As technology is part of almost all events and Tech Fest is just around the corner, I asked William Thomson, Head Honcho at Gallus Events, a few questions.
What are your top 3 tips for using tech at events?
Despite the world of events being so wide and varied, as you know we can be talking about a wedding to a festival or a conference to a birthday party, I think that we can find three things that are useful for every event when we think about event technology.
- The first is that technology is only an option. When you think about using technology start with by identifying the actual problem and then look at ways to solve it. My best example would be when conferences have a perceived problem with the attendees asking questions. A solution is to get a handset or a mobile app that has the capacity to support attendees to generate questions. Another solution would be to give attendees a few minutes to discuss the sessions once it has finished; this will generate questions. Who is to say one is better than the other? Planners make mistakes when they start and end with the technological solution.
- The second is that every planner has to tell everyone who will be using the technology and then tell them again. One of the barriers that stop technology working at events is that people don’t know what to do with it. Communication is key and it has to be prioritised.
- And the third is that the tech you use has to add value. There is no point doing it just to be seen to be doing it.
Can tech add value to events?
It has to or there is no real value in using it. The value is crucial. Implementing technology can be difficult and resource intensive, so it has to add more value than the effort you put in or it isn’t worth it. The value has to be measured for everyone who interacts with it of course. I find too often that planners focus on guest / attendee technology and don’t really look at the tech that can add value to the planner. A more efficient planner will run better events for their guests / attendees.
What innovations should you be using at your next event?
As I said I always find it hard to talk about “events”. It is such an incredibly wide and varied word “events”, don’t you think? But I suppose overall we should be looking for innovative technology that is in general easy to use. And again, in general, it should be able to do more than one thing. There’s no contradiction here I assure you between easy to use and doing a few things well; it’s about finding the technology that for example, registers attendees, collects money and sends emails but isn’t used to check in their coats, order them a taxi or find them a date! It’s funny when we talk about innovations in the events industry. When planners are receiving bookings by fax and planning their event on Excel we have a way to catch up with the really innovative technology that is out there.
What is TechFest?
It’s an event that brings together event organisers and event technology. We’ve been doing this for a few years now (the first Tech Fest was in 2012) and we’ve learned that creating the right atmosphere and environment is key to supporting the adoption of the technology that we have on show. So we create a great conference programme with a theme and a strong narrative. We help planners to understand the technology and the things that stop them using it in the conference and we effectively “power” them to approach the tech that we invite along. This means that both planners and the tech companies are safe in the knowledge that everyone is learning about event technology which supporters them to make the right decision.
One of our main objectives is to be innovative and try out a few things that other planners can be inspired by; we take the risk and then hopefully our attendees are more likely to innovate in their own events. It’s not just about event technology but I suppose that is at the heart of Tech Fest.
For more info, go to http://www.tech-fest.co.uk/