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August 6, 2015

Sub-Saharan Africa: Event Tech Trends in 2015

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by Kim Muller

As an avid follower of all things tech, and having written this column for the better part of a year now, it was refreshing to see that I’ve been on track whilst sitting in an event tech trends presentation at this year’s SAACI Congress. Steve Mackenzie, Vice-President of the Global Channel at eTouches, a leading event software company, shared some of the things shaping the industry in 2015.

  1. Hybrid Events

Although hybrid events – a mixture between physical and virtual events – have been taking off globally, Africa has yet to see a large uptake in these kinds of shows. One of the main reasons is internet connectivity, although the recent Leadercast conference held in Atlanta saw Capetonians converge for its hybrid live-feed event. Mackenzie’s advice to those wanting to organise a hybrid show is test, test and test the equipment again, as a fair bit of work and audio visuals are required. 

  1. Beacons

These nifty gadgets saw a lot of hype towards the end of last year. Beacons are a low-cost piece of hardware, small enough to attach to a wall or countertop. Using low-energy Bluetooth connections to transmit messages or prompts to smartphones or tablets, they are ideal for attracting delegates to your exhibition booth, although the downside is that you often need an app, and it needs to be well-promoted beforehand.

  1. Charging Stations

We’ve all seen these at airports and various festivals and international events, but charging stations are taking things a slight bit further with Bright Box. These cell phone chargers have a locker you can store your electronics in so that you don’t miss an all-important conference session. So far, it’s become extremely popular in Asia Pacific and the States.

  1. Social Walls

Social communication has become one of the most important marketing functions of any event, and social walls have taken things a step further so that delegates can actually see their response to an event in a prominent place. In addition, many events are now including leaderboards in their social walls, for instance, most retweets, most favourites or most tweets. This has really gotten folks engaged and as a result, further marketed events to the public.

  1. Mobile Usage and Apps

Africa has become synonymous with mobile technology and mobile usage is at an all-time high. This has also changed the way we view the web, with more and more sites opting for responsive design, and with more and more devices hooking up to mobile apps for further interaction. Apps, too, have taken off, with event registration via cell phone growing exponentially, and as a result, pushing the price for app development down. Mackenzie warns, however, that this is not for everyone and that much market research is needed to ensure it is a viable investment for your event.

  1. Data Analysis and Analytics

Big data can make a world of difference for your company, brand or event. Once delegate data is collected, it can be analysed to show you how to better your event and where the pitfalls are. It also gives you a more rounded view on what your delegates are engaging with. It can help identify sales leads and create a more personalised experience – not to mention the fact that it’s a marketer’s dream.

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