September 12th, 2017 by Deborah Siddiqi
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Any event professional who wants to be at the top of their game has to consistently find ways to revolutionize their attendee’s experience. Artificial Intelligence is transforming the events industry as a whole, yet a key part of the attendee experience is still the most ‘human’ one — networking.
Up to this point, event networking has been a slightly overlooked area. While the days are over when event-goers were thrown together with a generous bar tab and expected to ‘mingle’, notions of ‘exposure to prospects’ and ‘creating the right atmosphere’ for meaningful connections are still fuzzy.
Consistently getting the human-to-human connection right – appropriately and meaningfully – is what turns a ‘regular’ attendee event experience into something revolutionary.
Here at Grip we focus on getting that connection right. Through personalizing the networking experience with Artificial Intelligence, we’ve facilitated about a million connections so far (and counting).
Here’s an insight into some of the key networking personality traits we’ve encountered, and how you can use an understanding of them to revolutionize your own attendees’ experiences.
Time savers have signed up to the event because they want a tangible ROI on the cost of attending the event. With them, the saying ‘time is money’ is not a cliche. They could be start-ups looking for a partnership, sales looking to capture a business lead, exhibitors looking for a customer — but they’re looking to make the most of their time.
Help them schedule meetings before the event even begins, to boost networking productivity.
“The meetings would have taken at least the first day of the conference to arrange – but (with Grip) I’ve been able to arrange them a week in advance.” — Max Davies-Gilbert, Director, Enemigo
Closely related to Time-savers are the Curators. These are the folk who believe in scheduling good quality meetings, not lots of them. It’s easy to collect or ‘swipe’ as many business cards as possible, but Curators know that a staggering 87% of leads at tradeshows are not followed up on, and they want to use their time and resources better.
“The app helps you clarify which potential meetings you want to have… 5 out of 6 meetings I’ve had are quality meetings; I’ve had 8 yesterday and 8 today, so it’s been pretty good.” — Matthew Servini, CEO, The Craft Distilling business
With a completely different work set-up – open offices and mobile workstations – and a job that entails being constantly on-the-go, the Restless would prefer not to be tied down to lots of paperwork, or logging in to an app multiple times and updating it on – heaven forbid – a desktop. They live on their smartphones and tablets, so nimble, easily-managed mobile technology is the way to go.
“Grip was the ideal solution to introduce both an app and a matchmaking solution to the young and mobile Imbibe Live audience. We needed a solution which would work easily through their phones, especially as due to the nature of their jobs they are not at their desks very often.” — Sonja Van Praag, Publishing & Events Director, Imbibe
Most of the hard work in networking involves that element of uncertainty – trying to get the right connection in the right place and time. With the right app, attendees won’t have to leave their networking to random chance. Grip, in fact, uses Artificial Intelligence to make a science of serendipity, ensuring that attendees not only meet the most relevant people to their business, but also – potentially – unexpected connections that are useful.
“Usually I’m struggling to find the right person at the right time… Now, with the app, I’m not only setting up meetings with people who wanted to meet, but also meeting new people whom you might not have otherwise bumped into, which is revolutionary.” — Philip Harding, Founder, Dingle
As an events professional, you’re likely to be more of an extrovert — you like to get out there, meet people and get things done. But not all attendees are the same. For some, ‘networking opportunities’ at an event can sound more like a threat than a promise — even if networking is part of their job. And who doesn’t have days when they aren’t up to the demanding task of meeting and mingling?
Cover all the bases with a networking app that ensures parties mutually interested in each other can connect without an awkward handshake or spammy meeting request in sight. A ‘Handshake’ in the Grip app signals to both parties that there’s interest to meet on both sides.
Tip – This works really well with VIP attendees too – they get to define how much networking they want to do, and with whom.
“It’s quite easy to meet up, because they have an interest in you, and you have an interest in them. You have the Handshake, so you assume you both have an interest.” — Caitlin Frost, Sales Manager, GlassCo
Of the million and one things to do for an event, the ‘UX’ – User Experience – of an event app is rarely on organizers’ priority lists. But attendees now expect more, and appreciate a well-designed app. Good UX makes the difference between an app that attendees download – and then promptly ignore – versus one whose interface is easy to understand and fun to use.
