I've been in the Event Tech industry some eight years now. I use the term ‘tech’ a little loosely, as when first entered the industry people had just realised that printing tickets on-site was more efficient (and of course significantly cheaper) than sending out thousands of pre-printed tickets through Royal Mail. That was about as good as it got.
Anyway, I have seen many changes over the years. There have been some outstanding innovations, some of which become commercial success stories and many never see the light of day. That’s just the way it is. However, I am really proud to be associated with an industry that simply keeps going for it with boundary breaking, passionate energy!
It feels like there has been some important news in recent months and I wanted to offer my observations:
If this term means nothing to you, then I advise you ask someone to drill some holes on the side of the bucket your head is in. This is big and can not be ignored.
In the world we live in right now and the way we all behave digitally, the existing DPA (data protection act) just doesn’t cut it. GDPR is designed to build upon that regulation and specifically targets the handling of personal data and will come into force on May 25th 2018.
Of course this is a double edge sword. As suppliers, it means another problem to solve, but we're also all consumers ourselves, so it should benefit us widely when we are on the other side of the coin.
I am not actually going to go into any detail in this blog, as I just googled GDPR and got over 6.5 million hits, but at Glisser we recently held a GDPR event which we live streamed, also our good friends and Noodle Live have a straight to the point blog. Overall though, understand your requirements and build your plan soon... this will come round faster than you expect.
Apple White Label Apps
During a speaking session over the summer, Apple slipped in a remark about the App Store, using the term “App Store Cleanup”. They have decided to start rejecting loosely called 'White Labelled' apps: new apps that share a code base or template with others.
The intention here is to keep the variety of product offering high and the volume of same/very similar apps down. I mean who needs seven variations of Flappy Birds anyway.
"Who cares?" everyone cried, until we started to understand some of the implications.
Exhibition/conference industry apps, like it or not, all follow a fairly standard format. Therefore supporting technology is similar. An app will have speaker bios, sessions, agendas, maps etc. - you get the point. So providers, to keep costs down, would often simply repurpose their existing code (sorry devs, I know it’s actually a lot harder than that), fill it with content, fully brand it up and boom! A shiny new app and a new app store listing.
Apple, now says no, and from what I hear apps are getting rejected all the time. I do not think Apple was having a dig at the event industry, but we've all been caught in the changes.
So what now? A few things are already happening. You will hear the term ‘Container App’, because this is an obvious way to get around the new rules. Think of the EventBrite app: you have a single app on your phone that will ‘contain’ (see what I did there), all the events you choose to attend. Each one of these events will have its own branding and feature set. This will allow you to de-clutter the sheer volume of apps on your phone.
Of course, bear in mind, competition is the key to progression, so attendees will probably need to download separate container apps for each of the usual candidates: Crowd Compass (Cvent), DoubleDutch, QuickMobile, etc. unless one winner emerges!
There are other options. My old friends at Eventbase offer truly bespoke apps as well as container apps for specific clients (large enterprise with many annual events). Secondly, this is only an Apple ruling so does not apply to Android. You can carry on as usual there, but it would be odd to have a different user experience on Apple versus Android.
Finally, and most significantly... Web Apps!
These are web-based apps where you are not required to actually download anything. Instead, you simply go to a webpage/URL and it works. Here at Glisser we use this method and get fantastic results. With Wi-Fi and 4G/LTE improvements, it's very rare now can you not find a connection. They are untouched by Apple, so offer fully branded experiences with innovativefeatures, and so may be a better option moving forward?
If you an Apple user you might have recently updated your operating system to iOS 11. There are a bunch of the usual updates: UI, storage, Siri. Most of these updates give you a good impression of where Apple will be taking their new products and features.
Two noticeable updates that will affect the event industry are:
Indoor Mapping: They've incorporated detailed maps of hundreds of shopping malls and airports. Although not there yet, the thought of being able to have accurate mapping of exhibition halls and conference centres is intriguing.
NFC: Near Field Communication (like your Oyster Card) has been available for a while on Android and has very obvious event benefits: access control, information collection, contact exchange etc.
Our friends at Noodle Live and Poken have been pushing this for a while. However, you couldn't use with Apple phone apps, and with such market strength it has suppressed the usage. Well now you can! Although iPhone 6+ has some of the right parts the news is iPhone 7 onwards will have the best experience. I absolutely expect most new event apps to incorporate NFC in one way or another moving forward.
As the season pushes on and our schedules continue to burst at the seams, don’t forget to make time to keep advised, meet suppliers and stay on top of your game.
Imex America: If you lucky enough to get to Vegas October 10 to 12, come and checkout Glisser on Booth G659 part of the Event Tech Tribe. Imex needs no introduction and remains a great platform for the global event industry to get together.
Event Tech Live: Takes place on Thursday 9 November at The Old Truman Brewery, London. Everyone’s friend, Adan Parry, and his gang should not disappoint. This niche event is all about tech for events, including a healthy selection of sessions. Glisser is an event partner and we're at Booth #502
See you at an event soon!