Most of us think about technology on a mostly two-dimensional plane as we flick our way from screen to screen on touch glass. But today’s tech includes applications that are far from flat, says major-events expert Ann Windham.
“What if you could control all primary aspects of major events like tradeshows, big weddings, and awards ceremonies through your iPad or smartphone; imagine shutting everything down at the end of a long and exhausting night by pushing one button on your phone—that’s just some of what’s possible with today’s software,” says Ann Windham, president and CEO of Imagine Xhibits, Inc., (imaginexhibits.com/events).
Lights, climate control, projectors and monitors, curtains, fountains, and much more can be controlled with an app, and the data you take away from tradeshows can be used to quickly follow up on sales leads, she says.
Windham shares three of her favorite new technologies:
- Pre-show – Event Management Software: This one-stop source for managing every detail about your event—from Fed Ex tracking numbers to vendor contact information to photos from the show—even allows you to manage multiple events from any location. “In the past, we carried all the details for each show in one huge binder. If you were at a show in Texas and someone called with a question about the show in Oregon, you wouldn’t have that information handy,” Windham says. Event management software relies on cloud storage, so members of your team can access it from their smart phone or iPad no matter where they are. Another benefit: You’ve got just one place to input all that data.
- During the show – Remote Sensors: Sensors built into the walls of an exhibit allow you to control all the electronics from your smart phone or iPad. Not only does it save time, it’s an easy way to add valuable theatrics during a demonstration. “Say you’re standing at the back of the room and you realize the speaker can’t be heard; you just turn up the volume on his mic, right from your iPad,” Windham says. “Or, if you want to create special effects using lighting and room temperature, you can dim the lighting and drop the temperature.” Her favorite feature? At the end of a long day, rather than walking from one device to the next, shutting off each, you press just one button and turn everything off while walking out the door.
- Post-show – Sales Leads Follow-up: Seventy percent of exhibitors who capture sales leads at trade shows don’t collect qualifying information, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR).Scanners collect only the most basic data from visitors to each booth—there’s no way of knowing whether they were a “hot” lead ready to buy, or someone who stopped by for the free T-shirt, Windham says. Now, however, event management software allows exhibitors to include qualifying information every time a visitor’s badge is scanned. “At the end of the event, you can quickly see who your hottest leads were and send them an email or postcard before you’ve even left the event,” Windham says.
For planners who’ve been hamstrung by personnel cutbacks in recent years, these new tools are lifesavers, she says. “The days of ‘The Jetsons’ has arrived.”
Ann Windham is the president and CEO of Imagine Xhibits, Inc., a full-service tradeshow marketing company that offers custom design exhibits using modular components. Windham’s company offers customers more than 50 percent savings on operating expenses; expert face-to-face marketing consultants that will work to increase ROI with four-step marketing; quarterly seminars offering continuous education by certified trainers; in-house design services for custom structures, graphic design and brand development; turn-key services and exhibit management program for all logistical needs; and a one-stop shop for meeting planning, promotional products, collateral web-site and more.