News

Gamescom – expanding gaming culture beyond traditional gamers and brands

By James Howitt, Client Development Director at Smyle

Gamescom is the most important show in the calendar for the gaming world. All the major players in consoles (Xbox, Sega, Nintendo) and game creators (EA, Activation Blizzard) are there, as well as thousands of fans that descend on Cologne to see and play the latest releases while exploring new innovative technology. However, the biggest takeaway from my inaugural Gamescom was that, in fact, this arena of fun isn’t just for gaming brands.

Netflix brought Stranger Things to life with “Surfer Boy Pizza” while JD Sports’ “Beyond the Basement” had DJs, sneakers, games, and a foam pit to get lost in. Gaming culture has shifted. Yes, there are still the hardcore gaming fans, but now brands are tapping into a really diverse audience hungry for experiences, technology, and storytelling with plenty of fun and a bit of nostalgia thrown in.    

Whilst the brand doesn’t need to be limited to gaming, it’s important to remember who the core attendees are. Bring gamification into the experience through interactivity, discovery and hidden surprise and delight moments. Some stands had two to three-hour queues for a ten-minute mini-game or prize. Easter eggs and hidden components also proved really popular. When there is so much competition, these small ‘gaming’ elements can be enough to tempt people to come and explore

As you would expect from a gaming convention, there were screens and consoles everywhere. Samsung had a big presence, with some incredible screens and technology – graphics that gamers’ dreams are made of. With that in mind, stands need to wow visually through high-impact screens and builds with music and moving image components. 

The likes of Sega, Warhammer and Ubisoft transported fans into their favourite games through giant sets, props and even a VW camper van, giving them a real-life experience of the games. The fans loved it, and it created amazing photo opportunities, which were, of course, shared all over social media and picked up by the press, amplifying the brilliant brand messages even further!

To learn more about ‘Beyond the Booth’ thinking, click here.

News

Beyond Smart: Smart Thinking About Smart Devices

By Siân Legg, Event Manager, and Jacob Palmer, Project Manager, both from Smyle’s Virtual & Hybrid team

In today’s digital age, smart devices are completely integrated into our everyday lives. Whether it’s a smartphone, smartwatch or whatever comes next, people rely on devices and AI technology-powered experiences for everything from communication to entertainment. Unfortunately, event professionals often see devices as an audience distractor – but have you ever considered how smart devices can enhance and improve your event? 

At Smyle, we believe that smart devices are your friends, and they can create incredible opportunities to improve experiences for all audiences, whether in-person, virtual or hybrid.

A more equitable experience for all.

Our industry is on a journey to more equitable experiences for all audiences. With the increased focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) in recent years, we’ve made progress, although Smyle and our industry peers are still far from perfect. Smart technology can help meet DEI needs to enable all attendees to get equitable value from events. By leveraging innovative technology, we can ensure everyone can access high-impact event content and interaction opportunities.

  • Attendees with visual or hearing impairments can use smartphones to access closed captioning, audio descriptions, or other assistive technologies.
  • Event organisers can show closed captions on screens at speaking events, both in person or on a virtual screen.
  • Hybrid technology, such as Bizzabo, can mean that someone who struggles to leave the house can get the same value as someone who attended an event in person.
  • Wayfaring apps that give visual descriptors can help people navigate an in-person event. The smart technology already exists with NaviLens and it’s already being used successfully in New York subways.

Hyper-personalised experiences.

We can create hyper-personalised event journeys, where content is customised to the participant’s interests and needs, and evolves throughout the event based on their actions. Smart apps and data analysis can enhance their experience through this level of personalisation and ensure they get the most out of the event.

AI-fuelled technologies can take event journeys further by using smart devices to facilitate personalised, geo-targeted matchmaking. For example, generative AI could help someone pose a question in a session or open up a conversation with a stranger. All creating authentic connections and meaningful networking opportunities, once again ensuring attendees are getting the maximum value from an event.

Think outside the screen.

Three years ago, Covid forced events online in an unprecedented way. For the first time ever, virtual was the only option for brands to communicate with their audiences and for businesses to speak to their stakeholders. Throughout the pandemic, smart technology fuelled activities like gamification, mixed and virtual reality and other interactive experiences were needed to create content that resonated with audiences. 

At Smyle, we are already using gamification in our experiences. For Samsung, we created an award-winning interactive film that delivered a one-of-a-kind customer experience and up-leveled audience involvement. Through a series of vignettes, viewers could watch and shop simultaneously, not so much e-commerce but rather “e-xperience”.

By thinking outside the box, or rather screen, and exploring the ever growing world of smart technology it’s possible to level up virtual, hybrid and in-person experiences.

Use data to improve future events.

Smart device data and AI-assisted behavioural analysis gives us the insight to understand how people move through experiences, whether in-person or virtual, meaning we can better optimise event layouts, address pinch points and improve audience participation.

