Today almost every business is almost part of the world can now agree on one thing: the trends, plans and predictions for 2020 are probably redundant now.
When this article was commissioned, some trends on the horizon included the future of Augmented Reality (AR) and the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI). Machine learning and facial recognition were gaining ground. Robots were part of the forecast.
The global pandemic of COVID-19 changed everything, including meetings and events. It cancelled international summits, transformed lavish live networking and grounded business class flights and executive travel.
In its place is the rise of the virtual environment and deeper questions around health and safety. As lockdown start to lift in parts of the world, new regulatory queries arise around social distancing protocol in conferences and venues. The fabric of meeting design is adapting through an inevitable shift in protocol and technology.
So, what are we learning from this moment in history? How are meetings and business events adapting to these extraordinary times? What changes? And what could be here to stay?
New trend 1: A culture of deep clean and disinfection
From limo companies to conference rooms, cleaning technology and protocol is on the horizon. This includes electrostatic technology and full scale disinfection installations. AsiaWorld-Expo (AWE) was the first event venue and exhibition to deploy an advanced disinfection installation and air purification technology known as CLeanTech. This utilises BioEm Air Sanitising and Purifying technology, Aegis Intelligence and negative room pressure.
Other venues such as the Marriot International are partnering with electrostatic disinfecting companies to offer machine cleaning of objects and surfaces with electrostatic energy. As the lockdown starts to lift, some brands such as Lysol and Clorox 360 are partnering with hotel chains to create hygiene practices that could pave the way back to physical conferences and events.
Said Loy Joon How, general manager of Impact Exhibitions Management, which manages the massive Impact Muang Thong Thani event complex in Bangkok, “Clients will now expect higher standards of hygiene and disinfection processes, and we as a venue should rightfully comply in the interest of safety hygiene,” he said, adding that a venue’s hygiene standards have always been a key criteria for clients deciding on which venue to use.
New trend 2: Delegate health detection through thermal imaging technology
When physical events do commence again, how will organisers reassure delegates? Samsung showcased a new technology, mentioned in a recent Forbes article at one of its latest San Francisco events.
It was early in the outbreak and they used high-resolution thermal cameras as a fever screening system to scan conference attendees. Anyone running a temperature was asked to undergo additional screening.
Thermal imaging technology is one of the newest trends being used during the pandemic, both to help safeguard the public and the events industry itself. Depending on the technology it can scan between 30 and hundreds of attendees at once from a distance of nine metres with an accuracy of within 0.3+C.
Said Kashif Din of One World Rental, “Thermal imaging technology are one of our biggest new product requests. We invested in it because of client interest and right now the industry and attendees benefit from additional screening precautions and the peace of mind that comes with technological vigilance.”
New trend 3: Contactless payment and registration as standard
Contactless registration was in full swing prior to COVID-19, but expect it as standard. In an article in The New York Times, Brian King of Marriott International discussed the transformation to digital technology necessitated by distancing measures. “In the new world, contactless check-in and registration is now the new norm,” he says. “Technology is going to be the lead player in this drama.”
New Trend 4: Hand Sanitising Stations with Digital Signage
With good hand hygiene being one of the best safeguards against COVID-19, the message of good hand hygiene cannot be stressed often enough. Digital signage that reminds people to wash their hands regularly and utilise sanitising stations is likely to be here to stay.
“Even dispensers for soap and hand sanitizers need to be touchless to prevent the spreading of germs,” says Nancy Sutta Berns, a senior program manager for Conference Management Services, which produces scientific conferences. “Those things need to be automatic, not pump bottles.”
Contactless sanitising kiosks with digital signage are one example of this- which distribute hand sanitiser and digital messaging- technology that markets and can communicate best practice for event hygiene, as well as additional promotional messaging.
Ideal places for such sanitation dispensers are in high traffic areas in businesses, such as toilets, lobbies and dining areas. Entrances and exits of buildings are other areas where machines may be useful to ensure elimination of bacteria and germs as employees enter and exit buildings. These sanitising kiosks are helpful in any public space where groups of people gather and germs may transmit from one person to another.
New trend 5: The undisputed arrival of virtual events
A fully integrated event management software platform is one the predicted trends for 2020 that has held true more than ever. Virtual events have come of age in this crisis – and companies such as Zoom, Webex, and Remo are responding.
Digital platforms in 2020 may offer a combination of Augmented and Virtual Reality. AI which offers chatbots, facial recognition, voice translations in real time and more personalized newsletters.
The best platforms will combine a range of functionality including information about the content and speakers, sponsors and exhibitors. They will require technology to create an attendee database prior to the event, through marketing tools to reach clients and potential leads, and registration functionality once those leads are reached. And no event would be complete without the analytic tools to measure its success.
Throughout a number of changes to event technology trends, the drive is the same, to bring people together in a way that is safe, responsible and enriching.
To find out more, visit One World Rental's website here.