This past spring, the Northstar Meetings Group, in partnership with DAHLIA+ Agency and Shepard, hosted the inaugural MeetingsTech — an interactive, intimate
gathering of meeting professionals and event-technology visionaries. Designed to be an accessible, open and practical discussion about meetings technology, the Boston event invited tech suppliers to tell their stories and event professionals to inquire,
learn and evaluate the place that each of the solutions could potentially hold in their respective programs.
The MeetingsTech Digital Showroom builds on this exchange and continues the conversation. Here you'll find descriptions of each of
the participating vendors, and a platform for them to tell their stories — not simply what their technology is, but more importantly, how it works on the ground. Executives and spokespeople representing each of the companies tell their stories in
their own words, through the video interviews you'll find here.
The inaugural MeetingsTech presenters represented a broad spectrum of platforms, from multifunctional meetings management tools to mobile functionality-driven ecosystems; from
attendee-engagement enhancers to production expertise. Finally — and crucially — participants discussed how to integrate disparate tools and maximize data value with the help of willing suppliers and the tools showcased at MeetingsTech.
as MeetingsTech underscored, describing the technology is just the beginning. Use the resources here as a jumping-off point to continue the discussion about how the tech can work for you.
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Aventri's end-to-end solution offers clients the ability to bring together widely dispersed teams and centralize operations.
Blendr.io addresses the all-too-common challenge of making disparate pieces of meetings technology work together.
42chat builds virtual assistants devoted to answering attendee questions via SMS text, 24/7/365 — no app required.
Event-production company Shepard has introduced eventVOICE, a voice assistant for the events industry that runs on smart speakers.
A multifaceted event-tech platform, Hubb helps planners collect, manage and market content for their events.
Proxfinity offers social hardware for business, in the form of matchmaking algorithms and smart badges that facilitate conversation.
As an end-to-end meetings-management platform, Aventri offers clients the ability to bring together widely dispersed teams and centralize operations. "Our data flows nicely across platforms, and provides visibility and accountability to event planners
and event stakeholders," says John Kearney, Aventri's director of go-to-market strategy. Aventri touts real savings from such centralization, too — from 10 to 20 percent in software costs and event costs.
The breadth of tools Aventri packs
into its platform allows clients to fully automate and simplify the entire process of bringing people together at meetings, conferences, trade shows and more — from sourcing, budgeting and registration, to on-site engagement and beyond. Aventri sets
out to make their clients lives easier by automating tasks and improving efficiency; improving the on-site event experience; delivering cost savings and demonstrable return on investment, and helping to clearly connect events to the organization's
overall strategy and mission. And with that all in mind, Aventri's reporting tools provide exceptional visibility into event spend, as well as the means to easily share that information with key stakeholders throughout any organization.
Blendr.io addresses the all-too-common challenge of making disparate pieces of meetings technology work together. "The problem is that event organizers today use many different applications," points out company founder and CEO Niko Nelissen. "And the
big challenge is that these applications don't talk to each other." To integrate data from these different sources, planners often use multiple Excel spreadsheets to import information on a daily basis for the duration of an event — an option Nelissen
describes as "Excel hell."
Blendr.io saves planners the cost of hiring developers to create custom integration; Nelissen's company takes care of the integration work using Open APIs, and then ensures all systems continue to communicate over
the course of time and technology updates. "We're there as part of the team, to service, to help and to monitor," says Nelissen. The team at Blendr.io has created integrations for more than 200 event-technology platforms, and they're actively looking
to grow that ecosystem further.
42chat builds virtual assistants devoted to answering attendee and participant questions — 24/7/365. What's more, no downloads or apps or even smartphones are required — attendees simply text their questions to the 42chat number, and 42chat responds.
In that way, the bots become valued team members, responding instantly and patiently to the same questions repeatedly — be they about WiFi passwords, directions to the bathrooms, keynote time or much, much more. Driven by advanced natural language
processing, 42chat can understand and respond to countless iterations of any question, and the platform's artificial intelligence means the bots only get more accurate over time.
In the case of "Betty" — a branded 42chat bot developed
in conjunction with BizBash for their events — the bot has grown progressively more intelligent and powerful with use. In just two years, Betty has gone from being able to answer questions about 60 topics, asked in 4 million different ways, to more
than 100 topics in 8 million different ways. What's more, every question asked of the bot has been captured, providing a treasure trove of insight into attendee needs and feedback. 42chat's bots serve not only to improve the on-site attendee experience,
but also to help planners better understand attendee needs for future events.
eventVOICE, Powered by Shepard
Shepard, a full-service event-production company, has introduced eventVOICE, a voice assistant for the events industry that runs on Amazon smart speakers. Shepard deploys the technology on-site by placing the speakers in specially made — and potentially
sponsored — kiosks throughout the show in high-traffic areas. The company has applied the technology because of the astronomical growth we're seeing among consumers: By 2020, 30 percent of web browsing will be done by voice, 60 million people will
purchase items by voice and 175 million people will have such devices in their homes, estimates Gartner.
"We feel like there are a lot of parallels to what we see in retail as well as consumer behavior that can be applied to the event industry,"
notes Cory Smith, vice president of strategic services for Shepard LiveEX. Shepard's team already is using eventVOICE to help attendees navigate a show; the company forsees the technology as being a natural fit for exhibitor services during events,
too. Imagine an Amazon Dot in each booth, standing by to connect exhibitors with multiple providers for in-show requests — no searching for numbers or typing out emails or walking to a service desk required. "As more and more people buy smart speakers
for their homes," adds Smith, "the same devices are going to provide better experiences for people at events."
A multifaceted event-tech platform, Hubb helps planners collect, manage and market content for their events. It's about organizing all of that information that's swimming around in planners' heads and in their binders. "Hubb is all about giving back your
time and sanity by creating one single source of truth for all of your back-end needs for events," sums up Jasmine McCoshum, who handles business development for the company.
Hubb, which was founded by a veteran event planner, divides planner
needs among four primary modules: content management, which includes submissions, grading and management for speakers, sessions and tasks; sponsor and exhibitor, which helps to manage booth selection, floor plans and resource collection; staffing
and meetings, which contains functionality for scheduling shifts, creating role-based permissions, integrating with calendars and managing room inventory; and attendee experience, which offers a schedule builder, one-to-one meeting scheduler, attendee
directory and evaluations.
"We do really well with managing a lot of information and making the lives of event planners easier," says McCoshum. "That's something that we're super passionate about."
Proxfinity offers social hardware for business -- specifically in the form of matchmaking algorithms and smart badges that let attendees know what they have in common with others as they approach them. An attendee simply fills out a survey, either in
advance or upon arrival, and wears the badge — no smartphone is required and no apps need to be downloaded. "The system simply takes your interests and connects you to your most productive, meaningful counterparts in a room," notes Lisa Carrel, Proxfinity
founder and CEO.
Beyond the tremendous ice-breaking possibilities it provides participants, the technology is also built to demonstrate event ROI. An organizer dashboard delivers the metrics afterward — how many connections were made, the
average length of interaction, even the number of meaningful interactions averaged per participant. Plus, it measures and reports the interactions that occurred across interests, departments, geographies and more. For any planners who have struggled
to create meaningful, less awkward networking events, Proxfinity represents an innovative, quantifiable solution.