Creating safe events

How contactless technologies can help create safe events in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has been looming over us for almost a year now. The idea of attending events and trade shows is still unsettling. No one wants to be in enclosed, crowded places these days.

The industry reacted by looking for virtual events solutions, but the limitations of the digital experience quickly became clear. Attendees are tired of being in front of computer screens. Exhibitors are questioning the value and ROI from virtual events and considering what other marketing efforts would be a better investment.

Our main challenge as an industry is making events safe for attendees, exhibitors and event staff, so they can feel confident to come back in 2021. People want to understand what a post-COVID attendee journey will look like. This got me thinking about the shopping experience at IKEA stores. 

If you have been to IKEA a few times, you probably had that classic frustrating experience. You were in the plant section at the end of your journey when you remembered something you needed from the living room section next to the entrance.

The only way to get there is by walking all the way back against the flow of the crowd. This experience has likely taught you to plan your visits to IKEA better. There is a great insight for our industry in this anecdote: helping people plan their visit ahead of time will help them feel safe and confident in attending events again.

Physical distancing is very challenging in crowded places. For this reason, we need to streamline the attendee experience and rethink how they interact with exhibitors, sponsors and speakers. We need to give people specific guidelines on how to plan their visit ahead of time, how to move on the show floor, and how to interact with each other.

As organisers, we must go beyond the standard safety requirements such as temperature scanners, signs encouraging physical distancing and sanitiser dispensers. We can leverage the power of contactless event technologies to get people in, around, and out of the venue as efficiently as possible.

Below are some practical solutions you can implement.

  1. Help attendees plan their visit ahead of the event, maximise their time, and minimise contact through event planning tools;
  2. Create a contactless check-in experience using facial recognition, digital tickets, and auto-badge printing;
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3. Give people a sense of control and confidence byusing digital signage to display the number of people on the floor in real-time. 

4. Decrease direct contact using self-serve kiosks and attendance tracking at entrances and exits; 

5. Allow contactless collection of digital materials through smartphones and wearables such as smart badges, smart bracelets and rings;

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6. Predict what people are looking for and guide them to find it as efficiently as possible using machine learning and recommendation tools;

7. Allow exhibitors, sponsors and speakers to deliver information digitally by placing content on smart readers on meter boards, on sponsorship walls, in speaker sessions and in exhibitor booths;

8. Create a safe environment by designing booths that make it easy to collect digital brochures containing general information or highlighting best sellers and by having private areas for meetings away from the crowd;

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9. Offer collaboration tools for real-time interaction between attendees and colleagues participating back in the office;

Using contactless technologies will go beyond increasing safety at the event. It will also speed up the sales process, allow savings on printing of promotional materials, and promote an environmentally friendly attitude through the distribution of digital information.

People feel confident when they understand what to expect, they know what to do, and they are clear on what measures are in place to protect them. Once attendees and exhibitors understand what an event journey can look like in 2021, events and trade shows will be back on the map.

Have you heard of the technologies I mentioned in this article? Let me know in the comments. 

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