Check out these top 7 event technology trends to look for in 2020 and beyond as event planners continue to navigate a new world of virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. 

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by G2 and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Bizzabo.

As we enter further into the second quarter of the year, many look ahead for trends on the rise in their industry, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. 2020 is already a revolutionary year for corporate event management and although a lot remains uncertain, there are promising opportunities for event technology in the hybrid event space. 

As you begin planning your next big event, it’s important to learn about these trends that may be here to stay. Also, discover how to use the same strategies as leading brands who are already paving the way despite the challenges of cancelled in-person events. 

Keep reading to explore what event technology is plus the latest trends that will help you navigate event branding and event strategy during and after COVID-19.

What do we mean by event technology?

Event technology is the plethora of digital tools that help event planners execute projects from start to finish. Event planners typically use a variety of event technology types (including event software, mobile apps, and event marketing software) to get the job done. 

Because the life of an event planner is fast-paced, you’ve got to be ready to pivot, readjust, and implement new features in an instant. During a global pandemic, this is more true than ever. Luckily, these tools can help you manage existing events and create valuable new ones. And as you’ll soon see from the trends below, event technology will become even more important for event planners seeking virtual event ideas for 2020 and beyond. 

Event technology trends to look for in 2020

The latest and greatest technology trends can elevate any event, no matter the size. The more you integrate helpful tech trends into an event, the better the event ROI you’ll get back. But with new technologies being constantly developed and released, it can be difficult to know which ones will make a difference at your event. 

So which trends are on the rise this year?

1. Live streaming

Live streaming has been a staple trend in the world of event technology for some time. However, in the wake of COVID-19, many companies are changing their usual in-person events into virtual events. You may choose to create live stream events in direct response to the pandemic (as brands such as Google, Facebook, and Demandbase have done) or you can provide helpful content tailored to your audience’s related needs at this time. 

Streaming has a variety of benefits. You extend your event to users who weren’t able to make it, engage international customers, and get the talk going online about your event. Plus, if people see how impactful your event is online now, they’ll be more likely to consider buying a ticket for any future in-person versions. 

Streaming events on screens throughout the event is another great way to connect different attendees, especially if the venue is large and they’re too far away to make the session in person. In the end, it’s all about engaging as many people as possible. 

2. Artificial intelligence

According to research firm Markets and Markets, the AI market will grow to a $190 billion industry by 2025, proving that businesses across the world are bound to integrate AI in one form or another in the next five years. The use of artificial intelligence is on the rise because of its ability to customize experiences for individuals while simultaneously bringing the community together during this tumultuous time. 

In general, AI helps associate certain attendees with their field of work and interests which then ensures that the best, most helpful content reaches the right people as soon as they need it. Or, at the very least, it has the power to streamline the experience. This adds some much-needed simplicity for event attendees who have already had to adjust to so many other changes these past few months. 

It’s important to note that AI shows up in many forms. Some common examples include: 

  • Event chatbots
  • Facial recognition during event registration
  • Voice translation and interpretation during panels
  • Event newsletter personalization

3. Enhanced attendee experience

An event is all about the experience. And even though in-person events are on hold for now, you can still create digital or hybrid versions your audience will find value in. There are two main ways to enhance attendee experience online: 

  • Personalize communication. Human connection is important now more than ever. Which is why acknowledging your audience as individuals can make a significant impact for them. You can send personalized push notifications, emails, and texts to each attendee, recommending them sessions they might like. You can also create a “plan your own” experience where the attendees can choose the experience for themselves. 
  • Offer a wide range of topics. Many people want to learn new skills during quarantine and will likely continue expanding their resumes as the job market temporarily deflates. Follow in the footsteps of event giant South by Southwest and offer topics that include everything from technology to business to art. Anything that helps your audience prepare themselves or feel more confident about the future works. 
  • Simplify registration. Remove the burden of extra steps and unnecessary complications for stressed out and exhausted attendees. Program a registration system that allows attendees to book their tickets and/or future travel arrangements in one go with as few steps as possible. For hybrid event ideas in the upcoming year, consider bundling both the in-person and online event options to make them both more affordable and simpler for attendees to book. 

4. Facial recognition technology

Facial Recognition Technology - Event Tech Trends 2020Source: Expo Logic

Facial recognition is software that tracks, records, and stores an individual’s facial features. And while it’s not 100% accurate all the time, it’s still quite useful for a number of reasons. 

Because contactless event check-ins are a likely requirement for the next couple of years, this technology will be critical. Attendees can simply scan their face (if they consented to facial recognition during registration) and be let into the event once the machine recognizes them. The experience is both safe and seamless for all involved. Since we’re so used to this technology (recent iPhone model owners use it daily), most attendees are already familiar with it and can expect it at any in-person event. 

