Event Technology: Great Expectations or the Great Divide?

Over the last several years web-based and mobile technologies have made an indelible impact on corporate meetings and events.  And for good reason:  these new collaborative tools unite content owners and users via engaging interactions and events.  When meeting organizers and attendees are not on the same page about where to use the technology, however, the results are less desirable and we miss out on the opportunity to create a better meeting experience.

Therefore it’s important to understand what aspects of technology motivate both event planners and event attendees.  A new report published by American Express called “GREAT EXPECTATIONS:  The Evolving Landscape of Technology in Meetings,” helps shed light on current industry trends from both the event manager’s perspective and that of the attendee.

According to the survey, meeting attendees generally feel they get more out of meeting apps than social media applications.  Perhaps no surprise here.  Meeting apps enhance productivity by providing access to up-to-date event schedules and session descriptions, not to mention the added convenience of meeting scheduling capabilities.  But when polled, only 55% of attendees say that event apps are “important,” as compared with 67% of event planners.  Why the disconnect?

Another report finding has to do with social media and its role at events.  Overall, the number of respondents who thought social media was “really important”—45% of planners and 35% of attendees—was lower than one might expect.  Moreover, utilizing social media to create “buzz” and having an event hashtag was much more important to planners than to attendees (it would seem attendees are more interested in experiencing a great event than they are about reading about it or sharing reviews).

It would be interesting to see how these poll figures bear out across different audiences. Would responses from B2C planners and attendees be markedly different than those from the B2B space?   Maybe, but the message remains clear:  when it comes to the technologies planners believe should be incorporated into an event and the solutions attendees expect, there’s a discernible gap.

So how do we figure out which technologies we should be using and when?  Some people will turn to online analytics and use the data to make some good guesses, while others might turn to colleagues and consultants to brainstorm cool new ideas.  But could it be as simple as using the very tools we have at our fingertips at events to ask attendees what theywant?  Should there be less “buzz” and more communication at all stages of the event lifecycle?

If you agree, which questions would you ask attendees to find out what technologies make their event experience richer, more productive and more engaging?