SAACI showcases three creative event options to drive engagement
3 Aug 2018 - by Sue van Winsen
At its recent annual congress in Johannesburg, SAACI showcased several new technological innovations. Explaining the decision to use the conference as an opportunity to demonstrate various technical offerings, SAACI ceo, Rudi van der Vyver, said: “We like to test innovations in a ‘safe’ environment and plant the seed for our members so that they don’t have to try these things for the first time with actual clients and there is massive risk involved.”
Below are three of the technological innovations SAACI incorporated into this year’s event.
EventsAir and gamification
The EventsAir app was well received by attendees, said Van der Vyver. “We introduced a gamification element and the thinking behind this was to encourage networking and ice-breaking in a fun and inclusive manner.” With the incentive of prizes, attendees were encouraged to visit the show’s exhibitors and, while there, take a selfie with the exhibitor and post the answer to two questions: how long has your company been in operation and how long have you been SAACI members. By doing so, they got points and were placed onto the ‘leader board’.
In terms of the other features of the app, Van der Vyver said: “We did have some difficulties with the live polling functionality of the app, but that was due to the venue’s connectivity rather than the platform itself. Again, while you don’t want things to go wrong, it showed our members that if they are planning to use live polling, they should test it with enough people on the network in the room.”
There are also additional functionalities of the app that weren’t showcased at this year’s congress, because the association plans to demonstrate its matchmaking abilities at the event in 2019. “The app uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to suggest and set up meetings with relevant people who share your business priorities, within close proximity to you,” he explained.
When it came to the parallel streams for the ‘breakaway’ talks, SAACI instead opted to keep all the delegates and speakers in one room. Everyone was provided with a set of Silent Events headphones and to select or switch between the different speakers.
“Before people experience the technology, they have a lot of ideas of why it shouldn’t work. However, the people who were at the congress were impressed by the way the headphones pulled them into the conversation because it cancels out all other noise. Even though there is a speaker in close proximity with another presentation, you don’t hear anything other than the speaker you’re tuned into,” said Van der Vyver.
He said one of the benefits of the technology was that it maximised the time available as there was no need to move people between venues. “If delegates wanted to move from the first stream to the second, they just needed to flip between channels on their headphones.” Another exciting aspect is that it can be a major cost-saver as you don’t need to budget for an extra room at the venue, he added.
As one of the speakers had a schedule conflict and was unable to attend the congress, SAACI opted to live stream her presentation. She was able to answer audience questions in real time. “It was almost as though she was in the room,” said Van der Vyver. “This means there is opportunity to get top speakers, even on a tight budget, as you don’t necessarily need to fly them in.
“What was interesting for our members to see was that even though we had connectivity issues when using the live polling functionality of the app, we didn’t have the same issues with the video streaming, which worked perfectly. This was because we brought in additional telecommunication structures as a failsafe for the streaming, to make sure we had 1GB per second,” he said.