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Everything is digital! But what about on-ground events?


Everything is digital! But what about on-ground events?

By Jo Webber, commercial director at GES Middle East, full-service events and exhibitions provider

The world is undergoing a radical change, and digitization is becoming a part of our everyday lives. With most industries adapting to market trends, the events sector has been quick to respond as well. The advances in technology have not only replaced conventional paper-based systems but are creating huge improvements in the event industry.

However, event digitization is not the traditional brick and mortar model. It’s more than data storage, dispatching friendly emails or executing social media campaigns. Digitization is full of unlocked potential, making it easier for brands to attract attention and arouse interest from event attendees, which ultimately instills brand recognition and awareness. It is a great opportunity for interaction, engagement, and participation. It’s a way to streamline operations, facilitate connections among attendees and focus on visitor experiences, which help drive interaction and behavior at events.

An example of this would be smart exhibition technologies, which offer measurement and lead generation tools that give visitors a digital briefcase enabling them to be in control of the information they would like to receive via a simple touch of their smart badge, collecting and emailing relevant content.

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There are several ways to integrate digital transformation into an event – whether by the dematerialization of tickets, the creation of a website for an event or using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Artificial Intelligence

AI has played a major role in this year’s events, and its dominance will continue well into the coming years. By 2025 there will be 40 billion smart devices and 86 percent of global companies will adopt AI, according to a report by Huawei. Intelligent industries will create a digital economy worth $23 trillion. The smart robot Sophia is an exemplary model of AI, which has been used immersively across the event industry. From being a panel member to a presenter, and a delegate, Sophia has gained a remarkable reputation as an AI discovery.


Implementation of Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is another form of digitization, which provides both qualitative and quantitative data analysis. In addition to speeding up registration time, incorporating RFID technology into events allow attendees to become more engaged with the event.

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For example, an event could use several touch points with a rewards-based system, encouraging participants to visit each touch point spread across different stations and a leaderboard to keep score. This fun idea adds healthy competition, motivates participants to visit different locations within the event and tracks all activities providing the organizer with invaluable insight. RFID technology can also be tailored for a more bespoke experience based on preference through an RFID LED wall with different touch points leading to personalized messaging and comprehensive reporting on the backend.


Another digitized option is gamification, which is aligned with the event’s key messaging to deliver high-quality content, good networking opportunities and promote interactivity for engaging and activating the audience.

Additionally, smart devices as NFC or beacon technologies facilitate customer mapping and allow attendees to network, share information and participate in surveys. This allows event planners to learn from every single visitor interaction, identify areas for improvement and maintain a continuous dialogue with target attendees.

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Audio-visual forms of technology such as video walls, Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs), projection mapping and live streaming are other forms of digitization at events that can help create greater engagement with your audience. Not only do these new-age digitized forms provide more engaging content, but also facilitate interactive opportunities, make a great first impression and provide an efficient way to communicate with your audience.

In short, digitization in the events industry is a powerful tool for delivering key messaging.

With the constant evolution we are facing, it is essential that companies’ best leverage innovative technologies to keep up with the trend of exhibiting. While changing from conventional methods to new-age digitized mechanisms can be scary, it is important not to rush things and gradually move towards these new technologies.

In the UAE, digitization has gained a strong foothold, particularly with government-backed initiatives to encourage the use of technology. The introduction of UAE’s Vision 2021 and Smart City initiative combines the pace and state of digital advancement to improve the economies and make our lives better.

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