If you’re anything like us, you get exceptionally excited by the launch of new technology that promises to make the planning process smoother, increase audience engagement or enhance the overall event experience. Disruption through innovation is now firmly part of our daily lives both on a personal and professional level but with such innovation also comes a new slew of challenges as a planner. It’s key to look down the line to see what pitfalls can and will come when dealing with new technology. Here are three examples of technology we’ve implemented at events in the past year as well as the great successes and unforeseen challenges they brought with them.
Catchbox, the first tossable mic, allows for a safe, fun way to run a Q&A and encourage audience participation. It’s light, soft and completely transportable.
Audience members LOVE it. We used it at a recent conference and attendees were clambering for their turn to speak and by day two there were still giggles all around when someone was challenged to throw it across the room to the next recipient.
WHAT TO KNOW/CHALLENGES:
Make sure you are firmly aware of the system you will be plugging into and TEST, TEST, TEST beforehand. We had ordered two Catchbox 2.4’s for our 100 person event thinking it would make life easier to have one on each side of the room, only to discover that the room only had one audio input which meant that we could only have one in operation at a time AND if the speaker had a presentation that required audio we had to unplug the Catchbox receiver in order to plugin their laptop. Thankfully we had ample timing to test everything before our event but at $599 per unit, it was a shame to have one sitting to the side unused.
While managing breakout sessions for a conference in Miami last year we found a solution for attendees who were unable to attend in person. Our client was already a user of BEAM robots in many of their offices around the world and we all agreed it could be a fun addition to have BEAMs onsite allowing attendees to remotely dial in via the Beam which in turn acted as their remote physical presence. They’re face appeared on the “head” (a monitor screen) and they drove around and interacted with people as if they were there.
The idea was very well received and a lot of people who would otherwise not have been able to attend did so with ease and a little bit of added fun.
Operationally, the BEAM is so user-friendly that we decided to include a BEAM speaker. We tested everything in advance with the speaker (who was based in Italy) in a conference room adjacent and identical to the one he would speak from. It all worked flawlessly. When it came time for the “reveal” and the conference doors were opened he rolled in greeting everyone and then promptly halted halfway to the stage. It turned out that the wireless connection in that room (and that room alone) was weak toward the back of the room where the speaker’s stage was located. In the end it garnered plenty of chuckles (less so from the event team!) and everyone willingly shifted the direction of their chairs so that session could continue from the middle of the room. Needless to say lessons were learned!
There are so many variations of event badges that offer an interactive component. From tracking attendee movement to encouraging guest interaction, the options are abundant. Last spring we managed a corporate conference that integrated several badge concepts. Attendees were asked to install RED Laser, one of many QR Code readers. Upon picking up their badges they scanned their own QR code, thus commencing the game. They earned a point for each attendee QR Code they scanned and after scanning a badge, they were prompted by their device to answer a multiple choice question that related directly back to the content of the conference. They received additional points for all correct answers and a leaderboard gave real time stats on each attendee and their progress.
It was a fantastic way to get people actively networking with as many of the other attendees as possible.
It required a lot of explaining and tutorial to bring some attendees up to speed. Many of those who were less savvy with the concept of installing an app and scanning a QR code quickly gave up.
For all the pros and cons, we’re always excited to see what kinds of technologies are being used at events. What have you seen out there lately that caught your attention?