Over the years, businesses have employed up-and-coming technological solutions in order to keep up with the ever-changing landscape of meetings and event planning. Planners typically rely on these new tools to organize and enhance events to bring additional value to existing clients and attract new exhibitors and attendees.
Software proprietors that provide meetings and events solutions must therefore ensure their events management systems can integrate with cutting edge features and tools. In some cases, proprietors will create separate applications while still providing contemporary technologies.
Niche players can utilize the latest industry trends in virtual events, mobile apps, location based technology, and business intelligence to successfully gain market share by providing unique software that the meetings and events industry needs.
Hotels and convention centers nowadays are seeing an increase in demand for more elaborate events, exhibitions, and trade shows. Events and meeting planners, however are facing greater difficulty negotiating venues at lower rates, which has prompted planners into exploring online collaboration tools including software to host live, interactive, and virtual meetings and sessions.
Virtual events reduce travel and accommodation costs for attendees and exhibitors. Virtual events use web capabilities to host meetings in a digital environment through the construction of digitized booths for exhibitors and avatars to represent both booth staff and attendees.
Without the need for a physical presence, digital meetings can reach broader audiences and are limited only by bandwidth rather than by the restrictions of the physical venue. In some cases, event planners use a hybrid approach that incorporates both the physical venue and a virtual venue to expand the reach of the event and give attendees additional options for attending, especially if the physical location of the event is sold out.
From a software perspective, it is important to facilitate the creation of a 3D environment where avatars can interact with one another in a similar manner as they would at a physical event. The communication platform must be robust and reliable, unifying messaging, video conferencing, live chat, and data sharing between attendees. An additional feature to incorporate into this type of platform is the capability to allow exhibitors to customize their virtual booths with elements that are similar to those they would put in a physical booth. Cross-platform capability is paramount to accessibility, although this requirement can be accommodated by creating the virtual environment on a cloud platform that is accessible regardless of device or operating platform.
The ubiquity of smart phones presents a prime opportunity for event planners to make use of mobile applications and mobile websites to streamline internal functions and facilitate attendee engagement. Event mobile apps can reduce paper and time by delivering content such as programs, agendas, exhibitor lists, and feedback material in a digital format. Apps also serve as a way to get guests more involved in social media as they facilitate peer-to-peer connection and networking opportunities.
When developing applications for mobile devices it is imperative to program web, native, and hybrid apps for smart phones and tablets for popular operating platforms including iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry. Building cross-platform mobile apps is also viable way to reduce expenses and decrease time to market when developing intricate applications for multiple operating systems. Developers can utilize Xamarin and PhoneGap to create high-performing cross-platform apps that use native API's to create User Interfaces (UI) and User Experiences (UX) that are specific to certain operating systems.
Location-based services including geofencing and beacon technology can increase revenue, enhance attendees and exhibitor experience. Geofencing is a technology that enables contextual messaging to users within a certain external boundary. When the virtual barrier is crossed content is delivered to the user via messaging services. Geofencing is mainly concerned with outside boundaries and it is supplemented with proximity services called beaconing. Beaconing uses Bluetooth hardware technology to send information to a device when an attendee is in close proximity. Geofencing can provide a streamlined check-in process. Pairing location tools with feedback modules allows you to send timely and relevant polling questions for accurate data. Beaconing can be used for way finding and provide attendees with pertinent information about booths and seminars. Using location based services allows planners to promote and provide information instantaneously.
Location-based services should be integrated with the overarching meeting and events mobile application. When developing an application that utilizes geofencing, it is imperative that the user's location is recognized. Through specific programming, the application must determine the GPS location of the user by way of geo coordinates. Interfacing a location API allows users to define their targeted boundaries via a simple and navigable UI integrated with Google Maps API. Creating a management dashboard to configure beaconing functions and customize contextual messages will also create an easy-to-use and efficient beaconing system. Relevant coding must be implemented to enable the application to run in the background. This will be key to enable functions while the application is not actively open on the user's device.
Harnessing contemporary technology in big data business intelligence has always and will continue to be an important aspect of meeting and events. Integrating all technology facilitating an event including virtual events, mobile application use, and location based data with data aggregation and data warehouses will help planners improve patron interactions, engagement, and experience. These insights help a planner spot trends and streamline internal processes.
It is imperative to offer a data warehousing system on the back-end of events management software and related applications. Warehousing architectures extract the miscellaneous information from various mediums including applications, virtual events, and websites and load it into a database. A fundamental tool for any BI software is a query builder for the creation of a project for data mining. Providing a list of all parameters based on the specific needs of your users and offering a combination of real time and scheduled, batch mode, reporting is a key component. To view the highly sensitive material it will be paramount to have a user-friendly front-end dashboard. Offering a cost effective, and efficient solution for business intelligence and reporting by offering cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will also improve software viability.
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