I recently chatted with Corbin Ball, CMP, CSP, MS, renowned events and meetings tech analyst, to get his take on what is up-and-coming in the world of event technology.
In addition to having more than 20 years of experience running international technology meetings, Corbin is a highly acclaimed international speaker, consultant and writer, helping clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. He also runs the largest meetings tech site on the web, and produces the TechTalk newsletter to help event planners stay on top of the latest industry news.
During our conversation, Corbin shared some helpful event planning tips that small businesses and nonprofits can use to take advantage of technology to improve events. Here is what he had to say:
What are the biggest technology trends you expect to impact the event space in 2014?
Major meetings technology trends are outlined in my recent article.
On a broader level, the confluence of social media and mobile technology used onsite at events will likely change meetings more in the next 5 years than technology has in the last 15 years.
We all are essentially carrying super computers in or pocket (when considering the link to the powerful computers in the cloud). They are “Swiss Army Knife” tools that will be able to assist meetings in many ways: networking, way finding, polling, surveys, electronic programs, paper reduction, and much more.
Also, every touch is trackable yielding a goldmine of data to the event organizers on attendee likes/dislikes; the attendees who are the connectors/influencers, the hot topics/speakers/exhibitors/etc.
What steps can small business or nonprofit event planners take to take advantage of these trends?
Become familiar with the mobile and social media options available. There are tools for every size of meeting and every budget. The meeting industry is a well networked one. Help and advice can come from peers, vendors, meeting industry events, related associations, publications and meetings technology newsletters.
Can you share any marketing best practices that small businesses and nonprofits hosting events in 2014 should embrace to ensure success?
- Email marketing still remains a very important communications vehicle. Find technology that can streamline and automate this process.
- Use the social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, and more. These tools will amplify your marketing and improve search engine optimization. Remember, social media are not about hard core sales; they are about listening, engaging in conversations and helping people. Your brand is no longer what you say it is; it is what people are saying it is about you online.
- Use social media aggregators to assist in this social media effort. I personally use Hootsuite.com but there are several others as well. These tools will help you streamline, limit and budget your efforts in this area. Social media can be a huge time sink, otherwise.
Technology ideally helps smaller entities like small businesses and nonprofits operate like the “big guys” but sometimes getting up to speed on technology advances can be overwhelming. What one piece of advice do you have for smaller entities interested in better leveraging technology for their events?
There has never been a better time for small businesses. There are thousands of apps/web tools, many of them free or low cost that can help. Also, as technology advances, it is becoming easier to use. A few recommendations:
- Educate yourself about new technologies. As mentioned previously, there are lots of channels in how to do this.
- Keep an open mind to new advances. Those that embrace and effectively use new technology will be more competitive than those who don’t.
- Make technology literacy and openness a key criterion in hiring.
What is the best event-related advice you ever gave and/or received?
- Digital Darwinism is alive and well. Either adapt to technology change or lose business to those that do.
- The one motto I have built my business on is that “you reap what you sow.” If you give out and help people through volunteering and other methods, this will return back to you. In my business, my efforts have returned back to me multi-fold.
Have any event tech tips you want to add? Post them in the comments below.