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What Can Sports Event Professionals Learn from Convention Trends?

17 Jun, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher

At first glance, sports event owners and business convention planners don’t seem to have much in common. But take a closer look and you find the common denominators: in planning their events, both sides want to maximize economic impact, increase attendance, gain publicity and with any luck, set the stage for repeat visits.

So when the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC) takes a survey to learn the “top ten tech trends” that are influencing meetings and events, it’s a sure bet that at least some of those will apply to sports event planners as well.

According to Successful Meetings, influencers included the following:

Millennials: Sure, the demographic is young, but they’re savvy. "More fluent in technology, this new generation is addicted to social media, is even more environmentally conscious than their predecessors, the Gen Xers, and has high expectations of connectivity, interactivity, and the ability to influence and engage in dialogue," IACC reports. "They know how to seek out free wi-fi, and as they enter the workplace and start attending meetings, they expect wi-fi to always be free and fast."

The takeaway for sports events: These are athletes in up-and-coming sports like triathlon, obstacle racing, fitness competitions and more. Others have children on youth sports teams. Obviously, they want venues with connectivity. Is there an app for your event? It might be time to investigate this option. In addition, promote any sustainable initiatives your event is taking part in and forego the tchotchkes in favor of one good souvenir that will come in handy – a sweat-wicking T-shirt, for example.

Wireless Charging: "Just when venues think their under-counter box of chargers is current and complete, technology moves on and we get closer to a single standard for wireless charging technology, after years of competing standards," IACC advises. "Currently pushing for a single standard, QI Consortium boasts wireless charging points in 3,000 hotels. With large-scale furniture makers such as IKEA installing standardized wireless charging into tables and desks they sell, the writing is on the wall for meeting venues to incorporate wireless charging points into bar tops, meeting room tables and guest rooms."

Sports event planners, take note: Ask about this when negotiating a hotel contract. In a case where several properties seem equal, this technology just might move one hotel into the frontrunner spot as your headquarters property.

Virtual Attendance: "There are times when it's just not possible to get everybody in the same place at the same time. Conference venues understand this and are making the virtual attendee experience much better," IACC says. "How? Venues are developing meeting rooms with multiple ceiling-mounted microphones, high-bandwidth connectivity and advanced software solutions to provide seamless integration into the meeting for virtual attendees, faculty, and guest speakers. Additionally, there is an increase in clients wanting to capture video to send to another physical location, where a second group of participants is gathered."

What sports events can use here: Increasingly, recording and streaming technologies are available in sports venues as well as convention centers. Don’t miss the chance to allow relatives at home to view events.

Drones: "We have seen a dramatic rise in the use of drones in extreme sports -- and now conference organizers are using this affordable technology to capture creative event photos and map out the venue for GPS integrated conferences," IACC reports.

What you can use as a sports professional: Drones are coming down in price and many businesses are making the investment. Investigate whether a local photography studio is able to use this technology to capture aerial photos of your event.

Streetview Technology: "The trend toward part-time meeting planners who are not full-time professional planners, but may be an executive assistant, marketing coordinator, human resource professional, or department head, is on the increase. Today's meeting planner, therefore, expects and requires more from their venue partners, in terms of evaluating venues' capabilities to support their meeting or event," IACC reports. "When a planner cannot conduct an in-person venue inspection, technology is fast evolving using the Google Street View concept to provide valuable virtual venue tours, multiple room images showing different meeting layouts, and even property video footage."

Event owners should know: Nothing can take the place of actually walking through a potential venue, but this can help narrow the field.

Online Procurement: "More and more clients are using the web as their primary tool for making purchasing decisions. One IACC venue recently reported 70 percent of all new business comes via online search activities and they expect that number to grow," IACC concludes. "The venues that will be the most successful in capturing this business will have websites that serve not only as marketing brochures, but as the primary tool for their clients to plan, book, purchase, and engage with them for their next meeting."

Note to the sports event planning demographic: Nothing here you don’t know, but again, when time is a valuable commodity, it’s good to be able to use the tools at hand to refine your search.

The full article, including other technology trends affecting more business meeting-oriented events, is available here.

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