Autonomous Events? What Tech Developments Mean for Event Marketers


Autonomous Events? What Tech Developments Mean for Event Marketers

Melissa Spitz Feinman

It's a bit ironic that the largest collection of digital technology is displayed in a traditional trade show setup at CES each year. It's proof that as technology advances, robots become more human, and the most talked about innovation is AI that can't be seen, it takes a human touch to put together the right display to market these products.

I believe that events can never be autonomous -- it takes a skilled planner to understand every nuanced detail and decision that goes into producing a well-developed event, and adapt quickly when it doesn't go as planned. However, there is an opportunity to look at the technology on display for consumers and executives at CES and make it a part of the event marketer's toolkit.

Here are a few products from CES that should be considered by event marketers.

Technology that makes connectivity easier.

The number one question I hear from attendees is “where can I charge my tablet, computer, smart watch?” Gone are the days when event attendees can be offline. It seems like an easy problem to solve, but thinking through where power can be dropped, where the cords can be hidden but the charger accessible is sometimes a lot of extra work for a problem that seems so simple. Enter Wi-Charge, a beautiful, sleek-looking ceiling light that delivers power over long distances using infrared. Through the company’s multiple types of transmitters and receivers it charges wearables, phones and other devices. The technology is not there yet -- there are extreme limitations to the numbers of devices that can receive a charge (for example, each light can only host 1-4 devices depending on the application), and their three different products are currently in beta, but I’ll be watching Wi-Charge to solve my power access problem in the future.

Technology that moves attendees more efficiently.

Another pain point when planning an event is thinking about how to move attendees throughout a venue or experience, whether it’s for check-in at the entrance, or around a city to get to a multi-venue conference (like CES). With ridesharing companies like Lyft test piloting autonomous cars and partnering with Aptiv, we could see autonomous vehicles efficiently moving attendees in the near future. This could mean easier access to cars or easier ways to track pickup and drop-offs when it’s crucial to be on schedule.

Technology that keeps attendee data safe.

Wifi hacking is a real vulnerability at conferences and should always be part of risk management planning for events. Products like the Bitdefender box, a cybersecurity box made for at-home use, can potentially be brought into event environments to protect attendees from phishing attacks and encrypt their data.

Technology that makes us more global.

According to Ethnologue, there are over 7,000 languages in the world. Given this statistic, it’s more than likely that you’ll have to solve for at least two at your next event. Travis the Translator is not the first of its kind on the market, but it might be one of the easiest to use, putting the ability to seamlessly translate 80 languages right in your pocket. Say goodbye to booking that professional translator.

Technology that saves money.

Consider this all-too-common planner problem: once a wine bottle has been opened, at most venues, the planner has to pay for the entire bottle. Even if just a few drops were used to top off a glass. This leads to inflated bar bills and lots of waste.Coravin, named a 2018 CES Innovation Award Honoree, is solving this problem with their wine opener, a system that pushes a thin needle through the wine’s cork vs removing the entire cork from the bottle. This allows the cork to naturally reseal and protect the integrity of the wine for (potentially) years, at least long enough to reuse at your event’s next cocktail reception. The product has had some troubles in the past, but winning a CES innovation award shows that Coravin is ready for prime time.

There's a quote from Jeff Hurt (EVP, Education & Engagement, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting) that has stuck with me since last year's PCMA Convening Leaders. When talking about innovation, he said: "you need to know the why before the what". I completely agree, but if CES is any indicator of how technology is going to change the event industry, the what is pretty amazing.

To download our Digitas Top 10 Toys and Trends from CES 2018, click here: 


Melissa Spitz Feinman

Melissa Spitz Feinman

VP/Director, Corporate Communications - Events Management Lead


Technologies at CES Hasten the Merger of Sales & Marketing