As COVID-19 related restrictions persist, marketers have turned to hybrid events. While a few are using AI and immersive technologies to personalize event experiences, they have barely scratched the surface. Event marketers should leverage technologies and connected devices to deliver memorable experiences to customers where they are writes, Tara Kelly, CEO, SPLICE Software.
Everything is interconnected. It is not just the phone in your pocket, which is much more than just a phone. It is a home assistant that lets you control your TV, thermostat, security system, lights, and sound system with your voice. Your refrigerator is smart too, and maybe your microwave is even ready to prepare popcorn when you say the word.
If you combine their power, the connected devices in our homes can produce a truly immersive experience. In some cases, they literally control the atmospherics. But marketers have barely scratched the surface of using these devices to create memorable events.
As pandemic restrictions persist, marketers have turned to hybrid events. Some use big data and AI to personalize event experiences with support chatbots and custom schedules. Virtual reality allows event attendees to bridge the physical-digital divide. But there is much more marketers can do to create an immersive in-home (or in-office) experience. The creative possibilities are almost limitless.
Thinking Beyond the Zoom Room
In this interconnected environment, there is no excuse for holding another boring Zoom room event, and some event marketers are proving that point with extremely creative thinking. Big tech brands held live events at a distance last year, incorporating virtual reality components to put attendees in the middle of the action. A hotel in Vienna turned its courtyard into a concert venue, transforming overlooking rooms into safe, private spaces guests can book for a unique live music experience.
Verizon stepped up with a reimagined concert series, launching an all-female lineup for virtual concerts staged in multiple cities. The events featured VIP options, including virtual backstage meet-and-greet access for loyalty program members. Whether for business or recreation, for marketers, the goal is a virtual event that grounds attendees in the experience and delivers it seamlessly and securely.
5G capabilities are another avenue marketers can take to deliver a full, immersive experience at a distance. Much of the hype around the 5G rollout in North America has focused on potential security risks. Governments blacklisted certain companies that produce 5G gear, including Huawei. This led The Verge to ask a panel of experts whether products from the Chinese multinational pose a security threat.
One panelist noted the difficulty of conducting an audit to ensure that “a chip with millions of embedded transistors or software with millions of lines of code does only what consumers know and consent to it doing.” That is a great point that brings up two issues. First, we should focus as much on new technologies’ potential for good as we do on potential risks. Second, it is a reminder that immersive experiences require customer consent.
Dual-Use Devices Can Deliver the Experiences We Crave Now
Imagine signing up for a virtual live music event using your smart speaker at home. When it is time for the concert to start, the event producer turns on your TV, dims the lights in your house, and adjusts your sound system. Of course, they have to get your permission to control your devices, but if the event producer makes the experience exciting enough, you will gladly provide consent.
That is the mindset event marketers should cultivate now as they think about all the dual-use devices living in their customers’ homes: what kind of experiences can we deliver with customers’ permission? These new possibilities should inspire fresh thinking about using technology to interact with customers in the most intimate of settings — at home.
And now is the time to proactively obtain and effectively manage customer consent and permissions. With luck, the pandemic will be contained in the coming months, and we can look forward to live, in-person events relatively soon. But do not expect virtual events to go away. As a more affordable alternative to conferences and customer outreach events, they are here to stay.
It is an opportunity for marketers to create compelling experiences for customers wherever they are. The interconnectedness already exists, so it is up to marketers to develop an amazing concept, obtain customer permission and execute flawlessly to deliver value. When the time comes, dim the lights, and adjust the sound. With customer permission, you can even tell the microwave to start the popcorn.