Since our last Gathering at Somerset House at the beginning of the year we have been keen to bring together a group of experts and corporate event organisers to discuss the latest experiences (good or bad) with technology at events.
This led to the Breakfast Event Technology Form which was held at the Guoman Cumberland Hotel with a group of 25 select attendees sitting discussing some key industry topics over a bacon role and cups of tea. We captured some brief notes from the discussions and links to the tools shown below. To keep the discussion about technology in events going we aim to keep the twitter hashtag #eventtechforum
- A key element is appreciating the requirements from the customer. Why do they need the internet? Just basic email and web browsing? Cloud content sharing? Or streaming video? All these questions will drive the requirement with the venue.
- A pre survey with relevant testing hardware (with the same laptops which will be used if possible) to see what the Wi-Fi signal is like and how fast the internet is.
- Agree terms with the venue which specify what performance you need per device connected
- Discuss what happens if something breaks, if it’s critical to your event would you want an engineer to attend?
- Use cable drops for those who require service for demonstrations to reduce the risks. This should be part of the booking contract.
- If required bring in an expert (in house IT teams or companies such as Etherlive) to give some advice on how to improve the onsite facilities if you need to. If budgets are tight look at the entire budget based on how important the internet services are
Avoid getting bitten by IT
- Many organisers get caught in the same trap – lack of understanding about what the event is trying to achieve, and thus fail to set appropriate expectations for services.
- Ensure you have resource to hand should you need ‘IT’ type support. If budgets don’t allow perhaps one of the in house IT team may be able to support, or perhaps bring in an engineer just for the morning or during the critical presentation.
- Spend time identifying key points of failure and plan for a redundancy. Just like any risk at an event this should be presented to the customer with options of what can be done to mitigate.
- Be aware that some devices (laptops, smartphones) will work differently with Wi-Fi due to the quality of design and parts. Interference (such as human bodies and other radio based systems) may also impact Wi-Fi service.
- Many events do not set a specific budget line item for technology services, however, many now think this should be a mandatory line item even if the Wi-Fi services are included within the day delegate rate
- A good partner will be able to explain their pricing to organisers. If they can’t it may be overly complicated or at worse not considered. Technology can be complicated but the basic principles are simple to explain and present
- Generally the elements that drive cost the most are connectivity and resource. Connectivity generally gets more expensive the later it is booked. Resource costs can often be optimised with setting up on the same day (perhaps avoiding accommodation etc.)
- Use social media to engage audiences and encourage those not in the room to join in furthering the events exposure and inclusiveness
- Apps deliver content in a very set environment but other options, such as customised websites, can deliver similar content with reduced budgets. Consider what will happen to the content the delegate is looking at if connectivity is lost.
- Free cloud services such as Google Documents can be used to share content including spread sheets, documents etc. allowing multiple editing, different rights and version tracking
- Scheduling tweets (perhaps for sponsors to have automated announcements during the event http://hootsuite.com/
- Show a stream of tweets during the event http://visibletweets.com
- Free QR generator http://www.qrstuff.com/
In summary a fantastic day to network, meet new contacts and learn. We hope to run similar sessions again in the New Year for others who could not attend this time.