Who hasn’t wandered through a sea of people at a meeting, hoping to find those few value-laden relationships amid a slew of superficial interactions? Wouldn’t it be great if you could glance at your smartphone and have a list of appointments pop up with just the people you need to find? As an attendee, that would make participating in the event thoroughly worthwhile. Now imagine you’re the event organizer, helping all attendees find their most important contacts. That would be pretty solid proof offor stakeholders footing the bill for the event.
This is the scenario Certain wants to create with Match2Connect, its new appointment-matching system. What sets Match2Connect apart from other such systems is its patent-pending algorithm that takes into account not just an attendee’s stated preferences for the people and companies he or she would like to meet, but other characteristics and interests of the attendee as well. The system looks at profiles created during event registration to learn an attendee’s business, professional, and personal interests, and match these with other attendees. There is also an option, with attendees’ permission, to pull profile information from LinkedIn or Facebook. “This is not creating a calendar,” says Peter Micciche, CEO of Certain. “This is extracting what’s important for two people and making an appointment.”
Once appointments are created, an individual diary becomes part of the agenda accessible on an attendee’s smartphone as part of the Certain mobile, or can be downloaded directly to Microsoft Outlook. (Other options for delivering the appointment schedule are plain text in the body of an e-mail message or a PDF printed on site.)
Match2Connect will be available July 2 as a tiered add-on to the Certain Pro or Enterprise event technology packages. Additional features will be released in December.
“Events are designed to sell. Determining whether an organization is getting a return on its event spending is the challenge,” says Micciche. So that’s where the company is focusing its attention. “Certain is cloud-based event management for driving marketing ROI.”
“Event management” in the Certain system involves three phases: planning, interacting, and understanding. It’s the interacting—i.e., attendee engagement—that creates the value and gives the return. But all three phases must come into play: the interaction is set up in the planning phase and measured in the understanding phase.
“Our focus is on gathering rich, relevant information from the beginning: At registration we can ask any question that is important to the stakeholders,” he says. Communication starts with this high-level e-mail marketing, then continues with different options for engaging with the attendee: mobile apps, virtual sessions and presentations, and social experiences. The latter refers to the ongoing dialogue during an event: Attendees’ tweets and responses to surveys and polls, for example, capture their sentiment at the event. And their participation in “gamified” elements of the meeting can capture their level of engagement with and understanding of the content presented at the event.
“All of that interaction creates digital touch points,” Micciche says. “When you convert that to metrics, you have a true understanding of what happened at your event.” How do touch points become metrics? “Within a metric-driven environment, we can take content—a speech, a white paper, a panel discussion—and embed the ability for the marketer to score how much engagement with that content is worth,” he explains. Now, with Match2Connect, the event organizers also will be able to assess the results of on-site appointments. All of these measures combine to give a “360-degree view” of the attendee’s event experience, and, ultimately, of the entire event.
Hosted-buyer programs have been the catalyst for one-on-one appointment systems, Micciche says, but those systems have been logistics-based. Certain wants to push the concept, to fill the downtime at corporate meetings with relevant interactions, so that the investor meets the CEO, the VP of sales meets the senior buyer.
Other types of meetings where targeted one-on-one appointments could elevate the experience:
- trade shows
- training meetings
- recruiting programs/career fairs
- investor “speed dating” events
- user group meetings
“Events are moving from mass marketing to building relationships,” Micciche says. Instead of one-time communication and passivity, successful events must facilitate ongoing communication and an interactive community experience.
Find more at the Certain Web site.