Event attendees to face biometric monitoring at future events

Future of C&E

Airport-style body scanners and real-time biometric monitoring for security and feedback will become a familiar sight for event delegates and attendees in the future, according to new research by QHotels.

QHotels commissioned expert futurist, Dr Ian Pearson, to lead a workshop with QHotels' Young Event Profs Panel, to examine the key factors that will shape the C&E industry in the next five years.

The panel identified that changes in methods of travel, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), new ways of making payments and an emphasis on the importance of maintaining personal face-to-face relationships will be key trends impacting on event attendees in the coming years.

The conclusions were reached after panel members were asked to complete a series of exercises to investigate what effects changes to population and demographics, technology, future living, transport and home and togetherness, would have on the industry and event attendees over the coming years.

The key findings included:

Security at events will become significantly tighter and data-driven

With fears over safety, event attendees are likely to face biometric authentication tests to confirm their identities, including airport-style body scanners, facial recognition software and retina and fingerprint scanning, when registering at events. They may also be required to have their movements tracked while at events.

In addition to physical security, attendees will be handing over greater amounts of personal information to venues, AV providers, software and app providers and other event professionals, raising concerns over data security and how that information is stored.

Real-time biometric monitoring will allow for instant feedback

Real-time biometric monitoring of brainwaves, or via iris/retina scanning, will allow for instantaneous feedback on an attendee's enjoyment and engagement levels while at an event. This will allow organisers and event presenters to make live changes to content and even itineraries, in order to improve the overall experience and make events more personal and rewarding. 

Travel to and from events will change

Improvements in public transportation and a drop in vehicle ownership, as the sharing economy continues to develop and cars become self-driving, will mean that transport to and from events will need to be included in event costs. There is also likely to be an increase in the sharing of transport by attendees and even dedicated event transport.

Payments

While we are already getting used to contactless payment, this will continue to evolve and ultimately won't require the need to carry any additional technology or device. Wearable and implanted technology, including epidermal electronics such as skin chips are likely to play a role by allowing gesture-related payments such as handshakes. This will make it far quicker and easier to make purchases at events, offering a wider range of sales opportunities for organisers.

More likely to attend personal events than work-related events

Technology and specifically VR/AR will reduce the need for smaller meetings and specific training events. However, they won't change the need for face-to-face meetings.

Personal celebrations and events will remain largely unaffected, but attendees will find that work events they do attend will be more focused on developing personal relationships and interpersonal skills, and establishing business culture, rather than technical skills and learning.

QHotels' Director of Marketing, Claire Rowland, said: "Conferences and events have remained largely unchanged in their format for many years. Whilst a number of the trends we have identified are already beginning to influence the industry such as VR/AR and contactless payments, it's fair to say that someone who was attending events 20 years ago would recognise the conferences of today.

"However, that is now likely to change within the next few years. New security measures will make registrations unrecognisable and the adoption of technology, which allows for real-time feedback, means that events can change and adapt as they are happening to create unique experiences for each attendee.

"The changes taking place are focused on providing better and more personal event experiences, but they require attendees to allow greater access to their personal information than ever before, which might be a concern for some. It's important that venues and organisers are aware of these potential trends and work together to make sure attendees are aware of what they may mean."

Dr Ian Pearson added: "We're all used to technology playing an increasing role in our lives and, in most cases, we appreciate the greater convenience and security that it provides us, such as fingerprint scanning on mobile phones and banking apps. However, people might not be aware of what this technology is actually capable of.

"In looking at the conference and events industry we wanted to look beyond 2017 into some of the likely applications for technology, but also what effect that might have on the sort of events people would be attending or whether they would be attending events at all. There will always be a need for people to gather together, but the reasons for being there and how they get there look like they could change significantly." 

View the full infographic here. 

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