Category

Event Trends

Empathy, Emotion and Technology with Purpose…For the Win!

By | Audience Engagement, Audience Response, Brand Experience, Breakout Sessions, Design Thinking, Education, Engagement, Event highlights, Event Trends, Exhibits, Expo, Freeman Face to Face blog, Hot Technology, News, Photos, Scenic Design, Video walls

A Look at the 2019 Edition of South by Southwest in Austin, Texas

When people hear South By Southwest mentioned, they typically think of the music festival founded in 1987, however over its 30+ years, it has grown to encompass many more attractions than just the grass-roots music festival that it was once intended to be. Also known as “South By,” SXSW now includes an interactive media conference, a huge variety of education sessions and music, gaming and film festivals. Lasting for almost 3 weeks, South By sees nearly 80,000 people attend the various conferences and festivals, also bringing nearly $350 million dollars of economic impact to Austin, Texas.

Several members of our Freeman AV Canada team traveled down to Austin, Texas in March to see what South By had to offer, and here are some key things that stood out!

Focused on Improving the Attendee Experience

As conventions and festivals grow in size they often develop a detached feeling for the individual attendee, and rightfully so; how do you create an individual and personal experience for each person when dealing with 80,000+ attendees?

South By has employed several empathy tactics to help connect with attendees on a personal level. Creating spaces such as a Wellness Areas, focusing on attendee’s safety through the use of holding graphics in sessions and implementing live breakout room capacity monitoring via public boards and the conference app are all fantastic ways to show your attendees that you really are thinking about their experience.

The Future Understands You 

Several major technology players including LG and Sony were showcasing futuristic concepts that can actually understand what you are feeling. Whether it is small robots that greet you while reading your facial expressions to understand your needs, or a mini robot dog that can really tug on our need for companionship and do it strategically 😉, it’s all exciting to us! Then we got thinking, and these questions arose:

  • What will this mean for events of the future?
  • Will we have event signage that customizes messages based on your feelings and needs?
  • Will we have event experiences that change based on the collective heart rate of the audience?
  • Can you imagine the possibilities?

Let us know how you see this fitting into your event!

Something For Everyone 

South By can certainly say they have something for everyone, with nearly 300 sessions per day, variety is in no short supply. Fortunately, the conference app allows you to search by things like interests to help focus on what applies directly to you. Smart event planning also meant that most sessions in the same track resided in the same or adjacent venues. This allowed you to maximize your time especially when sessions are held in basically every venue in the city. Some of the key tracks that our team focused on where: Cities, Government & Politics, Coding & Development, Design, Experiential Storytelling, Food, Game Design & Development, Intelligent Future, Social & Global Impact, Tech Industry & Enterprise, Touring & Live Experience and VR/AR/MR.

Standing Out – Brands Creating Their Own Spaces

Major brands are always looking for that way to make them stand out from the crowd. Over the last several years the tool for this has been activations, and South By was no exception to this. From shipping container structures, to bars completely transformed into a brand experience space – these installations truly do provide a unique personalized experience that focus directly on the brands defining traits and characteristics.

Some highlights for our team were the Dell installation at a bar across the street from the Austin Convention Centre, featuring an outdoor main stage and an indoor Dell feature tour showcasing some of their key technologies.

LG also made a big splash at South By, but perhaps we won’t see the ripple from the splash for a few years as their activation was VERY future focused. Robots that know your feelings, roll-up LED displays, ice cream/frozen yogurt capsule machines and even capsule based home breweries; LG certainly took us for a quick ride in a time machine to the maybe not so distant future. We even noticed several brands create impactful, personal activations right in the convention space and we see this as a great opportunity for a lot of our corporate clients looking to get a personalized message across to their attendees in a more personalized manner than typical plenary setups can offer.

