As I’ve crisscrossed the country this past year speaking to AV professionals, I have worked to spread the gospel of interactive technologies. I’ve tried to educate on the difference between someone who simply sells a list of equipment and someone who can be trusted to advise on how to best use that equipment. After all, when it comes to communication through technology, we are the real experts, right?
No matter how sophisticated our role as advisor to the producer, or corporate end user, that role is under siege if we neglect to develop our understanding of the attendee’s needs at our events. And this is not just about reacting to social media or other low-ticket trends. It’s about upselling new technology not just reacting to it.
Put the issue in perspective. Think about how communication has changed in almost every other aspect of daily life. The hottest trend amongst schools right now is 1:1, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), where each student is expected to have a personal communication device that lets them consume media, communicate with teachers and other students and develop a highly personalized learning plan.
The wave of pushing for more collaboration has increased the use of “huddle” spaces in the business world, where meetings can employ technology such as Barco’s ClickShare, or Christie’s Brio for the instant sharing of and interaction with content on an individual’s device.
These developments allow for a level of communication that is multi-directional and interactive. At our core AV professionals are traditionally experts at relaying content from creator to recipient in its highest and best form– but we now need to think about the various directions in which we must relay the content, and understand who the creators are. Consider this: between 35-45% of all U.S. adult Internet users are content creators, with 59% of all teenagers overall being creators. So what does that make our attendees? You got it– content creators equal to event organizers, performers, speakers, educators, etc.
So how do we capitalize on this new attendee by serving the needs of our clients?
How do we monetize it, and not get caught in a trap of providing interactive features on a social media (i.e. low) budget?
First of all, educate yourself on what it’s like to be one of them– the new breed of attendee. Go to a concert and pay attention to your behavior, and the people with you. Is your wife posting videos of the music to Facebook? Did you share a picture on Instagram so the other people at the concert could see it?
"The attendees at corporate events are content creators– equal in that capacity to event organizers, performers, speakers, educators, etc"
When is the last time you attended a webinar, or watched a live streamed event? If you could imagine a client needing to generate revenue or returns on this experience, how could they do so? Look at the user experience and begin to apply your knowledge of live events and some of the ways our clients have used our technology in the past to sell sponsorships. Is there room for sponsorship somewhere? If a large number of attendees will be attending virtually for a hybrid event, how can your translate a higher quality of experience for them into more revenue for your business?
Do you know who the best mobile vendors are in the business? Consider establishing resale partnerships with these vendors and then begin offering creative ways to use our AV in conjunction with their technology. This is a huge business opportunity for the companies well positioned to take advantage of it.
Could your rental inventory support something cool like a huddle space? Knowing attendees are not passive, can you begin selling some of the new, incredibly sophisticated Audience Response Systems to help them become content creators?
Once you become aware of how audience expectations have changed and begin shifting into using event technology to support multi-directional communication, these types of questions should begin to arise naturally. As you map your business plan for 2014, it would be a smart move to begin reinventing some of your services as more in the spirit of event disruption and hacking instead of equipment moving and selling.
Midori Connolly (firstname.lastname@example.org) was chosen at InfoComm 2012 in Las Vegas to serve as the Chair of the InfoComm Rental & Staging Council. She is the “chief” in new staging/live event technology company Chief AVGirl. She is best known for producing the first set of best practices for Sustainable AV Staging. Since her start in hi-tech at the age of nineteen, she has been training and teaching groups in places as far-reaching as South Korea to spread her gospel of the strategic use of technology and sustainable meetings as a business strategy. Midori is recognized as a Platinum Speaker by Meeting Professionals International, Best-in-Class Speaker for Professional Convention Managers Association and was most recently named as a Most Innovative Event Professional by BizBash media and 40 Under 40 by Collaborate and Connect Magazines.