Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to talk event tech on a budget! Obviously, if you got this far down the road, you already know what this podcast is all about. And if the Event Tech Podcast is your Bible on all things technology related to the industry, today we bring a brand new gospel. As we all know, technology can get quite expensive. Not to mention the sort of technology you’d want for a large scale event! So this week, we’re covering the hot topic of event tech on a budget.
Our wonderful host Brandt Krueger had a very special guest him on today’s episode. All the way from the United Kingdom, we have the pleasure of welcoming Adam Perry. Adam is responsible for content on Event Industry News regarding Invent Technology. And he’s also the creator of Event Tech Live and the Event Tech Awards. So these two are here to put their incredibly tech-savvy heads together and tell you all about how to do event tech on a budget. Jump on board, it’s time to save some money!
Event Event Tech On A Budget: Where Are We?
“I think there’s a big misconception in the sector, that technology means huge amounts of budget”, says Adam. In fact, there’s an insane amount of resources at our disposition that allows us to create an event for pretty much nothing. “I did this just last week, an event here in the UK that I was speaking at, where the organizer didn’t have a Q&A software, but I wanted to use that to engage with the audience. And it didn’t cost me a penny”. How amazing does that sound?!
“We talk quite a lot about apps in our industry, don’t we?”. Well, he’s not wrong. And this doesn’t have to be a bad thing! “If you have an audience and you’re not quite sure what their reaction’s going to be to introduce an event app, or whether the adoption levels are going to be there, then it really mitigates the risk of investing two, five, 10K in developing, delivering, publicizing, marketing, and trying to get that adoption”. And because you don’t have to invest a lot of first, if it doesn’t work, you didn’t completely kill your budget.
Event Tech: The Landscape
When it comes to options, there’s no complaining. Just as Brand put it, for example: “There really is great technology at every budget level. And people do get a little bit put off by some of the costs. Especially when we’re talking about the actual mobile app for your event, there are great providers at every single budget level. It’s a fantastic way to dip your toes in the water, just to see how it’s going to work, and how it’s going to go. So, you don’t have to dive in with both feet, you don’t have to dive in with a ton of money”.
Audience Engagement Technology
There are is an immense amount of technology when it comes to engaging with your audience. For instance, “Q&A systems, there should be no reason, if you have speakers, that you don’t use them. You know, they range in budgets, they range in features, but they are such powerful tools, not only to engage the audience but to get the data out of the backend of it as well. And continue the conversation afterward”, says Adam.
“If you are somebody who, as an event organizer, are very much mindful of inclusivity, and that means making your event accessible to everybody. That doesn’t necessarily just mean people with disabilities and things like that. There are lots of people that would not feel, for a number of different reasons, confident in sticking their hand up, taking hold of a microphone and asking a question in a live audience. So, these tools can really include those types of people and empower them to be involved and part of the event”, he adds. Some food for thought!
“Registration isn’t overly complicated”, says Adam. “In fact, I’ve seen some people do it quite well on things like just a Google Doc, you know? Essentially that’s what a registration form is. It’s taking specific information to allow that person to access the event, right? Email address, name, dietary requirements, that kind of stuff. But I think there are things that you need to be mindful of, and this is where technology can help is that element of when people arrive on-site, right? That check-in process, the speed at which they check-in, how they’re greeted, how their information is processed”.
And there is no shortage of platforms that can help you with this process! “If you’re an event which has multiple entrances, and different ways that those visitors can come in, then just using those systems on an iPad or something like that, you can have visibility on a number of attendees and where people are coming in from, and the most popular. So, if you need to back that particular up with more staff and stuff like that, you can get that real-time reporting”.
“What you get for such a minimal investment is a tremendous amount of tools and ease of use, and things like that, that no spreadsheet can possibly have. So, while I totally understand people’s reluctance to try and move into these systems, you just kind of have to take the leap and understand that you’re going to get so much more out of it for a relatively minimal investment”, Adam concludes. There really is no need to break the bank for more efficiency!
