We work in an event space with all the facilities, tools and software available to automate our day-to-day tasks. Digital improvements and customizations in the events industry were also faced with many challenges but eventually, with trials and errors and a leap of faith of amazing event industry influencers, event professionals started accepting it. 

Keith Johnston is one of those event tech enthusiasts, experts, and influencers whom we got a chance to interact and gain his insights on the subject of event tech. Keith has a pool of knowledge when it comes to the topic of event technology and how it impacts the current modern event industry scenario. 

He has worked on both the planner and supplier side and has gained over 20 years of experience in the industry. He is well known for his advice on conference and meeting planning, event technology queries and requirements.

Keith aims at ensuring meetings and conferences to reach their goals and enhance audience engagement in their budget! He has a great understanding of the topic of social media content marketing and how it impacts on attendee experience at events!

Keith is also the Managing Partner of i3 Events and also the publisher of renowned event industry blog — Plannerwire. Also been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Midwest Meetings Magazine and so on, Keith’s advice on meetings industry matters are worthy.

Let’s have a look into his amazing journey and read about his words of wisdom on event technology in our QnA:

1. You have been a part of the events industry for over 20 years. That must be an amazing journey of watching the new trends and transformations in the industry. How would you describe this journey?

My journey has been about learning. I am always on the lookout for emerging technologies, new event styles, or ways to engage attendees. By always watching what is ahead of me, not what is behind, there is less chance to be left in the dust.

2. What has been your favorite job role in the events industry that you worked as?

I am and always will be an attendee focused person so my favorite event job was working registration and being able to interact with the attendees on a daily basis. Just to hear their enthusiasm for whatever industry it happened to be was uplifting.

3. What are your favorite event related technologies you mostly use?

My favorite event technology is not even event specific, it is the website building platform WordPress. WordPress has leveled the playing field for small to medium-sized associations and allows them to create an online presence that rivals their larger competitors. The best part is that the cost if so inexpensive that even the most cash strapped association can get up and running for next to nothing.

event technology

The runner up for event technology that is “event planning specific” is almost any flavor of Event Management system because they impose a process on the day to day aspects of event planning which allows event planners more time to actually be creative with the event content and attendee interaction.

4. In your opinion, what is the biggest trend this year when it comes to event tech?

Integrations. The ability of systems to talk to each other is changing the way that event planners can use their data and systems. For example, we are using WordPress for a small client and when a potential attendee signs up to receive information about the event, the email is passed directly to their CRM software allowing that person to receive automatic updates. 

The same client uses UberConference and when their committee meets via conference call, the notes and call recordings are automatically saved to Evernote and shared with everyone who attended the meeting. These things may seem simple but they truly give you back hours of time and lessen the chance that mistakes will be made.

5. You have been an industry for quite a long time. What challenges did you face?

The biggest challenge that I have been facing for 20 years is getting meeting planners and other association execs to understand the value of the technology. I remember when we were moving a client from Fax to Online registration, he did not think that anyone would go for it. 

I had to pay for it out of my own pocket and make a deal with him that if more than 50% of attendees registered online, he would reimburse me…. Well, 98% ended up registering online, I was reimbursed, and they never took a fax registration again.

These days, the problem is getting planners to adopt event management systems, they are still 100% sure that Excel is the best way to manage an entire 10,000-person conference.

6. I like the i3 concept — Ignite Inspire and Innovate. How did you come up with this name?

Time for 100% transparency. I have no idea, but I do remember that the name came first, the Ignite, Inspire, Innovate came after! I will say that we have really embraced it though, they are now the words that we live by!

7. In this dynamic event industry, any advice that you’d like to give to our readers?

Done is better than perfect. What I mean by this is stop overanalyzing every little piece of everything. Attendee attention spans are getting shorter and shorter so don’t fret about every little social media post and napkin color. 

I see so many associations spending hours on one Facebook post making sure that the message is perfect, the picture is perfect, and the colors are in alignment with branding…so much time that by the time they hit publish, it doesn’t matter anymore and their biggest competitor has posted 12 times and signed up another 300 registrants.

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