DELL Technologies Activation

LG Electronics Activation

The common threads of Empathy, Emotion, Personalized Experience and Technology with a Purpose were evident in all aspects of this show. What can you do to create a more personalized experience within your next event? Understanding who comes to your event and why they are there are key factors to help you tailor your event to meet your attendees needs and wants. Taking the time to plan out the details, brainstorm them with your colleagues and/or industry partners will help you focus on what’s important. Creating those personalized experiences provides better value and meaningful interactions from live events for your attendees. So we ask you, “are you helping connect people in meaningful ways?”

Author
Brian Johnston
Freeman Audio Visual Canada
National Director, Creative Innovation

CES 2019 Trends and Innovative Tech

By | Audience Engagement, Audience Response, Audio, Brand Experience, Creative Services, Design Thinking, Digital Signage, Education, Engagement, Event Trends, Exhibits, Expo, Industry News, News, Product Review, Touchscreens, Trade Shows

CES 2019 Trends and Innovative Tech

By Victor Paan

National Director, Digital Innovation

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) provided a scope and scale of technology that had a common thread. Ai and 5G provided the foundation that powers smarter TVs, smarter homes, smarter cities, and the vehicles that will navigate them. The future is here. Below are a few of the biggest trends we noticed at this year’s CES.

Screens: Flat, Roll-up and Holographic Displays

A few of the trends we observed when it came to screens included the roll-up OLED screen that, not unlike Saran Wrap, rolls up and back into a long rectangular box. Its pure futuristic eye candy design holds promise for live event activations as it’s space efficient, easily portable, and overall awe inspiring technology.

Mostly every brand that offers flat panel displays on the show floor featured 8K LED screens. These screens have beautiful detail and colour that would allow PIPs over High Res backgrounds to be displayed at a high resolution, whether 4K content or HD 1080 content.

Although not something that is defined as a ‘screen’, HYPERVSN’s 3D Holographic Display System provided a wow-factor via their new LED rotor units.  Upgraded in size and framerate, the new units are breathtaking and provide an extremely crisp hologram.  A showstopper.  Along with a new customer portal to easily turn 2D content into 3D content for these displays, makes jumping onboard with this technology an easy uptake.

Headset advancements and eye tracking

A much subdued presence at CES this year.  Some headset advancements of note are to do with ocular tracking.  The HTC Vive Pro Eye adds eye tracking that allows users to control in-game experiences using eye-movements.  This also allows developers to track what users are attracted to and spending time looking at within an experience, providing user data that can enhance future development of products/designs through the VR tech.

To take this further, the company responsible for developing the aforementioned eye tracking, Tobii allows for this type of eye movement capture for any digital assets seen on a screen.  Stakeholders can obtain data on user’s habits as to what they focus on during a browse of a soon-to-be-launched website or service.

Compounding this, and providing a use case for the events industry, is the ability for individuals to wear glasses that track what an attendee’s eyes are drawn to while, say, walking an exhibit floor or a creative staging setup.  This data can provide insights towards best practices on brand and design elements; honing the process in how designers deliver on realized projects.

Ai (and the IoT) in action!

If VR & AR were the buzzwords of recent years past, Ai was the newly crowned monarch of CES 2019.  Everything from TVs that ascertain what you are watching and adjust picture and sound settings to match the experience, to smart home appliances powered by your favourite voice assistant that communicate and learn together, Ai was everywhere.  The real shift in the idea of what Ai means to the masses is that no longer are we expected to adapt to the technology, rather, the technology is shifting to a model that adapts itself to each of us and the context of our experiences.

Robotics, from a concierge standpoint, remained stagnant for the most part.  Designs felt either overly stylized (read ‘cute’) or were downright creepy. The rush towards 5G connectivity is absolutely being driven by the onset of Ai and the Internet of Things.  All of this connectivity will only benefit from the accelerated speeds and bandwidth of 5G… which is really what the hype is all about; more things online, faster!

Author
Victor Paan
Freeman Audio Visual Canada
Director of Digital Services

Victor Paan is Director of Digital Services for Freeman Audio Visual Canada. Since joining Freeman in 2002, Victor has worked diligently for his clients, advancing his career from a delivery technician role to his current position as the Director of Digital Services. In this capacity, he draws on his technical and sales experience to support Freeman’s teams and clients in integrating state-of-the-art event solutions that will transform, grow, and extend the world of live engagements.

