So in The Art of Check-in, I touched on tech at events and promised to get back to it in another post. Well, that is has turned into two. A discussion of the Hybrid Approach and Full Tech Approach.
With all the different ways tech is apart of my everyday life some think I would be gung-Ho for a fully computerized event. But I'm not.
Take for instance the event that Danico provided registration and check-out services for on March 15. The event was for The Bridge Youth and Family Services, it was their annual gala. For this event the Hybrid Approach was used for the the guest check-in, donation entry, auction tracking, and guest check-out. The evening was structured in a way where except of a few guests who needed or wanted to leave before check-out officially opened, that by the time things wrapped up from a program perspective and moved to more entertainment, everything was entered and ready for the guests.
One thing that sticks out in my mind, is the people socializing and enjoying each other’s company. They were not crowded around or looking at leaderboard monitors. They were not checking their phones or other electronic devices to see if they’d been outbid, nor watching for text messages to let them know their proxy bid had expired. They were present, in the moment, laughing, talking, and engaging with each other, the environment and the cause that brought them to the event in the first place.
In the past year or so, I’ve been working through the questions of how much tech to use with clients who are interested in streamlining the guest and event management processes. They see the bidding devices at larger events and maybe even received information from some of the companies that specialize in them. In addition to the cost for the service itself, there is the people power needed for guest/bidder help and being able to bid for those who either don’t want to use their device or don’t have one to use (some people turn theirs off for the evening).
While it is true that a team is needed for the manual recording and tracking of auction bids, to answer guest questions and collect funds, volunteers are often used as helpers/monitors for guests looking to make a bid. These volunteers may prefer not to be called upon when it comes tech stuff. Picking up and delivering a paper bid sheet is far different from tinkering with an electronic device.
So with all of that would, I use more tech at events? Sure. I think in certain situations, it works, and works beautifully. Large events with thousands of people, hundreds of items come to mind as places technology can really improve the tracking, collecting, bidding, etc. Meetings and conventions are great examples where more technology fits. Streamlining the release of information packets and slides for the main presentation and break-out sessions with technology not only makes sense but it saves on paper, ink and other resources.
That being said, my favorite type of event is the small-to-med nonprofit fundraiser. While their budget may not allow for the soup-to-nuts technology packages, they do benefit from adding in technology. This group tends to like to give tech a break for a few hours and catch up with friends/acquaintances that they may not have seen since the last event.
The Hybrid Approach, still leverages technology for the heavy lifting coupled with a team that is not connected with the organization, which allows the staff, volunteers and guests to enjoy the festivities. Is the Hybrid Approach for you?
For organizations where the budget for pulling together the event is small, the guest and event management line items may be close to zero. The Hybrid Approach tends to be more budget-friendly with the merging of low-tech and high-tech solutions. Other times, a Full Tech Approach is considered to yield a greater reward and budgets adjusted to accommodate the additional costs.
Many of the tools have been designed to be user-friendly and device agnostic. You’ve heard the phrase about being all things to all people, right? You have to look at the 80/20 rule. Are most of the guests attending pretty nimble with their devices? Most companies that offer event technology solutions, mine included, offer “helpers” but if 80% of your guests will need help then that may affect your budget and overall positive guest experience.
Many organizations use some sort of volunteer and/or event management system in-house already, aside from spreadsheets. Depending on the package, there may be an add-on that can be used for guest management. There may be licensing and learning curves to deal with that have to be weighted against going with a separate solution. With many of the event clients we have, we use a separate system that has import and export functionality, eliminating the need for a huge learning curve.
Different from years ago or even last year, many venues have beefed up their internet service and are making it available at no-cost with rental. There may be a password that will need to be shared with guests to access which helps to keep traffic low and fast. Your event technology solution partner will check the speed and strength well before the event.
Depending on the type of organization, the volunteers may be all over social media, tweeting, texting and posting from their devices which means they most likely have the skills needed to assist at your event. They will need to be trained ahead of time on the specific software being used the night of the event. If possible, have volunteers that use a range of devices. Having all iOS, all Android or all Windows device users means someone may not receive help.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. When deciding on the best event technology solution for your next event, find a partner to work through the details to select the solution that best fits your event needs.
Got a question about using The Hybrid Approach for your next event? Drop me a line.
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