Event Discovery Is on Fire

One of the most visible trends in event consumption is Discovery. Despite it may look as a tool for attendees, event discovery poses terrific opportunities for event marketers.

Event Discovery Apps

Let me start this post with a question: where do you search for events to attend?

I believe that the answer to this question will change the way we market events. While in, say, 2004 we headed to Google and entered our keywords, the scenario is quite different nowadays.

In fact event search turned into discovery. Discovery means a much richer experience. A smart quest made of serendipity, geolocation and relationships.

The urge to socialize and attend an event needs to be satisfied quickly and with relevancy. This is what event discovery is offering to those looking for the next event to attend.

A main difference between event search and event discovery is the role of the prospective attendees. While on search, she is bothered with adding keywords, filtering and adjusting results, whereas event discovery offers results to the user without any action. In fact potentially relevant events are worked out by the platform on the basis of elaborate algorithms.

The flip side of the coin is that event professionals and especially event marketers are now faced with the opportunity to optimize their event for discovery. As we follow SEO predicaments to better rank in Google, we are faced with new requirements to make sure we are discovered in what I like to call Event Discovery Optimization (EDO).

How Does Event Discovery Work?

Event Discovery is the fruit of cool geeks playing with data. In fact the human element is minimized to extremes.

Each platform features its algorithm to make the possible suggestion. Some common elements of discovery engines are:

– Organizers or attendees can submit an event
– APIs of popular platforms such as Eventbrite or Meetup are fetched to enrich listings
– Facebook is the social network of choice to make personalised recommendations
– There is a growing tendency in curation, some apps feature editorial teams to select the best gigs
– Location plays a crucial role for entertainment and leisure events
– Ticketing is also being incorporated by some apps either with their native system or by integrating with established vendors
– The most recurrent verticals are music events and conferences

Get to Know the Players

There is an incredible number of players in the sector. The most frequently mentioned on this blog are Lanyrd and Plancast, recently acquired and redesigned by Active Network.

These guys were the firs to grasp the power of the social graph applied to events, thus offering very relevant recommendations.

Lanyrd was also the first not to focus on Facebook, by leveraging mostly on Twitter and recently LinkedIn. That being quite a smart move for business events and conferences.

Also worth mentioning long time players such as ConferenceHound, very strong in the conference vertical.

The ‘new wave’ is made mostly by apps. The emphasis on geolocation is enormous and the use of Facebook+Mobile is gigantic when in entertainment verticals.

Therefore apps such as Gemster, Tonight or All Events in are those that attract most attention.

The new wave is also made of pretty cool competitors to the old guard. Among others I particularly liked Stublisher, lokalite, Vitapeeps (targeted at Meetups), but also interesting takes such as WannaDo (another project of Active Network) that introduces a bucket list component.

How to Optimize Your Event for Discovery: Become an EDO Master

Event Discovery Optimization (EDO) will be a quite in demand skill going forward. It should be a task for the event social media person/team.

EDO involves understanding how event discovery works to make sure that your event is more discoverable. In the same way you’d optimize your event website to be found on Google, there is a set of actions that need to be taken to ensure maximum visibility on the growing number of apps.

If you consider the above list of common traits I made, your task is to make sure your event responds to logic of how these apps were created.

Therefore:

– Commit to post your event at least in the above apps.
– Wherever possible use platforms with popular APIs as they will be fetched by these applications
– Encourage RSVP on Facebook. In fact this could be one of the most crucial action you would want from your attendees.
– Perform outreach activities to editorial teams of popular apps
– Localise your event. Add the location of your event on as many platforms as possible.
– Set up a short and sweet hashtag

While it is tough to predict a definite impact of the above practices, reverse engineering would confirm some for positive impact.

A good approach would be to try one platform at the time and analyse results. This is often a good practice to test our audience response.

In Conclusion

Event discovery is a new wave of technology giving the attendees the power to make educated decision on the burning question “what event should I attend?”.

While the benefits may seem to be mostly on the attendee side, there are substantial opportunities to increase our event discoverability.

The wise event professional should familiarise with Event Discovery Optimization (EDO) and understand what actions need to be taken in order to increase the chances of being found.


