Six tech innovations transforming the events industry


Six tech innovations transforming the events industry

Enhanced reality, virtual networking, and facial recognition – welcome to the future of the events industry

​​​Trend One: Heat mapping

Heat mapping is one of the most useful technologies to the event planner. By using proximity beacons and other sensing technologies embedded in lanyards or other wearable tech given to the attendee, exhibitors and organisers can track visitor footprints to assess dwell-time, hot zones of increased engagement – and areas that need a little more attention.

Used formerly to de-brief post-event in order to improve for next year, new real-time technology is allowing organisers to make changes on the ground, in minutes.

At Dubai World Trade Centre, free Wi-Fi will soon be available in all halls as well as the public areas. The new system will be live in time for the forthcoming Arabian Travel Market, and in the future it will offer location-based services so that organisers can build exhibition-based heatmaps to better calibrate their offerings.


Trend Two: Virtual reality

If you see a VR headset at an event, chances are there’s a long queue of visitors waiting to try it on. Formerly the purview of gaming expos, virtual reality can now be utilised by innovative companies in any space, from property to tourism. Ever since Oculus launched its kickstarter, the market has seen a proliferation of competitors, leading to more affordable prices – for just a few dollars, for example, Google Cardboard can turn a smartphone into a headset.

New tech from Samsung, Sony, and Valve (not to mention a top-secret project from Apple) are all broadening the landscape, with the potential for the event visitor far-reaching. With a high predilection for novelty, both business and leisure event attendees are increasingly seeking the kind of immersive, insightful experiences that VR can provide. Tactile additions of touch or smell can further enhance the experience, as well as LED screens, which can entertain the waiting crowds.

Beyond attendees, organisers can utilise the technology before their event has even been built, for experiences such as virtual walk-throughs of potential exhibits.

Trend Three: Digital networking

Forget trying to keep track of a stack of business cards – white label apps are the new way to create your own personal buzz pre-, during and post-event.

Attendees can now upload their LinkedIn profiles to apps like Presdo Match or PROsimity to find key contacts and arrange meetings. The latter app even has a swiping function whereby delegates can connect with or dismiss fellow attendees, depending on job relevance.

Displaying user-generated content on ‘social walls’ has also become popular, with apps such as TagBoard and ContentPlum allowing a variety of different platforms to be screened onto a display. With this, delegates can quickly access a variety of different content to gauge mood and topics of interest during the sessions.

Other apps create their own private social network where attendees can share photos, comments and discussions – such as Attendify, which also has a useful Foursquare-esque function that allows delegates to see which of their contacts are nearby.

Trend Four: Facial recognition

Security is the most common application for facial recognition, but event organisers are looking to the tech to offer their attendees a truly bespoke experience.

Algorithms that can capture facial expressions and body language will predict the mood of event goers in order to improve event check-in and feedback. Registering an attendee’s preferred payment choice, against which a purchase could be charged automatically at checkout, could cut queues for food and drinks significantly.

Event solutions providers are also developing fun bespoke add-ons for the exhibitor that wants to go the extra mile. Expo Logic has created an application whereby, when an attendee books a meeting, they will be asked for their preferred drink and upon arrival, facial recognition will direct the barista to start its preparation.

Trend Five: RFID

Radio frequency identification (RFID) embedded in wristbands, lanyards or other wearables, is threatening the future of printed tickets and even physical payment.

Applications can be practical: attendees to the most recent Taste of Toronto festival used RFID-enabled cards to buy food and drink from event vendors, with any remaining balance donated to a local food rescue. Or they can be for entertainment purposes: fans of the European or US teams at the Ryder Cup were able to give a virtual high-five to their team by touching a RFID-enabled wristbands to register on a leaderboard.

Next steps for the tech will focus on sponsors, allowing them to collect data and measure activations without disrupting attendees. Sporting events in particular will benefit from this, with RFID-enabled interactive games allowing sponsors to engage with a huge numbers of players on social media post-event.

Trend Six: Chatbots

In their personal time, event attendees are spending more and more time on messenger apps. Now organisers are looking to engage with them on their platform of choice, rather than via a proprietary app.

Attendees can ask as many questions as they want – about opening, times, Wi-Fi passwords or stand locations – and are granted an instant response, without organisers needing to employ staff to fulfil these functions.

Chatbots can also be set up to inform event goers about changes in the schedule, or when a favourited session is due to start. Polls and ratings can also be embedded in the bot to ask for feedback, or gather data on a particular panel topic. 


  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Virtual Reality
  • Innovation