The vast majority of events listed on GovEvents are technology related. However, the events themselves tend to be manual and paper-based. This reliance on the "old-school" way of doing things is often driven by time and money (or lack thereof).
Events as marketing tools are an expense so keeping spending in check is critical to producing a return on the investment. Often, these events are organized by a small staff with other job responsibilities beyond planning the event. Knowing this, it's understandable to default to the "way we've always done it." This "status quo" thinking might keep the expenses low but ROI will continue to fall as less people attend a show they see as stuck in the past.
We've pulled together some ideas on how to affordably add tech to your events to increase your relevance without increasing bottom line spending.[Tweet "Ideas on how to affordably add tech to your events. #GovEventsBlog #EventTech"]
- Virtual Reality -- While virtual reality is becoming a mainstay of consumer events, very few government events have the budget or the ability to incorporate this technology. Instead, government events could start with 360 degree video. This is a live video produced by specialized cameras that render a 360° view of what is happening. You have probably seen this on social media. While it is not interactive like virtual reality, it does give viewers a better sense for the sheer scope and size of the event.
- Streaming Video - We've written here before about the growth of streaming video with the introduction of Facebook Live. While in an ideal world you'd have a professional camera and operator shooting and streaming your event, quality expectations of viewers are not that high. Consider starting small and having a staff member shoot video of exhibitors or small presentations with a cell phone camera. See how the quality comes out and what the online response is. You never know if it will work until you try it.[Tweet "Tech up your event! #VR, #360video, #livestreaming, and more. #GovEventsBlog"]
- WiFi - This is one area where we recommend you make a large investment. Make sure your attendees have access to free wifi. Without it, you'll have grumpy attendees upset that they have to use their data plans to check emails while away from the office. You may also have less social interaction without it. WiFi can get expensive, but it is critical. If you have to, cut back in other areas to give your attendees access to the best Internet connection.
- Social Connections - from photo booths to social media walls to geo filters give your attendees plenty of opportunities to participate in as well as witness the social buzz happening around the event.
- Collaboration - When people register make sure they get more than just a confirmation email. Add the option for the event to auto-populate on their calendar. Ask for social media handles as part of registration and follow attendees for easier interaction online before, during, and after the show. Provide an online home for people to go to download presentations and even interact with one another.[Tweet "High Tech, Low Budget: Tech-ing Up Your Event. #GovEventsBlog #EventPlanning #EventTech"]
- Mobile Event Apps - Consider creating an app or using a commercially available app instead of using paper guides for you event. The App does not have to be complex or interactive. It can simply be a repository of all event information (hours, address, directions, agenda). Consider also integrating speaker and exhibitor info (presentations, pdfs of marketing handouts). If you create your own app, start with the basics and add to it over time as you see what features your attendees use. There are numerous tools available to help you build the app without any tech experience. Also you may want to look at your sponsors and see if the cost to purchase the app or labor to build a proprietary app could be included in your sponsorship packages.
We'd love to hear your ideas and experience on integrating high tech with low budgets. Share your thoughts in the comments.