© Julius Solaris for , 2013. |
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This Blog Coming Soon to an Event Near You

I will be around Europe and the U.S. quite a lot between Spring and Summer. If you are around, come and say hi.

Julius Solaris Speaking

Sometimes I forget this is actually a blog. Its first use was to be a diary, a web log of our lives.

It so happens I will be travelling to speak at some nice events in the next few months. I would love the opportunity to see you, dear reader, at one of these events and meet.

Some of them are free, some of them are paid for.

Event 13

This is a huge exhibition for the event industry in the Netherlands. I will be keynote there, thanks to the support of the amazing Amsterdam RAI – the true innovator in Europe when it gets to exhibition spaces.

I will be talking about trends for this year, giving a bit of an inside story on how trends are developed and what we can expect for 2013.

The event takes place in Utrecht and I am speaking on the 28th of March at 1pm. Details on the session here.

Event Tech Circus

I’ve mentioned this event a few times over the past few weeks. EMBlog is media partner and we expect it to be quite a good one.

I will have a session on what’s next for the industry. I will be around for the whole event to meet with startups.

The date is the 7th of May, in Amsterdam.

2013 Corporate Meetings Summit

Quite an awesome crowd and speakers’ line up, wisely put together by Cvent. This is an event for senior level meeting professionals and corporate event planners.

Looking forward to talking to you in Orlando, Florida.

The date is June 5-7, 2013 (US date format for obvious reasons :-) )

Tech Fest

Another cool event about tech, this time in London.

As a former Londoner, I am thrilled to finally go back in the Big Smoke and meet new and old friends.

I will tell my British friends everything I know about tech, social and events. Not to be missed.

Save the date: 18th/19th July 2013

IMEX America

Somewhere in October, I will join all the IMEX enthusiasts in Vegas. I had a blast in Frankfurt but I wanted to test the waters on the other side of the pond.

Nothing confirmed yet for sessions, but I am sure we’ll find a way to meet each other.

Date: October 2013

In Conclusion

Looks like Julius is coming to an event near you. With this post I achieved two goals:

1. It will push you to come and say hi. If you are shy just use the secret code “cobra”. I will know you’ve read it and want to meet.

2. I haven’t bugged you to death announcing them as they come.

Now go out and attend an event, the weekend is here :-)


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The Hashtag Revolution

#Hashtag means Event on social networks.

This post is a tribute to the hashtag, featuring some little known facts, a good dose of news and some predictions of what role hashtags will play on social media in the upcoming future.

use-hashtag-event

The reason why I am writing this post is the recent speculation that Facebook may introduce hashtags sooner than we think.

If this news will be confirmed, it will be good and bad news for the users. At the end of the day hashtags are a mix of the best and worst use you can do of my preferred social network, Twitter.

One thing for sure, it certainly will be good news for event professionals.

Hashtag, What?

So it all started with this tweet, from Chris Messina (co-founder of BarCamps and presently Google+ UX Designer):

There was a quest at the time to create groups on Twitter. It seemed like 100s of followers were too much to keep track of. Despite the initial idea of using it for groups, a new concept was born: identifying events.

Up until then, there was no way to quickly state what you were talking about on Twitter. If you, say, were attending an event called Conference234 and wanted to make a comment, in 2007 you’d tweet:

“I am at Conference234, and I am enjoying the speech by @tojulius”

after hashtags were introduced, you could easily write:

“Nice talk by @tojulius #conf234″

There is a heck of value in this change. First, the tweet is shorter. Find ways to shortening tweets has created standalone companies (see URL shorteners).

Second, when Twitter later decided to make hashtags clickable, they instantly became a promotional tools for events. In the above tweet, a third party could have clicked on #conf234 and learn more about the conference and who is attending.

Not All That Glitters Is Gold

So we have this amazing invention and the Interwebs embrace it. Great. Kinda.

Hashtags are almost 6 years old and they grew up not without controversy. To date they are the most hated and praised introduction of social networks.

Let me give you another example.

I am writing this at 10.51 am CET. Right now Worldwide trending topic (ie the most tweeted subject) is #LokiPayneFollowMe.

We are talking about fans of boyband 1Direction, asking the dog of one of the band members, named Loki, to follow them or in some cases stating they’ve actually been followed by the dog. Needless to comment all of the above.

