Guest blog: Event digitalisation: The race is on – Gav Dandridge, CTO at Meshh

Embracing digital is inevitable. This is now part of any business venture and the events industry is no exception – it is painfully aware that the digitalisation of event processes and experiences is increasingly necessary for sustainability and growth.

But for an industry with a strong legacy of tried-and-tested methods to entertain visitors and measure engagement, this shift to digital isn’t always easy.

For example, many companies still rely on brand ambassadors to collect feedback at events: How satisfied are you with the event? What did you like most about the event? How do you think this event could have been improved?

When asked by another person, and faced with the perspective of having to answer these questions right here and right now, with someone perhaps even looking over the shoulder, many will answer: Very; everything; N/A.

Although social creatures, there are times when people perform better on their own. Taking the time and “not being watched” gives people the confidence to be more sincere and elaborate their answers. In turn, this benefits the event organisers, who now know for example that offering a cheeseboard at an open event in scorching July sun wasn’t the best idea, and that despite this, everyone had a great time at the event.

One way of mastering feedback gathering is adapting to the new rules of the digital age. Traditionally, marketers have worked in an old-fashioned way, walking from person to person and asking them to compete a survey. In an effort to modernise, many brands now use tablets for surveys, however I believe this only scratches the surface when it comes to digitalisation.

The traditional method has its limitations: how many brand ambassadors a company can hire, how many people they can approach, how many devices they can afford. It all becomes a numbers game, and this is when technology can step in.

By switching to mobile surveys, companies can reduce the number of brand ambassadors to one or two whose purpose will be to encourage people to use their own mobile phones to answer survey questions. As a result, more people complete feedback forms in a much more private manner.

Of course, this raises the next question: what if the venue has low connectivity? Asking people to complete online surveys can quickly turn to frustration, and defeat the purpose.

However, today we can find solutions on the market that allow delivering and capturing media rich data in environments where networks can’t reach the consumer. This is done in an off the grid and contextualised manner, without using internet connection and providing a localised delivery.

For example, people can walk in the dedicated space – let’s say near a stand or around a brand area – interact with a survey and leave with a promo code to use elsewhere at the event.

Creating a local high-speed network and leveraging the power of data through mobile phone surveys can make a brand stand out at any event. By providing a more enhanced, engaging experience for the customer and collecting significant data to close the feedback loop, brands can enter the digital age in full swing.

As PayPal’s CEO Dan Schulman once said, the biggest impediment to a company’s future success is its past success. The events industry has known great accomplishments in the past, but it’s time to forget the old ways and become more open to new, innovative tools and methods – just like the consumers are!

Gav Dandridge, CTO at Meshh

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