THE trend to look out for in 201705-Jan-2017
NO, it's not Pokemon Go2. Or Mark Zuckerberg’s “new” Jarvis (though that would be cool!).
Following a speaking session recently, I was asked what would be my one top technology trend to look out for in 2017.
It took me a moment. There's a gazillion things to choose from. So after a gulp of water, and 500 eyes and ears waiting to see what glimmer of hope I may bring for their prosperous 2017, my answer?
Ok, so I'm not talking about going all robotic with machines manning your booth or replacing your marketing team with full AI technology to do everything better. But... I am suggesting use of those tools, but with "better" people. To clarify, by better I mean more well equipped to use those tools.
Firstly, we'll look at exhibitors.
Exhibitors are looking at their ROI in more detail possibly then before. We hear more about how they want to make sure their stand is working more efficiently for them. They want to make sure they're capturing the best conversations on the show floor. They want to make sure they have the edge on their competition. So on a crowded show floor (or even a fairly sparsely populated on to be fair!) how do you get that edge on the stand next to you?
It comes down to people. And an attractive stand of course too (and pre show marketing... the list does go on), but the pre show campaign & the stands design has brought the attendee over, so now it's the booth personnels turn to reel them in!
So the people trend for exhibitors is going to see more relevant and engaging booth staff. Whether hired in or brought up from the ranks within, I hope we see more staff that want to engage with passers by and actually sell them something. Staff that know their business well enough to talk about it on the day. Staff that have passion that emanates from every word that comes out of their mouths. Staff that will help you have a better show!
On to the organisers.
There's a couple variations of the people trend here, I'm going to look at marketing & sales.
With all the latest tech in marketing now available, we are going to see more experts in respective fields employed to utilise those systems or optimise those experiences even further. For example, you may be an excellent marketing director and trained at the best university, but did they have the latest automation tools for you to learn about when you were there? Was AI even discussed "back then?" If the answer is no to either of those questions, then you probably need an expert or you need to send yourself on a couple of training courses. You need someone in your team that isn't just a junior millennial, because it sounds like you should have one on your team, but an expert (of any age!) that knows how to deploy those technologies to help drive your value proposition.
Same goes for sales. There are a few companies within our industry that regularly hire from outside of events or publishing sectors with relation to sales. The reason so often being, "they need to know events," which in part is true, but in reality, if sales teams are equipped with the right information about an event and what return it could give to meet a customers objectives, it's not that hard.
Exhibition sales as we know it is changing. At last. For the better.
So yes, people do need to know events, but on the basic level, that can be taught fairly quickly to an eager to learn candidate. It's more important their ability to understand client objectives and how your event can deliver on those objectives.
Trying to not sound all apprenticey here, we are going to see more solution based sales, that will continue to drive bottom line. For example, we should no longer be just selling in square meterage real estate, but should be looking at ROI based selling models, from the entirety of your show floor. How many leads are generated in different areas? Does sponsoring a stage have an effect on leads gained? What about speaking opportunities? Sure, sometimes you just know a show works and you know your clients get the orders, but increasingly there is more requirement for everything to be measurable.
Exhibitors want proof of existence at your show and if your sales people continue to sell just on space and "5,000 attendees came through the door"... then they'll be changing too.
Whatever you do and however you do it, experiences often comes down to the people that put it together. The people that pulled it off. Or, the people that interacted with your client.
Tech is a driver for the future & for the "product" for sure, but if you can't talk about it or enthuse your customers about it...it doesn't matter how good your stand, feature or event is.
So 2017, bring it back to the people. They will make or break your event experience.