But once again hashtags like #Egypt in 2011 were instrumental in creating awareness about the Arab Spring revolution.

Same goes for events.

Sometimes event hashtags are used to share valuable information, pictures and videos. Some other times hashtags are used for twomiting.

After all hashtags are just tools, they can be used for the good, the bad and the ugly.

Google+, Pinterest and Instagram

Despite hashtags have been a Twitter thing for a while, newborn social networks adopted them instantly.

Instagram is a great example of that. Hashtags have been present from early days on this platform. Users immediately understood how to use them. As in fact most Instagramers like to share their pics on Twitter, adding hashtags on Instagram works seamlessly and that is super cool.

Same goes for Google+ (obviously, as the inventor of hashtags now works on it). Hashtags were imminently added to the platform. Using hashtags in Google+ updates is seen as a very powerful way to help Google Search identifying relevancy with keywords.

Pinterest was another very powerful network to immediately embrace the pound sign as a way to categorize pins.

The cases of Pinterest and Instagram are quite obvious as they used Twitter login as one of the key drivers to grow subscriptions, therefore an immediate integration was quite expectable.

It is more surprising in Google+’ example, as it was born (and it still is) a standalone and non-integrated social network.

Flickr

Two days ago, Flickr joined the party and added hashtags to its iOS application.

It is still a very basic addition. For the time being it translates into being able to search relevant pictures. And it is limited to the app.

In fact the main site is still hashtag free (nerd explanation: existing hashtags used as Flickr tags are not clickable).

This was a reaction to the real news we heard this week…

Facebook Introduces Hashtags

First of all this is just speculations. Nonetheless, it has been suggested by the Wall Street Journal, therefore it comes with a bit of authority.

I don’t usually like to comment on speculations, but indeed this could potentially be significant for the event industry. Let me tell you why.

The largest impact will be in terms of event discovery, hence promotion.

If in fact Facebook Updates (not counting tweets or Instagram photos sent via FB) feature clickable hashtags, your event will be immediately discoverable by a few hundred million users more than what we can count on today.

If you compute that into the opportunities coming from the upcoming Graph Search, the introduction will impact on most online practices of the rest of us.

Your Hashtag Strategy

As event professionals we have an advantage. Our product is an hashtag by definition. Hashtags have become a way to define an event in the making, a dynamic action. They are not great for static products or services.

Having an hashtag strategy will be the primary concern of event marketers in 2014.

Why? Well, looking at the information above it appears quite obvious. If you pick an hashtag and you define a wise use of it, then it will pretty much spread the word about your event across the whole Web.

It’s the universal currency in our fragmented social media world.

There will be no other action, text or element so universally accepted online. While in fact some social networks may decide to make a link clickable or not, hashtags will indeed be clickable almost everywhere.

The benefits will be also tangible for measurement. If in fact you like to measure your social media efforts (and I hope you do), setting up a universal hashtag will help you to fetch rich information from across the Web.

No wonder why nowadays some event professionals pick an hashtag as the actual name of the event, rather than its social alias.

In Conclusion

The recent news of Facebook and Flickr joining the hashtag movement reinforces the importance of a correct use of “#”.

It looks like the pund sign will conquer the Internet and offer event professionals a simple tool to amplify and measure their event online.

Setting up a short and sweet hashtag and making it iconic will guarantee an instant presence on all social networks.

So how are you going to call your next event? ;-)

Photo by cogdogblog


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How Technology Creates the Time to Be Creative

This is a sponsored post by Event Tech Circus.

Gallus Events are managing two Event Technology events in the next few months. Event Tech Circus in Amsterdam and Tech Fest in London. Head Honcho William Thomson explaines a little bit about the technology he uses to support these technology events.

This is a great case study for other event organisers because William has pieced together free tools and paid-for technologies. He also uses contra deals and pulls in the odd favour to ensure that technology supports his events as much as possible. He demonstrates that being smart with technology allows a small event company to manage large events and crucially frees up time to deliver more value to participants.

creativity-event-technology

Running your own events company and staying on top of the events you run is, putting it mildly, a challenge. Being based in Barcelona and running events in London and Amsterdam hardly makes things easier. But of course running events has never been an easy way to make a living. I’ve been in the industry for fifteen years and I’ve seen events become so much more complex and ever more challenging. In my opinion the only way we can stay on top of our events is to adopt, understand and use more event technology.

