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Event Technology Delivers When You Know Your Audience

Associations get the best value out of event technologies when they commit to understanding and serving their participants, technology vendors Kevin Jackson, Pindie Dhaliwal, and Robert Thompson told participants during the 2014 Engaging Associations Summit.

Kevin Jackson, Senior Partner with Gormley, Ontario-based Biz-Zone, and Pindie Dhaliwal, Manager of New Media at QuickMobile in Vancouver, both positioned technology as a means to an organization’s larger objectives—so that associations must first decide what they’re trying to achieve, before seeking out the technologies that match their objectives. Robert Thompson of AV-Canada talked about innovative ways to use audio-visual and technology to engage attendees at face-to-face events.

What Do We Mean By Engagement?

Jackson said associations increasingly understand the need for deeper engagement, but the first task is to focus on target audiences: whether a campaign will focus on members, staff, partners, or all of the above. In an era of spam prevention and privacy protection, engagement can be risky if it’s done carelessly. But the rewards are sweet, since genuine engagement is also the gateway to wider reach, greater relevance, and more reliable membership renewals.

While a successful engagement campaign incorporates technology, Jackson said it also depends on skilful execution and a consistent focus on audience and purpose. He said associations can improve their own prospects for member engagement by planning for the changes ahead, spending wisely, paying constant attention to relationships and human resources, and never losing sight of the “minimal viable product” (MVP) that will serve members’ needs, in contrast to shiny new technologies that may not sustain their interest.

There’s Revenue in That App

With 1.4 billion smart phones in use as of the end of 2013, and more tablets sold than laptops, Dhaliwal said it should be no surprise that more than 80% of meeting participants bring their technology onsite. The disconnect, so far, is that only 9% of event organizers use mobile apps at their meetings, according to the annual FutureWatch survey produced by Meeting Professionals International.

Onsite apps can cut costs, while helping organizers measure onsite impact and extend the life of an event. And Dhaliwal listed 10 different pathways to revenue through mobile apps:

  • Sponsored splash pages
  • Sponsor listings
  • Featured sponsors
  • Sponsor icons
  • Rotating banner ads
  • Push notifications
  • Exhibition support
  • VideosSurveys
  • Gamification.

Click here for highlights of the 2014 Engaging Associations Summit and a sneak preview of the 2015 event.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at