Designing for “iGen” – the Future of Event Tech
Who are we designing meetings for? Most people would say Millennials, but with the advent of Generation Z upon us, it is crucial to shift the focus and design with Gen Z in mind – to stay ahead of the curve – so we are ready for when they join the workforce.
Generation Z, sometimes referred to as “iGen” or “Gen Tech” is comprised of a unique population of young adults and adolescents that have been inundated by technology from an early age. They’ve seen tech grow and evolve, and the youngest Gen Z-ers knew how to use iPads before they knew how to recite the alphabet. Generation Z integrates technology into every aspect of their lives, from Skyping with teachers and students in other countries to using Electronic Whiteboards that can capture data. Texting is their form of communication, gamification is their learning tool, and they’re using social media as a rallying cry for social justice. The future of events will play by Generation Z’s rules, as this is the new norm for learning and absorbing material.
We wanted to share a few emerging industry technology trends that we think are key in making your meeting or conference a “need to attend” – different – better – enhanced experience that is relatable and consumable to the younger generations joining the workforce.
1. Registration needs to be painless – a paper journey is a thing of the past.
Adding technology such as RFID trackers (radio frequency ID) and facial recognition can simplify the check-in process for attendees and the on-site team, while providing a technological advantage that will show you as being on trend. These ID trackers and recognition software can provide show organizers with unique insights as to who went where and when – did their attendees participate in general sessions and breakouts, did they visit “x” booth, or just spend their time in the hotel bar?
2. Event apps are now a “need to have”
While they used to be a “nice to have,” event apps are now a “need to have” to link your attendees to content, social media, schedules, networking, gamification and so much more. We need to look at these applications not just as engagement tools but as a resource for analytics – with live polls and geolocation tracking you can use the captured information to help build next year’s content with live data.
3. Don’t forget about your audience that wasn’t able to attend
Don’t forget that you may have an entire group of attendees with “FOMO,” that wanted to hear the latest and greatest, but were unable to attend! Companies have found that developing a robust and engaged live-streaming audience elevates the experience for on-site attendees. Entice live-streamers with teaser material and exclusive content that leaves them wanting more; in most cases, these off-site attendees will return the following year as on-site attendees. Don’t be afraid to share and extend your reach – social, mobile, and live-streaming applications can help let the content and education have a longer shelf-life.
4. Social media is your king
If you don’t have LinkedIn, Instagram, or Twitter, your event is nothing… well, not exactly true – it is how you use it. The goal today is to go viral, and the best way to do this is to understand your influencer community. Influencers are the ones that are making brands come to life. We think of celebrities like Kim Kardashian selling beauty products, but who are the influencers in your industry – the Finance Guru, the Pharmaceutical Vlogger – find them and have them share your brand or event experience. The advent of social media has given event organizers a unique opportunity to track success of an event; if your event goes viral, clearly it was a success! If you have a very robust social media campaign and create a hashtag, really develop an identity for your event on social media, and still no one engages with it? That’s a failure… and social media provides you with these metrics to measure success of your event!
5. Make it Instagram worthy
Experiences are worth more when they are shared, so how will you create that “Instagrammable” moment? Traditional options were a step-and-repeat or character in costume, but in the age of technology, our industry is expecting so much more. A VR experience forces people out of their comfort zone, or an edible branded cookie reinforces brand messaging with each bite! The experience is what makes your event “Instagram” worthy, so give your attendees that snapshot moment so they can post to social media and drive conversation around your event. Social Media consumers are moving more and more towards video format, so be sure to engage with attendees through snackable video content and social media live-streaming because the world no longer communicates in still frame!
6. Emotion is everything
Emotion is everything – so how do you evoke an emotion using technology to do your storytelling? It isn’t always about using the latest and greatest technology, but rather knowing how to manipulate the technology to emote. You can use AI/AR/VR/MR – any of the realities – but what ultimately matters is what your message is, and being able to share it in a consumable way that evokes an emotion. Content. Happiness. Excitement. You need to be sure about the response you are looking to evoke and gear the design to that end result.
TL;DR – The future of events is moving towards integrated technology that encourages audience engagement, and eliminates many of the pain points associated with traditional conferences and meetings. Facial recognition, RFID trackers, and personalized event apps provide event organizer and attendees with a unique opportunity to engage and gather analytics to help improve upon future events. Make sure to provide your attendees – and the folks watching from home – with moments to connect and participate, and ways to share their experiences through hashtags, CTAs, and on-site activations. Keep emotion at the core of your event storytelling, and remember that when done right, social media can provide you with unparalleled insight into your audience, and the analytics to determine if your event was a success or failure!