Because of their belief in their own uniqueness, Millennials have come to be known as “Generation Snowflake”. The term is sometimes used derogatively, but for event organisers it represents a huge opportunity.
Providing an individual experience, tailored to an attendee’s interests and preferences, can make events more effective and more engaging – and not just for the younger generation. Consequently, personalisation is one of the most important trends in the industry right now.
Personalisation can be applied to all aspects of the event experience; from ticket sale through to take-home gift. Here are some examples of event personalisation and what tech can be used to achieve them:
Marketing is far less annoying when it’s relevant, that’s why companies like Amazon use data to make product recommendations tailored to you. Eventbrite does the same by suggesting events users might like to attend based on their previous ticket purchases and searches. You can collect user data from your own website by using cookies, but be sure to get users to opt-in and agree.
Don’t be worried about appearing too intrusive; a recent survey carried out by the consumer insights platform Attest, found that 77% of millennials think digital personalisation is helpful, while only 23% think it’s creepy.
In a world of mail merge, going old school and sending a handwritten invitation demonstrates care and consideration. If you want specific people from specific organisations to attend, taking the time to personally invite them will really help your event stand out.
If you really want to make an impression with some heavy-hitters, a personalised video invitation delivered in a video card that plays when it’s opened will wow. Marcelo Bustamante, Managing Director, of production agency Amstore Innovation, says: “We’ve had clients shoot up to 50 individual videos when they want to give people the VIP treatment. Then they send it in a VideoPak as they know it will cut through and land on their desks. Using this technique, they win every time as it makes the recipients feel so special and valued.”
When you walk into a bar and the barman remembers your name and favourite tipple it makes you feel special, right? While humans might not be capable of that level of recognition at a conferences with thousands of attendees, computers are. Zenus Biometrics is a San Francisco-based facial recognition technology company that’s making event registration a whole lot more personal.
The technology allows attendees to simply walk up to a camera and be instantly recognised. Their name will appear and they will be able to enter the event without the need for tickets or barcodes. Not only does it provide a better experience for the attendee, it’s a much faster way to check people in for the event organiser.
Not everyone is looking for the same thing or heading in the same direction, so wouldn’t it be great if signs could be more personalised? With radio frequency technologies like RFID, NFC and UHF, they can be. Attendees receive smart-badges encoded with information they provided at registration such as their name, company and sessions they plan to attend.
Through RFID antennas in the badges, attendees can then received a personalised welcome on media screens as they enter the venue, as well as see tailored information appearing on signage. This could be the room number for their next session or a reminder about complimentary breakfast in the VIP lounge.
The Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) used smart-badges at its annual conference in May. As well as providing a personalised welcome, delegates could also tap their phones against their badges to instantly access contextual content and social media feeds.
Large conferences sometimes have in excess of 100 sessions, workshops and breakouts. As it’s not possible to attend them all, attendees must pick the ones which appeal to them most. If this task is completed at registration, you can pre-load their choices into your event app, immediately providing users with a bespoke agenda. Alternatively, they can select items to add to their agenda from within the app.
Either way, it makes your event app a lot more useful by only showing users information relevant to them. They can also be sent push notifications to alert them to their next session. Event app maker Crowdcomms says: “Attendees no longer have to feel like just a number. With an interactive personalised agenda, they’ll feel like the event was curated just for them.”
Networking is increasingly listed as one the main reason people attend events like conferences. However, it can be hard, faced with a long list of delegates and exhibitors, to work out the best people to meet. That’s why platforms like Grip are using artificial intelligence to help identify who you’re most likely to be interested in.
Grip’s AI matchmaking engine can interpret data from attendees’ social media profiles like LinkedIn and Facebook, and recommend people to meet, conference sessions to attend, or even products that would most suit their business interests.
Tim Groot, CEO of Grip, says: “We’ve found that 55% of people surveyed say they made a connection using our AI matchmaking engine that they wouldn’t have made otherwise. That’s simply because, working with real-time recommendations, that AI learns from your behaviour as you interact with it, and you’ll have better recommendations the more you use it.”
In the future, you can expect the personalisation of event catering to go way beyond providing basic meat or gluten-free options. Millennials are driving a huge trend for wellness and healthy eating and they’re putting their money where their mouths are (it’s an industry worth $3.72bn globally). In light of this, a chain of London cafes has become the first in the world to create meals based on the customer’s DNA profile.
Customers can get their DNA mapped for £200, and then get a profile created of DNA mutations which signal which food groups they should avoid and eat more of, for instance whether they should be eating high fat or a low carbohydrate diet.
Using this data, Vita Mojo, which has three stores in central London, can produce bespoke meals. Founder of Vita Mojo, Nick Popovici tells The Telegraph: “There is no one else who, in less than five minutes, will produce a plate of food to match DNA. We are making it easy for people – we personalise food when we go to supermarket by taste – now it is based on taste and science.”
Why give a pen with just your branding on, when you can give a pen that bares both your branding and the name of your recipient? Thanks to affordable on-demand printing it’s now possible and it’s a great way to create an association in recipients’ minds.
Already popular are things like personalised tins of sweets or calendars, where names are creatively integrated into the images for each month. You can even get fortune cookies with customised messages inside for different attendee groups. Companies pushing the boundaries when it comes to what’s possible with personalised event giveaways include Barclaycard.
Aman Brar, of PrintKick, says: “The most interesting example of on-demand personalisation we’ve seen was in the VIP area at the Barclaycard BST Festival. The idea is that you have a survey or quiz which is linked to a personality profile. As you’re answering questions on the quiz, it builds up an android style body personalised to your answers. You name the creature at the end, and it’s printed and transferred onto a mug or water bottle right away.”
Getting personal won’t just please the “special snowflakes” among us – it makes events more rewarding for everyone by providing enhanced and unique experiences. And thanks to new technology, it’s getting increasingly easier to gather the data you need in order to “know” your attendees better (just be sure to let them know you’re collecting it and the reasons why).