“Grip is very easy to navigate, and connecting with people is quite a low barrier process; very few obstacles… This is one of the best experiences digitally, both in terms of correspondence but also in terms of UX.” — James Sandrini, Director, Eight Point One
Grip empowers attendees, exhibitors and hosted buyers to make meaningful connections at events. Contact us to see if we can provide an event app and professional matchmaking solution that suits your event.
A leading global association of tradeshow organizers and the exhibition industry has recognized Grip as one of the top event apps this year.
UFI, which comprises 725 member organizations in 85 countries worldwide, awarded Grip its 2017 ICT Technology Award in July. The Technology Award honors outstanding digital tools designed to make the next generation of exhibition professionals fit for the future, and recognizes new technologies that support the exhibition industry. The theme for this year’s Award was: “Digital Innovation – What will be our solution for the future?”.
Grip, which also won last year’s IMEXPitch, stood out from the competition with an innovative product which offers an event networking app that has established more than 60,000 connections (and counting) for thousands of professionals.
Presenting at the UFI European Conference, Co-Founder and Grip CEO Tim Groot explained that the idea for the product emerged when the organizers of Cannes Lions 2016 wanted a smoother and more engaging way for attendees to network. Grip’s solution was to design a standalone custom event app using Artificial Intelligence to power a matchmaking API (Application Programming Interface) to deliver the best networking recommendations in a fast and friendly way.
Put to the test at the 15,000-attendee event, the Cannes Lions networking app established an average of 8.4 connections per user and more than 20,000 connections over a few days, enabling hundreds of face-to-face meetings, meaningful connections, and creating a huge positive impact on the event experience.
Also presented were
According to UFI, “presentations from the finalists were of an excellent standard, making the selection of an overall winner a very challenging assignment”. However, Grip’s presentation was “clear, comprehensive and met all the requirements needed for the tool to be considered a winning solution”. Other finalists presenting to the UFI’s Digital Innovation Committee in Cologne, Germany, included Messe München GmbH, ExpoPlatform, and Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Center.
“The UFI Technology Award is one of the most prestigious technology awards in the trade show world.” says Tim Groot. “We feel honored to be chosen as this year’s winner among so many great companies, and it’s great to see that the judges share our belief that technology can vastly improve networking and deliver an improved return on investment for exhibitors by leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence.”
“We are looking forward to presenting our solution at UFI’s Global Congress in Johannesburg later this year and will continue to push the boundaries of technology at trade shows.”
Grip’s win comes hot on the heels of last year’s IMEXPitch award, a competition for event tech startups to showcase themselves to event organizers and marketers from around the world. It’s run as part of IMEX America, the US’ largest annual meetings industry trade show, featuring the largest hosted buyer program in North America. Grip also won the standing-room only audience poll at IMEXPitch, and will be displaying at IMEX later this year.
UFI’s Awards recognize and reward successful result-oriented initiatives in the exhibition industry in areas ranging from digital innovation, human resources, marketing and operations and services to trade fair poster design and sustainable development. UFI represents around 50,000 exhibition industry employees globally, and works closely with its 58 national and regional association members. Over 900 international trade fairs bear the UFI approved label, a quality guarantee for visitors and exhibitors. UFI members continue to provide the international business community with a unique marketing media aimed at developing outstanding face-to-face business opportunities. More information on the UFI is available at www.ufi.org.
Hosted buyers are all about efficiency. While they appear to enjoy a relatively charmed event experience, they are primarily serious about their business, coming to events with the goal of avoiding time wasted otherwise on online searches, email chains, and phone calls.
For event organizers, therefore, matchmaking hosted buyers with exhibitors should prioritize efficiency; a hosted buyer’s meeting app, for example, should be about balancing B2B networking exposure at the event with generating relevant, good quality leads.
What does efficient matchmaking mean on the ground? It’s about saving precious time with mutually agreed-upon, personalized matches, offering a curated experience before, during and after the event, and respecting the privacy of hosted buyers by empowering them to choose whom they wish to connect with.
