New forms of event technology are being launched everyday. From mobile applications to name badges that allow you to trade contacts with a simple click, technology at live events comes in various forms. What is event better is that this new wave of innovation is being used to engage audiences more than ever before. Attendees are showing up earlier, exploring more, and interactiving at live events in increasing numbers. Simon St. Germain, Communication and Marketing Director for Klik and Pixmob, shared with us his thoughts on why engagement is so critical, what technologies he believes are emerging and which dying, and gave us a preview into a new development from his team that we will see in the coming year.
“What we have seen is that it is not about driving up attendance but driving up engagement. One of our clients told us that they noticed when they have a Pixmob show is that people arrived earlier at the game. They arrive earlier to see the light show but what is great for the event is that then they consume more beer and food, they have time to go to the gift shop, and so on. It creates a better experience. It is all about engagement. We want to create a more engaging experience. We want people to use our technology without knowing that they are using our technology. That is our thinking behind everything we do. Technology has to be invisible and easy to use. It has to create this magical moment. Whether it is just lights or through networking.”
One of the most popular forms of event technology in recent years has been the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID). In fact, from a survey of 5,000 regular festival attendees, 17% stated that they were acquainted with using an RFID wristband and 31% said that they preferred it for entering the event and completing cashless payments. It is being used to not only create a more streamlined experience for guests but also can be leveraged to engage users in new ways. Things like RFID enabled vending machines can allow brands to giveaway items while also receiving valuable marketing information.
Livestreaming has been gaining in popularity and usefulness. It gives you a chance to engage with fans that are not even at the event. Now the reach of the event can expand past the physical space and onto the internet. Not only that, but live video is watched three times longer than any other video on Facebook. Those who watch a live video of an event are 67% more likely to buy a ticket to a similar event after watching a live video of it. Now event organizers can engage viewers with behind the scenes access and other unique footage of the event.
While those are gaining in popularity, some forms of technology are beginning to fade. According to St. Germain there is a traditional platform that may be on it’s way out.
“One form that is dying is the mobile application. We do have one but I think that the traditional apps will be disappearing pretty soon. People are not engaged that much. If you look at our platform for Klik, we don’t even charge for the app simply because there is not that much value perceived by event organizers or by attendees. It’s pretty standard now but I think if you mix it with other technology, like ours for example, that it makes a lot more sense. I think the app itself will somewhat disappear and that AI, or digital assistant like Siri or Alexa will takeover those apps. That is in the very long term. I see not having a separate platform. Everything will need to be somewhat integrated and seamless for the user. That is one thing that we try to keep in mind when we develop new features. We don’t want to create friction for the user. We want it to be easy and simple to use.”
Integrating Multiple Technologies
Electric Paradise, a music festival in the Dominican Republic, teamed up with Aloompa to create an interactive mobile app for the event. The application featured SoundCloud radio, friend finder, schedule sharing, vendor menu items, language localization, information on sponsors, and other features. It also included a feature called Presence. Using Aloompa’s proximity technology, the festival engaged with fans throughout their entire journey. Fans received key messages as they made their way to and from the event. The schedule sharing feature not only allowed users to create a custom schedule, but also allowed them to share it with their friends by connecting to their Facebook accounts. Not only is this useful for attendees but it also gives the festival more coverage by being shared within more social circles. Another way that the app engages with its audience is through the friend finder. One of the hardest parts of attending a music festival is keeping track of everyone. This extremely useful feature solves that problem by allowing users to see where their friends are on the festival map. The more useful features an application has, the more likely fans are to use it. A highly utilized app that integrates multiple technologies can be beneficial for all parties involved, including attendees, event organizers, and sponsors.
Beacon technology has been on the rise. Opt in rates in 2015 for this were as high as 80%. At Bonnaroo, Aloompa used this technology to take their Presence feature one step further. By deploying 300 beacons at the festival they were able to help attendees create their own LIVESTORY™. This helps them to answer the age old question “So who all did you see?” This can be especially hard to remember after a multiple day event. The technology was able to help the user track which artists they saw at the event. It integrates this into the mobile application allowing for a playlist to be created and shared amongst the users friends. This new innovation also gives attendees a new way to re-live and appreciate their experience. Smirnoff Ice became one of the first sponsors of the Bonnaroo LIVESTORY™, integrating branding into this new feature.
