Blogger: Jason Popp, Executive Vice President, International – GES

Over the past few years, keeping up with trends in technology has become more important for event planners than ever. Venues love to throw around the term “smart,” but a smart venue is more than a Wi-Fi router and a few references to the cloud. Truly smart venues give participants opportunities to try new experiences and make engagement simpler and more effective for presenters and exhibitors. It’s up to event planners to maximize the benefits of smart venues for the good of the guests.

The best venues are all about enhanced communication and versatility. Power options should be plentiful, internet should be both fast and reliable, digital signage and screens should be visible, and presentation tools such as stages, lighting, and microphones should be adaptable. In addition, audience members should get to enjoy rising immersion tech, such as augmented reality and 3D presentations. Event planners and organizers should also look for technology that helps them evaluate attendee engagement. Audience response systems and social media integration are ideal for this purpose.

Venues worldwide are learning what it means to be smart — from the hologram presentation abilities of NH Hotels to the award-winning digital infrastructure of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to the flexible adaptability of Suntec in Singapore. These venues are far beyond thinking reliable internet puts them on the cutting edge. Immersion and versatility separate these places from the pack and set an example for others to follow.

Here are four other factors that can help a venue rise above its peers and become a truly smart destination.

  1.  Invest in the technology. As big a hurdle as the price may seem, advanced technology is now the cost of doing business in the event space. Venues are differentiated by the technologies they have available, and those that provide only the basics will quickly find themselves outclassed as rivals take the plunge.
  2.  Extend the message beyond the event. In the past, event organizers had to focus on making only the event itself great, but today’s events extend long before and after the exhibitors and attendees meet and part ways. Venues must facilitate engagement beyond the events, especially with mobile technology, to help organizers follow up on their brand messages.
  3.  Create personal experiences. People want to feel special — as if brands are tailoring messages for their specific needs and interests. Venues can help marketers achieve this goal by providing opportunities and technology to facilitate and measure attendee engagement.
  4.   Augment relationships; don’t replace them. Technology should be a tool to help people communicate better with one another — not a replacement for human interaction. Flashy tech will capture people’s attention, but the tech itself shouldn’t be the focus. The best venues feature their technology without flaunting it, creating the simplest, most effective pathway between marketer and attendee.

Event organizers, don’t settle for a venue that isn’t truly invested in smart technology. Venues, don’t lag behind the competition: Invest in upgraded technology now to provide a better experience to clients and stay ahead of the competition.