Spice caught up with futurist Michael McQueen to find out what the three key trends are for the events industry in 2015.
1. The reality of virtual reality
Long the stuff of dreams, virtual reality will take a significant step toward genuine reality in 2015. The company making greatest inroads with this new technology, Oculus VR, was purchased by Facebook for $US2 billion earlier this year and the social media giant and big plans. Oculus technology is already having a huge impact on industries ranging from real estate to travel – consider Marriott’s recently release virtual reality pods in New York which allow a user to have a four-dimensional travel experience in downtown Manhattan. Looking at the impact of virtual reality in the events sector, rather than having delegates (and speakers) who can’t be in the room physically dial in to a live streamed video of the event, it won’t be long before they can be virtually there. This will be a game changer for video conferencing and webinars and could enormously cut travel costs for our clients while minimally impacting the attendee experience.
2. The death of the business card
Industry events and conferences have always played a key networking role for delegates. However, the very nature of networking is set of change. While we once exchanged business cards and promised to ‘keep in touch’, those small pieces paper will soon disappear as we can increasingly connect electronically and instantly in a networking situation. Called
Near Field communications, technology developed by Bump (recently acquired by Google) will allow delegates to transfer similar contact information and other data to multiple devices in a split second using a combination of Bluetooth and Wifi Technology. The notion of ‘bumping’ into someone at an industry event will become something we literally do!
3. The shift from ‘attendees’ to ‘participants’
The days of ‘one-size-fits-all’ events have been numbered for many years now. Increasingly discerning delegates want customised experiences and genuinely tailored value – in short they want to be treated like active participants rather than passive attendees. While this shift centres on customised content, flexible programs and two-way interaction in a presentation context, technology is going to play a key role in the trade or exhibition arena. One such technology is that of Geofencing. Having been used by retailers for over 5 years now, Geofencing allows a users device to receive customised notifications when they pass an arbitrary boundary (for instance when they walk near a specific trade display). This allows exhibitioners to engage potential clients in a much more meaningful, timely and personalised way – thus cutting through the noise of competition. Companies such as TapCrowd and Topi are pioneering to use geo-fencing in the events arena.