All these aspects of efficient matchmaking involve personalization. And the only way to offer a high degree of personalization on a large scale, with hundreds or thousands of hosted buyers, is through Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Here are a few ways Grip, powered by AI, offers an event app for hosted buyers meetings that helps event organizers personalize event matchmaking –
Grip’s pre-event professional matchmaking solution is to have attendees register using a social media account of their choice (such as LinkedIn), with our Artificial Intelligence engine then matching relevant parties. For event organizers, it’s goodbye to reams of spreadsheets and data-entry.
Pre-event meeting scheduling happens within hours rather than days. This happens after both parties have indicated a mutual interest in each other’s areas of business. Hosted buyers can ‘swipe right’ on individuals on their personalized list whom they’d be interested to meet, or left ‘skip’, if they’re not. Depending on how they interact with that list, a fresh set of prospects are generated, and so on. It’s a virtuous cycle of feedback and improvement. Once the other party also swipes ‘Interested’, it’s a ‘Handshake, and both parties can agree to a timeslot and location to meet. This can be changed or rescheduled as required.
As a first layer of privacy, Grip’s AI carefully curates the prospects shown to attendees. Hosted buyers and Exhibitors retain as much anonymity as they can handle.
Exhibitors need only to swipe ‘Interested’ on those prospects they reckon to be good quality leads. This sifts out opportunists in unrelated businesses trying to stuff their meeting calendars for a post-event report.
Hosted buyers have their own, unique set of digital content the moment they open the app, with personalized recommendations of which speaker best suits their interest. (Smart) Attendee Lists mean no more ‘networking roulette’ with whom they might meet.
On-location, hosted buyers enjoy real-time recommendations. That means that, in the midst of the event, the AI recommendation engine acts as a virtual concierge, making recommendations in real time, and learning from the hosted buyer’s interaction with it to source new prospects for their personalized list.
From a networking point of view, it’s important as an organizer to have your attendees and/or exhibitors matched up. That’s why they’re coming to the event – to make new connections, and capture new business leads. So there’s plenty of pre-event work for organizers, who have to get through thousands of registrant’s names, often manually matching them for relevance.
See our Event Networking solution guide here
With Grip, the pre-event work is minimized. We take LinkedIn or Facebook data from registrants when they sign in, and their information given at the point of registration, and our Artificial Intelligence recommends an initial list of contacts for delegates to meet.
Up to and on the day of the event, things inevitably change. Exhibitors, speakers, attendees have to be managed and kept up-to-date on who’s attending, who has moved location, who’s speaking at a different time or place. Exhibitors may launch new products on the day, that they’ll want to find new kinds of customers for.
But lots of changes to the agenda don’t faze us. Grip offers real time professional matchmaking as part of the event networking process. Our event technology solution uses Artificial Intelligence to learn from the interactions attendees make with the app, before and during the event, to improve our recommendations.
This means that attendees could turn up on Day 1, make a few successful connections (“Handshakes”) with exhibitors, and indicate they’re ‘not interested’ in other connections. By Days 2 and 3 (or less), they could have a different set of recommendations. Happy attendees and exhibitors!
Grip’s API easily integrates with almost any existing in-house event technology, or a fixed provider. We’ve programmed ourselves to be hugely flexible, very plug-and-play.
After the event, Grip lets exhibitors see, at a glance, the sections of industry that their sales teams have made the best connections with, making follow-up revenue-generation that much easier.
We take the business networking platform a smart step up, by offering real-time networking, and the best of B2B matchmaking and event scheduling software underpinned by game-changing Artificial Intelligence.
Find out more about how Grip can match your challenge here.
Exhibitors – the lifeblood of a trade show or exhibition. Plenty of attendees, VIP speakers, sponsors, and a sparkling trade program and facilities are great, but exhibitors are key to trade event success.
For an exhibitor, getting good quality leads that convert into sales is the biggest reason why they would invest in your trade show event.
