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Technology Applied to Audience Polling Systems Contributing to Make Events more Interactive

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Date of publication: 10/06/2008 – PowerVote
Technology Applied to Audience Polling Systems Contributing to Make Events more InteractiveOver the years, the number of meetings, conventions and training seminars in which attendees take an active part, facilitating dialogue between speakers and their audience, has multiplied. Event agencies play a very important role in the development and use of these tools, since they act as consumer motivators.

Interactive sessions are contributing to making relations between speakers and their audiences warmer and more participative. This has been made possible by polling systems that allow audiences to vote directly via wireless keypads.

“Before, everything boiled down to the speaker giving his or her keynote while the audience listened,” Javier Robredo, business manager of Innevento, remembers, “and it was practically impossible for the latter to participate in a more interactive fashion.”

Nevertheless, an increasingly greater number of planners are using wireless keypads as a differentiating factor in events that would otherwise be very static.

“The use of these tools,” Isabel de Tomas, director of client hospitality at SCP, explains, “is always recommendable in those events that put the accent on presenting figures, data, situations and even emotions.” An opinion that is shared by Robredo, who also adds:

“Audience polling systems should be used when the objective is to obtain feedback from the audience, regardless of the message you want to transmit; although they are normally used for presenting plans of action, studies or reports. In our case, we have always employed these tools when content is didactic or informative, and it is necessary to receive some sort of answer from the audience.”

Consumer motivators
Although there is an increasingly greater number of end clients who know about audience polling systems, the consumer motivators are normally the event agencies offering advice about their use. As Isabel de Tomas explains, the reason for this is quite simple: “It is hard for clients to be familiarised with all the multimedia tools available on the market, for which reason it is the agency that normally suggests their use.”

Furthermore, on being relatively new tools manufactured by a handful of reputed companies, BSB Project Manager Barbara Fraguas is of the opinion that the event planners are usually the ones to suggest the use of these tools because it is not a very well-known system, although this is changing.

Fraguas believes that these systems facilitate new approaches to events, and she is quick to point out that they offer event planners a host of possibilities. Maybe because this type of technology is not that well-known there is a certain amount of reticence on the clients’ part at the beginning. However, as Lourdes Moreno of the operations department of Divertia Smile states: “Once you have given them a demonstration, they usually react in a positive way.”

Along these lines, Robredo recognises that when clients become familiarised with the workings and the results that can be obtained, they are delighted.

What really makes clients satisfied with audience polling systems is when they see the reaction of the audience.

“The audience is usually incredulous and surprised at first until they learn how to use the keypads. Once they are familiarised with them, they like it and even find it fun,” Barbara Fraguas explains.

In the opinion of Isabel de Tomas, the audience acceptance rate is high because it is usually an activity that helps to break the monotony of the keynotes or fill in pauses.

Audience polling systems offers any type of meetings quite a wide range of possibilities.

“They can be used for playing games or counting votes, as well as for simple short-answer questions (i.e., yes/no),” Fraguas asserts.

On being a versatile system, an audience polling system can be used for measurable actions: “Anonymous live data collection by using interactive questionnaires, voting on appointments, polls on products, or games,” Lourdes Moreno says.

According to Isabel de Tomas, both games and answers are basic activities that are used assiduously, but she goes on to say that these systems offer a broad range of possibilities: “I remember an occasion on which the keypads were used to launch a space ship appearing on screen by asking all the participants to press their buttons.”

Despite the fact that the keypads are very versatile, event planners recognise that they are not usually used to their full capacity.

“They could be employed on many occasions during an event, but only 10% of their potential is tapped,” Lourdes Moreno regrets.

Some event planners also believe that, in come cases, audience polling systems have their limitations. According to De Tomas, their use is limited to those venues that satisfy the needs of this technology, which means that they are not very effective outdoors.” Likewise, according to Moreno, there is a dearth of games adapted to the Spanish market. “All of which means that to be cost effective we have to adapt games created for other companies – normally from abroad – that do not take into account the idiosyncrasies of the Spanish character. There is a need for programmers that can adapt potential applications to the Spanish market.”

With regard to the cost of these tools, the event agencies admit that, although efficient, they are not cheap.

“In my opinion,” Robredo says, “their price is high compared with other event budget items. Although in our case, transport costs were included in the final price.”

Likewise, Lourdes Moreno of Divertia Smile opines: “Renting these systems is not expensive. What is indeed expensive is designing a bespoke programme, for which reason we usually adapt existing programmes.”
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