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ExpoTALK >> Tech Trends – The Wearable Future & What it Means for Events

Tech Trends – The Wearable Future & What it Means for Events

Written by Evan Garvey, June 10th, 2015

A paradigm shift is coming. We aren’t that far from a time when the clothes we wear and the jewelry we prize will likely have some digital component to them. Whether it brings us, or someone else, insight as to our person, the value of this integration into our everyday lives will continue to surprise us. And for the trade shows and events industry, understanding attendee behavior means money to everyone involved.

Booth pricing has been a fairly simplistic process over the last few decades. Overall revenue targets are set by show management, and between a mix of sponsorships, secondary information sales (like lead lists), exclusive marketing opportunities, and booth space sales, a budget can be drawn down to dollars and cents. Of course, each management team has their own strategy to generate this income mix, and this can be for various reasons depending on the makeup on the show management entity; whether for profit or not. But to grow revenue from booth sales year after year on any single event can still be tricky and requires some savvy, as many of you readers may know firsthand. Companies are sensitive to price, and changes to this model can jeopardize your overall success. Knowing how to navigate these prices changes often and requires intimate knowledge of individual events and your market, not to mention how your exhibitors view their success on the floor. At the end of the day, a true profit motivated event knows that companies on a trade show floor are hungry for ROI (and ROO) often in the form of substantive contact with attendees, or good old fashion sales. Attendees matter!

It’s not enough to see your attendees as people with an interest. They are a wealth of information that cannot always be gleaned from their job title or feedback forms, though these are essential to a good ground game. It’s their behaviors that matter. Often times we hear that “attendance is up”, or even better, the “through the door numbers are better this year”. But even if that’s the case, what are they doing once they reach your floor? If traffic is the key, then wearable tech is absolutely going to make you shine.

Get comfortable with the terms Geo-Fencing and Heat Mapping. In the tech world they simply indicate one thing – who you are and where you are. Of course this is a bit of an over simplification because so much more information is usually gleaned from this process, but it’s the easiest way to think about this technical concept. Essentially, as we move around a room or mapped area, say a shopping plaza or even a city, the technology we carry, be it a near field communication chip (NCF for short), a device with GPS and telecom-data or Wi-Fi based location tracing, these systems are storing your movements. This information is extremely valuable in so many ways. Simply analyzing the data in the form of dots on a map can tell someone where your interests lie, say a store or boutique that is new or possibly even a kiosk that you found interesting enough to simply walk by. Both Geo-Fencing and heat mapping watch you based on position and are used in the retail world to make recommendation, send you offers, enable fast purchasing or simply better understand how you move about a space. What you see and experience is valuable to retailers and the same can be said for a trade show or event floor.

If you are surprised this data exists, don’t be. It’s been collected in the most basic of ways by cell phone providers for years. But now the data is being compiled by Apps and smaller tech. Now imagine having this information about your event floor. Where your attendees walk, where they linger, what exhibits are drawing their attention. Now your numbers mean something in financial terms. Face time is a premium value, and knowing how attendees move across your floor is key. With Geo-Fencing and most definitely with heat mapping you can establish your booth pricing in a more distinct and nuanced way based entirely on how traffic flows through the exhibit hall. Now, more than just attendees through the door, people’s behaviors are the premium. Your team’s sales pitch is now filled with tangible data about your attendee traffic and the floor plans clearly can show potential exposure. In the end, you have given yourself valuable leverage to not only raise prices on parts of the show floor but even communicated greater potential value to your exhibitors for their investment. It’s a win-win.

So when someone asks you if wearable tech is a good or bad thing, you can certainly lead the conversation with confidence knowing that the data can be valuable and more than simply a novelty for tech heads. Wearable tech is today’s reality for a better trade show experience and certainly a path to greater profitability for event organizers.

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