Gone are the days of the traditional Woodstock-style music festival. In recent years, festivals and events have become cornerstones for all kinds of unique experiences, and the latest technology has made these events even more memorable for attendees.
One need look no further than southern Ohio to see this in action. In a matter of days, Cincinnati will play host to one of the country's largest light, art, and projection mapping festivals. BLINK will be open to the public for free, giving eventgoers 20 blocks of art displays, as well as food, drinks, and music from more than 30 performers.
To guide the masses through this event, an app was developed pro bono by Rockfish, a division of VML, for both iOS and Android users. The BLINK app provides an extra interactive experience for attendees by notifying them when they're near an installation, providing background information on the pieces of art and their creators, and displaying which installations are trending -- all in real time. As Rockfish Chief Creative Officer Jason Bender puts it, "We've been excited since BLINK's announcement and jumped at the chance to lend our mobile creative and technical expertise to this innovative and audacious idea."
Though not always done for free, the integration of tech in events is now the new frontier. Sixty percent of event planners report that an event app increases guest engagement, and 91 percent of planners have experienced positive ROI when providing an app for an event.
Here are five different ways to bring technology into your event, for the benefit of both your guests and your bottom line:
1. Use RFID wristbands for an interactive guest experience.
Radio-frequency identification, more commonly known as RFID, is now making its way out of the trial phase and into major events. The Bonnaroo and Isle of Wight music festivals saw thousands of attendees using RFID bracelets to make purchases, connect on social media, and purchase virtual tickets. Further, RFID bracelets served as a safety measure by only allowing those with the proper coded bracelets to enter the festivals' grounds and campsite areas.
To announce its take on the superhero classic "The Tick" and cultural sensation "Lore," Amazon Prime Video employed the help of NVE Experience Agency to create a dynamic and interactive experience at Comic-Con International: San Diego and, more recently, New York Comic Con. Both installations integrated RFID technology in a gamified approach, capturing critical consumer data -- such as behavior and change in sentiment -- while enhancing the overall consumer experience and garnering massive media attention.
Given their success, RFID bracelets are becoming more in demand -- 31 percent of attendees want RFID, and 17 percent are now accustomed to the trend. What's more, 20 percent more money, on average, is spent when people wear RFID bracelets, and at the Lollapalooza and CounterPoint 2014 events, RFID bracelets accounted for 33 percent of concession purchases overall.
2. Integrate beacon technology to track the crowd.
"Beacon" is the current buzzword flying around multiple industries, and for good reason -- 80 percent of users have opted in when given the opportunity. Why? Through creating an area barrier around an event known as a geofence, beacons send out messages to attendees about schedules, promotions, and what's happening within reach.
At the 2015 Reeperbahn Festival in Germany, beacons were used to track attendees' locations to display personalized content. Further, Greencopper, the beacon application used, synced with Spotify; over the course of the festival, it racked up more than 360,000 digital streams for the visiting performers.
3. Live-stream main events.
Each festival season, we see social media posts from various concertgoers, but interaction outside the event is minimal. By live-streaming an event, you make it accessible to that many more people -- in turn, creating more buzz.
Thirty percent of people who watch a live stream will attend that same event the following year. You might think this would stall ticket sales, but take Coachella as an example: 2011 was the first year Coachella live-streamed its concert on YouTube, which made the West Coast concert accessible to people across the globe. Its 2011 concert sold out in three days; by contrast, tickets sold out in three hours the following year.
4. Test drive augmented audio.
Debuting at Coachella 2016 was the Here Active Listening System, the brainchild of Goldenvoice and Doppler Labs. The relatively discreet wireless "Here Buds" allow the wearer to adjust the audio of the concert he's watching in real time -- including turning down the bass and turning up the treble.
A review by Jordan Crook on TechCrunch highlighted the earbuds' best feature: no lag. The audio adjustment is instant, adding to the overall experience of a concert or, as Crook pointed out, a New York City subway ride.
5. Utilize drone accessories.
Though a drone wristband isn't as vital as sunblock at an outdoor event, it's on its way to receiving a place on the festival necessity list. Technology company Nixie has created a pocket-sized drone to help record video, take photos, and even help people find their friends in a sea of festivalgoers.
Though it's not out just yet, Nixie's wearable drone will no doubt sweep the internet's review sites and Millennials' social platforms. The brand is also looking to displace the word "selfie" with the fresher "nixie." Can the social media world handle another buzzword? Only time will tell.
Technology has long been a way of life, and the sooner you embrace it, the further ahead of the curve you'll be. Just remember that any technology you incorporate into your event should work for you, not vice versa. Using the technology that both you and your audience already enjoy will create a truly authentic and innovative experience.