Gallus Events use seven primary bits of software to keep on top of our events. The first four help us manage our events with minimum time and resource and the remaining three help us increase the number of people who attend our events.

1. Event Manager Theme

The WordPress event theme we use is fantastic. It took us a few hours to have our Event Tech Circus site up and running. One day from registering the domain name to have an all singing and all dancing site. Following the launch of Januas (the multiple event version of EMTheme) in March the theme has taken things up a notch by allowing many events to be housed together on one site.

We use the single event theme for Event Tech Circus. Thankfully as Event Manager Blog is actively supporting our aim of bringing the Event community together in Europe they have provided the theme for free. However at $99 each, these themes offer a bargain website that small to medium sized event businesses should certainly consider using to their advantage.

2. Eventbrite

Eventbrite made collecting payments easy, almost mind boggingly easy! It took ten minutes to set up Event Tech Circus. We originally investigated using and setting up our own merchant account and a payment gateway: both are needed to collect credit card payments independently. But unfortunately the world of banking hasn’t quite caught up with the dynamic needs of our industry.

Thankfully Eventbrite was on hand and using their payment gateway we avoided a month long wait for our own gateway and a serious cash flow pinch. We of course have to pay a few euros per transaction and we don’t receive our funds until after the event but this is a small price to pay to be able to collect electronic payments and have the system allocate invoices. And by being listed on Eventbrite we have already generated a few attendees! A fantastic added bonus.

3. Podio

This is a fantastic project management tool. It is app based and incredibly flexible. Podio allows you to allocate and monitor tasks as well as store information on sales, venues, speakers and almost every other aspect of an event. You can invite work colleagues and external guests. At the moment we are using the basic offering and it is free. It has been tremendously useful for Gallus Events and we expect to upgrade to the $9 per worker per month in the summer.

4. Eventsforce

Eventsforce “powers” Tech Fest and we really will be using it to power all of our events going forward. The system collects payments (similarly to Eventbrite) but is more cost effective for larger events (if you can manage to get over the payment gateway and merchant account problems). Linking the payments to the other aspects on the platform allows us to have more visibility and control of our finances.

It does a whole host of things for us including providing a website as the front end to the software. Eventsforce is ideal for an event company that run more than a dozen events and have more than a 1000 attendees. Our use of Eventsforce is included in our overall sponsorship agreement for Tech Fest but for the ideal company as described earlier you will only be talking a few thousand euros per year.

5. Dotmailer

This is a fantastic emarketing tool. Incredibly flexible and really easy to use. The reporting functions, the spam testing, the triggered campaigns and the automation are all great features and make this a great all round email marketing tool.

Owing to the success of Mailchimp and other initially free email system providers, paid for email marketing systems have really had to raise their game. For the additional benefits Dotmailer isn’t very expensive, perhaps costing around €3000 a year for a medium sized company. We are very lucky that owing to a long standing relationship we use the system for free as long as we don’t email too often!

6. Conferize

Conferize are one of our start-ups at Event Tech Circus. Conferize is a system designed to help organisers gain attendance at their events by leveraging social networks and by using the skills of Conferize staff to place advertisements and list your event.

It is available for free to all of our users. We will be using the basic system for Event Tech Circus and the premium one for Tech Fest (as part of our sponsorship agreement). It will be really interesting to see the value from the premium service and to see if the investment is returned in an increased awareness and attendance at Tech Fest.

7. Hootsuite

We use Hootsuite to schedule and generally control the release of our Social Media content around Tech Fest and Event Tech Circus. We are tweeting across a couple of Twitter accounts and we link to Facebook and to LinkedIn through Hootsuite as well.

We use the basic free offering and it is a massive help. We will be investigating our options in the summer as we believe paying a monthly fee may be justified but at the moment the free system is doing wonders for us. Content marketing is crucial in both our events and a tool such as Hootsuite is crucial.

