So we've been working pretty hard on getting our app ready and just to see what kind of response we were going to get in the industry we decided to suitcase it at IMEX.
We didn't really know exactly what IMEX was. I had done some research on it and it seemed like a convention that would be a great place to talk to some professionals about our app. Little did we know, IMEX is the Superbowl of meeting planners. This is a place where visitors bureaus, hotels, resorts, cruises, and event tech companies from around the world get together and do business with meeting planners from across the country. We took a head long plunge in and came out with some deeper understanding of the industry.
Photo: Sue Pelletier
The first day we talked to some of the leading event tech companies in the Tech Pavilion and what we heard a lot of was, "gamification." We wanted to find out more about the gamification process and found that we define as gamification is way different than what the leading companies were thinking. The companies that were there were talking about devices or apps that would encourage more interaction between attendees and exhibitors. These "games" were based on checking in at booths, collecting points for meeting people, etc. I couldn't help thinking that we tried that in the real world with Foursquare and it failed. Do people really want to "check-in" at booths when going to a trade show? Do people really want to compete on how many people they met? How could you participate in something like this without feeling sort of foolish? I couldn't really see the value for the attendee.
We also sat in on a panel moderated by Social Tables' CEO Dan Berger. The topic was how shifting trends will impact meetings and hotels in 2017. We learned what top hotels were thinking of and how they were updating their IT systems to accommodate the changing world. We also learned that people are interested in more interactive events. Events where meals are served family style or where meals are catered to the attendees' personal tastes. Personalizing events for each guest was a theme that came up, and how everyone is a consumer. We tried to find out if planning an event on a mobile platform was something that would be possible in the future, but the answer we got was something to the effect that it wasn't possible. We know this isn't true, but it was interesting to hear it from the leading meeting software CEO.
What we came to realize from our trip to IMEX is that businesses and planners want to use tech in a more meaningful way. They want to use tech in a way to connect and to reach out to clients and to personalize experiences. We see a deep desire for more tech in this industry and can't wait to enter in the field.