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August 14, 2013
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Technology Overview: MeetingsConnect & MarketingConnect Promote Connections




With a wide range of event apps competing for market share, developers are upping the ante to appeal to as wide a range of users as possible.

As an example, GenieConnect launched MeetingsConnect earlier this summer, touting it as “the industry’s first multi-platform, one-to-one intelligent meetings management tool that will be available to all U.S. event organizers.” The new app can be used as a standalone product, or completely integrated with GenieConnect’s other mobile and web attendee engagement tools.

The app is geared for any kind of event that includes one-to-one meetings. “At trade shows, this is often a Hosted Buyer program where selected attendees meet exhibitors,” said Giles Welch, GenieConnect CEO. “Conference organizers use it to increase networking at forum and summit events, and corporate customers are using it to increase information exchange between customers and staff at their events.”

Welch told International Meetings Review that event organizers today have “an always-on, direct link to their attendees which is already shaping events.” A one-to-one meeting program can be a huge part of increasing attendee and exhibitor returns, he continued, but if an event team needs a large number of IT professionals to manage the technology, it can become costly and cumbersome. 

MeetingsConnect, he continued, uses the live connection with participants to automatically match people up, manage their availability and deliver live diaries to them on their mobile devices. “For events that do it already, it’s a huge saving on effort, and for the rest, their chance to add substantial value to their event with minimum effort,” Welch added.

The app’s matchmaking feature delivers “smart suggestions” for meetings based on interests derived from an attendee’s behavior and interests that they have shown by using our other products, such as sessions they are going to or products that they like. The real-time agenda function delivers requests, appointments and schedule alterations to attendees in real-time via their device—and can include background information on the meetings such as social media links to the contact, details about the company, and even product specifications and photographs. “This allows attendees to plan both their time at the event, and prepare for the meeting, “ Welch said. 

Organizers using MeetingsConnect can simply set a few rules and launch the program, he continued. “What time slots are on offer? Are there a maximum or minimum of meetings people can have? What is the workflow to approve a meeting? What feedback is required?”

MarketingConnect

Right on the heels of MeetingsConnect came MarketingConnect, a marketing automation system for events that is available as part of GenieConnect’s portfolio.

Michael Douglas, GenieConnect Product Strategy Manager, explained that the system lets users automatically generate tailored marketing communications to event attendees, including details on “news, education sessions, speakers and exhibitors that we know will be of interest to them.” 

Notably, all communications are limited to the people who are most likely to read and use the information, which boosts click-through rates. Mark Benjamin, Product Manager at GenieConnect, told IMR that by looking at user analytics, including registration data and app usage, GenieConnect had a “gold mine of information” and was in a “unique position to capitalize on that intelligence.”

Much as Google customizes search results based on previous user activity, MarketingConnect matches the message to the receiver. And he believes that this will improve not just the organizer’s bottom line, but also the attendee experience. “As an attendee, you take time out from your life to attend a trade show or conference. You want to maximize the return on that investment. What we do with MeetingsConnect is to let people achieve that by personalizing their communication...Instead of scrolling through useless information, the most important news bubbles to the surface. Even at a small conference, the same rule applies…We can make the content dynamic, so the same message template can go to two people, but the content of the email will be tailored to them and what they’ve done previously in the app. Recommendations will be different. It can point out a gap in the user’s agenda and recommend things to do that don’t conflict based on interest.  That’s about us as attendees, but the benefit trickles throughout the system.” Exhibitors and sponsor, then, can get more targeted footfall at the conference, making the overall event more valuable for both buyers and sellers who might not otherwise have found one another. 

Data about each attendee begins with registration, which might include questions about general demographic details and interests. This information, which the user provides consciously, is called explicit data, Benjamin explains. “Then we look at their behavior and see what sessions they viewed, added or removed from their schedule.” As an example, if a user looks at a session, that indicates one level of interest. If the session is added to the agenda, that indicates higher interest. “It gives us a richer profile of the user—what they like, what they don’t like.” Even attendees who don’t use the app much can get information based on other users with a similar demographic. 

Of course, privacy is a concern in this day and age, and GenieConnect gives all gathered data to the client at the end of the event. “The user’s contact details aren’t shared. The networking elements are secure,” Benjamin said. “And anyone can opt out. No one will look at your profile if you opt out.” Of course, if a user wants to be part of the event networking, they have to participate. You can’t hide yourself and see others. You [have to] be involved. That’s our policy. If you opt in, you are a part of that. You’re there to make connections.”


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About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox


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