Overcoming the digital divide in events

Expert Opinion
Overcoming the digital divide in events

Caroline McGuckian, COO at Meshh, offers event organisers some tips for getting the upper hand on their digital cousins.


In the race to create a great experience, event organisers can find themselves at a distinct disadvantage to their digital cousins. Whereas the latter can use vast quantities of granular data to optimise their websites and evaluate commercial value, the event organiser has historically had little more than guesswork and intuition to make similar judgements.

This “digital divide” is largely down to the fact that many still rely on traditional methods of data collection, such as counters and registration to monitor attendance and gather feedback.

However, to get beneath the skin of an event, measuring attendance as a metric is simply not all that valuable: it tells you very little beyond the broad facts.

On the other hand, understanding where people are in an event and how they move through the event space is at the core of success – not just for creating an enjoyable experience for attendees, but also for ensuring that it’s a good financial investment for any sponsors or exhibitors.

Fortunately, new methods are coming to the fore, which enable event and conference organisers to gather data on such key metrics as unique visitors, conversion ratios, dwell time and repeat visits.

Spatial analytics, for example, passively measures the movement of mobile devices to gain a better understanding of what’s going on at an event. This works by anonymously tracking the ‘ping’ messages that smartphones regularly send out, using Wi-Fi analytics sensors to measure signal strength. They subsequently apply time and distance parameters to understand where individuals have spent time in the venue and how long they’ve dwelled in certain locations.

By placing multiple sensors around a venue at an event, organisers can develop a picture of how people flow through the event. Putting sensors on signage or sponsors’ stands can help build a more precise picture of what elements of the event are attractive to attendees and which parts aren’t working.

Overcoming the digital divide is a huge opportunity for event organisers to create an even better experience for attendees and sponsors alike. By replacing guesswork with sophisticated data, they can gain a greater insight into their own business – and find new and exciting ways of making it more engaging and profitable.