TechBytes with Brian Friedman, VP, Digital Innovation, Aventri

Brian Friedman

Brian Friedman
VP, Digital Innovation, Aventri

Events are the lifeblood of marketing and the event management software sector has grown rapidly over the last few years. The advent automation has meant that advertisers can now hone on an attendee’s preferences and deliver personalization at scale. Brian Friedman, VP, Digital Innovation, Aventri (formerly etouches) spoke to us how the ideal event management software would function.

Tell us about your role at Aventri and the team/ technology you handle.

I serve as the VP of Digital innovation for Aventri, an emerging leader in event management technology. In my role, I lead the company’s digital strategic objectives by identifying and articulating product and growth marketing visions that transform and disrupt the event market. This includes driving user experience design and research, setting product and marketing vision, guiding technical and design teams, and implementing growth marketing programs.

Prior to joining Aventri, I was the co-founder and CEO of LOOPD, a proximity marketing company that uses socially-smart wearables and analytics to help marketers understand, target, and interact with visitors in a fashion that has never been done before. With the acquisition of LOOPD by Aventri in March 2017, I assumed my current role, and Aventri complemented its pivot to a data-driven approach to enhancing clients’ event success, while boosting a complete, end-to-end solution that supports the entire event lifecycle.

What are the key differences between Event Management software and Event Automation software?

Technology that automates processes has taken hold within the events industry, and it serves important purposes. For example, platforms that help automate the attendee registration process reduce headaches for attendees. Finding an event software platform that can build a professional and automated registration website is key to a smooth registration process. Combining this with a customer relationship management (CRM) or marketing automation system can deliver several benefits including the ability to track the links or content attendees are clicking on to provide a more targeted content strategy.

That said, automating everything within the event lifecycle is neither feasible nor optimal. Instead of leveraging automation technology at every turn for the sake of doing so, event planners and marketers need to be discerning in how it’s used, and find the right technology to align. Event automation tools can integrate with event management software to link registration data, create attendee profiles, and send push notifications to attendees. In concert with automation, event management software should incorporate a balance between tasks that can be automated by back-end machines, and the keen involvement of humans to focus more on driving higher levels of engagement with their target audiences.

What are the core technology elements of an Event Automation/Management platform?

Gone are the days of manual event check-in and fishbowls full of business cards. Events have so many elements to them that need to be managed – including venue sourcing, registration and check-in, personalized content marketing, session scheduling, measurement of success, and much more.

Add-on applications in the industry can support each of these areas, but they don’t meet their potential without a platform backbone and repository of data analytics to seamlessly connect from one element to the other, keeping the attendee at the core. Brands today have advanced technology like self-service check-in and bi-directional smart tags that can exchange information and provide real-time location and engagement data. Mobile event applications and data analytics are a must for integration to event management platforms.

How do brands leverage Aventri’s event software for better sales connectivity?

Aventri offers the industry’s most comprehensive, end-to-end solution that supports the entire lifecycle of events. With a variety of offerings that are fully integrated into the company’s platform, Aventri provides clients with tools to enhance every aspect of an event, including venue sourcing, event management, real-time attendee engagement, and ROI.

In a recent survey of event professionals, Aventri found 66 percent use event management software, yet only 20 percent use a venue sourcing tool and less than half use a mobile app at their events. This inconsistent adoption makes sense given the fragmentation in the event management solution space. For event planners with limited time and strict budgets, the need to use multiple tools that don’t always work together can be overwhelming and frustrating, often causing more problems than they solve.

With the integration of LOOPD and eVS, our newly integrated venue sourcing tool, the Aventri platform now empowers event planners to use the entire solution set from planning to post-event analytics, or they can choose individual modules to meet their specific needs. Based on the insights gathered from attendee activities at events, marketing and sales professionals can keep the conversation going post-event and personalize customer engagement to generate revenue. Many companies struggle to extract or measure ROI from their events, but Aventri’ data-driven, connected solutions empower concrete results.

How do you leverage AI/ML at Aventri?

Aventri’s event management platform uses AI in several layers of the event lifecycle. For example, the AI-powered system can make relevant recommendations to attendees as they fill out an event registration form online. The system leverages its ability to sift through all of the data captured from attendees and exhibitors to say, “Here are sessions you’d likely be interested in; here are exhibitors you’d likely be interested in; here are other attendees you’d likely want to meet up with.” We’re also refining a real-time version of the event app that determines an attendee’s location while onsite so that its AI capability can make recommendations that are most relevant to that attendee and convenient at that moment.

Would AI/ML enable make it easier for the marketers to manage their events with existing Marketing Automation platforms?

AI is already making life easier for marketers and event planners within their event management and marketing automation platforms. Platforms today are using AI’s ability to sift through attendee and exhibitor data and recommend the sessions, exhibitors, or fellow attendees they might be interested in connecting with. The technology is also being leveraged in electronic concierge systems in hotel rooms, chatbots that assist attendees during registration, and real-time location intelligence in event apps that guide attendees on-site.

As the technology continues to mature, event management and marketing automation systems will incorporate even more advanced applications of AI.

What are your predictions on the “State of Marketing Event Management Software” for 2018?

Data integration and analysis is one facet of the larger event technology industry that still has room to grow. Unfortunately, at this point in the evolution of the industry, many planners and marketers use multiple, siloed platforms that don’t connect to each other to complete different tasks, such as registration and check-in, speaker management, the direction of the mobile event app, and more.

In 2018, we expect many event marketers will look for tools that enable greater integration and visibility of their data. Ultimately, a truly successful event planner and marketer needs access to data integration in order to discover trends and insights that will make their current events better, improve their strategies for future events, and bolster their strategies for marketing year-round.

Additionally, expect to see enhanced self-service check-in, attendee surveying, and more high-value AI and augmented reality applications.

While some of these ideas and initiatives may be new, others have been building in our industry for a while. Marketers should keep a close eye on what technologies are emerging that have the power to transform their events.

Thanks for chatting with us, Brian.

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