How can you improve your next conference? What can you do to enhance your delegate’s experience?
These are questions that we ask ourselves before each and every conference or corporate event that we organise.
One answer to this question is technology! How are we utilising some simple and accessible technology to streamline our conference planning and also enhance our delegate experience?
This article will give you six simple technology solutions that we use which will add value to your next conference or special event.
1. Online Abstract Management
Abstract management portals allow potential conference presenters to upload and submit their papers easily and quickly.
At the other end, they enable conference planners to collate and organise all papers into one simple-to-view document for the selection committee to peruse.
The entire process from submission to acceptance can be effectively managed through this technology. Most portals are easy to set up, ensure accuracy in the submission of papers, and save time for both the presenter and the organiser.
2. Event Website
The conference website is a central and vital resource for anyone associated with the event from delegates, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, suppliers to the broader industry.
It is essential that the website looks smart, is easy to navigate and engages the visitor with a digital experience of the conference.
These essentials are why the development of a good conference website must be a collaborative effort between the event owner, conference planner and marketing/design team.
Ultimately, an effective website will combine a professional appearance with practicality, enabling key conference information to be accessed on any device before, during and after the event.
3. Online Registration
Enabling delegates to register online provides convenience for both the delegate and organiser, can be as simple as completing and submitting an online form, and reduces costs for all parties such as postage and phone.
The benefits of an online registration system are their simplicity, affordability, accessibility and security.
From a conference planning perspective, all event software packages include an online registration system, providing efficiencies for you in project management, reporting and reconciliation.
4. Conference App
Event apps are a great tool in this day and age for any conference whether you have just 10 delegates or more than 1,000.
They can even be customised so some features appear on the app for delegates and other features only for presenters.
A selection of features that I have found useful in recent conferences and have received great feedback include:
- Real-time alerts and updates
- Conference agendas and schedules
- Information hubs on what to bring and what to expect
- Location and venue information, maps and floor plans
- Personalised profiles for presenters and other delegates
- Sponsor and exhibitor special offers and information
- Virtual networking before, during and after the conference
- Survey tools for reporting and evaluation
Not only do event apps provide extensive and valuable services, they are also cost effective and environmentally sustainable.
5. Live Polling
Live polling is an ability via technology to display questions to your audience during a conference session and accept answers along with feedback in real-time.
This technology can also calculate results instantaneously and provide a visual display to the audience via a user-selected graph or chart.
I’ve found live polling extremely beneficial as a platform for the sharing of feedback, ideas and opinions to create an even more collaborative and educational environment.
Live polling can be incorporated as a feature on your conference app which I discussed above, keeping everything simple and consolidated.
6. Live Streaming
The future of conferencing is here! Live streaming your conference enables connection with an audience that is located remotely.
Delegates can watch from anywhere in the world via any device with an Internet connection.
Live streams can be ‘user-pays’ in a secured environment thus enabling another potential revenue stream for conference organisers.
Offering live streaming at a reduced fee, given there are fewer consumables required like catering and room hire, is a solution to capture those delegates who may be challenged by location or finance to attend the event at the physical venue.
In addition, you can make conference content available as ‘video-on-demand’ creating more value for presenters and opportunities for those who were unable to attend.
In summary, these are six ways for you to consider how you can leverage technology for your next conference. There are some simple solutions out there that have been created specifically for conferences. It’s just a matter of determining what you need and then searching for an effective system or systems to meet this need.
Rachael Ziccone is Conference & Events Manager for Corporate Challenge Events and member of the Professional Conference Organiser’s Association in Australia.