Creating a touchless event environment has become more of a priority for event organizers and venues during the pandemic. But touchless events were emerging before COVID-19 and aided by an explosion of technologies; they’re likely to continue evolving. There are plenty of reasons for event organizers, exhibitors, and exhibit designers to think more strategically about touchless. 

Benefits of touchless events 

Touchless events deliver significant benefits to organizations: 

Hygiene—reducing the amount of contact with bacteria-laden surfaces not only contributes to the well-being of event participants but also creates peace of mind for all stakeholders eager to return to in-person experiences. 

Energy efficiency—touchless devices typically consume less energy, a plus for environmentally conscious organizations from a sustainability perspective. 

User experience—touchless devices effectively reduce the number of steps required to perform a task, reducing potential friction associated with participating in an event.  

Brand health—touchless events can help organizers with brand recognition and differentiation. Think about Amazon Go stores versus the local Piggly Wiggly.  

Touchless event technologies 

One by one, touchless and semi-touchless event technologies are re-emerging post-pandemic for various reasons. Bluetooth beacons, Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) are back to track attendee behaviors. Facial recognition is gaining steam once more for event check-in and access control.   

Smart badges are helping maintain social distance as touchless badge printers reduce wait times, registration area footprints, and staffing costs. Mobile devices and event apps, which reduce the user’s contact with shared surfaces, once again provide touchless access to conference sessions, payments, and navigation.  

New touchless event technologies are also in the early stages. For example, interactive wall displays with proximity-based activation can serve up customized content based on where a person is standing inside the exhibit booth. Hand gesture tracking technology can enable presenters to advance a slide presentation using hand or finger movements. Apple’s recently announced AR glasses, which synchronize with a user’s iPhone, could open an entirely new category of touchless event use cases. 

Touchless events now 

Current technology is easily able to deliver a touchless experience at in-person events. For example, as an attendee walks into a venue via an automatic door, facial recognition can trigger a personalized welcome via voice or digital signage. A touchless kiosk can take their temperature and deliver a dollop of hand sanitizer. In the registration area, scanners can initiate badge printing. Voice-activated interfaces throughout an event can provide attendees with suggestions on products, vendors, sessions, or activities. Participants can consult their chatbots or mobile apps for directions, meeting schedules, or restaurant recommendations. 

Touchless as a design strategy 

But touchless events are more than a collection of technologies and one-off experiences. Health concerns aside (and they are not insignificant for event stakeholders), now is an excellent time to think holistically about designing touchless events that reduce friction across the entire attendee journey.  

In-person events are under pressure to perform. Recently, event participants spent an excessive amount of time behind screens. In one respect, virtual events offer less friction (no travel, lower cost, easier to navigate) than live events. In another respect, many attendees are suffering from cognitive overload. Either way, in-person events have something to prove. 

The potential of touchless is enormous. When combined with other technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and high-speed wireless networks, touchless devices represent significant opportunities for event organizers to deliver new services and experiences. 

Insight from consulting firm EY’s think tank sums up the opportunity well. “Eventually, as we become more comfortable with and trust these interfaces, they will begin to act alongside us and on our behalf. They will help us navigate a more complex digital expanse, curating personalized search results and delivering increasingly relevant and contextual recommendations and information. In short, they will help customers get what they want faster and make employees more efficient.” 

Have a conversation with the technology experts at SmartSource® to begin your journey toward touchless event experiences.