Pre & Post Engagement Event Tech
“No one solution or one approach is going to fully engage our entire audience, because ultimately your audience is probably engaging with your event, or wants to attend your event for a number of different reasons. So, I think you have to kind of segment your audience and try and understand the main principles of why they’re trying to attend the event. So, some come to your event to engage with educational content, right? They’re looking to empower themselves, gain extra knowledge, and things like that. So, what we’re looking at this year, pre-show and post-show, is actually extending the content out to online learning platforms”, explains Adam.
“If you’re kind of looking at the attendee that’s looking at education: you’ve got the speakers, you’ve got the content. Just roll it out as part of your marketing. A little bit before out the event, and obviously at the event, the ultimate reason you’ve got exhibitors, and sometimes visitors. A visitor is there to grow their network, find connections that they might be able to do business with or partnerships with and things like that”.
And the right tools “can be really helpful in empowering those people to find the connections that they want”, explains Adam. Plus, there are ways that you can play this without going overboard with money. And the advantages don’t end there! “it’s also a way to really engage with speakers that are maybe further afield, maybe travel, logistics, all that kind of stuff just makes it impossible for them to kind of be physically at the event, that’s a great way for those speakers to deliver content still to your audience, and your audience engagement and without all that incumbent cost and logistic elements”.
“For me, I think event apps are a really nice entry point into event organizers and events kind of touching base or testing out the technology. It’s kind of a safe way to do it. And I think that culturally, people who attend events still aren’t necessarily overly familiar with event apps”, says Adam. “I think we’ve not just, as an industry, given them enough time to evolve and be used within the sector”.
Adam gives his verdict: “I suppose we’re kind of figuring out all the difficult stuff at the moment, facial recognition, how does that play out in an event, what’s the legalities of it? All that kind of stuff. But that’s a good thing. We are an industry that solves problems just inherently”.
“There are so many great tools out there that you don’t even necessarily need an event-specific supplier to have a great website”, Adam states. Doesn’t that sound exciting? “I don’t think you need this behemoth of an event website, and I think there’s some crazy stat out there that like 50% of events don’t have a website”.
All in all, “it is worth investing in your event website. Making it look and feel, and work well. And there are some great providers out there in the event space that do that. But you don’t necessarily have to invest $10,000 to make great event website. It can be done quite cheaply”.
Even Tech on a Budget For Organizers
Moving away from technology that is not necessarily event-specific, there’s also something that can be said. For example, “Grammarly is a great tool to make sure that whatever you’re looking at and wherever you’re working on a document in text and content for your business, it’s checking everything. That’s a free tool that you just need to know that it’s there in order to be able to use it. But can save those really painful mistakes of words being misspelled, or even sentences not being constructed the best”.
Another cool one is LinkedIn Helper. “It actually has lots of different functionalities to it. But one of the things that I use it for is, leading up to Event Tech Live, send a personal message to my connections to say, “It’s coming up to Event Tech Live. We’d really love to see you there. Here’s a link if you’d like to register.” And probably send then a VIP link or something like that. That just helps me contact all those people in a different way to just sending a blanket email or trying to extract their data from LinkedIn, and then send them a message that way”.
“There’s a fantastic platform out there called Evvnt”, says Adam. “They allow you to kind of use their system and list once with one kind of publication, and then I think to access like thousands of publications, I think it’s around $500 to submit an event. What’s really interesting about this platform is it actually gives you live links back to those publications so you can see the physical listing of your event, and then you can also have an indication of where that’s ranking in search terms for your particular event as well”.
The Logistics Issue
How can we leverage tech to help us out on the side of logistics? “One of the things that I think can help with that is a platform called What Three Words. Now, this is around kind of event delivery, and getting things to the right places, especially in greenfield sites, and festivals and outdoor events. But also it may be large convention centers or exhibition centers”, explains Adam. “So, you know, if you have trouble with your event logistics and getting people to the right place, or constant phone calls, asking for directions, I’m lost, I don’t know where I’m supposed to be, then What Three Words is one of those tools that can really shave off a lot of time”.
And that concludes this week’s episode of Event Tech Podcast! Below you can check out the awesome tools Brandt and Adam discussed on this episode. It’s pretty much everything you’ll need to practice event tech on a budget. Are you ready to take your event to the next level? Then check them out, and don’t forget to tune in next week for more amazing technology talk! What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate event tech on a budget? Let us know below.