So business matching software, also known as B2B matchmaking, is an important tool that enables event organizers to make a measurable difference when exhibitors decide where to invest their budget.
Why? Because it’s a place where exhibitors can establish an up-to-date, multi-faceted profile of their company, based on social media and data input. Grip lets exhibitors register and prioritize the categories they’re interested in, enabling a comprehensive map where aligned interests can be recommended and matched.
The more complete the exhibitor profile, the more relevant and specific the recommendations can be.
With an established profile on the networking application and with clearly-defined areas of interest, exhibitors can be confident that they have the best possible start to your event. The matchmaking can begin almost immediately, with attendees and exhibitors scheduling appointments right off the bat.
Using Grip ensures exhibitors won’t have to contend with a list of ‘maybes’. By only recommending the most relevant to them, appointments can be made using the event scheduling feature so exhibitors can arrive at the event, ready for business!
Time, space, staff – there’s never enough on the day. With Grip’s matchmaking app, exhibitors can quickly swipe through contacts that interest them or not, find customers with the greatest potential, before meeting them. This lets them spend their limited resources – stand time and staff – on the best leads.
When exhibitors find a great lead, it’s a ‘Handshake’ (swipe right). When they don’t, they’ll indicate they might revisit the lead ‘Later’ (swipe left). The more they swipe right or left on the Grip app, the better the chances of them turning up better, more relevant leads. Making appointments and getting new leads in real time, on the day, also means exhibitors can schedule different kinds of appointments at the same time, for different sales staff, for example.
Yes, it comes down to numbers. Every exhibitor wants to know how well they did at your event, and where the new leads came from. Back up their sales team’s ‘gut feel’ with hard data and meaningful insights to which new connections are going to translate into sales.
Grip lets exhibitors see, at a glance, the industry sectors that made the best connections with their sales teams. Connecting further, post-event, will translate easily into new revenue streams.
Business matchmaking is a great way to show your exhibitors that you’re thinking of their needs, even in the midst of the competing priorities that go into getting a successful trade show off the ground.
Facilitating the success of exhibitors at your event makes for better long-term relationships between organizers and exhibitors, and is a great way to encourage loyalty to your brand.
Grip takes the business networking platform a smart step up, by offering the best of B2B matchmaking and event scheduling software underpinned by our award-winning Artificial Intelligence, AND enabling exhibitors and attendees to connect and improve their connections in real time.
Wondering if Grip is right for your event? We go head-to-head with some of the usual event types out there, to see how we match up.
The Challenge. A big event, with more than 300 exhibitors and 15,000 attendees. Some event technology done in-house, some outsourced. Manual professional matchmaking of exhibitors and attendees. While at the event, attendees and exhibitors make or adjust their own appointments.
The (Networking) odds. Aside from pre-event scheduling, attendees and exhibitors will have to do their own B2B networking.
The Match. Grip offers a unique combination of artificial intelligence and B2B matchmaking that lets attendees and exhibitors connect seamlessly before the event, and in real time during the event. When attendees and exhibitors agree to connect, it’s a ‘Handshake’, and they can schedule a meeting. We’ve already handled conferences with more than 15,000 attendees, such as the Cannes Lions in France and the Retail Expo in London, to name a few.
The Challenge. A medium-sized event with between one to five thousand attendees and a few exhibitors. Some VIP speakers and attendees. Some event technology, mostly for registration and getting the agenda out. Would like to offer event networking, but not sure what it would involve.
The (Networking) odds. Most companies offering a ‘networking application’ really mean they’ll give attendees a list of names and appointments to work through. That’s okay, but it still leaves attendees on their own (with a long list), wondering if they have the most relevant contact, or if they aren’t ‘missing out’ on a contact that would really help them capture a lead.
The Match. Empower your attendees to decide what works best for them with Grip’s unrivalled business matching software. It learns from every interaction attendees make, and improves its recommendations, in real time. VIPs and celebrity attendees needn’t worry about being swamped with networking requests – Grip’s Artificial Intelligence would have recognised the VIP’s networking intentions, and only have recommended the right contacts for them to meet. (Look at what we did for the Founder’s Forum.)
