, don't make the mistake of using event tech just because you can or because it looks cool. “Otherwise you will have invested money without understanding your objectives or knowing your KPIs,” he says. “You need to ask fundamental questions such as: what is the concept of my event? What is my core value proposition? What education and entertainment am I offering? If you don't have all that in place, technology isn't going to help. Actually, it will only serve to amplify the fact that your event isn't well constructed.”



On the other hand, technology innovations have the power to make planners look at their events differently and create something better. “Tech can challenge the status quo and force you to think outside the box,” says Solaris. “So map your processes and see where it can add value.”
New tech developments are coming thick and fast. “Take mobile apps,” says Solaris. “These are currently evolving from networking tools into live action engagement tools. But the very latest trends include live analytics — enterprise tools that big companies use in their marketing mix to measure outcomes and so better understand what is going on at their events in real time.”
In the near future, Virtual Reality will enable delegates to feel as though they are at events while sitting in their office. “This is such an exciting time to be working in this industry,” says Solaris. “If you are interested in technology, it's fascinating because it's moving so fast. You need to grasp it, learn more about it and make great decisions about using it.”