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How to give your attendees personalized experiences at events

Event app users 2018
Event app users 2018

“If Netflix and Amazon can keep track of my preferences and offer me good recommendations, why can’t other companies?” It’s a reasonable question. Thanks to what’s being called “The Netflix Effect”, consumers are being conditioned to expect personalization in more and more products and services.

Events are no exception to this phenomenon, and thanks to a bevy of new event technology, organizers can now provide personalized experiences – even at large-scale events. Personalized recommendations, event chatbots and personalized AR are a few of the tech offerings that any event marketer looking to make events more differentiated for each attendee should consider. We’ll look at each one here.

Personalized recommendations

Large-scale events such as SXSW, Cisco Live and SAP SAPPHIRE NOW have a bewildering array of sessions, presenters, and networking opportunities to offer. That’s why adding a personalized recommendation feature in your enterprise event app is a win-win for both organizers and attendees.

This is one of the most practical personalized touches for an event. Here’s how it works: event apps include a recommendation engine that considers an attendee’s profile and social connections, as well as what content other users similar to them have shown interest in. Using this data, the app serves up intelligent recommendations for sessions to attend, as well as people to meet.

The benefits here are obvious. Attendees get help choosing from huge menus of event content and finding networking opportunities, while event organizers can rest assured that each attendee’s experience will be relevant to them. If you’re looking to add personalization at your event, recommendations are a great place to start.


Chatbots have been an especially hot marketing topic since Facebook began championing them heavily in 2016. Marketers in the B2B world are steadily finding uses for them: Gartner predicts that by 2020, over 50% of medium to large enterprises will have deployed product chatbots.

Chatbots are also slowly taking hold in the event world. Today, less than 15 percent of event apps include a chatbot feature, but that number is steadily growing. The utility is clear: chatbots let attendees get quick answers to their questions without having to search through FAQ documents or reach out to event staff.

SXSW was an early adopter of chatbot technology. Organizers of this massive set of festivals and conferences built a chatbot, Abby, into their event app. As a result, they saw a significant decrease in the number of requests to their help desk, and they got valuable insight into the types of information attendees were looking for. And, of course, attendees got one more fun and informative way to interact with the event!

Personalized VR & AR

While virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are still in their infancy, (Gartner predicts these technologies won’t fully mature until 2023), they do have promising applications in the event space, especially as more and more attendees begin to carry smartphones with advanced AR capabilities.

Here’s an example of personalized event AR at work. At Cisco Live 2018, attendees could walk up to special AR-enabled signposts. By pointing their phone at these signposts, they’d receive a number of wayfinding arrows showing the way to sessions recommended to them based on their attendee profile. Attendees then received guided walking directions to get to those sessions. This was one of the thoughtful app features that helped net Cisco the silver prize for Best Event App at the 2018 Experience Design and Technology Awards.

Make no mistake: AR and VR can require large investments and require thoughtful planning. Adoption rates for these technologies are still fairly low, but event organizers who embrace AR/VR early will wow attendees and make their experiences truly come to life.

Summing Up

Event organizers are always looking for new ways to surprise and delight attendees, and providing deeper personalized experiences at events is a great way to do just that.

Looking for more?

Check out our annual report on the trends that will shape the events industry over the next 12 months: 2019 Trends in Enterprise Event Marketing


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