For a while now, I have been wondering why things that should be obvious and the order of the day in reality are not. The same goes for effective participation and aware event organizing. You could think otherwise, but I truly believe that events nowadays are organized and carried out in an extensively analog way. Would you agree with me? Why don’t we step into the shoes of an attendee and check what it is really like and what influence event organizing strategies have on both sides.
Current event reality
Finding the right event
Let’s say that I just found out that participation in events develops the mind and business and I decided to find an event for myself. Well, what should I do first? I use Google, next type “business conferences” and Uncle Google presents me with 10 pages of about 15 headlines on each one of them; what’s interesting, the spotlight goes to a conference about mental disorders, which is the first recommendation on top. Three hours go by and I finally make a choice – cool website, awesome speakers, pretty interesting agenda, overall seems like it’s worth it; I buy a ticket because “early bird” fare is available and I’m done. Oh wait no, I almost forgot to set up an alert in my calendar! Alert set to “a week before”.
Nothing happens for a long time.
Planning your trip
All of sudden the alert rings -” 7 days until the conference”. Okay, what was that website again? Got it! But where is this event taking place? Oh okay, found it! Next step, booking some place to stay, but wait, is this in the center anyway? So another consultation with Google and the answer is (drumroll) 7 km from the center – not bad, but when does this start? Hastily searching through all the opened tabs to find the agenda – 9:00, ok. Double checking the maps, it takes up to 15 minutes to get there, but wait, this will be the rush hour. Well okay, I will check it in the morning. Next, checking what train I can take there, maybe I will run into someone I know. Set alert to “one day before the event”.
Nothing for 6 days.
Getting to the venue
I get off the train. Time to find a taxi, surfing through the Internet I stumble upon some phone numbers, okay, but while looking around I spot a taxi rank. No taxi to be found, but no worries it’s the rush hour, something will arrive soon.
I open up the door to a taxi, welcomed by the sound of disco polo and there it is “What brings you here sir?” Without hesitation, I answer that I am here for a conference. With certainty, the taxi driver says “Oh yeah, we have a lot of these here.”
At last we come to a stop, hopefully we are in the right place.
Using your time at the event
“Entrance” it says, I walk in. A hostess asks for my name and surname, takes out a long list – I am not on it. Double checks and there I am, she smiles, I smile back. However, a huge line of people behind me don’t seem to be as happy as we are. I get hold of the event’s informer – schedule, speakers, partners around the neck it goes, time to go inside. The hallway filled with people, so maybe it’s time for my first coffee and small talk. But wait, what am I going to ask? Oh, come on I tell myself, money was spent now it’s time to roll the dice. I search around the crowd, this one no, this one either, maybe that one, let’s get this show on the road. The results are: 10 business cards, 10 small talks, 0 potential people interested in engaging in a deeper conversation because the topics I brought up don’t have anything to do with them. Oh well, I tried.
So the conference starts, I am attending a Q&A session and want to ask a question, but how? Microphones and I don’t go hand in hand. I will just let other attendees ask questions then, but what I hear is dead silence and before I know it the Q&A session comes to an end.
It’s almost over, so I will just quickly visit the partner stands to see what they have there. This seems nice, so why not take a business card. Oh, they have a coffee machine, just the thing I needed before the journey back. I collected a leaflet, business card, so it’s time to go back. I receive an email asking me to fill out a feedback survey tomorrow.
Does this really have to be this way? Is there no other way to organize events in a more effective and friendly manner?
Better, digital event reality
Recommending right events
How would my event experience change if I didn’t have to depend on Google? I could just use an event search engine to filter events by categories, look at other people’s opinions and receive recommendations from people I know and respect? What if the same search engine recommended what events I should attend according to my profile? What would be the effect on my budget, if I could plan my event participation a year in advance, mark it in my calendar and was always informed about ‘early bird’ tickets?
Getting the information you need
How is it even possible that websites are the only source of information about the event? We see the schedule, speakers, partners, buy a ticket and forget about this for the next few months! This website could be interactive. This could be a place, where we meet other attendees, establish new relations and arrange meetings long before the event begins.
What would it be like to have to use only one tool to plan your trip, find accommodation, have an insight on which of my friends are also going to the event, so we can plan your trip together? Would it make a difference if I was able to order a ride from the same tool instead of looking for a taxi or if technology replaced banners that guide attendees to the entrance? Would I even need printed materials?
Engagement at the event
How would I feel, if I had the opportunity to meet with people who I engaged in a conversation with on the event’s website? What if a few of these people were speakers? Would it make me feel more comfortable if I was able to ask them questions before the conference instead of using a microphone during a lecture? What if I had it all planned in my personal schedule and was notified about upcoming activities during the event?
How would it feel to be engaged in interactive voting and partner contests? Would I feel more confident if I had the possibility of contacting the partners, seeing their products and leaving them my contact details all before the event?
And what if you, as the organizer, could finally see the organizing process in detail, collect data and analyze it? Would this experience make the next edition of your event better and more affordable?
This is not some futuristic, impossible to achieve vision. It is all available right now, so why don’t you use it? Let’s talk about that!