In Conclusion

It would be possible to run our events without using most of this event technology but we would be working harder and I would need a bigger team. But crucially the technology we are using allows us to do two very important things. This technology allows us to raise the income from our events (and certainly above the level of the actual cost of using that technology).

Hootsuite, Dotmailer, Conferize and Eventbrite add a lot of value to our event by helping us raise awareness of Tech Fest and support our content marketing strategy. Secondly using Eventsforce and Podio helps us run our events much more efficiently.

Put simply, technology runs (and in some cases “powers” our events) creating the time for us to run the experience.


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Why Queue Management Is Crucial for Retailers

The checkout line represents a critical turning point in any retail experience. It is the make-it-or-break-it point where sales are completed, or completely lost.

The Backlash of an Unmanaged Queue

long wait timesIt’s easy to assume that the tough part of retail is getting people in the door, offering a diverse selection of merchandise, and setting the right prices. But a transaction needs to go full circle—from intent to purchase—for both the retailer and the customer to benefit. And that means queue management must take precedence.

According to a recent retail study, 49 percent of customers will leave a store because of the mere presence of a waiting line, 81 percent will tell others about their bad experience, and 38 percent would consider never returning and shopping elsewhere because of lengthy or poorly managed lines.

Balking and reneging can also lead to significant financial implications for a retailer. Just a 5 percent loss of total in-store sales during a heavy shopping period, like Black Friday weekend or the weekend before Christmas, would convert to over $1 billion in lost sales.

Making the Checkout Line a Priority

One of the most influential pieces in shaping a customer’s opinion about the service they’ve received is the length of their checkout time. Retailers who closely monitor their checkout queues and make customer wait time a key performance indicator have an advantage which is realized through optimized labor costs and higher customer satisfaction.

queue managementQueue management technology enables retailers to monitor and study the changing variables of a checkout line in real time, from hour to hour, day to day, customer to customer. Getting straight facts about the ebbs and flows of a line, rather than making guesses about its progress and patterns, enables retailers to create a consistent checkout experience with shorter waits and transaction times. And, ultimately, this creates happier, satisfied customers.

Your queue impacts customer satisfaction, which impacts profitability and long-term business success. Find out how you can improve your checkout lines and the customer experience with queue management technologies, including call forward electronic queuing, cloud-based virtual queuing, centralized media management, and real time video analytics.

Discuss your queue management strategy with a Lavi expert. Request a sales call today.

How Queuing Technology Can Help Retailers Deliver Value to Empowered Customers

IBM’s 2011 Global Chief Marketing Officer Study highlighted several significant challenges faced by marketers today. Among them are understanding and delivering value to empowered customers and creating lasting relationships with those customers.

To succeed in meeting these challenges, it is imperative for retailers to look closely at the customer experience. How do customers define value? How can we earn their trust?

When evaluating a retailer’s ability to deliver value and build lasting relationships in a retail environment, there is always one glaring place to look: the checkout queue. A critical juncture where customers and sales are won or lost. Often the last impression made before a customer walks out the door. And often the first thing remembered when considering a return visit. The checkout line is a place where retailers stand to shine…or decline.

The Value of Queuing Technology

Queuing technology presents these opportunities and more:

eliminate the wait1. Eliminate the Wait

Across industries, businesses are choosing to address the tension around waiting lines by getting rid of them altogether. Virtual queuing technology lets customer wait without waiting in line, resulting in a better customer experience.

2. Fix Problems in Real Time

create a pleasant envitornment

Queue management technology enables retailers to monitor and study the changing variables of a checkout line in real time, from hour to hour, day to day, customer to customer. Getting straight facts about the ebbs and flows of a line, rather than making guesses about its progress and patterns, empowers retailers to create a consistent checkout experience with shorter waits and transaction times. And, ultimately, this creates happier, more satisfied customers.

mobile ready3. Be Mobile-Ready

Electronic queuing with text alerts lets customers check in and then continue to shop, run errands, or do whatever they need to do while they await a text to let them know it’s almost their turn for service.  Two-way text messaging, in turn, allows customers to remain in control of their experience by re-queuing themselves if they need more time.

