Using tech to get the most out of your next event

By Lawrence Chia

As Asia’s World City, Hong Kong plays host to a huge variety of events. While highly successful, some of these events may not be taking full advantage of the amazing technological and social opportunities offered by our incredible city.

How can you make sure your business squeezes every drop of potential out of your next big event?

Traditions can be hard to break and like people, some companies are resistant to change. ‘Tried and tested’ formulas, successful in the past, are still relied upon to generate future business. But the world is changing faster than anyone could have predicted. Driven by the incredible pace of innovation, particularly in the field of technology; some tried and tested events practices are in need of a little freshening up.

That’s not to say that the convention, the product launch and the trade fair are becoming obsolete by any means, there certainly has been no drop off in venue bookings in the city! However, smart, hyper-advanced cities like Hong Kong, have an incredible suite of tools and excellent connectivity available to companies.

These can complement and augment conventions and exhibitions and dramatically expand their scope. With the right hardware and software, the sky is the limit. Here are a few examples.

Thanks to live streaming, social media and the use of telepresence technology, a local event can multiply its audience by orders of magnitude and extend its reach around the world through simultaneous attendance. Using their own computers or tablets at a distant location, this virtual audience can view and take part in presentations and panel discussions, or simply enjoy the show.

Mobile has now become an unstoppable global force. In late 2012, smartphone sales outpaced PC sales for the first time. To engage this audience, there are now several ‘must-haves’ for the modern event: mobile-optimised websites, event-related apps and scannable QR codes are a start. These allow ‘on-the-go’ engagement above, beyond and after the event. Asking visitors to capture a QR code which links to a mobile version of their product brochure should definitely be at the top of exhibitors’ to-do lists.

Similarly, social media is now an integral part of life for the younger demographic and a highly significant force to be reckoned with. There are infinite ways for an event to harness its power – from online competitions to event-related apps and check-ins, to providing more information on products to business partners. Not to mention the incredible success of LinkedIN as a professional services B2B networking platform.

With our close ties to mainland China, Hong Kong has seen a spike in the use of homegrown communication channels like Sina’s Weibo and Tencent’s Wechat, which now have huge influence over the mainland market. Weibo now has over 400 million global users, while WeChat now has 300 million, having added 100,000 in the past few months alone. Each of these platforms has services to amplify live events.

As strange as it may seem, much of this new technology is designed to make events more personalised and to enable individuals to get exactly what they need out of an event. Trust me, a great many forward-thinking CEOs are paying very close attention to these developments and, for the most part, are embracing them wholeheartedly.

Because at the end of the day, events are about bringing people together. If technological tools can help us do that more efficiently and in greater numbers, then it makes good business sense to use those tools. So, for your next event, plan carefully and think hard about how technology can work with tradition to make your event go the extra mile.

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