When characterizing future business-to-business meetings, conferences and trade shows, a number of frameworks come to mind, including experiential, engagement-focused and personalized. While all three strategies are important, personalization is one that resonates most with attendees. Acknowledging customers and meeting their needs (sometimes unexpectedly) is a central tenet for business success. The following emerging technologies that empowers these key moments of personalization will shape the events of the future.

Facial Recognition

Although event check-in has become much more convenient in recent years, facial recognition software is making the process even less time-consuming. It uses attendee photos to complete the check-in process instead of a barcode scanner or the traditional way of handing over a paper confirmation or ID. In events of the future, facial recognition could be used anywhere in the venue—at registration or session check-in—and perform more personalized tasks like greeting the attendee with a welcome text or a map.

Conversational Interfaces

Most conference-goers are now familiar with text messaging, and many use voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home. Recently, these ways of communicating have been showing up at events in the form of chatbots or unmanned customer service areas. The appeal lies in the way they can personalize a conversation with an attendee—call them by name, remember their preferences, give them the exact information they need with no searching required. It’s easy to envision events of the future in which even the machines know everyone’s names.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Although still in its early stages, AI-enabled software can help attendees discover the most relevant peers, sponsors, exhibitors and activities at the event. Soon, AI will be the underlying technology that sets up meetings, personalizes conversations or extends the interaction by providing attendees with the specific information needed to take the discussion to the next level. And, when event organizers can easily analyze attendee data (sometime soon), AI will enable them to evolve event programming to meet the unique requirements of every attendee.

Proximity Technology 

For several years, it’s been possible to track the location and dwell time of attendees so that organizers and exhibitors can personalize an experience or content to an individual using low-energy beacons or radio-frequency identification (RFID). In events of the future, these capabilities will be more refined and expanded. Locations and attendee preferences (perhaps combined with other data) will become so precise that all of the guesswork around what a person wants and where will be eliminated.

Implementing a personalization strategy requires more planning than placing a collection of standalone technologies throughout the event space. Some devices are more effective than others in reaching personalization goals, and capabilities often overlap—every kiosk or digital sign calling out an attendee’s name could be overkill.

SmartSource® has published a white paper titled, “Personalizing the Event Experience Through Technology.” Read about the benefits of event personalization and a technology blueprint for making it a reality.