4. Drive Impulse Sales

impulse salesToday’s queuing technology integrates powerful media messaging (entertaining or informative video, for example) to engage the customer in the queue. This approach can lead to as much as a 400 percent increase in impulse sales at checkout. Plus, perceived wait time can drop by up to 35 percent, as customers are engaged in the messaging and distracted by the time spent waiting.

5. Support the Omni-Channel Approach

virtual technology

Just as retailers are using omni-channel technology to create a better customer experience, in the checkout queue, we find technologies that can facilitate better service efficiency and higher quality service, without adding ongoing exponential costs.

Recognizing customers are empowered and in control, retailers must find ways to turn a common source of tension (the waiting line) into an experience that will deliver value and build trust. Queuing technology can provide the answers.  Let us help you plan your approach. Request a consultation.

Event Startups: Keep an Eye on These Up-and-Comers

What’s new in the event startup scene? Things are moving fast. Here are some of the cool kids changing the industry.

Event Startups Rising Stars

By looking at Twitter, it feels like a new event startup is born every day. That is a great feeling.

It is also the reason why we are supporting Event Tech Circus, the first event in Europe specifically designed for event professionals and startups.

This feeling of new ideas, new solutions and tools is a breath of fresh air to our industry.

I’ve celebrated innovation in the event and meeting industry multiple times and I am by no means tired.

I’ve collected a few interesting products and services that can help you run a better event. In the end, it is all about that. If a startup does not help easing your tough job, it’s worthless.

Here they are.

VolunteerLocal

Volunteer management is not an easy one. There are a lot of dynamics involved in managing those who decide to work for free. Medium sized and large events need to structure motivation and make it become a mechanism that works.

VolunteerLocal solves the issue of signing up and managing communication with volunteers. Interesting features include volunteer check-in, a custom sign up website to register and easy job and shift allocation.

VolunteerLocal price is zero for small events with straight forward requirements. The pricing for larger events is flexible and based on a per-event basis, a good choice for our industry.

Zime

I’ve got a thing for to-do and calendar apps. Zime made me want to replace my iPhone with an Android based phone, just to try it out.

OK, features are not revolutionary. I simply loved the 3D visualization of tasks and schedule.

When it gets to productivity apps, the design significantly impacts on the actual effectiveness of the app. At least for me that is. I am a fan of the eye candy and Zime creates a new visual experience. If you are on Android, test it out. I am envious.

Speakeasy

Speakeasy is a marketplace that matches party organizers and party goers. The service is definitely invading the Facebook Events arena and we are quite supportive of the David/Goliath battle.

The site looks slick and the features are intriguing for both, hosts and attendees.

What makes a difference in these services is adoption and it looks like Kevin and team are doing great with 200+ events, 2000 registered users and a seed funding round back in August. Let’s see what happens.

Buzz.IO

Imagine a large screen at a festival or large event. Now imagine a game being displayed on the screen. Think about attendees playing the game with their smartphones, competing against each other.

If you can’t imagine it, watch it.

This is what Buzzy.Io can recreate for your event and I love it.

Flowh

Flowh is the Twitter of Events. Flowh also looks like Twitter. And that can be a good thing.

The concept is very simple. You can follow and share events. Once again the concept is not incredibly new but I like the way it has been implemented. Putting too much into a platform can in fact impact on adoption and effectiveness.

As a Twitter junkie, I immediately get what Flowh is about. I am curious to see if more events will start to use it.

Eventholler

Eventholler does ticketing. I usually do not include ticketing providers in these round-ups. What I liked about them is the link with promoters.

In fact they count on a network of “hundreds of promoters in your city”. Despite the generic claim, the ideas is really good. Effectively Eventholler offers a platform for promoters to register and advertise events in their networks.

This affiliate system is very promising and definitely attractive in time of crisis. Also loved how they allow access to the promoters network for free to non-profit events.

Sponsorhive

Sonsorhive is a maretplace for sponsors. In 10 Event Trends for 2013, I told you that this is the year when Sponsors look for Events.

Sponosrhive is a new player in the sponsor marketplace arena. Still in private beta, it asks for 10% cut on all sponsorship generated to the host. It promises full control to brands looking for event sponsorship opportunities.

Ohanah App

This is an amazing Joomla extension for event management. Created by Beyounic and Nick Balestra, Ohanah impressed me for the caliber of the features available and slick design.