And, if you’re interested in hosting a hybrid event, you can use facial recognition (like the kind offered by Microsoft 365) to provide additional value to live stream attendees. With this technology, viewers can easily skim videos for important sections through both traditional timestamps and actual participant faces. This allows them to hone in on sections with specific speakers and get to important information in a more intuitive way. Facial recognition tools for live streams also allow automated speech to text that includes the names of each person talking, so attendees leave with accurate transcripts and ideas they can reference for years to come.

Before using facial recognition, you should recognize the controversy that follows this tech trend. Now more than ever, people are concerned about their privacy and using facial recognition at your event could turn some people away from attending. 

According to Tech Business Guide, facial recognition information could fall into the wrong hands at any moment and although systems are getting better at preventing identity theft, it could still happen. So invest in cybersecurity backups and double check with your technology provider that all necessary precautions have been taken before launching it for your event attendees. 

5. AR and VR

Similarly to facial recognition, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have been utilized in the industry for the past couple of years. And now that the majority of the world is confined to their homes, it’s providing a necessary service to those who need a safe mental escape for both work and play that doesn’t risk anyone’s health. 

With a quick scan of a QR code, attendees can enter the world of AR. From full wall projections to 360-degree indoor art installations, you can delight your attendees in a myriad of ways. Assess who your audience is and create an experience that not only wows them but gives them something to take back to their team. 

An event that has totally adopted AR and VR into their repertoire is E3. E3 is a conference held in Los Angeles, California that focuses on all things video game, console, and handheld. At E3, products like the Oculus Rift have been introduced and used at event booths, giving attendees a chance to try a virtual reality headset for themselves. 

To really wow your attendees, aim to tell them a story with a world that only exists inside that headset. 

6. Live translation

The use of live translation will continue to be utilized throughout 2020 as audiences feel a stronger need to connect with the outside world during this large scale shared experience. If you’re able to extend your event to attendees that may not speak your native language, you’ll see a spike in international interest. Accessibility should be a priority in the event space. The more ideas cultivated across language barriers, the richer the industry can become.

Software like Interactio offers live interpretation on users’ smartphones. An example in motion was a collaboration between Interactio and Beach Body. Beach Body wanted to stream simultaneous translation for attendees who had traveled to the event internationally. 30,000 attendees included English, Spanish and French speakers. Interactio traveled to the event and helped to set up the live translation feed, instantly making the Beach Body event much more accessible.

Some services allow live translation feeds via earpieces, headphones, mobile phones, and online access. The more people you’re able to reach, the more that have a say in how your event was run.

7. More secure data collection

By collecting real-time event data, you give attendees the opportunity to tell you what is and what isn’t working at your event. Then, you can interpret that data to provide even more impactful speakers, helpful technology assistance, and encouraging content. 

In thinking about how you’d like to surface insights for your event, you may want to consider the following:

  • “How many people interacted with X session?” 
  • “What is the post-event NPS score for attendees?”
  • “What are the results on survey X and what does that tell me about my audience?”

Event data translates the needs and wants of your audience into actionable takeaways. Virtual events present even more opportunities for data collection—with more opportunities for trackable statistics, reports, and attendee analytics available than at their in-person counterparts. 

Actions such as session view times, eye-tracking heat maps, and event engagement show both behavior and preferences you can’t find elsewhere. Virtual data sets translate into more successful virtual, in-person, or even hybrid events in the future as most of these data collection opportunities can be used to inform all areas of event planning. 

But there is a right way and a wrong way to collect it. As 84% of consumers will tell you, they’d gladly take their business elsewhere if they felt they couldn’t trust a business with their data. And as more and more events move from the physical to the virtual world, attendees are looking to minimize data security risks across the dozens of virtual event tools and platforms they are suddenly being asked to use. 

Also, make sure that your data collecting practices are compliant with GDPR, the EU’s new data protection law. There are a few key parameters marketers should keep in mind, including giving attendees the ability to opt out of data collection and being transparent as to how their data will be used. 

Similarly, the state of California passed the CCPA law which also calls for increased data privacy. To make sure that your digital or hybrid event complies, include clear opt-out and data modification or erasure processes and any related information on how data may be sold at any point. 

Wrapping Up: Event Tech in the Future

Planning your next event may seem a little daunting at first, given the huge changes we’ve all experienced recently. Just know that you can still connect with your attendees on a real, authentic level through digital and hybrid events.

Know that every conference, meeting, and event experience will be different and require different tech features, so keep all of these trends for 2020 and beyond.

Learn more about the future of event marketing in the 2020 Benchmarks and Trends Report.

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