Who Owns Your Attendees’ Data and What Are They Doing With It?
This tweet by Paul Graham this week caught my attention and it made me think a lot about the changes the events industry has faced over the last 16 months. Event technology has fundamentally changed the relationship between event organizers and their participants, sponsors and attendees. Before the widespread adoption of online event platforms, attendees tended to deal with event organizers directly, each step of the process. When you signed up for an event, it was generally understood who was handling the attendees’ data [the organizers], and what they were going to do with it [deliver an awesome event].
As the amount of technology required to run an event has increased, things aren’t quite the same.
For your attendees, it might not feel particularly different, at first. They may not perceive an intermediary between themselves and the event organizers, beyond a few more checkboxes on sign up. But for organizers, who have readily had to adopt different technologies (and read all of the fine print and NDAs under each of them), it’s a bit more complicated.
For some platforms, organizers are no longer the sole owners of their attendees’ data. This means that attendee data can be utilized in different ways by the event technology platform. Some providers are clear about how this data will be used, for example, to “improve offerings”, while others are more vague, allowing data to be used for unnamed “other purposes”. It’s perfectly legal under all types of existing legislation, including GDPR. In other instances, analytics about how your attendees utilize your event’s programming or content is maintained solely by the platform itself, preventing organizers from gathering useful information about how to make your event better. In our experience, when it comes to looking at how eventtech providers use your attendees’ data, or access it– there’s a huge variation.
When you utilize a platform and ask your attendees to use it too, you accept those terms. It’s not always clear how these technology companies are utilizing the attendees’ data they are collecting. But one thing is for certain– the amount of investment that has poured into eventtech companies (as compared to event organizers) over the last year suggests there may be a fertile ground for this data– especially when it is aggregated.
Where does this leave event organizers? Few of your attendees will read the fine print. You have to decide if the convenience overrides the ambiguity– or choose a platform that provides more data control. Do your homework when it comes to choosing providers. In some cases, it might make more sense to take complete control and manage everything in-house (as we’ve done for several of our events). Weigh the costs and benefits accordingly.
As technology providers become a new stakeholder in the event production process– don’t let it come between you as an organizer and your attendees. The most important aspect of why we produce events is to bring people together. There is something so inherently human about the process. So when we adopt technology– many times for the better– let’s make sure it doesn’t create a boundary between what, and more importantly –who really matters.
With that, on to the week’s top reads, where Hopin is chasing a $7 billion valuation, Delta threatens the return of trade shows, and much more.
- Virtual events startup Hopin valued at $7.75 billion [CNBC] Hopin has raised a $450 million Series D round, putting the company’s valuation at more than $7 billion. Their last raise in March valued the company at $5.6 billion.
- Zoom settles US class action privacy lawsuit for $86m [BBC] Consumers brought a class-action lawsuit against the videoconferencing software company this week, settling for $86 million for those who experienced “zoomboming” and other privacy breaches. The company will invest in further employee training and security handling processes to ensure that Zoom calls are more protected.
- Hubilo Launches Enhanced Event Tech Platform and Partners with Precon Events [Trade Show News] Eventtech firm Hubilo launches a raft of new features to help them increase engagement at their hybrid events including sponsored interaction capabilities and a leaner navigation system.
- Norwegian Startup Neat Aims To Take Zoom, Microsoft Teams Meetings ‘To The Next Level’ [CRN] Hardware is something that shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to your eventtech stack. Neat works with many different video conferencing providers to create an immersive attendee experience in a hybrid setup.
- Tech News: New JUNO Release; Frameable and Shindig Enhancements; Intrado-Encore Alliance [Trade Show News] Roundup of some new event tech features. Shindig adds a virtual lobby, and JUNO launches their “From Here to 365” plan for year-round community engagement.
- Cvent launches Studio event offering [Conference News] Cvent’s CONNECT Conference this week showcased the firm’s new offerings, including their new Studio, which is designed to provide organizers professional quality content for their events. The Cvent Studio includes a director’s view, scene editing, branding tools and a presenter view, alongside other features.
