A LOOK INTO THE CRYSTAL BALL AT THE FUTURE OF THE MEETING INDUSTRY 

Q: How and in which direction will the Meeting industry change in the future?
The short answer is that live events are increasingly coming online.  Between smartphones, wearables and sensors there is now the opportunity to digitise previously offline transactions such as sponsor/attendee interactions, session attendance, and audience response. The key to digitising the live event lies in audience engagement. If event organisers are able to engage their attendees through interactive technology, there is opportunity to generate substantial data – data which can be used to maximum ROI and to optimise event spend.

Q: Which innovations in your opinion will most influence the organisation of events?
If you look at events five years ago, and events today, there is one innovation that stands head and shoulders above the others, and indeed, is disrupting many other industries as well. Today, in 2013, virtually every event attendee is carrying a powerful handheld computer that is connected to the cloud, connected to the user’s address book, and equipped with a camera (and other sensors). Of course, we are talking about the smartphone.

Mobile applications present a huge opportunity for events to maximise their potential. Market research firm Frost & Sullivan have stated that mobile apps built specifically for events increase attendee engagement by 33% and sponsorship sales by 13%, but less than 10% of events use a mobile app. Given that there are more than 50,000 events every day and that more than $565 billion is spent on events every year, the mobile event app market is absolutely enormous and ripe for innovation. Furthermore, things like iOS7’s new indoor tracking feature creates even better opportunities for apps to change the way events are run and managed. As more and more events include mobile apps into their overall plans, we expect that organisers will take advantage of the technology and mould their events around it.

Outside of that, the closer connection between event software (both mobile and not) with existing marketing automation systems will make a big difference in how companies organise and run their events. Previously, event stakeholders would try and gauge the success of their participation from a stack of business cards of the people they met and anecdotal information. As new tools help quantify attendees’ behaviour during events and tie this to exhibitors and organisers’ existing sales databases, companies will have new ways to consolidate, track and optimise their sales process and evaluate the effectiveness of event marketing.

Q: What personally inspires you?
At DoubleDutch, we are inspired by other early stage companies that are tackling hard problems in mobile technology.  Companies like Prism Skylabs, Highlight, Snapchat, and more continue to push the envelope in what’s possible in digitising the real world. 
In the world of events, we are blessed with an environment that is ideal for testing new features and functionality to see what resonates with attendees and sponsors. Expect to see a lot of A/B tests from us in the coming months as years as we look to apply innovations from other industries to the world of events.

IN FOCUS - Lawrence Coburn
Lawrence COBURN, CEO and founder DOUBLE DUTCH
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