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August 31, 2010

FUTURE FOCUSED:Tomorrow's events technology today

Event Camp Twin Cities is the second live event to arise from Twitter group #eventsprofs, and it offers those involved in the meetings and events industry the opportunity to try out some of the latest meetings technology in a low-risk environment. Pete Roythorne finds out more…

If you needed proof that online communities can feed real world events, then look no further than Twitter group #eventprofs, which has spawned its second face-to-face event, Event Camp, which will take place on 8/9 September in Minneapolis.  

Last year’s event camp was organised by passionate #eventprofs community members  Christina Coster, Mike McAllen, Jessica Levin, Jeff Hurt and Michael McCurry, and took place at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City. Attendees came from as far away as California and Europe to participate. Plus several people spent their Saturday participating in the event remotely.

“This passionate group of planners and suppliers started meeting online and participating in Twitter chats every Tuesday and Thursday,” says Samuel J Smith, co-founder of this year’s event, Event Camp Twin Cities. “Over time the community grew and grew. Eventually, one year later, Event Camp was born on 6 February 2010 in New York City.”


Event Camp: The safe way to try out new meetings technology


Smith attended last year’s event and was so inspired by the people around him that he decided to take the next step and create the second event. This year’s event is a co-production between Smith and his colleague Ray Hansen.

Innovation's what you need

“We have designed this year’s event around four key words,” says Smith. “Social, Innovation, Collaboration and Experimentation. For each element that we added to the event, we examined it against those four key words. We wanted to make sure that we held true to our promise.”

Event Camp targets meeting professionals in the US and Europe that are interested in trying out new ways to connect and engage with attendees, and Smith describes it as an innovation lab for events. But what makes him think the industry is ready to have its boundaries pushed this far?

“Right now, social media, mobile technology and video technology are changing the way that we communicate collaborate and share,” he says. “Soon our attendees are going to start demanding similar experiences from events. If we don't start experimenting with these new ideas and formats now, then we are going to find ourselves behind our attendees in a few years.”

Smith continues: “If we are going to innovate in events, then we need a space where we can try out new concepts, formats and technologies. Event Camp creates space for people to tryout new ideas.”

Sorting the wheat from the chaff

However, Smith and Hansen are realistic about what people will take home from this event. “In the end, we don't think all ideas will resonate with all attendees or be appropriate for all audiences,” says Smith. “Our hope is that attendees will find one idea that resonates with them that they can take back to their events or their client's events and try.”

Today’s attendees are more educated, more experienced and have more information at their fingertips than ever before, and Smith says this year’s event is about inspiring event professionals to try new communication and collaboration concepts at their events.

“This event will show event professionals new ways to harness this new attendee power and transform that energy into new ideas and solutions that change business,” he adds.

Some of the program highlights, include:

1. Trying new collaboration formats – A range of Discussion sessions will use Pecha Kucha, business games, digital scavenger hunts and StorySlam formats. “If you don’t know what these are, then that’s why you should come,” says Smith.

2. An opportunity to checkout the latest technology, as  delegates will get a chance to Experience Conference 2.0 from Omnipress, Livestreaming technology from Sonic Foundry and the latest social media tools.

3. Discussions on the social and digital future of events. David Adler, chief executive of BizBash, and Mike Westscott, vice president of marketing at INXPO, will take a look at the role of social media and virtual technologies in transforming events.

Learning together
“We are all still learning how to use social media, hybrid meetings and event technology to transform our events,” says Smith. “The camp format is perfect, because it gives us an opportunity to learn from each other’s successes and failures, share best practices and build something together.”

Event Camp Twin Cities will take place in Minneapolis, and have remote sites in Basel, Switzerland and Dallas, Texas. Also, the event will be streamed online for free, and online attendees will be able to participate and interact with the audience.  

If you want to take part, there are five ways to get involved in Event Camp:
– Attend the event in Minneapolis
– Join one of the Remote PODS in Dallas, Texas or Basel, Switzerland
– Join the pre-event community and participate in the discussions
– Join the live event webcast on the 9 September
– Simply follow the Twitter stream.

“This is where the future of events is being tested,” concludes Smith. “For most attendees, it's a low-risk environment where they can try new things. It's much cheaper and easier than trying this inside their own events.”

Register online at www.eventcamptwincities.com

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