Innovation in visitor experience
Blog Events Innovation

Innovation in visitor experience

Hendrik-Jan Griffioen
Monday, 15 April 2019

How to make visitors content while collecting important data

Making the orientation, registration process, visit and follow-up communication more user-friendly and effective helps visitors experience an event as more valuable. It also provides important information for organisers. This applies to both business and public events. Which tools are available to you as an organiser, and how do you extract the interesting information from them?

Since the summer of 2018, my work at the RAI has focused entirely on innovation. This includes things like developing new tools to ensure a better experience for visitors. We’re starting with our own titles first: we’ll explore the possibilities, then select the best tools for each event and refine them in practice. We’ll be pleased to make these tools available to organisers once they’re ready.

Innovation focused on the visitor experience
Every innovation process starts with studying visitors. What do they want? What annoys them? What makes them happy? What are they missing? A good tool for this is an analysis of the customer journey – the steps that visitors go through from orientation to the period following an event. Where in this journey can you better meet their needs? Once you have these insights, you can choose which tool to use. While you can develop this tool entirely in-house, it is often possible to adapt existing ones to your needs. Examples of tools that demonstrably add value include:

1. A chatbot that facilitates registration for an event.
2. A good exhibition app which makes a visit more pleasant and efficient.
3. A matchmaking platform to facilitate the making of contacts during and after the exhibition.

Filling in fields, ticking boxes: many visitors find the registration process a hassle. A chatbot can make things much faster and more user-friendly. It helps guide visitors smoothly through the relevant questions, sparing them irrelevant ones. To learn more about preferences, a chatbot can ask follow-up questions to the submitted answers. Asking open questions in a friendly way can open the door to a wealth of extra information – we’re often surprised by the replies people give. The last question refers users to the exhibition app, where they can store their tickets and prepare for the exhibition. There are a range of chatbots available in the market, and they can of course be programmed to suit each event.

Exhibition app
Most exhibition nowadays, including the RAI’s own titles, have an app. We’ve developed a number of exhibition apps over the years and have gained lots of experience through them. A quality app should include at least the possibility to store the entry ticket, a clear map and information about the programme and exhibitors. We work with Google Maps, which provides an overlay that we can combine with our own map, making it easier for people to find their way around. Targeted suggestions can be made to visitors based on their profile data and indicated preferences.

Although every app is unique, there is a clear distinction between business and public exhibitions. The 'fun' element is often more important in the latter. At the Huishoudbeurs, for example, visitors can win products via the app and collect them from exhibitors. During business events, the emphasis is much more on efficient time use, and the app plays an important role in finding your way to the right company quickly. In this context, matchmaking is a crucial component.

Business visitors find good matchmaking opportunities an important bonus. After all, a significant part of the value of visiting a trade exhibition is meeting the right people and expanding networks. Meeting entirely new people is often seen as a particular challenge.

The matchmaking process can start as early as the registration if a visitor is interested (the chatbot can find this out). Based on the profile data and indicated preferences, you can suggest visits to specific exhibitors or even facilitate making appointments between visitors. You can also use the app to support matchmaking during the exhibition visit, for example by reminding visitors of upcoming appointments or the presence of interesting people, or by suggesting a route.

Combination is king
The greatest value lies in the combination of these three types of tools: user-friendly gathering of user data with the chatbot in advance, organising matchmaking based on that data, and supporting the visit with the app during the exhibition. This makes the visitor customer journey more pleasant and their visit more useful. Exhibitors can also meet other interested visitors more easily.

The big bonus: data!
In addition to these major benefits, there is another key bonus for you as an organiser: using the various tools enables you to gather a huge amount of relevant data. This starts with precise profile data and user preferences. Next, the matchmaking process tells you about the exhibitors in which the visitor is interested. Finally, the use of the exhibition app gives you lots of data about the behaviour of visitors during the exhibition itself. Naturally, it’s important to remember to handle all this data carefully, with due observance of privacy rules.

Such information can help you as an organiser make your event even better and ensure that your marketing is even more effective. You can also provide some of the data to exhibitors, who can use it to follow up and make their next participation more efficient. It can also enable them to determine with greater precision what they’ve gained from taking part in the exhibition. This brings us another step closer to concrete ROI figures.

What can you do with this?
So, let’s pause for thought: are you making good use of the available technology?
- Do you still use registration forms? How user-friendly are they? Do they provide sufficient information? Might a chatbot improve the process?
- Are you using an exhibition app? Is it sufficiently user-friendly or is there room for improvement?
- Do you offer matchmaking services? Can you improve on them?

Have a talk with your suppliers and your venue on what they have to offer and how this can help you support visitors. We’d gladly tell you more about our experiences with the different tools and how we can help with the analysis of the data you gather. Feel free to contact us so we can share our knowledge.