10 Event Technology Trends You Need to Know in 2016 (and Beyond)

10 event technology trends

Can you imagine life without the smartphone these days? How about email…the internet?

All of these things might seem 100% necessary to modern living and working, but they’re all recent inventions, and actually many readers will remember life without them.

The point is, technological progress can happen rapidly, and before we know it our lives are changed and new ways of working become the norm.

So what are the next sweeping changes you can expect to impact the event industry? And how will they impact your work?

We’ve picked 10 exciting, innovative technologies that are gathering pace and adoption, and are likely to start appearing on your radar in 2016. Get ahead of the curve by learning more about them below!

<< Learn more about their application in real life with our Britepaper: Event Tech Trends in Action, which looks at 5 real world examples of these trends being used by events around the world >>

1. APIs: Topping the bill for this year’s event tech trends to watch out for is the humble, often overlooked API.

What is an API you might event be asking? Well an API (Application Programme Interface) is essentially a way to let one piece of technology ‘speak’ to another, sharing data and meaning they can be used together really easily.

How will this impact events? Too often event organisers are tasked with two bad choices.

Choice 1 is to get tied into an expensive ‘all in one’ system where you don’t use half the features and the rest ore not best in class…but for the convenience of having everything together, you’ll put up with the downsides.

Choice 2 is to manage multiple different apps and services that don’t work together, creating a headache of data management, uploading and downloading excel docs and generally just avoiding most of the solutions because it caused too much work.

APIs create a third way! You can pick and choose best in class solutions, and have them work together seamlessly so you’re getting only the best of both worlds, and avoiding the downsides.

That’s why we’ve spent a ton of time and money creating a world-class API that is now supporting over 140 different partners and solutions, making your life easier, not harder!

It’s also why you’ll find a lot more #eventprofs know and talk about APIs in 2016.

2. Email & Marketing automation: Email…really? Really! How can email make a list of technology trends to watch in 2016? Well, we didn’t say they had to be new…just making an impact.

And email is making a come back in a big way. With social networks’ growth slowing (even declining) and the rise of messaging apps (which are hard to use as a marketing tool), email is once again being seen a truly vital part of any organisers promotional plan.

What can really make it stand out is to use it in conjunction with marketing automation software (vendors like Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua are all major players). Marketing automation allows you to send more personalised, relevant and effective emails to prospective attendees, giving you the technology to move away from spammy broadcast email practices, towards a more value-led approach.

How will this impact events? Email has been a core part of event marketing since it was invented, and in 2015 was still seen as the number one most effective marketing channel for organisers (Source: Pulse Report).

Utilising marketing automation could make it even more powerful tool for events of all shapes and sizes in 2016…and a better experience for attendees too.

3. Real time intelligence: Big data…analytics…you’ve probably come across a few similar buzz words, but in this list we’re going to focus on Real Time Intelligence, because this is what matters.

Let me explain…big data is, in reality, just a giant amount of 1s and 0s. It’s raw tonnage, and not a lot of use to anyone.

Analytics is what you perform on data in order to understand it…it’s a verb that helps you get to your ultimate goal, but it’s not an end in itself.

Intelligence is the goal you want. Intelligence lets you make smart decisions. And Real Time Intelligence helps you to make decisions whenever you want to.

How will this impact events? Event organisers are always in need of real time intelligence. If you’ve got a huge festival and one gate is particularly busy, you need to know this at the time, so you can shift staff over to help relieve the pressure (it’s less useful to know you had a problem once the event is over!)

Similarly if you’ve just invested in a paid advertising push, it’s good to know within a short period of time if your money is being invested wisely (i.e. generating ticket sales), otherwise you’re just wasting it.

That’s why we’re invested heavily into providing an intuitive, intelligence-rich dashboard to provide all our organisers the real time intelligence to make smart decisions on the go.

4. Live Streaming: With services like Meerkat, Periscope and Blab hitting the marketing and gaining momentum, the idea of live streaming is becoming more popular and mainstream by the day as access to the technology has become widely available to anyone.

How will this impact events? Some people are fearful, others see the opportunity, but hardly any events will remain exempt from the potential for anyone to live stream their event from a phone.

On the optimists side, organisers see free live streaming technology as an opportunity to build FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that will help to build their overall audience and ultimately lead to growth and stronger ticket sales in the long term.

On the pessimists side, organisers worry that potential customers who would have paid for a ticket will stay at home, able to access the event’s content for free through one of these streaming services.

Whatever view you take, it’s unlikely streaming technology won’t appear on your radar at some point in 2016.

