The IAEE Art of the Show Competition’s Most Innovative Use of Technology category is an open-ended and broad category. Entries are evaluated on how they used technology to promote, improve and enhance a show. Judging criteria includes: innovation of the technology component used and/or how it is applied; creativity in terms of how the component adds to the overall experience for show participants; and response from show participants to the component.

In today’s IAEE Blog, we highlight the winners of last year’s Most Innovative Use of Technology category:

Under 75,000 nsf
a2z, Inc.
E2E Summit

The purpose of the Executive-to-Executive (E2E) Summit is to bring together the top executives from manufacturers and contractors in the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades for focused one-on-one hosted buyer meetings that foster innovation. The appointments last 45 minutes each. Participants are guaranteed up to 15 meetings in a 48-hour period. The E2E Summit® is by invitation only. The event organizers custom approach evolves around participant experience and is specifically tailored to deliver results for them and their organizations.

a2z’s Connect Hosted Buyer Program solution took the guesswork and paperwork out of managing hosted buyer programs. By matching registered buyers with appropriate suppliers using smart, automated matchmaking technology, it helped event participants maximize their ROI by generating high quality appointments based completely on precise demographics data and event-specific business logic.

By leveraging a2z’s Connect platform, E2E Summit event organizers were able to streamline the matching process and create a business version of “eHarmony” (a dating app) for contractors and manufacturers. a2z’s Connect platform for automating hosted buyer program matches and appointment setting at trade shows addressed E2E’s particular requirements. The Connect platform allowed manufacturers to enter descriptions of their companies and products. It enabled contractors to go in and do their own research, select favorites, and complete surveys about their interests and company demographics – all data that was previously gathered manually. Connect then created a suggested appointments schedule for each participant using an intelligent matching algorithm and one click of the button.

Matching companies with buyers – doing research to determine which manufacturer’s products are the best fit for the types of projects in which contractor companies are interested – requires a lot of legwork. It involves phone calls, surveys, the collecting of “wish lists” and keeping files up to date. E2E was performing those tasks and then creating an Excel spreadsheet to serve as the master meeting schedule. The process was time-consuming (three weeks for one person) and sometimes there was overlap (companies scheduled for different meetings in the same time slot).

E2E organizers immediately felt the impact of automating the matchmaking and scheduling process for their 2016 summit. It previously took one person three weeks to prepare the spreadsheet of matches and appointments. Connect could do the same thing in about three minutes!

“When we used a2z Connect to create the first round of meetings, it completed about 70% of the meetings,” noted Kaitlan Klitzke, Project Manager at E2E Summit. “We were then able to spend about three weeks refining everyone’s meeting schedules, which we were never able to do in the past because we never had the time. It was also more accurate because with the spreadsheet we always had some overlap. I really liked the exhibitor capabilities of the Connect platform. They have an online booth where they can add their company description, website, and logo. It helps our contractors do their research. The favoriting feature was big for our company to be able to put that kind of control in the hands of the buyers.”

Between 75,001 and 200,000 nsf
Access Intelligence
EventTech 2015

Seven years ago, the need for a conference and exposition solely focused on how to use technology and social media to amplify events and drive attendance was identified. Cue the creation of EventTech. Since inception, EventTech has gone from being a small boutique event housed in unconventional locations in New York City, to one that draws over 1,300 attendees from around the world to Las Vegas each November. The core concept of EventTech is to present a ‘learning-loop’ educational format.

Attendees can go to a session on a specific technology then step outside the session and actually test drive that exact technology. Exhibits and education live in one space, a 100,000 sq. ft. arena called ‘The Campus.’ There is nothing like this conference anywhere in the world. Going into its sixth year, EventTech had established itself as one of the fastest growing conferences in the industry and the only one of its kind. It had manifested an educational program of over 100 sessions taught by some of the world’s biggest brands and leading technologists. It programmed three powerful pre-conference workshops covering some of the hottest digital trends in the events industry.