- State of the Event Industry Report: Second Quarter 2021 [EventMB] EventMB’s latest State of the Industry report, surveying event and meeting professionals is a good thermometer test of the events industry. What the statistics show is a continued concern about the safe return to events for attendees and the very strong impact the pandemic has had for the livelihood of event professionals. Not surprisingly– the majority suggest hybrid events will be the norm, and the return to in-person depends on health and safety guidelines.
- ‘This Could Have Been a Zoom Meeting’: Companies Rethink Travel [New York Times] The pandemic has had corporates re-thinking their business travel, which is bound to have a strong impact on the conference and event industry.
- COVID-19 Protocols at the August 2021 Footwear Trade Shows [Footwear News] four upcoming U.S. trade shows take rapidly different approaches to COVID-19 at their upcoming events as case numbers rise due to the delta variant.
- New York Auto Show Canceled Because of Delta Variant [Wall Street Journal] Two weeks until launch, organizers have pulled the plug on this year’s New York Auto Show as the Delta variant continues to spread in the U.S. Organizers hope to return to their spring schedule in 2022.
- Status Check: How Is the Delta Variant Affecting Your Live Events? [BizBash] BizBash asks North American event organizers how the increase in the Delta variant is impacting their upcoming slate of events. You find quite a lot of variation in responses, with some proceeding as normal, but others, such as Digerati’s Isaac Rothwell reporting “I had a large conference in early September switch to virtual after over 40 presenters backed out of attending in person.“
How to do it:
- How to Get Sponsors for Hybrid Events [Successful Meetings] Approaching sponsors for your hybrid event requires a multifaceted approach, that looks at sponsorship as a “service” rather than a product. One of the most key suggestions here–sponsor packages should leverage the best benefits of in-person and virtual. Mix and match offerings based on your sponsor’s specific needs.
- 6 Lessons from a Multi-Site Hybrid Event [Meetings Net] Really creative approach here by IACC, which held their recent 40th annual meeting in multi-site setup. The organizers limited the time on-site attendees were watching screens and dedicated facilitators for both the virtual audience and each site– to get the most from each audience.
- Will Zoom Apps Deliver on Zoom’s Promise To Reduce Zoom Fatigue? [CMS Wire] Zoom Apps launch a few weeks back was aimed to increase engagement and productivity inside the calls. Will it also fight fatigue? If you’re experiencing drop off on your video calls, here are some top tips to reengage your attendees.
Don’t Miss it:
- Women participate less at conferences, even if gender-balanced – study [The Guardian] This new research finds that small changes to conference design can help make a more inclusive atmosphere and encourage higher gender-balanced engagement of your attendees.
- Ariana Grande Partners With ‘Fortnite’ for ‘Rift Tour’ Virtual Event [Hollywood Reporter] Will we be holding our future events in Fortnite? Well, Ariana Grande’s new deal will find her performing live inside the platform for a few dates, giving an interesting look at how experiences are being transformed in a digital space.
- TechScape: Why ‘hacker summer camp’ and pandemics don’t mix [The Guardian] How do you bring an event, that is characteristically focused on privacy (so much so that attendee records aren’t kept and tickets were only available with cash at the door) into the digital space? A fascinating read about DEF CON and how it’s moving forward hybrid style this year.
- COP26 ‘should be hybrid event’ says former climate chief Figueres [BBC] The original plans for COP26 in Glasgow forecasted 25,000 in-person attendees. With the event 3 months away, questions are raised about the viability of an in-person event of this magnitude, and the suggestion of including remote, hybrid elements to ensure the event is as accessible as possible.
I hope you liked this week’s jam-packed edition of The Lookout! Over at PIRATEx, we’ve launched a special guide, “Exhibiting with Excellence” for trade show exhibitors attending this fall’s online and hybrid events. It walks them through the process of what they need to do in order to stand out on a crowded digital platform. You’ll find it for free, here.
Let’s stay connected if we’re not already on Linkedin or follow the PIRATEx team on Twitter. If there’s anything you would like to read about when it comes to remote, or digital events, let me know! I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.
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The Lookout Newsletter #36
PIRATEx Managing Director