The Future of Event Tech, According to Jim Spellos

Jim Spellos, president of Meeting U., is a technology guru when it comes to what’s new, trending and obsolete. He is also a great resource for conference attendees, as he delivers more than 150 seminars annually to share his expertise. He will be speaking at Connect in Salt Lake City, Aug,. 23-25. As technology continues to push the envelope of what is capable in the meetings and events industry (hello, chatbots) it is important that planners stay in the loop, being innovators or early adopters as Spellos calls them, to new technology developments. No one wants to be a laggard. Spellos recently spoke in our monthly webinar series, presenting on the hot technologies of 2018 and beyond. Here are a few takeaways you should be aware of and start implementing.

Old-School Technology

Conference Apps Though conference apps are not technically “old school,” they are an older technology format that you should already be using at your events. “Conference apps should be enriching what you already have, rather than trying to figure out what app to use for the conference this year or what service,” says Spellos. Your event should include an app that attendees can download on iOS and Android that’s user-friendly, where they can easily access transportation information, the agenda, education sessions and more. “What your conference app conversation should be like is how you incorporate some of the newer technologies in there, so we can continue to engage attendees properly,” he says. Traditional Websites “If you’re spending a lot of time and money updating a traditional website, be it a desktop or laptop website, I think you’re really missing the whole idea,” Spellos says.  He is referring to is mobile technology’s influence. The majority of people are on their phones these days—2,617 is the average number that people touch their phones, with heavy users interacting with their phones 5,427 times a day. To say mobile is not important in the events industry is an understatement. “More and more people are using mobile only as their connection of point or information trying to gather,” he says. “Think mobile first, always.” Social Media Everyone uses social media one way or another, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Instagram. Social media is ubiquitous in the events industry, so it’s considered “old-school” in the fact that everyone knows how to navigate it. “It’s not about which tools you should be using, but how do we use the tools to make sure they connect with customers and clients most effectively,” he said.

New School Technology

Mixed Reality Mixed reality—augmented reality and virtual reality—isn’t just for gamers or kids anymore; it’s starting to impact the events industry. “Similar to the scene from ‘Minority Report’ where things are floating around Tom Cruise’s head,” he said. “That’s the way I see the future. Not going to have a badge, but your name floating above you.” Some AR and VR features planners are using include: All Space, an app that lets you share your experience with other people in VR; Concept3D’s online maps that lets users preview a convention center beforehand; Google’s cardboard camera app that lets you record in 350 and do basic 360 pictures; and the Layer App. Bots/Artificial Intelligence   Chatbots are starting to pop up everywhere. Don’t believe it? Next time you go to a website and a box pops up on the screen asking, “How many I help you?” That’s a bot. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are great ways to simulate human interaction. “We create so much data. The question is how are we using it?” he asks. AI is used every day if you have an Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Spellos states that you can build apps for your organization with Amazon Echo’s BluePrint and Google Home’s Actions Console, where you can create quizzes, games shows and interesting facts to really extend the conversation you’re having with your clients. “As we move from the desktop and into mobile, it’s also moving away from hands-on keypads to everything being voice- and gesture-based.” If you would like to see a chatbot in action, Connect will have Connie at Connect Marketplace in Salt Lake City this year, where she can answer your questions. Wearables Wearables are already on-trend thanks to Fitbit. But there are other wearables that are on trend. MYO is a band that you can put around your arm and use muscle movements to advance slides automatically, and ORBI Prime are glasses that do 360-degree recording. *To learn more about the future of technology, check out the “Hot Technologies 2018” webinar on demand. And don’t miss Spellos speak at Connect in Salt Lake City Aug. 23 and 25 at 11:15AM in the ConnecTECH Lounge Sponsored by Visit Denver.