7 Popular Event Trends We Saw This Summer

By | Audience Engagement, Brand Experience, Engagement, Event Trends, Freeman Audio Visual Employees, Industry News, LED Technology, Lighting, Live Social Media Wall, Media Event Staging, Meeting Planners, Meeting Professionals International, News, Quotes, Room Décor, Scenic Design, Social Media, Staging, Tools & Tips

One part of the hysteria surrounding summer is the excitement that comes with its sun-soaked events – low necklines and cold drinks, dancing outside, and enjoying the hazy days of summer with friends and family.

Everything is better in the summer heat, and every year, event planners aim to make their event the talk of the season. The summer represents a great opportunity to stage an event, with it being one of the most lucrative seasons for professional event planners.

Event attendees – especially those who are accustomed to high-budget corporate events – won’t be wooed by the same gimmicks as last year. It may come as a surprise to those who aren’t in the business of planning amazing events, but there are trends that are ushered in each summer that can take an event from same-old to never-be-the-same-again.

It’s all about differentiation and making your event stand out in the minds of your guests. It’s about finding ways to bring people together, fostering connections, and making everything a bit more efficient to set-up and tear down. Here are seven summer event trends we’ve seen this summer that take events to the next level and impress guests with thoughtful ingenuity.

  1. Technology (Apps, Live Streaming, Live SM Interaction)

It’s hardly news at this point; people are plugged in. Over 90% of North Americans own smartphones and are on them for multiple hours a day. It’s the perfect opportunity to connect with guests and have them put their cell phones to good use.

Specialized event apps are amazing for large events that span a day or more, especially when multiple locations, speakers, and itineraries are involved. For a sprawling corporate event with several types of speakers and seminars, it can help to have an app developed that is specific to your event for widespread download.

Encourage your guests to live tweet and post with personalized event hashtags. Modern weddings often combine the last names of the spouses-to-be, allowing everyone who posts to look up each other’s photos and moments easily. Live streaming your event will let those who couldn’t be there feel included. It’s an extension of hospitality that will truly add a caring and trendy touch.

  1. Drone Videos

We all know someone with a drone, and they’re amazing for capturing aerial video. If your summer event is being held in a beautiful outdoor space, capture its magnificence with drone video. You’ll get a beautiful perspective you never thought you’d see, and it makes for great content in a post-event video for attendees to look back on after your event is over.

  1. Non-Traditional Spaces

Barns, warehouses, factories; don’t limit yourself to traditional event venues. Non-traditional spaces offer different pricing than conference centres or banquet halls, have enormous capacity, and have interesting interior elements. Exposed bricks, metal beams, thirty-foot ceilings – your guests will be wowed by your event as soon as they arrive.

  1. Memorable Bars

One of the best parts of any event is the food and beverage. Go the extra mile and create a memorable bar setting. Great drinks are a given, but the bar area itself is a spot where people gather, laugh a little harder, and find the courage to connect with strangers. Up your hosting game from a traditional bar to make your guests feel like they’re at a truly all-out event.

  1. Food Trends on Point

Next to the drinks is the food. If you have mediocre food, often that’s what people will remember about your event. Amazing food will have your guests on cloud nine, pleasing their inner foodies and appreciating your attention to culinary detail.

Donut walls and live cooking are two food trends that are catching on. People also appreciate plant-based, healthy options as more and more folks develop open minds to different diet preferences.

  1. Bring the Dancers

It isn’t a party until there’s dancing! Exploring entertaining with acrobatic tricks and aerial arts, it’s like having a free show alongside your gathering. Your guests will feel so much more inspired to dance when they see the professionals joyously busting out their moves.

  1. Bold Yet Classic Colours

2018 has been a year of experimentation as well as a year of returning to traditional roots, and colour and design schemes are reflecting this. The need to be modern has fallen away and classically beautiful colour combinations are proving to be classics for a reason. It’s always a good thing to give your colour scheme a slight edge, a personal touch that reflects you.

