Michael Kuntz, CEO of Media West, Inc. was a featured panelist in vFairs DiscoverNext's 2022 virtual conference exploring industry insights on the role of technology in the new era of events post-pandemic.
The session was designed to hear from panelists from leading corporations, universities and agencies on the shift in expectations for in-person events and demand for more tools to gain efficiencies, boost engagement and provide real-time analytics.
Despite different expertise areas, general consensus from the panel was that technology is not only helping with event management and production, but is also paving the way for new engagement strategies and outcomes. Kuntz pointed out that "hybrid events are here to stay," and preparing for both virtual and live events concurrently will increase chances of success.
Among the top strategies for technology integration:
User-friendly mobile and digital technology are imperative for networking, collaboration, polling, tracking metrics, and event flow (such as digital concierge boards for breakout rooms, floor plans and general sessions). Whether in-person or virtual, the technology makes it easier to customize experiences and push out on-demand content.
Production can "make or break an event" to make attendees feel immersed, commented Kuntz. He stressed that understanding a client's vision of what they want attendees to "feel" is the critical first step. Next step is pre-planning to ensure clients understand the process of how virtual and live events coincide and what technologies are needed to support their vision and objectives.
Using a "2-shows-in-1" approach is critical to merging live and virtual events. Kuntz recommends having two separate crews to deliver the production value needed for that specific platform. Having an AV partner to help translate the process, "lingo" and equipment needed to integrate both audiences is essential.
Production and use of audio visual technology has upped its game in attracting attendee interest, including high tech entry treatments, use of dynamic content, gamification, high touch pieces and LED installations.
Panelists agreed that technology does, in fact, come at a cost. An experienced team that supports the technology is what is often overlooked when allocating budget and should be non-negotiable.
Utilizing pre-production was universally agreed as one of the best uses of technology. "This allows clients to involve a national or global audience while integrating seamlessly into dynamic content of a live event," said Kuntz. "Investing in AR and VR technology has also added a compelling experience for both virtual and live audiences."
When asked by vFairs, the virtual event platform, what Media West sees as trending post-pandemic, Kuntz replied that live events are back but high-touch environments, shorter general sessions and hybrid models supported by separate crews are what’s working. “There's expertise for the virtual side of things, and expertise for in-person. Having the capabilities to offer clients both within one offering [agency] and educating them on the process is where we’ve lent the most value.”
“There's expertise for the virtual side of things, and expertise for in-person. Having the capabilities to offer clients both within one offering [agency] and educating them on the process is where we’ve lent the most value.”
The pandemic has changed the events industry in so many ways, and while many event planners and production companies had the capabilities, they’re now executing in more efficient, productive and engaging ways with the use of technology. One thing that's for sure is that the events industry will continue to evolve along with the progression and advancement of technology.