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What Digital Voice Assistants Mean for Your Meetings


Digital voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are becoming a part of your attendees’ everyday lives, which means they’ll also become a major part of your meetings. A look at the potential impact.

As I was whipping up a recipe in the kitchen the other weekend, I got tripped up by a measurement. Instead of picking up my phone and googling it like I would have done in the past, I asked, “Alexa, how many cups in a pint?” In no time, I had my answer and dinner was saved.

Alexa has proven useful to me on several other occasions as well. If I had to pick her biggest success, it was being able to play my 18-month-old niece’s favorite song—the Beach Boys’ Barbara Ann—on demand last summer.

Besides keeping toddlers happy around the world, Alexa and other digital voice assistants will have likely have a tremendous impact on the meeting and event space. Here’s a look at how three groups of people at meetings could benefit from the technology.

Attendees

A lot of your attendees are likely to own an Amazon Echo or Google Home, which means they are comfortable with this technology and will probably expect your meeting to make use of voice-recognition software.

One way your association can use a voice assistant onsite is to make it easier for attendees to find a session or navigate the expo hall. For example, an attendee could ask, “What room is X session in?” or “How do I get to booth 492 in the expo hall?” In short order, he or she would have clear and succinct directions. This technology may also reduce the need for signage or staff to help direct attendees.

In addition, the technology could be used for attendees to provide verbal feedback, in lieu of the traditional postconference survey. And, for your international attendees, a voice assistant may be able to help with translation.

Exhibitors

Since a digital assistant will make it easier for attendees to find a specific exhibitor or booth, it’s also likely that it could help your exhibitors find or reach out to your attendees.

For instance, exhibitors may be able to ask, “Who here is in the market for a new technology solution?” and the software would scour the attendee roster—of course, only if an association captured that data—and come up with a list of people for exhibitors to reach out to. At the Hypermotion conference in Frankfurt, Germany, in November, exhibitors were able to direct their questions to Alexa.

Staff

While voice-recognition software will benefit your attendees and exhibitors—and hopefully raise your attendee satisfaction score—the technology will also be helpful to an association’s staff.

At the end of the conference, for example, the meetings team can go back and look at all the questions asked and pull out the most common ones. If they see that attendees had a hard time navigating the convention center or figuring out where the shuttle buses picked up for the evening event, they can better plan for next year.

Plus, the technology could make life a bit easier for logistics staff onsite. Take the common “This meeting room is frigid!” complaint. What if a staffer could ask Siri to turn the thermostat up? While that may be a long shot, the technology will be a game-changer in the months and years ahead.

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