IBTM World 2018 the leading global event for the meetings and events industry closed on 29 November 2018. The three-day event set some new records both in terms of the number of pre-scheduled business meetings as well as the number of exhibitors. The annual event objective is to connect and inspire the meeting industry community and also showcase some of the new technologies related to the event planning and production.

This was my second time attending IBTM World and I represented a trade association and my objective was to connect with exhibitors from different countries and to explore opportunities to host our future conferences in another part of the world. One of the interesting aspects of the show was the number of mobile app solution providers. There were 17 companies presenting solutions for delegate check-in, tracking, engagement, gamification, networking, appointment, and floor plan. The variety of apps prove the fact that the meeting industry has already benefitted from the digital tools to attract, inspire and engage delegates and exhibitors.

Technology has changed the way meeting professionals manage registration and communicate with different stakeholders prior, during and after the event. There are hundreds of applications to help event organizers to manage websites, conference scheduling, banquet seating, event logistics, procurement, site selection, surveys/audience polling, travel and more. Increasingly these are being incorporated into the business process of running events. Meetings planners are using social media tools to connect with suppliers, attendees, exhibitor and another stakeholder to manage, market and improve events.

There are other event technology trends that will transform the way in which the meeting industry will operate. Facial recognition, RFID, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and live streaming are some of the technologies that will bring new digital capabilities to the industry. Vienna based technology vendor “Waytation” offers a Bluetooth solution which can easily be attached to the badge/lanyard of visitors to track and capture delegates flow. The captured data can provide insights such as delegate profiling, session attendance, expo traffic and etc. Once combined with an AI technology, it can personalize each delegate visit and provide a recommendation based on each individual preferences. Slido was another exhibitor at IBTM World offering audience interaction tool for meetings, events, and conferences through Q&A and live polls.

Besides technology, high-speed Wifi still remains as one of the top priority for the event planners. Based on my experience from attending events and conferences, many meeting venues underestimate the importance of connectivity for delegates and visitors. Large-scale events need reliable and fast internet allowing delegates to communicate and promote the event on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and encourage people to share and publish photos and videos during the event. Each delegate and visitor is a potential lead that should be engaged through different activities. Mooveteam offers visitor interaction solutions through gamification and interactive team-building app.

The supplier relationship management has also digitally transformed and meeting planners use online platforms such as “ROOTS” to find suppliers for their future events. ROOTS connects meeting and event planners to suppliers and automates and simplifies the entire planning process such as venue selection, catering, transport, sports and language services. It is obvious that in today’s fast-growing meeting Industry, venues that invest in technological assets will continue to enjoy a competitive advantage over those that go without. Yet, those venues that proactively integrate their technologies with their positioning and pricing strategies will be best set to see their competitive advantages continually sustained.