The Challenge. A gathering of less than a thousand people, structured with an agenda. Quite informal – not much event technology, beyond registering through a Facebook or Eventbrite invite. A few VIP speakers and attendees.
The (Networking) odds. Attendees will have to be in the right place at the right time, exchanging business cards or email addresses at the event.
The Match. Keep things relaxed with Grip; we offer Communities for attendees to get in touch, get their Handshakes, and stay connected easily. They won’t have to worry about whether they’re in the right discussion circle at the right time, and can pay full attention to your agenda. Most importantly in Grip they will be able to schedule meetings before, during and after the event.
Get in touch if you don’t see your event here!
It’s been a busy year at Grip. The event networking app, with its ground-breaking professional matchmaking API, is looking to welcome its 50,000th ‘handshake’ – when attendees agree to connect with each other – very soon.
This, after breaking through the millionth ‘swipe’ milestone in August, signals the massive adoption by event attendees happy to use its unique, artificial intelligence algorithm.
Says CEO Tim Groot: “Event attendees are realising that networking at an event is no longer a lottery where finding the right business contacts to meet is left to chance. With Grip, people make connections with those they can collaborate with and often go on to do business together.”
Award-Winning AI Matchmaking
In October, the company won the prestigious #IMEXPitch America award, winning both the judge’s award and the (standing-room-only) audience poll for its practicality, innovativeness, and ease of implementation, amongst other things.
Miguel Neves, Digital Content and Community Manager at IMEX Group, said, “Grip stood out as both advanced in terms of the technology used and the design of the software. It is the best of both worlds when you can use a powerful tool that feels easy to use and can really help you make the most of the time and resources put into participating in each event.”
Grip also bested 60 other entrants to feature as a finalist at the 2016 ibtm world Technology and Innovation Watch Award, a significant technology award for the meetings industry, in November.
New Application Programme Interface (API)
This came after the team launched an API that allows Grip’s matchmaking functions to be used seamlessly by any company’s website or existing digital apps. For events needing a quick plug-and-play for more than networking, Grip partnered with five companies — Attendease, ITM Mobile, Loopd, Goomeo and Eventfuel — offering event management, indoor event navigation, and event app specialist integration opportunities.
“It provides a seamless and simple solution for companies keen to use our matchmaking engine in the optimum way and who want to integrate it with their existing solutions,” says Tim.
Scale Not An Issue
In June, Grip was the networking app of choice at the 15,000-attendee Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and in May, at the 350+ exhibitor, 16,000-attendee Retail Design Expo in London.
“Networking at (big events) can be a nightmare, especially as a startup.” said Nicholas Oliver, founder of people.io. “Grip connected me with some great people including the CEO of a major global agency group, whom we’re now working with on a significant partnership for people.io.”
For the touch of exclusivity on a smaller scale, Grip was also responsible for curating the networks — while respecting the privacy — of celebrities and VIPs attending the invite-only Founders Forum in London in June.
“Our delegates really enjoyed the networking app, with some even approaching me to compliment its use at Founders Forum.” said Anaïs Benazet, Head of Events at Founders Forum.
The Future Is AI
The year ahead will see event technology and artificial intelligence featuring prominently in the way attendees engage with each other and their events.
With its combination of natural language processing, advanced algorithms and deep neural networks to “match” people at events, Grip is already at the forefront of event networking. But the work is hardly complete.
“We’re constantly improving ourselves, building a robust and innovative system that can be relied on to deliver excellent networking experiences for your attendees, exhibitors and sponsors to make event technology as it should be for organizers — seamless, dependable, and brand-enhancing,” says Grip’s CEO Tim.
“Much the way our artificial intelligence learns what attendees prefer in the course of their event, and makes better recommendations, we’re looking forward to unveiling new features and services to better serve our clients as we go along.”
Watch this space!
An Event Networking App is the perfect tool to make your attendees network fast and efficiently. High adoption among attendees is crucial if you want to successfully use an event networking app like Grip at your event. Through the hundreds of events that we’ve worked with we have learned a thing or two about how to promote the app that we would like to share with you.
