Tech for Tech’s Sake?

It’s New! It’s Whiz Bang! And Your Guests Might Just Ignore It.

The Consumer Electronics Show was last weekend and like the rest of the world, we were excited to get a glimpse of the gadgets that just might change our world.

CES always brings new ideas to our MPG team, plus a renewed excitement about the job we do, helping clients engage their audiences with memorable, interactive experiences.

It also reminds us of conversations we have from time to time with clients who are curious about the latest presentation technologies. They wonder if they can save money by using touchscreens, for example, and reducing or eliminating live presenters and hosts at their tradeshow booths. They get wowed by bells and whistles and wonder if their guests will be wowed as well.

We are always happy to discuss new technologies. And we never hesitate to propose them or incorporate them in our experiences if they’re the right solution to help clients achieve their goals. But we also feel a responsibility to educate clients about the drawbacks of using technology for technology’s sake or of relying on technology as a cost-cutting tool.

  • You may be able to fit more content into a kiosk than, say, a live presentation, but how can you guarantee your guests will stick with the touchscreen long enough to absorb all of that information? Think about the amount of time you personally are willing to stand and interact with a computer. It’s easy to walk away if you get frustrated with the interface or if you hit a section of content that you find less intriguing.
  • The experience can be made more interactive when it’s set up as a game, but many of these interfaces are based on a trivia question model. Is that the most effective way to communicate a sophisticated or more nuanced message?
  • Technologies such as touchscreens can be used to collect data that you can use to continue marketing to and interacting with prospects after the show. But how qualified are those leads if the guest did little more than surf around and then walk away?
  • How will you entice guests to approach and interact with your technology? Too often we have seen tradeshow booths filled with an array of slick, high-tech experiences—that nobody was using. Computer screens just aren’t that inviting. And if you think about it, these kinds of experiences are actually quite commonplace. You encounter them at the bank, at the grocery self-checkout, in your favorite video games. Tradeshow attendees are seeking something different from what they experience every day. Ironically, more traditional, human interactions might just be seen as unique amid a sea of impersonal machines.

All this is not to scoff or turn our noses up at technology. We’ve done some amazing projects that have woven together new technologies and human interaction. However, it’s the human touch that, we feel, is key to a successful booth experience.

  • You can make certain that your entire message is heard and absorbed. Certainly, a live presentation accomplishes this, but you also can get the best of both worlds when a touchscreen or other high-tech experience is guided or otherwise facilitated instead of left for booth attendees to interact with as they will.
  • You can carry on real conversations, answer questions and offer more in-depth insight when, for example, professional hosts are enlisted to provide hands-on demos.
  • You don’t have to limit yourself to a traditional live presentation (though we demonstrate time and again that a professionally produced show is a proven method for delivering motivated, qualified leads to sales representatives). The right creative concept can create interactivity in lieu of having people sit and listen passively to a message. Plus, technology can still play a role when you incorporate Twitter, for example, or other methods for getting guests into the action.

CES was exciting for anybody who is interested in how we will experience the world in the coming years. And it reminds us that, in an age when everything seems to be automated, self-serve and computer-based, you simply can’t do without a human touch. The experiences that will truly stand out and be memorable will be the ones that engage people on a personal level.