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Why you should use wearable technology for your next event

Technology has been an integral part of events for decades in various forms. Event apps, digital kiosks, even holograms are now commonly used by event planners to enrich the attendees’ experience. Still, some tools can also provide quantitative and qualitative data of unprecedented depth. 

And there is one piece of event technology, in particular, that can give event professionals more insight into attendees’ behavior than any other; we are talking about wearables.

In this article, we will take a deeper dive into the world of wearable technology, how it can help event planners get more actionable data on their attendees’ behavior, and how it can also help exhibitors achieve better results during tradeshows.

What are wearables? 

To put it simply, wearables are pieces of technology worn close to the body. You can now find them in all shapes and forms: fitness trackers, smartwatches, clothing, eyewear, earwear, even tattoos!

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Photo by Quang Tri NGUYEN on Unsplash

The market for wearables has been growing steadily over the past few years, and IDC’s latest research shows that global shipments for wearables grew 9.9% during the third quarter of 2021, reaching 138.4 million units. Leading the way are hearables, accounting for 64.7% of wearable device shipments, followed by wrist-worn devices.

Wristbands, smartwatches, and smart badges are already fairly commonplace for events. In the future, we will likely encounter more wearables in the shape of earwear (for real-time translation), smart glasses (for facial recognition), or clothing (to recharge your phone as you go).

Why should event professionals consider wearables?

People are now quite familiar with fitness trackers and smartwatches. These devices are compelling for their tracking ability during physical activity because they allow for gathering data about the person wearing the device passively. Data is produced through participation in the activity itself, and people don’t need to stop what they’re doing to feed the device information. 

This makes wearables ideal for events, as they allow:

  • Passive, real-time, and automatic collection of data: no need to wait for people to use them (like for event apps), and at the same time, data is collected in real time so that corrective actions can be taken immediately (unlike feedback from a survey, for example). No bias either, like what can be encountered during post-event surveys.
  • Event engagement without distraction: wearables make it easier to have smartphone-like help without reneging on human interaction. They can deliver everything the attendee needs to navigate the event without the distractions brought by smartphone use (like what can happen with event apps, for example). 
  • New, less cumbersome, and more economical opportunities for insights: many areas of an event consume a lot of manpower/time or on-site logistics. Still, they yield minimal benefit (e.g., surveys after an event). Wearables can help in that respect too.

Let’s see in more detail what kind of benefits event planners and exhibitors can get from using wearable technology and the data it collects. 

Why use wearables if you are an event planner?

Goals of event planners when organizing an event

The main goal of event planners is to deliver a successful experience to their attendees while helping sponsors and exhibitors get as much exposure and qualified leads as possible. To achieve that, they need to be able to gather reliable data on attendees’ behavior, if possible in real time, to address any issue on the spot.

Why collect data through wearables?

As we said before, the main advantage of wearables compared to other types of data collection tools (event apps, surveys, check-ins, etc.) is that they don’t require any effort on the attendee’s part. His attention can be kept on the event instead of his smartphone. And the event planner can get real-time data without any delay or bias on the attendee’s part. 

Applications of the data collected through wearables

The data, in turn, can be used for many applications, such as:

  • Guest tracking. By generating footfall heat maps of where the activity is happening at any given time and tracking attendee interactions, event planners can better understand traffic flow and attendee behavior. This can help solve issues in real time and make decisions for future events.
  • Tracking attendance to conferences, sessions, or exhibitors’ booths. Event planners can figure out what worked and what didn’t, which part of the event was the most/least successful. This, in turn, will help inform future event planning and management decisions.
  • Increasing the engagement level. Creating a more memorable experience is crucial to repeat attendance and positive feedback.

Why use wearables if you are an exhibitor?

Goals of exhibitors when attending an event

When they decide to attend an event, exhibitors’ main goal is to make sure their booth is visible to their target to get as many quality leads as possible and maximize their ROI (always tricky to gauge but not impossible). 

Why collect data through wearables?

Exhibiting at an event is an expensive endeavor that takes a lot of time and dedication. Therefore, any information exhibitors can gather on the engagement generated by their booth, the performance of the people they sent to the tradeshow, how long people actually stay in their booth, etc., can help them decide if the event is worth attending. Unlike other data collection methods, wearable technology can help with accurate, real-time data, which in turn can generate better leads.

Applications of the data collected through wearables

Wearables can help exhibitors in different ways:

  • Provide data on the booth and surrounding area traffic. This can help address issues on the spot or provide insight into the performance of the booth’s location.
  • Show how well the booth is performing. Having accurate data on how an exhibitor’s booth compares to its competitors in terms of performance can help inform future decisions.
  • Show the time spent in their booth or on specific activations (such as a product demo). This is a crucial piece of information when you’re trying to make your booth stand out and attract more people to it.
  • Get better leads. Their booth can be suggested to potentially interested attendees. They can be notified when valuable prospects visit their stand or are close by and focus on them instead of other people not part of the target, such as competitors or students.
  • Help create exciting activations to attract more people and build engagement. That’s what the car manufacturer Infinity did during the 2016 Pebble Beach Automotive Week.

In short, if you are an exhibitor and the event organizer offers wearable technology, you should jump on the opportunity to use it!

In conclusion

Event planners’ main goal is to provide the best experience to their attendees. At the same time, they need accurate data that prove to their exhibitors and sponsors that they need to be a part of their events. In addition, exhibitors need the data to calculate their ROI and justify the cost of attending the event by showing they got interesting leads out of it.

As we’ve seen, wearable technology can be a powerful tool to help achieve these goals.

This technology is not going anywhere, so why not use it to become more efficient while giving your clients the best experiential events they have ever been part of?

We can help you choose the best elements for a successful booth. Contact us today if you have a project you would like to talk about!