Author
Summer Filippopoulos
Freeman Audio Visual Canada, Sales Manager

Innovations from Freeman Audio Visual Canada Creative Services: Colour Motion

By | Creative Services, Event Trends, Hot Technology

Freeman Audio Visual Canada’s Creative Services department is always looking for new ways to be innovative. Colour Motion was custom designed by the team using Pandora’s Box, a camera, a custom table, LED lighting fixtures, and a bit of programming.

“In our ongoing research in interactive technology, this is just one example of how we’ve been able to input information from some kind of sensor, and then use that information in real-time to change other elements that could be used as part of a stage setup,” explained Derek Anderson, Director of Freeman Audio Visual Canada Digital Services.

“In this case, the input was colour information from a simple webcam that was translated into the required commands, and then fed into standard lighting fixtures that changed to match the colour.”

This kind of technology allows for on-the-fly changes to occur at an event that do not have to be scripted, hence producing authentic interaction with what is taking place on stage.

“The inputs can pretty much be anything you can measure,” added Anderson, “This could be color, as seen in this video, physical position of an object or a person, arm gestures, etc. The options are endless.”

Predictions About Future Conferences And Shifting Attendance

By | Event Trends, Industry News, Interesting Articles

*La version française suit le message anglais.

Seasoned meetings industry professional Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President, Education & Engagement, Velvet Chainsaw, recently made 15 predictions about the future conferences and shifting attendance that you’ll want to know about. Click here to discover his industry forecasts.

 

 

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Aperçu et tendances ayant une incidence sur les engagements personnalisés

Un professionnel chevronné de l’industrie des congrès, Jeff Hurt, vice-président directeur, Formation et Engagement chez Velvet Chainsaw, a récemment fait 15 prédictions à propos des conférences du futur et les tendances en participation dont vous voudrez prendre connaissance. Cliquez pour découvrir ses prédictions sur l’industrie.

FORBES: How To Make Branded Experiences Rock And Then Go Viral

By | Audience Engagement, Brand Experience, Event Trends, Freeman, Freeman Face to Face blog, ROI

Is Brand Experience the New Media Darling of the Marketing Mix?

Published by Chris Cavanaugh, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Freeman | Source: Freeman Face to Face blog

Today’s brands must engage and inspire to accelerate business results.

Earlier this week, the Exhibitions Mean Business campaign took to Capitol Hill for Exhibitions Day to help lawmakers understand why a thriving exhibitions and events industry is good for everyone. Last month, researchers at Ad Age noted in a recent report that overall promotion, events and experiential agency revenue is growing at a greater rate than advertising, PR, and media. Forbes writer Allen Adamson explains that “experiential branding has always been a part of the marketing toolbox, a promotional activity meant to encourage interaction with and immersion in a brand.”

Brand experience is hot right now, and why not? Nothing engages audiences like integrated brand experiences.

Adamson writes that when done right, a brand experience “helps people connect with a brand on a much more personal level than mass media allows, and generates a deeper feeling of emotional engagement, leaving a positive and lasting impression.” Why is that? Because when you boil it all down, whether B2B or B2C, the audience of our marketing efforts is comprised of people – real people who want to connect with like-minded individuals, inspire and be inspired, and experience something incredible. Adamson goes on to say, “Done really right, it gets people to share their experience, tell their version of the brand story, extending reach and awareness of the brand to a broader audience free of charge.” He refers to this viral impact as the Holy Grail and offers three rules for successful experiential branding: do something extraordinary; link to your brand’s core identity; and attract the right audience. These rules are spot on. Everything in the marketing mix must be rooted in your overarching business and marketing strategy and derived from your audience needs. In our oversaturated modern way of life, it takes something truly extraordinary, executed flawlessly, to cut through the clutter.