5. Omni-channel experiences: This is another buzz-word that probably needs an introduction. Essentially it means that whatever medium a customer uses to interact with a brand, it is the same, but personalised to the strengths of that medium. And all the data associated with that interaction is centralised, not stored within the separate channels.

The easiest example is if a customers searched for a product on their phone, and views their website, then completes to purchase when back home on their desktop, the experience is a pleasant one in both circumstances

This applies to things like mobile, web, social media, email, phone, smart watches etc.

How will this impact events? You never know how your attendees will try to interact with you or your event, so it’s important they have a great experience no matter what channel or medium they use.

If you’re failing to offer a good mobile ticket purchasing experience (for example), you’ll almost definitely be losing a large number of sales.

This is another technology-driven trend we’ve invested heavily in as a company, making sure attendees and organisers alike have a great experience however they want to use Eventbrite, whether it’s on a smart watch, smart phone, desktop or picking up the phone.

6. Wearables: This one of just two repeat event tech trends from last year, but there’s been one big development worth mentioning…you can now use Eventbrite on both Apple Watch and Android Smart watches!

How will this impact events? Now all the tech innovators and early adopters amongst your attendees can easily gain entrance with just a show of their wrist. Reaching for your phone is so last year, after all…

7. RFID: Sticking with the theme of super convenience (and our second repeat trend from 2015), RFID technology continues to evolve and offer a wealth of opportunities to organisers.

For those unfamiliar with it, RFID (standing for Radio-frequency Identification), is a technology that “offers advantages over manual systems or use of bar codes. The tag can be read if passed near a reader, even if it is covered by the object or not visible. The tag can be read inside a case, carton, box or other container, and unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be read hundreds at a time. Bar codes can only be read one at a time using current devices.” – Wikipedia

How will this impact events? With the reduction in cost of using RFID and increase in reliability, this is fast becoming a favourite way for organisers and exhibitors to interact with attendees and pass information.

Whether it’s paying for drinks at a festival bar, tagging visitors at a trade stand or making entrance to events even easier and more reliable, the uses of RFID are vast, and we’re excited by what the future holds!

8. Gesture control: Gesture control arguably became mainstream with the advent of the Kinect, when millions of households were introduced to the ability of controlling action on the screen with just their bodies.

Since then it’s application and sophistication has multiplied, and many pundits believe it will become the next ubiquitous way for us to interact on a daily basis with computers, cars and other household applications.

How will this impact events? Could 2016 be the year that gesture control breaks out to help us deliver more engaging presentations, exciting trade stands and immersive sales demos? Companies like Swoosh, Myo and GestureTek think so!

9. AI: Continuing with a tech theme designed to make life easier – and event experiences more personalised than ever – AI is bound to continue impacting the industry in 2016. We might not have reached Skynet levels of (scary) sophistication yet, but the power and capabilities of AI is now at a breakout phase.

From Apple’s Siri to Microsoft’s Cortana to Google’s Now, all the big boys of tech are investing heavily, and there are dozens (maybe hundreds) or other niche AI developers working on cool things. Watch for plenty of AI news in 2016.

How will this impact events? Concierge services like Siri, Cortana and Now present attendees the chance to enjoy a more engaging and personalised experience by remembering their preferences and helping them organise their transport or logistics. It won’t be long until there’s event-specific digital personal assistants offering even more tailored experiences.

10. Robots: The advance and utility of robots will no doubt continue to advance in tandem with AI, as their physical capabilities will often be determined by the smarts of their software, as well as the incredible feats of hardware that go into them.

How will this impact events? From incredibly efficient bar staff at festivals to helping people navigate around a giant exhibitions, the application of robots to the events industry is probably limited only by imagination.

Conclusion

Wow, that’s a whole lot of technology and innovation to wrap your head around! Which predictions do you think will have the biggest impact on your role (and the industry) in 2016? Did we miss any (and if so, please add your predictions to the comments)?

Finally, feel free to check out & download the above content in our slides. Also don’t forget to check out our Britepaper: Event Tech Trends in Action, which looks at how 5 event organisers have used these trends to transform the event experience for their attendees. Just fill out your details below to grab a copy.

Related Articles

About author View all posts Author website

Mark Walker

Hi, I'm the Head of Content for Eventbrite UK and Ireland.

I love writing (and reading) about events, marketing, technology and entrepreneurship.

I'm also a recovering #eventprof, having spent the first 7 years of my career running large scale international conferences and exhibitions. (Of course I relapse all the time and enjoy running content-led events for Eventbrite too.)

Thanks for reading and get in touch with any feedback you have at ukeditor@eventbrite.com.