It is that time again, to check in on how fast our tech world is spinning around us, and seeing how we are doing as the meeting and event industry at keeping up – with developments and with our attendees' expectations.
Hyper-connectivity is a topic I have written about before, and we know as individuals how much time we spend researching purchases on line, especially for travel. According to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (shared by Dylan Bolger at the Incentive Research Foundation Invitational) we spend 40+ hours researching on-line for our vacations in the pre and post booking process. So, what else are we finding when we open our browser and type in our destination(s) of choice – perhaps a meeting we are interested in pops into our frame of reference, and by virtue of the location, we feel more compelled to go. We also reach out through our many social media channels to see who else we will see at #meeting, sometimes during the decision process, and certainly after we have booked. We will communicate via text, emails, dm’s, and possibly even the old-school way, by telephone, and make plans for when we are there, scheduling meetings, breakfasts, and post-event cocktails.
Most of us will now arrive with multiple devices which all require wifi connectivity, something we recognize is a precious commodity, especially when we check into a hotel that is charging per room per device, often at $14.95 per! Some loyalty programs will offer complimentary wifi as a benefit, but bandwidth remains an issue whether we are paying or not, and the concept of catching up on that Netflix show while away from our children remains just that, a concept as the bandwidth often doesn’t allow video streaming applications to even open, thus forcing us to spend that time checking email for example.
Personal control is our new mantra, as we want to decide, in the way of all teen-agers across time, to do what we want, when we want. Like a good teen, we are often stymied in this desire by conference or event plans without enough choice, the meeting equivalent of being told “No, you can’t just go out and hang around!” On-site examples may include a reception where the whole room is noisy making it hard to converse, or there is only one focal point with no alternate activities, or there are no gluten free options, or free time is negligible as a few frustrations we may have all experienced. We now have a stronger desire for targeted media as we process up to 65,000 pieces of data a day coming at us from radio, billboards, television, browser searches, emails, text messages and more. We also now have more tools, in the form of mobile devices and filters which allow us to easily target information and to receive targeted information specific to our needs and interests, and as organizations trying to maximize engagement during specific times, we need to be keenly aware of our opportunities to make meaningful connections – live and digitally in our changing paradigm.
S’mobility is another topic I have written about, and certainly SoLoMo or Social Local Mobile has become an expectation. I want to be able to reach out and connect across multiple platforms at all times, and when I don’t have wifi, I may incur data charges that certainly seem unreasonable, especially on top of monthly bills we have to manage. Another SoMoLo acronym refers to Social + Mobile = Loyal, and when we enable our conference and event participants to connect on-line to each other, to f2f and virtual participants, to sponsors and exhibitors and their people and websites for added information, to speakers and their sessions and their notes, to our schedules and to information about attending and maximizing our participation, and when this is done easily through a great app, we develop more brand loyalty to the hosting organization because the experience becomes more comfortable, easy, and more pleasurable overall.
How will you marry digital into your meetings to contextualize the overall experience for your participants?