Tools like mobile polls and surveys capture feedback at the right moments, helping you understand what resonates (or not), and what you might improve for future events. Mentimeter is one example of software that provides this functionality, allowing presenters to gather feedback on their content and encourage audience participation.

We can integrate tracking of interactions and touchpoints for 360 attendee profiles. It’s also possible to marry event participation data with other profile data, such as a CRM or HR database. This helps us understand attendee behaviour before, during, and after an event and gain deep insights into their preferences and needs.

Increase the event reach long after it’s finished.

Smart devices can also help increase reach post-event. Post-event content and experiences keep attendees interested long after the event by delivering value and continuing to impact perception and behavioural change.

Personalised post-event videos, using smart technology like VideoSmart, can share follow up information and further content from attended sessions or activities that the attendee interacted with – all with closed captions and other accessible features.

How can Smyle help?

At Smyle, we use creative thinking and digital expertise to leverage various technical tools and partners to implement breakthrough ideas. We have specialist teams with expertise in virtual and hybrid events and a dedicated digital team working with the latest mobile technology and trends.

Smart tech creates incredible opportunities to improve event experiences, up your data game with attendee insights, and increase event impact for all audiences. Just about everyone is using smart devices, so it’s essential that we take advantage of the opportunities they present. The time to embrace smart devices is now.

News

Why Laval Virtual Should Be on Your Event Circuit

For the past 25 years, virtual and augmented reality industry leaders and enthusiasts have descended on Laval, France, for an annual conference that showcases new products, insights, and trends. Attracting over 6,000 professionals, researchers, and the general public, Laval Virtual gives brands an excellent opportunity to reach both B2B and B2C audiences.

Smyle were lucky enough to support Pico, a leading VR company that produces headsets and technology to support VR, this year and get involved in the fast-growing sector. Smyle’s own Ellen Humphries, Project Manager, attended and shared her insights on why Laval Virtual should be on your event calendar.

Demonstrations

“At the Pico activation, the brand invited six technology partners to show how its products could be used with different apps and software. Across the whole conference, a majority of brands had multiple demos to give both professional audiences as well as VR/AR fans a taste of the latest technology. Additionally, stands that had demos were a lot busier!”

Latest Technology

“There were a lot of very technical stands; it was super interesting to learn about the latest innovation and developments in this space – although I think I only scratched the surface! One thing that struck me was the diversity in what VR technology and the metaverse can be used for – everything from manufacturing to medical training – it certainly isn’t just gaming, with a far wider reaching view on how this technology can enhance our lives and push things forward.

“The attendees represented a really wide range too. We saw people in suits and then the classic experts or bloggers who were there to absorb all the new tech.”

French Brand Awareness

 “There were loads of international tech names in attendance in addition to Pico, such as Meta, Microsoft and HP. But I was also struck by the high number of French companies, PwC France and Credit Agricole, for example. So for brands that want to grow their reach in the region, this would be the perfect event for networking and nurturing the local market.”

 Elevated Stand

“Given Laval Virtual is a relatively small event, especially when compared with the likes of MWC or Vivatech, the standard for the build tends to reflect this. However, at Smyle, we don’t think the size of the event should affect the quality of your activation.”

Alizé Amrani, EMEAI Enterprise Marketing Lead, said, “The booth built by Smyle was truly impressive. The attention to detail was outstanding, with high-quality materials and a unique, innovative shape that really set it apart from the other booths. It’s clear that Smyle takes pride in their work and is committed to delivering exceptional results.”

Looking to 2024

The entire programme of events includes talks, workshops, awards and even a hackathon! It’s certainly not to be missed, especially if you or your brand has a stake in the AR/VR sector or are hoping to develop technology relationships in France.

We’ll see you next year.

If you want to get in touch to discuss how we can support your next event, contact us: hello@smyle.co.uk

News

How hybrid experiences are meeting the DEI challenge head-on

How hybrid experiences are meeting the DEI challenge head-on

Experiences must be designed with everyone in mind, and the hybrid model (merging the physical and virtual) has brought this issue to the fore, magnifying the need to be inclusive. Creative event planners need to think about the very different requirements for remote and in-person participants, but ensure that all get parity value.

Of course, inclusivity isn’t just about how people join an event. The need to be inclusive must take into consideration audiences with diverse backgrounds, disabilities, neurodiversity, and even different learning styles. It’s about ensuring every part of the event – whether live or online, can be accessed and enjoyed by all targeted participants – from content that is delivered across an array of formats to facilitated networking tools, there are an array of useful techniques that improve accessibility and enjoyment for all.  . We’ve tried and tested a lot of approaches over the last year –  and we’re still learning. Here are a few takeaways from our journey.

Think outside the (event) ‘box’.

Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind – consider the needs of remote attendees as it’s all too easy to miss things when people aren’t in front of us. If your event involves a live stream, will remote attendees be able to fully experience content on their screen and speakers or headphones? Is the content suitable for a visually-impaired or hard of hearing audience? And bear in mind that not all needs – particularly neurodiverse ones, are visible. For a business event in which participants joined from multiple countries, Smyle provided content subtitles in 23 languages – even though the vast majority of attendees spoke English. Just because a person speaks and understands English doesn’t mean that they get the same richness of meaning as someone for whom English is their primary language.

Go beyond the norms of networking.

We’re used to attendees unwinding at the end of an event over drinks or striking up conversations over lunch, so much so that we assume that such spontaneity comes naturally to everyone. We do a lot to make networking more inclusive. Online, some participants may feel at ease engaging with others virtually in a video session, while others need prompts to get the conversation going. Face-to-face, natural extroverts will ‘work the room’ while others would get value out of a host helping them join valued conversations. Across both, technology tools can help match-make to connect participants with others who have shared interests.

Not every aspect of an event can be replicated online.

And that’s perfectly okay. Being inclusive isn’t about supplying like for like – it’s about bringing people into an existing space and helping them get the most out of the experience. In a live setting that might mean transforming the environment to immerse people in stories – as Smyle has recently done for a large technology brand, in which a multi-sensory theatre experience surrounded attendees in a compelling filmed story. In digital, one may argue, even more is possible as the limitations of physical settings vanish. For one client, we used game technology to create a trippy product launch experience that wouldn’t have been possible live.

Inclusivity goes beyond the stage and screen.

The default for many event organisers when it comes to diversity and inclusion is thinking about the speakers who are presenting or involved in content delivered on stage at the event, or on-screen in videos. This is important, and optics do matter, but it is just one element amongst many that should be considered. Also on the list: Are the event staff diverse? How many events have you been to where the vast majority of the audience was white and the vast majority of event staff was non-white? Consider the supply chain of vendors contributing to the event – do they represent an array of backgrounds? Consider this: what is the makeup of the team planning the event itself? Sometimes a more diverse team will result in more inclusive event plans.

News

A Breakthrough Approach to Live Virtual Events

A Breakthrough Approach to Live Virtual Events

Smyle’s Beyond is a rich virtual & hybrid event solution that brings audiences together in brilliant and inventive ways.

We believe virtual events can be immersive experiences with valuable compelling content. It’s why we take our inspiration from the best of both physical and digital experiences to create extraordinary live virtual events with impact.

Smyle fuses creativity and live-event experience with what really works in digital to take virtual events to the next level of amazing. It’s this creative mindset that allows us to delight and surprise audiences; to measurably move brands and businesses forward.

Our approach is to keep the attendee at the centre of our thinking – by adding in crazy amounts of creativity, merging digital with analogue, integrating proven and cutting edge technologies, we can offer highly compelling, seamless experiences that are truly worth showing up for.

Smyle creates virtual events with impact.

Smyle has brilliant people working together to make the incredible happen, including a mix of experienced creative thinkers, event producers and technologists, all working with our clients to develop incredible events and to deliver them perfectly.

Beyond mixes digital and ‘IRL’ activities, offering a credible and exciting new approach to events:

  • VR, AR and mixed reality
  • Interactive photorealistic environments & gamification
  • Film & animation
  • Live broadcast & streaming
  • Emerging technologies
  • Sustainable and efficient approaches

One example is a project called Samsung Life Unstoppable, which recently won a Drum Award, received some nice media attention, and we’re a little proud of.

 

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Learn more about Sessions

Intelligent planning for 2024

Smyle Sessions look at industry insights and current trends to facilitate fresh thinking on how to approach digital, hybrid and in-person experiences.

We're helping client teams take on their biggest challenges with innovative thinking, flexibility, and robust planning to make sure they can reach audiences and move their businesses forward.

So, where to begin? Our workshops take a look at what we can expect from the year ahead: insights into how to connect to today’s audiences, how to best future-proof plans when we need to pivot, and most of all, to continue to create bold experiences that capture the imagination.

In these sessions, we share case studies and creative inspiration, tips and tricks, and develop content-rich collaboration activities to support your team’s needs.

Session topics can be fully tailored, but we’re currently exploring some key trends:

Hybrid is here to stay: the new way to connect people in person and online

Powerful virtual experiences: how content is more vital than ever

Doing well by doing good: the impact of authentically inclusive experiences

Delivering a meaningful sustainability strategy, intrinsic to your brand experience

We love collaborating with our clients, so whether you only have an hour for a quick insights chat, or would like to spend some extended quality time with us on a tailored workshop, please just let us know!

See also

Country House

The Lockhouse,
71 Mead Lane,
Hertford, SG13 7AX

Town House

Albert House,
256-260 Old St,
London, EC1V 9DD

Manchester

Studio 105, SeeSaw,
86 Princess Street,
Manchester, M1 6NG

Amsterdam

Suikersilo-Oost 22,
1165 MS Halfweg,
Netherlands