If I may, I would add another rule. Brand experiences must also accelerate business results and must be designed in a way to do so. Smart marketers are aligning their marketing portfolios and event portfolios on moving the business forward. To do this, a measurement and data collection plan must be in place, which is where the intersection of live events and digital technology is so exciting. As more event and audience engagement technologies emerge, we have more and more opportunities to collect data to give our audiences what they want and need, and ultimately accelerate business results, shorten sales cycles, and improve ROI.

Steal This Idea: How Top Brands Maximize Event ROI with Social Marketing

By | Audience Engagement, Event Trends, FreemanXP, Interesting Articles, ROI

katheine-zimoulis

By Katherine Zimoulis, Director, Marketing, FreemanXP

New data—Using social media marketing to amplify events

We have long advocated for the idea that live events and social engagement combined can be transformative for a brand or organization.

Social engagement is the secret sauce that makes everything stickier. Engagement, brand affinity, and amplification increase, helping to secure and strengthen the relationship with attendees and extending the brand experience beyond the four walls of an event to a larger audience—ultimately maximizing your event ROI big-time. To help prove this, we partnered with the Event Marketing Institute to develop research and survey a cohort of the world’s top brand marketers. We wanted to find out what works for them when it comes to social media marketing for events.

Here’s what we learned:

Growing Pains: The data doesn’t lie! 70 percent of brand marketers agree that viral efforts and social engagement are very important for events. They “get” the importance of creating memorable moments that can be shared across social channels. Yet only 16 percent say they are “very effective” at generating viral impact from their event, and only 21 percent feel they are “effective.”

Insider tip: Want to know what works when it comes to social strategy for events?

Click here to read more!

Events in Our Cities

By | Event highlights, Event Trends, Travel and Tourism

 

We’re back with a quick guide to some events happening this winter in some of our favourite cities! While the winter months may not be cold for everyone, the countdown to summer seems to be forever on our minds. Distract yourself with some fun events in your own city, or take a weekend getaway to a neighbouring town. The cold doesn’t have to keep you indoors this winter. Check out the list below and have snow much fun!

Woman staring at ice sculpture

New Orleans, Louisiana:
You’ve probably guessed it! One of the most notorious events is happening in February this year in New Orleans – Mardi Gras! A festival that has really put New Orleans on the map, this outrageous event will be sure to have you planning annual trips. The parade starts on January 31st and goes until Mardi Gras day which is February 15th this year. There are a plethora of events leading up to Mardi Gras, as well as tons of dazzling parties after the parade. Grab a bejewelled mask, have a king cake, and let the good times roll! Check out this guide to help you get up to speed with the local jargon.

Mardi Gras Celebration

Hamilton, Ontario:
Winterfest is hitting the Hammer this February! Come check out some frosty delights from February 7th to 16th and enjoy winter like never before. Promoting community cohesiveness and support of local talent, hibernation isn’t a term known to Hamiltonians. Some highlights from this weeklong celebration include the Waterfront Festival of Lights, Darkroom Workshops, Knitting and Crocheting for Charity, a Winter Beard Competition, and much more! If you’ve never been to Hamilton before, now is the perfect time to go and see the city in full stride.

Blue Christmas Ornament

Prince George, British Columbia:

The 2015 Winter Games are coming to Prince George in British Columbia! Running from February 13th to March 1st, these Canadian Winter games are all about embracing the cold weather and getting outside to enjoy sports such as skiing, curling, and biathlon! So if you love sports and you love Canadian winters, gather around to watch Canada’s champions achieve their personal best and provide the most memorable Winter Games yet!

Quebec City, Quebec:

For over 60 years, the Quebec Winter Carnival or Carnaval de Quebec has provided a celebration of the winter months, with fun events to get you through those winter blues. From February 3 – 15 attend events such as snow sculpture competitions, flapjack breakfasts, and tour Bonhomme’s Ice Palace! There’s plenty to do to keep the chill away in Quebec!

You must be busy filling in your calendar now – winter has a whole new outlook. Enjoy these events, and if you’re planning your own event, contact us for audiovisual information and quotations.