If you decide to use Joomla as your Content Management System, look no further. Ohanah ticks all the boxes. You have everything you need, from venue management to registration.

Super cool!

QuickTapLead

The idea is simple. This is already a great premise. QuickTapLead is a tablet application for iOS and Android that lets you collect leads at tradeshows and exhibitions.

It works offline and it features integration with Salesforce, automatic emails and customizable interface. QuickTapLead is an easy solutions for all those willing to save some money while presenting prospects a slick interface.

Prices are based on a per lead basis and start at $0.25 for a 100 lead credit top up.

Tweetwall

It’s been some time since I covered Twitter visualization services. Tweetwall is not a new startup. It’s actually been around since 2008 and with a quite impressive client portfolio.

The reason why I am mentioning it here is the slick design but also innovative features such as leaderboards. In fact with Tweetwall helps you to identify in real-time users tweeting about your event, ranked by influence, number of tweets or engagement.

Prices are not disclosed, which usually means we are on the expensive side of the river. Get in touch with them to find out more.

Sphericam

Startup does not necessarily mean apps and software. The kickstarter founded Sphericam is definitely a nice piece of equipment I can see at different events.

It is a 360 degree recording camera. It combines 4 HD cameras that record in high definition. This is an amazing piece of equipment to record your event and then upload it to your Youtube channel or for amazing live stream .

See it in action:

Januas

Event Manager Blog is a startup itself. Therefore with no shame for a plug to my company, we introduced Januas last week. Januas is a WordPress Theme built to feature multiple events in one website.

As biased as it may sound, it is quite a remarkable effort and I am very proud of it. Adoption is great and customers are loving it. Check it out.

In Conclusion

The event startup scene is hotter than ever. The above services and products deserve your attention and definitely help the way you plan, manage and sell events.

As always, if your startup has been left out, hit me up on Twitter or use the contact section.

If you are an event professional, support these bright ideas by sharing this article. It can make a big difference.

Photo by Thomas Hawk


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Building the Omnichannel Experience with Digital Signage

digital signageDespite the power of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar retailing is far from irrelevant. In fact, rather than splitting, the two are blending together into a seamless experience connected through mobile devices. Consumers navigate between store, website, and mobile environments to find and complete purchases with the expectation of a consistent experience across any channel.

Retailers are joining this “omnichannel” revolution by creating a triad of communications before, during, and after the in-store visit.

The Role of In-Store Digital Signage

Centralized management of in-store electronic signage, digital displays, and other in-store customer communications allows marketers to systematically deploy branded messages to align with corporate, regional, and/or store-level priorities. Centralized control ensures up-to-date messaging is deployed across regions, nationally, or at an individual store level.

Digital signage can connect the dots to create a meaningful and relevant customer experience across multiple channels.

For example, the same great deal or product featured on a store website can be called out via digital signage in store and likewise featured on the retailer’s mobile app or mobile website. A product or special introduction on one channel can instantly be made at the store level via centralized digital media signage.

What to Look for in a Digital Signage System

digital signageA centralized digital signage system offers a great many benefits to retailers, including dramatically improved impulse sales. By creating a consistency across channels, customers will receive accurate, up-to-date information about products and purchases.

As you explore your options for a system that works with your store, look for some of these key features:

  • Centralized control of in-store electronic signage and in-queue digital messaging.
  • Fully scalable messaging, from one display to hundreds across multiple stores and regions.
  • Unlimited playlists that distribute media to individual displays or customized groups based on regions or locations.
  • Scheduling options that allow for days or months of playlists to be created in advance and changed at a moment’s notice.

For any market, layout, or location, digital signage systems can complement your omnichannel strategy and help ensure a seamless customer experience.

Let us show you how digital in-store communications can enhance your business. Request a sales consultation.

How to Ensure Speakers Diversity at Your Conference

Often times women are misrepresented in certain types of events. Here is a interesting tool to ensure diversity at your event.

Diversity Calculator Conferences

Having attended a lot of tech events, I can confidently state that there is a growing problem in that sector. Speakers are usually men.

This is the case also for other industries. And it is not a good thing.

While reading my Twitter timeline, I stumbled upon this interesting update:

I decided to dig further.

