How can you apply digitalisation and the metaverse in your events?
Although digitalisation in the MICE industry has accelerated in recent years, you may still have doubts about how you can apply digital tools and the metaverse to your events. At IFEMA MADRID, digital transformation has been taking shape for some time now and different ideas (digital platforms, immersive technologies...) have already been applied in many events and trade fairs. HELIXA is the ecosystem that IFEMA MADRID has activated with the aim of accompanying the business and professional communities as a whole on the path towards the new technological-immersive economy. Raúl Calleja, Director of Digitalisation and Business Diversification at the Madrid institution, gives us some keys.
What to consider before digitising an event
Without a doubt, the toughest months of the pandemic have been a period of learning and acceleration of both digitisation and technomarketing. "It is a big mistake to think that digitising an event is simply broadcasting it via streaming or organising events via videoconferencing platforms. It has become clear that the user experience in the physical environment has nothing to do with the digital experience, the user profile is very different, the KPIs are specific, and engagement has nothing to do with it. That's why the value proposition, the content, the functionalities, the journey, the objectives have to be specific, but complementary, and therefore a different experience has to be designed for a physical event and a digital and hybrid event". We must apply and exploit our expertise in event organisation and the traditional business model to amplify, export and enrich the ´Event` concept in the digital and technological environment. We must demand the same industry professionalisation from ourselves by expanding our profession to new channels.
Platforms are a good complement to face-to-face event or trade show services
In 2021, IFEMA MADRID professional trade fairs amplified their capacity to generate netwoking, offer exclusive content and valuable information, and other specific functionalities using a digital platform, giving access to 117,000 users/participants and 7,989 exhibiting companies. Nowadays, these platforms are fundamental in enriching the value proposition of the face-to-face trade fair thanks to all their functionalities such as intelligent programme and agenda, exhibitor directory, matchmaking and networking solutions, recommendations based on interest profiles, streaming and live participation... Some platforms even allow the creation of private rooms where meetings can be held. It is obvious that 100% of our visitors are face-to-face, but 100% of our leads, audience and users do not necessarily visit a trade fair in person. Why don’t we offer them a different service and monetise it?
Use the platforms according to your target and objectives
They also work as a permanent communication channel with your community/audience. But be careful, Raúl reminds us: "You have to design a strategy based on the different targets, audience groups and particular objectives of each segment. We evolve from ´general visitor` to ´community, audience` personalising actions and new services based on all the information we can have about them. If digital marketing has professionalised its way of measuring and monetising (from CMP to CPC, CPL, CPV...), we must continue to advance in the professionalisation of trade show marketing by offering data to measure return and impacts, which technology today allows us to have at our disposal and that of our clients".
In some fairs at IFEMA MADRID the platform was used as a complement to the face to face show only during its duration; in other cases it was open 365 days a year, thus extending the life of the event to the maximum; finally in other cases the platform was opened a month before the fair and closed a month later.
We have observed a clear learning curve in the use of the digital platform. The more digital events are made, the more dynamisation with content, the more communication, the greater the volume of interaction and activity generated. In my view, Always-On is the way forward. It requires new skills, assets and resources, organisation, of course the best instruments to make the face-to-face event stronger, more relevant, more referential and more eagerly expected.
Immersive technologies that you can apply at events
Are you looking for a way to present products in a different way at a trade fair? IFEMA MADRID is testing new immersive technologies. At ARCOmadrid, a museum was set up with works by the ARCO Foundation in augmented reality, which was very immersive, with music and an audiovisual explanation of the synopsis of the 10 digitised works. Also during the MOMAD fashion fair, clothing collections were presented in augmented reality. At Motortec, meanwhile, motor enthusiasts were able to touch engines and parts of the car thanks to augmented reality. Learning by doing with real working tests. Technology is not explained with powerpoints, but by tinkering with the technology itself and observing sensations on the show floor.
During Meat Attraction, the International Meat and Poultry Industry Trade Fair, the speakers broadcast the content via streaming with augmented reality glasses and a built-in camera. And the interesting thing here, for Raúl, is to take advantage of immersive technology and to gamify and nurture the experience both for the people who are there in person and in streaming: adding sponsor logos, emojis on the faces of the attendees, playing with different designs and 3D spaces...
“Today we have technologies for our events that we didn't have 5 years ago (streaming, passes and digital access, exhibitor directories and networking platforms, apps,...). I have no doubt that in 5 years' time we will have democratised technologies that will radically change the user-event experience”.
Immersive technologies to showcase products and spaces
We need to update and digitise the way we sell. "At IFEMA MADRID we are already showing spaces and proposals for modular stands at some of our fairs in augmented reality to clients remotely, being able to see the colours and personalisation through the glasses”. It doesn't mean that you have to replace prospecting trips, but you can show spaces in a different, immersive, gamified way, and often squaring up with teams and people who are at a distance, in other countries, at other venues... it's a complex task.
Immersive technologies have not yet reached the everyday life of trade fairs, but Raúl think they will grow exponentially because they are a great opportunity to show products in a different way, to personalise, to save on transport costs and even to be more sustainable. "Thanks to immersive technologies, exhibitors will have a few pieces from their collection in the live event, but they will be able to show many more and offer visitors the chance to see how it looks on a certain model, change the colours...".
HELIXA, an ecosystem for exploring the new technological economy and new business models
The Helixa project was born at IFEMA MADRID to learn, try, test, share knowledge and learnings, inspire, and show the opportunities of the latest generation technologies and their applications to business models, business and professional MICE because "this is a revolution and renaissance for our industry, for events and fairs that we have to take advantage of. A new world of opportunities is opening up". The Helixa Community is where we share all this information and we invite all readers to register; Helixa Experience Center is the space IFEMA MADRID created to show the technology in operation, and open during the trade show where all visitors can become an avatar in real time in a technological-artistic installation, and where virtual, augmented, expanded reality are applied in each of the fairs being held. The examples cited above of immersive exhibitions of ARCOmadrid, MOMAD or Motortec were held in this space.
Mark your calendar for 30 November and 1 December, the dates on which the Helixa Summit will take place, a summit specially created to get to know all the elements that make up the new technological economy and metaverse, with the best speakers and, of course, with a showroom area to get to know first-hand the solution providers and developers.
Raúl reminds us that the word metaverse has become very fashionable, but that we have obviously not yet arrived there. The metaverse is nothing more than the natural evolution of the internet as we know it today, thanks to the integration of artificial intelligence, web 3.0, 3D modelling, immersive technologies, blockchain, digital assets, nfts, digital twins and avatars where the change lies in the audience becoming part of the content and the value proposition.
Metaverse, blockchain, NFTs, cryptocurrencies and artificial intelligence are being researched and tested at IFEMA MADRID. The latest developments await you at Helixa Summit!