As event management software has become more prevalent in today’s business environment, events themselves have been transformed from a game of collecting as many business cards as possible into a venue for making valuable connections. In this edition of 5 Minute Skinny with Sue MacKimmie, she talks with Gigi Gleason, Strategic Program Director at Certain Inc. They discuss the transformation of the events industry and how it has changed with technology. Learn how using technology at your event can build better attendee experiences and provide attendees access to more relevant information.
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Sue: Welcome to Certain’s 5 Minute Skinny where we talk about event technology in today’s business environment. I‘m Sue MacKimmie, your host for this edition of 5 Minute Skinny. Today we are speaking with Gigi Gleason, Strategic Program Manager here at Certain Inc. Welcome Gigi!
Gigi: Glad to be here Sue, thanks for having me!
Sue: So Gigi, in the time you’ve been in the event industry you’ve worked as an event planner, exhibits manager, exhibits sales person, as well as a strategic account manager for our largest clients here at Certain such as Reed Exhibitions; and have you noticed that trade shows were beginning to really lose their impact?
Gigi: They were beginning to really lose their impact. And I think that it had gotten to a very stale environment where there was this game of exchanging swag for business cards. And it is kind of this numbers game like “how many cards can I get”, or “how many swipes can I get”. So those were the metrics that people, exhibitors reported back.
Sue: So that was sort of the return on investment was how big your stack of business cards was?
Gigi: How big is your stack of business cards. Right!
Sue: So then as everything progressed in all areas of the business environment things moved more in to technology and away from collecting a business card and scanning it and swapping it for some swag. So what have you seen because you are a little bit of a technology maven out there, let’s say LinkedIn, you’ve seen a lot and have some definitive ideas, so how do you think technology has really had an impact on tradeshows over the last few years?
Gigi: Well I think the struggle was businesses in general, regardless of which side of the equation you’re on, were really demanding a higher return on investments…
Sue: Because tradeshows are expensive…
Gigi: They are very, very expensive to attend and it’s expensive to exhibit.
Gigi: So people are just demanding a higher return on investment. On the attendee side I don’t want to wander the show floor and chance that I might meet with the right person, with the right company where I can actually talk about business that I actually have to do. On the exhibitors side, you know, all of the hundreds people you might meet, or hundreds of cards you might collect, like hopefully, it’s kind of a needle in a hay stack thing, if you can find the right person you might be able to do business with. So on the technology side people have really started to use event software and personalized events to facilitate one on one appointments directly on the trade show floor where people who want to do business together can meet and actually talk about business.
Sue: So it is a little bit like pre-qualified dating, you both get to look at each other’s sort of profiles, find out what you’re interested in.
Gigi: Exactly, that is a very good way to put it.
Sue: So technology is a little bit of a matchmaker now, sort of finding those algorithms, or maybe make those selections by yourself depending on the information that’s being provided on both sides, right, for let’s say Reed.
Gigi: That’s right; it is really a question of giving attendees and exhibitors access, as you said, to the relevant information. Where do I do business? What products am I interested in and what products do I have to offer; and letting people have kind of an intelligent way to search and find the people who they might want to meet with and select preferences. Here, is in order, the people I want to meet with and here’s the people I want to meet on the other side, and then have all the work done on the back end to go through and match all of those appropriately.
Sue: And if there is any other available spaces, is there potential for self-scheduling?
Gigi: There definitely is, and there is also Self-Scheduled Appointments and the two of those work hand in hand. So you can have the pre scheduled appointments where you have kind of the intelligent matching engine, and that’s kind of doing real work and finding the time slots that work, that is great to build your base, but then to also be able to supplement with the Self-Scheduled Appointments. So maybe I didn’t get to meet you, Sue, and I really want to meet with you. So now I am going to search for a specific time that I can see you, and kind of having both of those together is really, effective and kind of the best of all of the worlds.
Sue: Thank you for the input. That is something I would be interested in as well because it is much more efficient use of time, and quality is much higher like dating. So if you want to find out more about event software and how it can streamline your event management and your event marketing process, please visit us at certain.com and download any of our white papers we do have white paper on attendee engagement or appointment management as well. Please feel free to join me again. I look forward to seeing you here on our podcast 5 Minute Skinny. As always, I am Sue MacKimmie at Certain Inc. Thank you for joining.