Creating Events That Are Social By Design
A mobile application can also be used to create an entire social experience around a single event. Thuzi partnered with the Tampa Bay Sports Commission to create the College Football Playoff (CFP) Social Passport. The app allowed fans to participate in a social rewards program. From the moment they landed at the Tampa Bay airport to events surrounding the game all over town, they could collect points by participating and sharing on social media. Thousands of fans competed to earn prizes like CFP gear and even VIP tickets to the game. It also allowed participants to be a part of the three day music festival surrounding the event hosted by AT&T. The application featured and interactive light show that allowed fans participate in the concert while demonstrating their team pride.
Thuzi created a completely integrated, social, and frictionless experience while on tour with Oprah Winfrey by pairing their Event Pass Platform with PixMob LED/RFID wristbands. From beginning to end, the entire event was “Social by Design”, meaning it put social interaction at the heart of the event. From a social photo booth to light up wristbands, the tour utilized technology to engage fans in person and online. A streamline registration included the necessary paperwork like consents, sponsor waivers, social permissions, and opt ins. Using their emails or socials profiles attendees could easily register in a variety of ways. One option was event to use the “Oprah’s The Life You Want” mobile application. Once registered, in seconds their credentials were transferred to the O Tour LED Wristband. This wristband could then be used to participate in a variety of activations with the simple tap of the wrist. The most visual representation of fan participation came as Oprah stepped onto the stage and the dark stadium was lit up by white LED wristbands on the wrist of every guest were waiving in the air.
Utilizing Gamification To Engage Audiences
Another term for an event that utilizing a rewards system to engage audiences is gamification. Gamification involves applying game-design elements like earning points to an event. Attendees can form teams, move up levels, and collect prizes for participating. St. Germain believes that this is very useful for driving up engagement at a live event.
One successful example was a client that used gamification at a four day conference where prizes like a brand new iPhone and smart home system could be earned. Attendees gained points for sessions attended, booths visited, and connections made with attendees and sponsors. While the attendees were more engaged, the event organizers also benefited from the gamification as well. Whenever an attendee interacted with a select sponsor, they were awarded more points. This ensured that the events sponsors got the attention they needed. Event organizers could also provide information after to them on the number of interactions and time spent at the booth in order to determine ROI.
“What we have noticed is that when we have gamification at an event, generally speaking, people are about two to three times more engaged than without it. When you do not have gamification, usually during an event, and this is just an estimate, there will be ten contact exchanges. When you add gamification, when you give points for meeting the right people, we see more engagement. You can even create categories for people. If you want to have marketing people mingling with suppliers you can make it so that when they exchange contacts, they get more points. When we apply gamification to an event, those contact exchanges go to the next level, we’re talking about 30-50. Sometime we can even have up to 100. It’s ginormous.”
Thuzi’s new Live Wave Sound Technology is using sound wave to replace the need for RFID, QR, and other clunky pieces of technology to create a new frictionless way to engage fans at live events. Live Wave uses audible or inaudible sound waves to connect brands and consumers. It is social by design and plugs directly into the Thuzi Event Pass Platform. What is so revolutionary is that no scanning or swiping is required, so an entire stadium of guests can all participate at once. With this new technology the possibilities for fan engagement are endless.
Not only is the experience for fans engaging but the technology can provide a lot of useful information for brands and events. It comes with a metrics dashboard, allowing event organizers to track participation and gain valuable insights using data and analytics.
Klik is one company taking the lead in creating wearables that engage an audience in a variety of ways. More than just a wristband, their beautifully crafted, cutting edge piece of wearable technology is waterproof, reusable, recyclable, brandable, and has light show capabilities as well as a long lasting battery life. This can be used to connect attendees in both a visually satisfying and interactive fashion. It is two way communication. St. Germain gave us a preview into what is next on the horizon for Klik.
“With Klik we have been developing a new platform using artificial intelligence. We’re going to be able to track what type of interest a person has and be able to match them to someone with similar interests. Then we are going to push it to the next level were we can do some smart matchmaking. Where if you attend the same session as someone and have the same interest, the platform would indicate that you two should meet. It’s artificial intelligence for matchmaking. We also want to apply this technology to sessions or other events.”
Overall, the intersection between technology and live events is growing in more ways than one. Mobile applications are pushing beyond just the simple interphase and are now integrating with multiple platforms to create a more full experience for the user. Location technology, live streaming, and artificial intelligence are all growing in popularity and capability. Events are also beginning to take a more social by design approach that uses technology right from the start to engage fans. Gamification is using our inner competitive nature to get attendees to participate in more ways than ever before. Engagement has been reinvented at live events with the use of technological advances and innovations. The future will continue to bring new technologies as the importance of keeping audiences engaged remains a priority among event organizers.