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March 12, 2015

Middle East: Hi-tech and Social

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Rebecca Wilson, President, International Special Events Society Middle East Chapter shares her view on how technology and social media is transforming the event landscape in the region and beyond. 

With smartphone penetration in the UAE close to 200 percent, one of the highest rates in the world, and with Saudi following close behind, the event industry is quick to capitalise on catering to the mobile generation.

“Globally, we should see more mobile event apps for registration, participation and feedback," said Wilson. "The transition from ‘attendee’ to ‘participant’ will continue through developing social media capabilities that allow for peer to peer contact and business networking, improved messaging and alerts within event schedules. The smartphone is so widely used that event organisers are confident with it as a replacement for traditional signage and information placement in shows. Last year the Middle East Event show went this way and although it was met with a mixed response, there were key elements that worked exceptionally well and others that felt a bit ahead of themselves in our hugely face-to-face industry and hospitable business environment.” 

In 2015, Wilson advises planners to consider moving from traditional paper lists to the cloud for their event marketing. Looking at social media specifically, Wilson offers the following insight: “There has already been a huge shift to social media marketing over the past few years and it is clearly a fast and effective means of reaching clients,” she said. “There is still a need to ensure you are carefully targeting the right people. Crucially, planners will still need to make use of a traditional marketing strategy from the outset and remember the importance of measuring return on investment [ROI], which is, in some cases, made simpler through digital methods where you can monitor ‘click-throughs’. For large public events it is definitely a welcome change to be able to reach a mass market but the corporate market is perhaps still more reliant on a range of approaches, including social media.” 

ISES, which has 78 members, is looking to expand by establishing more active sub-groups in Qatar and Oman in 2015. 

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