59% of the companies say "Our organization is proficient at selecting, managing and deploying event technology"(S. Henley).
IMEX is the most important MICE trade show in Germany. It takes place once a year: in May in Frankfurt, Germany, and in September in Las Vegas, US. MICE stands for meetings, incentives, conventions/conferences, and events/exhibitions. Similar shows are the Confex in London, BOE - The international Trade Show for experience, in Dortmund, or the IBTM world in Arabia, Africa, Americas, and China.
This year in Frankfurt, the show attracted all types of service providers such as hotels, incentive and event agencies, convention centers, meeting, and conference planners, event companies, destination management experts, and others. On the other site, the buyers/visitors are primarily event planners, marketing managers, different associations as well as business travel managers - all of them responsible for the planning of events/meetings.
This year in Frankfurt, the speaker Sharon Henley, Founder of British Blockchain & Frontier Technologies Association, caught our attention with the topic "Blockchain technologies for events". The British Blockchain & Frontier Technologies Association is empowering its members to adopt the right tech for the benefit of their ecosystem and community. She defines the blockchain as "a globally distributed trust network that allows for trusted transactions directly between two or more parties, validated and authenticated by mass collaboration."
At Imex, Sharon Henley explained how blockchain works for the event industry. As everybody is associating it mainly to the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, but the technology's most far-reaching impact is developing behind the Bitcoin story. This disruptive technology will change how event organizers and exhibiting companies operate at the shows in the future. There are different reasons for adopting the blockchain in the event space:
- the attendee experienced gets improved
- the operational rentability is increasing
- CRM, competitiveness, revenue generation
On the other side, Alan Gelfand, the CEO of FairTicketSolutions says once: "Everybody is talking about blockchain right now - but I am going to make a very strong statement here: There is no value to the blockchain if you can get everyone on mobile. What do you need Blockchain for? It tracks every transaction, but so does mobile. One of the advantages of blockchain is its cryptocurrency and how that will tie in the future, but that is five or ten years away at best." Sharon Henley presented the goal of blockchain in this context is to record transactions without any centralized authority to guarantee security and records. This makes services like a centralized registration database partially obsolete.
In this session, the audience could gain a foundational understanding of blockchain technology and its potential applications. Sharon Henley is dividing those into 5 categories:
1. ID - Identity Management
• Verify that a real and unique person, not a bot is purchasing the ticket
• Auto-enroll customers in event and ticket purchase
The traditional event registration way requests the ID legitimation which transmits nine points about the private data from the name to address, etc. With the Blockchain-based attendee check, no personal data gets shared and it simply confirms that the visitor has a valid ticket to enter.
A user case could be as last year American Express filed a patent for a blockchain-powered proof-of-payment system. It shows user cases for such a secured system, suggesting hotel reservations, real estate rental, and ticketless access to events and venues.
2. ATTENDANCE - Attendee Tracking, Ticket Scanning
• Biometric data of attendee linked to digital ticket signature
• Track every ticket from the sale to entry, including aftermarket ticket transfers
3. ENGAGEMENT - Customer Engagement
• Customer integration and onboarding
• Go-to-market execution
Sharon shows how: "blockchain enabled digital ID and data capture allow for more personalized and secure customer interaction. Tokenizing the event experience leads to greater participation and customer satisfaction."
4. SALES - Ticket Sales
• Advantages for cryptocurrencies to be used as payment for ticket purchases
• Control over who can sell tickets and attend events using smart contracts
• Programmable tickets
Lots of bots can buy tickets in mass - just as the case with ticket touts. The ban on bots can be a regulatory measure but launching prosecutions is difficult overseas. Ticket touts can use bots to buy up hundreds of concert or sports tickets in an instant, which are then resold on secondary platforms such as Viagogo. Touts defend their business model by explaining that the ticket prices simply reflect levels of supply and demand in the marketplace. "Customers pay more than 59% on average for tickets from touts." This is where Blockchain can bring a lot of benefits to the consumer/event visitor by implementing the smart contracts and blocking the bots. Sharon Henley says "Blockchain-based ID and smart contracts ensure the person signed up to the event is the one attending."
5. SECURITY - Security and Fraud Prevention
• Registration and payment support that adheres to GDPR compliance
• Ticket transparency preventing fake ticket sales by identifying a legitimate source and a legitimate ticket
There are multiple ways to use the blockchain in a registration service, payment being the most obvious one. Or it can be used to allow the visitor to give access to his personal data to the registration company/organizer, exhibitors or any other partners for a given period of time. As this transaction is recorded in the blockchain, the visitors can be sure that none of the parties can modify or extend it. Trust is a big advantage of the blockchain value along with transparency, security, efficiency, and traceability.
Through her presentation, Sharon Henley showed everyone how exhibition companies are adopting or could adopt the blockchain technology as well as what they are seeing in the marketplace today. She explained how it will affect the show experience from the visitor and exhibitor prospects to the event services and supply chain management and more.
We are looking forward to see more and more trade shows adopting the blockchain technology this year.
Content credits: BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGIES FOR EVENTS by Sharon Henley
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