Technology has the power to forever change our world. This includes the event industry.

Each year, technology advances and there are new trends for event planners to experiment with. What is trendy and fresh one year might not be so the next. So, it’s important for event businesses to stay up to date with the latest technology.

“Technology—I can’t afford that!”

Is this your first thought when thinking of using new technology at your events?

It’s true many types of new technology are expensive and difficult for small event businesses to afford. Many of the hottest tech trends are showcased by big companies at snazzy corporate events.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking new technology is off-limits, though. Several new technology trends can be implemented at a fairly low cost. It’s also important to think of the cost of tech as an investment with the power to produce a big return for an event business.

2016 Event Tech Trends

In 2016, five event tech trends emerged that helped create truly unique attendee experiences. When entering the New Year, keep these trends in mind to plan your next memorable event.

1. Wearables

Wearable technology is one trend that was all the rage in 2016. From Apple Watches to smart clothing, wearables have the ability to seamlessly integrate into the attendee’s experience.

This technology has a wide variety of uses, from allowing attendees to easily post on social media to gathering attendee data. It creates a platform for real-time tracking of attendee experience and can help event planners know what is working and what is not.

2. Virtual Reality

The technology world is enamored by virtual reality (VR) and the possibilities it offers. Events are jumping on the bandwagon by integrating this technology into the attendee experience.

VR provides a unique and innovative multi-sensory experience. Using 3-D headsets like Google Cardboard or Oculus, event planners can immerse attendees in a new world.

The options for using this technology are almost limitless. Whether showcasing new products or providing a 360 degree video experience, VR has the potential to wow your guests.

3. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is different than virtual reality, but can also offer a completely unique experience. Drive brand engagement with both AR and VR. As opposed to virtual, AR uses the real environment, but changes it.

Use AR to uncover hidden content in the event space or demo new products. What’s nice about AR is it can be achieved by viewing the environment through a smartphone or tablet, making this technology available to event businesses of all sizes.

4. Near-Field Communication (NFC)

Near-field communication (NFC) involves wireless, cross-proximity communication between two devices. At events, this technology can serve a wide variety of purposes to streamline events and add new and exciting features.

Store money, track check-ins, or gather attendee data with NFC-enabled event badges or wristbands. Attendees can also use smartphones to enable NFC.

To complete a certain action, attendees only need to hold the NFC-enabled device to another. This makes it easy for attendees to accomplish certain tasks like paying for a meal while saving time and quickly returning to the event.

5. Smartphone Apps

Events are increasingly moving toward a “mobile-first” approach. Mobile apps help coordinate event details, such as travel plans or session schedules, while also helping people have the best possible experience at an event.

While event planners may worry a mobile app will encourage people to stay locked into their devices, a good event app can facilitate connections and inspire activities that will make an event memorable.

Avoid Technology for Technology’s Sake

One note of caution: don’t incorporate technology just to have it. Make sure to use technology that makes sense at your events and fits with your brand.

Technology should add to the event experience, not detract from it. It’s important to use tech that works together, integrates well with your events, and enhances the attendee experience instead of making it complicated or confusing.

New technology can surprise and delight attendees. It can help usher in rave event reviews and repeat attendance. Incorporating some of these technology trends can provide the boost needed to take your events to the next level.