Besides an networking app being able to increase attendee engagement they’re also fantastic tools for gaining deeper insight into your attendees. However it all starts with getting high adoption, follow the steps below to achieve just that!
The majority of your attendees will check your website before the event. Positioning the App under “Attending Attendees” can help you get a better adoption rate.
You can use the images we provide in the “Marketing Pack” and add short description explaining the benefits of the App. We will also provide you with a smart marketing link to provide to your attendees, so they can download the app quickly.
Write a short, informative blurb for your website that clearly answers the question: “Why should they download the networking app?” by describing the benefits of the app.
Benefits of Grip for attendees:
Make it easy to download the App:
At Grip we will provide you with a smart marketing link that will send attendees straight into your event on the app without the need to enter a reference code or password. We’re seeing significantly less drop-off from click to joining of the event because of our smart marketing links.
At Grip we will provide you with designed promo banners to place on your website. This will generate excitement about your event letting your attendees know that they can network with each other before, during, and after the event.
A large part of downloads to our apps come from emails and for many organizers it is the preferred way to communicate with their attendees. Used effectively, it can drive a significant number of people to your app in a short period of time. We suggest a two-step approach to introduce networking at your event:
Email Your VIP & Influencers First
Get your VIPs on the app first to encourage others to join. Ask speakers and exhibitors to send pre-event social media posts to their followers, fans and connections to announce the app and encourage downloads. Before, during and after the event. Speakers can connect with other speakers, influencers and attendees.
Email the rest of your attendees
Leverage the high-profile people that have already joined the app to attract more attendees to join. An example text could be to use an image of one of the speakers or VIPs in your email or mention their name. It creates urgency for the attendee to join and has a significant improvement on your app downloads.
When your Event inside the Grip App or your event networking app is ready to be downloaded, make announcements on social media ensuring you convey the right tone of voice on each platform:
Linkedin & Facebook
Add a post and upload screenshots to Facebook to promote the fun and engaging aspects of your event networking app, speaking in a more casual tone of voice to get people excited. Choose images from your “Marketing Pack” that clearly display your app to give people a sense of what is coming up. Don’t forget to include your smart marketing link to make the app accessible.
Twitter & Instagram
At least one month prior to your event, start sending out tweets to your followers and continue to tweet with different messages at least 3 times per week leading up to your event. Leverage your event’s hashtags and Grip hashtags for keywords so that anyone who does a search will find your tweet. Telling them that they can network before the event this will also increase attendee satisfaction.
Grip handle & hashtags:
Making sure your staff knows everything about the networking app seems trivial, however, they are at the forefront of the event. Making sure they are advocate of the app and you will be sure to have a successful networking event.
Host a mobile app support booth and create a networking bar where attendees can meet and share business contacts near the coffee and food stand is usually a good place. Place support staff at phone charging hotspots throughout the conference centre to help people who might ordinarily shy away from new technologies or might need some extra help. Giving your support staff recognizable shirts will help them stand out from the crowd – sending a clear message about your commitment to customer service at your event.
To gain maximum visibility on-site at your event, create banners and tabletop signs that reinforce the messages you’ve already sent out through email, social media and the web.
Announce the mobile app in as few words as possible and clearly show how to download it. Use bold imagery that catches the eye and try varying your messages on different banners and signs throughout the conference centre.
Place your tabletop signs and banners by the registration area to greet attendees as they arrive and ensure that banners are located throughout the event centre in highly visible areas. Make sure to have tabletop signs for all keynote sessions, breakouts and social gatherings.
During your welcome reception, have your keynote speaker generate excitement about the mobile app in his/her presentation. Make sure your speaker gives attendees a sneak preview of the app and clearly displays a link for attendees to download it.
Monitor the app adoption in your Grip dashboard and promote the app accordingly. We can also provide you with a list of who has already joined the event. Sending emails only to the people that haven’t joined the app yet.
We are Grip, a professional networking app for events. Grip empowers professionals to achieve their networking potential. The Grip matchmaking app connects delegates, speakers, and exhibitors in a fast and simple way.