Enter the Conference Diversity Distribution Calculator

Aanand Prasad created an interesting tool to calculate the fair representation of a given gender depending on the audience diversity. In fact this seems to be the usual counter-argument given by those who superficially allocate speaker slots. As Anand puts it:

Tech conference speaker line-ups frequently contain few or no women at all. I believe, as many others do, that most conference selection processes are biased towards the dominant demographics—male, young, straight, white, able-bodied, cisgendered—and that addressing and removing this bias is an important part of the battle to increase diversity in the industry at large.

I sometimes encounter the argument that speaker line-ups that fail to adequately represent women are not the product of systemic discrimination, but rather an inevitably frequent occurrence in an industry as male-dominated as ours. On the face of it, this makes intuitive sense.

Human beings, however, are notoriously bad with probabilities.

This probably says it better than most of my previous words. Therefore he decided to create a diversity calculator.

I believe it is an interesting tool.

Taking it Further

The calculator Anand created is a scientific reply to a weak argument. It is a very valuable answer to those stubborn decision makers who believe only to numbers.

We all agree, I hope, that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The iceberg being a medieval (just to avoid saying “utterly idiotic”) way of running events.

I believe, my dear friends, that our mission is to bring change through live experiences.

Choosing a 98% female based speaker line up for a 98% male audience does not mean jeopardising your job. It means bringing change, it means pushing boundaries, it means doing our bit to level up what has been unfair for too long.

Of course such decisions are not always easy to put in practice, alas discriminatory selection shouldn’t be as easy.

Maybe after reading this post, I will lose a bit of the readers who can’t really accept such logic. Well, I am quite happy with that.

In the meanwhile, happy International Women’s Day to all the brave women making this industry great.


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2 Technologies to Streamline the Checkout Process and Decrease Wait Times

electronic queuingBusinesses can grow leaps and bounds above direct competitors and boast better prices or more diverse services, but if these offerings aren’t accompanied by efficient, high-quality customer service, their impact is negligible. In order to compete, retailers and service providers are seeking ways to connect with customers on more than just a superficial level in order to provide a better service experience. As with so many other business needs, technology can provide the answer.

When it comes to the waiting line, improving service is often as “simple” as making the line more efficient, and decreasing the real and perceived amount of time a customer is left to wait. This can be done in a number of ways, but there are two particular checkout technologies that are known to help streamline and cut wait times:

 

1. Call-Forward Electronic Queuing

A more efficient and pleasant waiting experience can be created by equipping a waiting line with a call forward electronic queuing system that keeps people informed, entertained, and distracted from the reality that they are indeed waiting.

Electronic queuing increases service efficiency by streamlining the way that service agents hail the next customer. Wireless remotes allow agents to alert customers that their turn has come, while audio cues and visual LCD displays offer additional information to keep people moving and aware of where they’re supposed to be. This sophisticated technology also allows service agents to redirect customers from one line or station to another for a more efficient service experience.

Not only does the call forward method decrease perceived wait times by as much as 40 percent, impulse sales can be boosted to as much as 400 percent when this electronic queuing is combined with in-line merchandising solutions.

virtual queuing2. Virtual Queuing

For customers whose dissatisfaction is strongly influenced by the appearance of a long line, the best line can often be no line at all.

Technology is allowing businesses to enhance the customer experience through virtual queuing. These systems allow customers to register for their “spot” in line via an in-store kiosk, or even to pre-schedule their place in line via the internet or their mobile device. They then receive an estimated wait time, and can go about their business as they spend their time “not waiting” in a physical line. Service agents can also notify customers via text message when their turn is near.

A virtual queue disperses waiting crowds, maximizes customer flow, increases service agent efficiency, eliminates that pesky waiting line, and ultimately makes customers happier by focusing on creating a pleasant waiting environment. The perception is that the queue is shorter, and the reality is that the queue can actually be shortened through this virtual line.

The Ultimate Prize: Customer Satisfaction

Catering to the happiness of customers is the key to retaining customers and earning new ones. Through queue management technologies, including call forward electronic queuing and virtual queuing, the waiting line experience can be made more efficient and satisfying.

Learn more about the best possible queuing solutions for your business – speak with a Lavi queue management expert.