The goals for EventTech 2015 were to cancel out campus noise, engage attendees with compelling and relevant content, create a user friendly experience and keep the lines down as well as provide direction without the extravagant costs. Featured technologies used to accomplish this goal included:

  • Drone University – an afternoon workshop on using drones at events and bused attendees to an outdoor park 30 minutes from the Las Vegas strip where drone experts taught them all about drones and how to use drones at events for content capture, livestreaming, attendee engagement, etc.
  • Proximity Audio in Breakouts – EventTech’s 100,000 sq. ft. Campus does come with acoustical challenges, given that all breakout sessions are produced in open air amphitheaters. One of the challenges with placing educational sessions within exhibits naturally, is background noise. To provide attendees with an intimate experience, EventTech integrated a wireless audio proximity system into all breakout audiovisual theaters. It provided hi-tech transmitters and noise cancelling ear phones. Delegates could turn to a specific channel for each session and only hear audio from that session. The bustling hall noise around them gets cancelled out. Problem solved.
  • Self Check-in Kiosks – for the first time, EventTech offered self check-in kiosks as part of registration. Attendees would walk over to a kiosk, search their name, then print their badge and send it to the registration desk printers where an ambassador would hand them their badge and all relevant show information. This trimmed down lines and engaged the attendees showcasing an event technology from the moment they stepped on show site.
  • App – EventTech’s app held all the relevant conference information from education options and locations to sponsor information and contact details. Attendees were able to prepare their schedule before they got onsite with the in-app calendar and meeting planner. They could interact with other attendees through a messaging feature as well as promote themselves and their companies through the content feed. It allowed us to pop messages and reminders through push notifications as well as provide directional information with beacons.
  • Beacons – EventTech’s beacons were programmed and installed throughout the venue to push Bluetooth notifications to attendees who had the app installed on their phones and their Bluetooth function enabled. Once an attendee would get within 20ft of a beacon a message would appear on their phones even if their screen was locked. The messages encouraged them to attend certain sessions or special events in booths nearby.

Over 200,001 nsf
SEMA Show 2015 Custom PlanTour Sponsorship Program

The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to fill over a million square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, the SEMA Show offers attendees educational seminars, product demonstrations, special events, and networking opportunities. The 2015 SEMA Show drew more than 130,000 industry professionals including 60,000 domestic and international buyers and 2,400 exhibiting companies from every segment of the specialty equipment industry.

The SEMA Show has grown and changed during the past few years. Like many event organizers, SEMA was looking for ways to increase revenue without raising rates. They had previously used the Classic version of PlanTour by Freeman to promote sponsorship opportunities. PlanTour is a web-based tool that allows show managers to virtually tour event facilities to assist in planning their shows and events. It is also used to scout a venue for future events, view floor plans and plan potential sponsorship opportunities without an onsite visit. The responsive web design provides consistent user experience when accessed on tablets, PCs and smartphones.

SEMA commissioned a custom version of PlanTour to showcase all sponsorship opportunities at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In addition, they customized the site using the 360 panoramic tours to highlight the newly captured outdoor areas for magnetic signage, along with other sponsorship options to help exhibitors increase visibility at the popular trade show. The SEMA Custom PlanTour Sponsorship Program goals included:

  • Create new sponsorship options for new and returning sponsors and exhibitors;
  • Provide an easy to use tool for sponsors to view, select and envision their investment; and
  • Provide an easy to use tool for SEMA sales reps to coordinate or upsell prospects.

Unique users to the SEMA Custom PlanTour website increased by more than 50% compared to the previous year. This includes notable shifts in how users accessed the site such as a 190% increase via mobile, nearly 60% increase by desktops, and more than 13% on tablets. With ordering and other details easy to access and manage online, nearly all available inventory was sold out.

In addition, SEMA has 10 sales reps responsible for sponsorship and exhibitor relations. Working in a fast-paced high pressure environment, they don’t always have time to coordinate with each other. PlanTour allowed them to see a new or changed order, available inventory, deadlines and more – all in the real time to reduce errors and increase efficiency.

“This was our biggest year selling sponsorships,” said Peter MacGillivray, Vice President of Communications and Events for SEMA. “When you have a show that is wall-to-wall, you can raise more money in two ways. You can raise your prices, or you can sell sponsorships. We don’t want to raise our prices. We want to expand our revenue stream through sponsorships. Being able to have tools that help manage that – and ultimately sell that – has been a big hit for us. And this new technology has helped us blow past our goals.”

The 2017 IAEE Art of the Show Competition is now underway – you have until 31 August 2017 to submit your entries! You can also view all of last year’s winners and honorable mentions here.

Posted by Elizabeth McQuade

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