Over the last few weeks, in this continuing series on ‘Innovation and the Future of Events‘, we’ve been bringing to you the vision and ideas of our friends and partners in the tradeshow and conference space. At a2z, this is a theme we have been exploring for many months now, but our brainstorming definitely picked up steam during the a2z Week following our day-long workshop with Dr. Schlake.
One of the challenges we set for ourselves during this week was to explore what’s new and cutting-edge today, and how it’ll shape the future for face-to-face events. As a part of this exercise, we split into multiple cross-functional groups where team members from different departments collaborated to develop a presentation that was shared with the entire team on the last day of a2z Week. There were few rules or guidelines, and the groups were encouraged to be as creative as possible in their theme development.
The presentations were truly thought-provoking for all of us. It was interesting to see how there were many common themes – smart cities, 3D printing, more immersive events, personalized experiences, virtual and augmented reality – and yet, there was also significant originality in each team’s vision. It was equally heartening to see that despite the universal focus on augmented technology and automated experiences, every presentation’s central narrative was built firmly around human interaction, development, and achievement.
Entire Cities Become Event Venues
According to Group 1, events will metamorphose into ‘week-long immersive experiences’, incorporating entire cities reserved exclusively for registered attendees. All attractions and conveniences will be designed and tailored specifically to provide a great experience to the participants all year round. Not just the hotels, stores, restaurants, museums and meeting facilities; even the people recruited to service these, will be dedicated resources for The Event. Participating ‘exhibitors’ and sponsors will be able to provide a 360-degree experience of their solutions and services over multiple days. For example, at an ‘Automotive Show’, a manufacturer may make their top-of-the-line, luxury models available for ‘qualified’ buyers to test-drive around the city. Additional on-demand features will also be made available, such as a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing process, or a fully automated car wash service, or digitally powered in-car upgrades.
In-Person Attendance is Optional
The Group 2 presentation highlighted how events in the not-so-distant future will incorporate augmented reality and many personalized features for both attendees and exhibitors. Attendees could opt to either attend in person or virtually. Whatever their mode of attending, each person will have their own unique view of the event. What they see and experience will be based completely on their preferences, interests, personality type, and ongoing interaction. For example, ‘John’ could be seeing mid-winter Alps with ski design and chalets, whereas ‘Jane’ could be walking through a medieval castle full of swords and armor. As a part of their meet and greet experience, they could then swap their devices to view the event venue from the other person’s perspective.
Dynamic Experiences & Recycled Booths
Group 3 created a protagonist – Jake, a 25-year-old intern – to explore the experience at a tech conference located in a smart city of the future. Jake is assisting his company in designing and exhibiting their booth at the event. He registers for the event with a single gesture and signs into the system to authorize it to pull his demographics. From that point onwards, his exhibiting experience is completely customized to his own, as well as his company’s, business requirement. Jake has pre-designed his booth and it is 3D printed on the show floor before he gets there. Beacons throughout the city advertise his company’s location and special offers at the event. The information displayed in each section of the booth changes to match the preferences of the attendees who are walking by. Interactive robots help Jake in answering the attendees’ questions. At the end of the event, the booths are broken down and all materials are recycled at the venue for the next event.
“Event Ride” Is the New “Event Experience”
The central theme of Group 4’s presentation was a ‘World of Game’ Pop-up event spread across a multitude of cities across the country, serviced end-to-end by a super-fast Hyperloop transportation system. A single, smart app for all of the events will take care of the ticketing and registration process. Attendees will be kept updated with geolocation-based in-app notifications and their experience enhanced by lifelike augmented reality. Each site will have 3D printed fixtures and education pods for each attendee.
Thunderdome ~ The New Model for Expo
Group 5 narrated the story of Thunderdome: The Tradeshow of the Future. It incorporates the concept of remote reality, where a specialized lab will be an exhibitor’s ‘booth’. This concept eliminates the need to ship goods, travel to a venue and constraints related to fixed schedules. Buyers contact an exhibitors’ product team with a specific problem or need, and they respond by 3D printing or demoing a solution using virtual reality. The buyer then tests the prototype and if it meets the requirements, finalizes the business deal. In essence, advances in technology will radically reshape the buyer/seller interaction.
Enthusiasts as a Key Attendee Group
Group 6 focused on events that, to be sustainable and profitable, will evolve to include festivals to attract an expanded base of attendees. Incorporating enthusiasts, this set of attendees will attend the event, not as buyers, but because they are passionate about a theme. They will attend performances and product launches, participate in industry research, and meet fellow enthusiasts at the event. The attendee’s personal assistant will replace all personal devices, leverage IoT, machine learning, facial ID and AR/VR to manage their experience at the event. It’ll interface with the event systems to be their “key” for all sessions, as well as the hotel room, restaurant visits and any purchases they make at the venue. It’ll also use AR to create overlays to guide them to, and help them interact with, special exhibits and presentations.
Curated Events Take Center Stage
Group 7’s thought about implications of the impending rise of highly-focused, curated events, which will be custom-designed to be very closely matched to a given demographic’s precise needs. These events will provide many more flexible options for how people attend or interact with meeting content, such as variable level packages with virtual only, virtual+meeting or meeting only. There will also be a much stronger emphasis on Hosted Buyer networking than in the past, complemented by a mobile speed dating-style matchmaking tool where attendees quickly swiped to find the people they’d most like to meet.
The Age of Integrated AI
Group 8’s imagined event, ‘The Global Ecological Summit (TGES)’, is set in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil, a hundred years into the future. The team envisioned that things will be so radically different in the 22nd Century that the complexities of TGES are best understood from the perspective of a single attendee, named Anika. The story begins with Anika getting an augmented memory-cum-personal assistant which is implanted in her brain on the day she is born. Through her childhood, even as Anika’s brain focuses on developing her natural learning and cognitive abilities, this ‘additional’ intelligence acts as her storage database-cum-search engine, interfacing with the AI and AR (when prompted by her) incorporated into every conceivable surface in her world. By the time Anika arrives in Brazil as a young scientist, she is completely comfortable with her AI assistant organizing her travel itinerary, hotel check-in, and transportation arrangements. Other than making the initial requests, and tuning into the updated status once in a while, she can focus on making herself comfortable in her designated meeting pod and meeting with a consortium of peers, many of whom are attending virtually.
Did these journeys into an imagined future resonate with you? Do you have a story you’d like to share with our visitors? Click here to share your thoughts with us today!
More to explore in this series: