Last week brought us to London, where Troxy hosted the fifth edition of Event Technology Awards. Shortlisted for two categories (Best New Technology Start-Up and Best use of Wireless Technology) we had the pleasure of meeting #eventprofs from all over the world. The impressive Art Deco venue, that first opened its doors before the second world war, welcomed hundreds of professionals eager to see which were the winners of the 29 categories. We live in a world where technology is omnipresent and the event industry couldn’t be any different, so we are happy to see that more and more #eventprofs use cutting-edge tech to offer their attendees an unforgettable experience. From tickets to polls and cashless payments, every interaction benefits from the support of technology.
It was a joy meeting so many people driven by passion and to see that they like to party as hard as they love to work. It was a fun night and we’re looking forward to next year’s event where we hope to meet again with our new (and old) friends. And to take home at least one prize, of course.
If volunteering can change the world than I think it’s safe to say that volunteers can change your event. My colleagues and I saw many events were volunteers’ contribution was so important that I don’t really know if those events could have been possible without their help. And this is perfectly normal – large events (especially festivals, exhibitions, and conferences) mean large crowds so any extra help is greatly cherished. There are many reasons for which people volunteer at events and there are many reasons for event planners to reach out to volunteers. But for this to work you, the event planner, should:
Find out where you need help
Before you contact volunteers you must know what you actually need them for, meaning you will need to evaluate your needs for personnel. Find out which departments would need some extra help: marketing and communications, sales, technic department etc. so you know who to look for. People like volunteering but they also like to know what they are volunteering for and it wouldn’t do you any good to look for someone to help with registration when you actually lack a sound technician.
My biggest problem when growing up was that I always waited until the last minute when I wanted/needed something. And, as life taught me (the hard way, how else?!), things tend to get rough when time isn’t on your side.
Spread the news that you are looking for volunteers early on otherwise you can you can find yourself in the unpleasant situation of not having enough personnel on site.
Define your expectations
If you don’t know where you’re going how will you know when you get to the destination? Things aren’t very different if we speak of a new task or project: if you don’t know what you want to achieve how will you know if you did a good job? Things are even more unclear for volunteers, so you will need to explain to them what should be the end result of their work. It’s easier to evaluate your work when you have some clear goals.
P.s. this doesn’t mean that you must micromanage your volunteers, don’t get me wrong
Don’t “save” obnoxious tasks for volunteers
You and your team should act like leaders and don’t use volunteers for the jobs that nobody wants, instead offer them the chance to do something meaningful. This way you can count on their help for your next events (and will be able to add some experienced people to your team).
Form groups and offer training
After everybody has chosen a role it’s time for you to host a training for the whole team.
I saw that, generally, things work great when you create mixed workgroups (volunteers + team members) and offer the same “training” for all. Encourage socialization between your team and volunteers because, after all, you are all in the same boat, so you need to act like one big team.
Before your event starts “walk” everybody through the whole process at least once, so they all get the big picture. Seeing how a rather tiny role in the process actually helps things move forward will make everyone more enthusiastic about their role in the event.
Praise volunteers for their hard work
“How you feel is often more important than what you earn”. We tend to value words of appreciation more than we value financial rewards, studies reveal. But if you think that words of appreciation are so used so often that they start to lose their value…think again.Genuine words of appreciation are rare and hard to forget, so are able to make you really known and appreciated within the community of volunteers.
…and don’t forget that VOLUNTEERS ARE PART OF YOUR TEAM.
“That glorious vision of doing good is so often the sanguine mirage of so many good minds.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
What is the connection between attending conferences and one of the most appreciated novels ever written? Talking to a friend about Dickens’s novel I realized that I have my own personal story about two cities (better said about the people that live in those two cities). Two cities that, on the same day, will host two great events which Oveit proudly supports. On the 25th of October, Gary Vaynerchuk and Steve Wozniak, 5500 miles apart, will help thousands of people find the courage to follow their dreams. And being involved in both events made me realize that, no matter the culture we belong to, when it comes to conferences we all have the same reasons for which attend them (and, more or less, the same expectations). In my personal experience, I noticed that people attend conferences for:
The chance of meeting their idols
As kids, most of us have athletes, movie stars or singers as idols. As we grow up and see the world from a different perspective we start to appreciate more the people who invested their time and energy to really make a difference. And some of the today’s leaders are entrepreneurs that influenced the world: Bill Gates, Gary Vaynerchuk, Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and many more. It’s reasonable to say that people will go the extra mile to meet their idols, so having a well-known leader on your speakers’ list will generate more interest for your event.
People attend conferences for networking
Conferences offer great networking opportunities, and many attend them just to find themselves surrounded by people with similar interests. A great way to encourage people to attend your conferences is to communicate the demographics of your past audiences (or if this is the first edition to make it clear to whom you address your conference). People hope to meet new customers, partners or even mentors at a conference, so let them know that this is possible.
Event badges will work as “icebreakers” within events, this is why we developed an app that allows #eventprofs print beautiful personalized badges – on the spot!
Hearing new ideas
If you think that the internet is full of new ideas…you’re right. But I can bet that every speaker has some great ideas that he keeps for special occasions, and speaking in front of hundreds (or even thousands) really sounds like special. Not to mention that the emotion of hearing it LIVE from your idol will make it very hard not to apply it; so conferences also work great in those moments when we lack not ideas but the motivation to apply them.
Investing in themselves
The only 100% secure investment is the one made in yourself. Today, more than ever, we live in a world where everything is possible and knowledge can break any barrier. Education offers us the chance of a better life (and the possibility to make the world a better place) and the Internet offers the opportunity of showing the world what we are capable of – with just a few clicks. People attend conferences because they see them as a great investment in themselves and self-investment is the key that will open any closed door. Create your event around powerful new information and your target audience will want to attend it.
These are some of the main reasons for which people attend conferences. But it’s important to remember that the overall experience will determine if people will come to your future events or not.
Apart from some cultural differences (that we all should accept and appreciate) we all want the same things when planning to attend a conference: to buy tickets with fewer clicks (remember that any extra step is a barrier that your possible attendee needs to overcome); to avoid queueing (cashless payments systems based on NFC really changed waiting times at big events; innovation (technology makes it easier for you to engage your attendees, making them feel important and appreciated – which they are); valuable information – the main reason for which people will attend your conference.
We love AI here at Oveit. We see great potential in using Artificial Intelligence to solve real-world problems. That’s why we have set up a special program for AI event organizers (basically free Oveit usage for AI events).
But we went a little further. We wanted to know what makes a great AI event great. So our data science team did a little data digging and here’s what we found:
AI is already a global phenomenon. AI events are popping all over the world
We used Facebook’s events API to search for the most popular AI events and the things we’ve found are astonishing. You would expect AI events to show up in hi-tech areas, and they do. But they also show up in parts of the world where you would really not expect.
For example, the data gathered between the 10th and 14th of September shows the most popular AI event was hosted in Lima, Peru, followed by an event in Vilnius, Lithuania. And this brings us to our …
Top 10 most popular AI events
We selected the most interesting AI events and decided to see which is more popular, in terms of people attending.
9. Startup Weekend Artificial Intelligence Mexico City, organized by TechStars’ Startup Weekend community. You will notice that this is not the only Startup Weekend entry in this list which goes to show just how influential TechStars is in the growing AI startups community.
8. The Artificial Intelligence Conference SF, organized by O’Reilly Media. An awesome line up of AI scientists, startup owners, and VC’s. This conference is the perfect mashup of technology, science, and startups, in the best spot on the planet for innovation to develop: San Francisco.
7. Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is an event organized by the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at Cambridge. Yes, you’ve read that right: Study of Existential Risk. The topics are covered by Max Erik Tegmark, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute.
Now, this is where things get really interesting. The Future of Life Institute was co-founded by prof. Max Erik Tegmark. However, the institute lists among its scientific advisory board some well-known people: Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Stuard Russell and yes… that is right: Morgan Freeman and Alan Alda. Definitely worth attending.
6. Bayesian Networks—Artificial Intelligence for Research was an event organized in San Francisco by the great people at BayesiaLab. The free seminar focused on using bayesian networks for aspects where data is scarce. Unlike Deep Learning and other machine learning techniques, bayesian networks can work great with “Small(er) Data”. It seems the event caught the attention of its intended audience: Bioinformaticians, biostatisticians, clinical scientists, computer scientists, data scientists, decision scientists, demographers, ecologists, econometricians, economists, epidemiologists, knowledge managers, management scientists, market researchers, marketing scientists, operations research analysts, policy analysts, predictive modelers, research investigators, risk managers, social scientists, statisticians, plus students and teachers of related fields.
5. Scientific Controversies No. 12: Artificial Intelligence was hosted by Pioneer Works, ‘a cultural center dedicated to experimentation, education, and production across disciplines’, in Brooklyn, US. The topics discussed were machine consciousness, willfulness and whether when such aspects arise would we be able to understand the newly silicon sentient beings. Pioneer Works Director of Sciences Janna Levin invited Yann LeCun, Director of AI research at Facebook and NYU professor, and Max Tegmark, Director of the Future of Life Institute and MIT professor to discuss these topics.
