I wrote a piece in 2017 about the foundations of the digital transformation in the events industry. At that time, the mice industry was trailing behind and had a lot of work to do. Two years on, and technology has advanced rapidly. So, does the events industry stand now? Technology is transforming the way we live and do business. Most industries have adopted it, changing many aspects of their design and makeup in the process. Digital tools are now a crucial part of strategic event management due to their proven ability to bring in substantial benefits. These benefits include significant cost and time savings, higher attendee satisfaction, and better exposure and image building.

The growth of the web is making many changes in all sectors. But, what influence is the digital transformation movement having on the meetings and event industry now that we have embraced it?

What exactly is digital transformation?

“Digital transformation is the process of exploiting digital technologies and supporting capabilities to create a robust new digital business model.” – Gartner

Digital transformation allows people to solve their traditional business problems in new ways. It offers new types of innovation and creativity, rather than simply enhancing and supporting our traditional methods.

Digital transformation in the events industry

The events industry is embracing digital transformation with all the latest tech on display at conferences and meetings. But, the new technologies available are assisting conference organisers with creating an immersive experience, making the registration process seamless. Those are the two basic, but major changes we are seeing. We are now in the Age of Experience. This means that every event, no matter how small now needs to become an immersive experience. The modern generation will settle for nothing less.

Technologies like 3D, VR, and AR can blend the digital and physical aspects of an event. They help create authentic conversations between delegates, attendees and speakers. This technology gives events the potential to become content marketing engines. As organisers in the events industry, we are now able to turn attendees into participants by adding an experiential dimension to our events, making a conference or any other event a collaborative occurrence as opposed to a function that people attend just for the purpose of consuming knowledge.

So, what can we expect in 2019 and thereafter?  

Digital transformation will have an ever-evolving effect on the events industry, with these four tech-trends at the forefront.

1.   Facial recognition

This exciting technology will permanently eliminate paper from the registration and entry process. It will also optimise the security at conferences, streamlining access.

2.   Virtual Reality

A technology that is constantly evolving has now merged with social media. Oculus venues is a virtual reality platform that enables live events to be seen with Live Nation, Ticketmaster, and through an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The obvious point being that attendees don’t have to physically be there to experience your event.

3.   Augmented reality

Perhaps more effective than virtual reality, augmented reality is having a massive impact on the events industry. Engagement for events is crucial and can be very challenging given the demands of the modern consumer. Augmented Reality will boost engagement levels and create hype on social media by encouraging attendees to interact with your content and, in turn, share it with their following.

4.    Artificial intelligence

Smart technology is influencing the events industry in a big way too. By utilising chatbots in a wide range of scenarios, event planners can automate several tasks, better serving their attendees.  


So, as you can see, technology has been implemented and used to great effect already in the events industry. Associations are taking great interest in investing in new technologies, but this means a total overhaul of existing systems and practices. All for the betterment of the industry of course. The events industry is changing, and progressing in order to adapt to current trends, but these trends are forever changing. It never stops. It is a perpetual investigation and evolution of science. As players in this industry, we should continue to embrace it and view it as a thrilling time, full of opportunity and potential. We must, however, constantly seek ways in which we can be at the forefront instead of continually playing catch-up.

To learn about ways in which your association can truly embrace digital transformation in the meetings and events industry, get in touch with me. I specialise in delivering results for stakeholders within the Meetings, Incentives, Conference and Event Industry as well as for Associations and SMBs.