4. Startup Weekend Montreal – Artificial Intelligence – a Startup Weekend / Techstars event that gathers the AI focused community in Montreal. As stated by the event organizers: “Startup Weekend is a 54-hour competition designed to provide an amazing experiential learning opportunity for AI enthusiasts, developers, designers, and business-minded individuals to come together to create a business.”
3. LDN Talks The Future of Artificial Intelligence, hosted by Prof. Nick Jennings, Vice-Provost (Research) and Professor of Artificial Intelligence at Imperial College London. The event tackled the topic of computers and humans working together, especially now as computers are able to manage ever more complex tasks, due to new advancements in AI and hardware.
So you’ve seen the hottest events right now. But how about the topics discussed within these events? Well, we did a little more research and searched for the hot buzzwords and the most interesting topics discussed. Here’s what we’ve found:
The most important topics discussed within AI events:
expert knowledge modeling
And if you want to see the distribution in a graphic format, have a look below:
As for the most popular words, here they are:
We really hope you’ve enjoyed this post and if you find it easier, add a comment below on another type of events you might want to get new insights on.
Fresh starts can be fun, but challenging. Somehow, as we get older, we tend to lose some of the power that always kept us exploring as children. But changes may occur in life and passions must be followed. And if you find yourself in front of a fresh new start as an event planner here are some tips we gathered from our #eventprofs friends.
Love what you do
I know that this sounds ideal (maybe almost utopic) but this should be a universal rule. In life, you should always take the path that makes you happy because, as you will discover, the path itself is more important than the destination. This rule is even more important for event planners: your job is to create meaningful events that bring joy and is hard to do this if you hate your job. There will be many weekends away from your loved ones and many long days (and short nights). It will be almost impossible to succeed in this field if you don’t really love what you do.
Market research is important
Enthusiasm is essential, but it’s not enough. If you want to make it (in the long term) you should always be informed; like my grandpa used to say…you shouldn’t be the smartest person in the room, but the most informed one. This piece of advice seems to suit the event management scene, one where a misplanned action can have extreme effects on fresh professionals. Research to see when is the best time to schedule your event (maybe there already are some famed events in the period you first selected, so you should reschedule it) or maybe there is a lot of interest for a subject but no conferences in your city on that subject; keep your eyes (and mind) open and you will see both the opportunities and the threats that can affect your business.
Don’t stay behind
In the event management scene, the attendee’s experience is the only thing that really counts. If you don’t create blissful moments your event management business won’t last. See what guests tend to appreciate, but also what ruins their mood. Innovate. One thing that we all hate, and I’m sure that you will agree with me, is queueing; so use a cashless payment system. Use NFC for interactive screens and access credentials. We all like tech innovations: involve your sponsors and use AR for brand activations.
Cash flow counts (a lot!)
Money: a delicate yet crucial subject. I wrote a while ago an article about how a smart access management tool can help you with your cash flow. Besides using a tool that doesn’t block your cash until after the event it’s also incredibly important to save money for “darker days”; or unexpected opportunities.
Promote your business
I think that we all have heard that “if you are good enough clients will come”. But let’s face it, bills come much faster. And although marketing is not your first priority it shouldn’t be ignored as it can make or break your business. The good news is that you don’t need to invest o fortune in your marketing strategy. We’ve written about Twitter, Long Tail Keywords, Snapchat vs Instagram, Email marketing. Read our articles and learn how to promote your business with a decent investment.
Take baby steps
Most of us want to grow our businesses into giants that will change the world, but unnatural growth can sabotage us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim for more, but you must be honest with yourself. If you just planned you first one day conference, coordinating a small crew, maybe a 5-day music festival is a little big for your next assignment. Take it step by step and one day you will be able to organize any kind of event.
Learn from others
There are experienced event planners out there eager to teach you the “do’s and don’ts”. And although it’s hard to learn from anything else but your own mistakes, it’s always good to have someone you can ask what to do when things get rough. Having a mentor is a great way to start a business because you can add some experience right from the start.
Use your curiosity and try to learn from the best, see what they are doing. Go to their events, feel what every attendee feels, and use that information to create unforgettable experiences at your own events.
It’s not easy to be an event professional, that’s obvious. Planning and setting up an event will force you to challenge tasks that seem almost Sisyphean. But the end result is so uplifting, full of emotion, and will make you realize that bringing joy into people’s lives in priceless.