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Ops tech, interoperability, and the metaverse

by Paul Colston

FFAIR co-founder Lyndon Baptiste runs down 2022’s hottest exhibition trends, from metaverses to NFTs:

Working as a serial event entrepreneur – including founding The London Dessert Festival and co-founding my latest venture FFAIR – has meant staying on top of the latest trends. This year, the emerging trends are more ambitious and bewildering than ever, but it pays to start thinking about them, now. 

Ops tech

The term ‘event technology’ is applied too broadly, so I think we’ll see greater categorisation. Short for ‘operations technology’, ops tech is a category of software that improves the operational functions of your exhibition. 

All the trends cited for 2022 involve automation and improved, or novel, experiences. Ops tech is no different, as it provides a simpler way to oversee the vital mechanisms of your exhibitor experience, from the manual to the shopping, while taking away burdensome operational costs and administrative knots.  

The constraints on a modern physical exhibition are growing, and ops tech is a great way to stay on top of them and drastically cut exhibitor burdens. By simplifying and centralising the back-end processes of your exhibition, you free up time and budget for creativity and exploring the wider reaches of your brand… and the trends discussed in this blog might be a great place to start.  

The Metaverse

This touted ‘digital revolution’ has spawned the most excitement, confusion and controversy.

Even Mark Zuckerberg admits it was a bold play to turn Facebook into Meta, ‘a metaverse company’ – and its recent share dip demonstrates this. But, for exhibitions, it’s time to stop seeing online as competition. The concept of an interactive, virtual landscape presents a great opportunity for brand amplification and extending the lifespan, and networking effect, of your event. 

Firstly, we’ll see several metaverses gain huge traction, and the sector is set to be worth trillions of dollars in the next ten years, with forward thinking brands (including Adidas, Nike and Coca-Cola) already plotting their plays.  

The Trillion Dollar Question then, is whether Meta’s gargantuan funding will be enough to entice users away from decentralised, privacy-centric crypto alternatives (see Sandbox, Decentraland, and TCG World, to name a few). 

For organisers and exhibitors, this multiplicity presents a problem straight off the bat: will your metaverse of choice support your exhibition’s goals in terms of interactivity and utility? Will its look and feel suit your carefully-honed event aesthetic? And, crucially, will you be able to monetise your metaverse exhibition? 

While these remain known unknowns, virtual events – whether in a future metaverse or online right now – need to enhance your physical exhibition offering in a playful manner that grows the physical event’s appeal. 

However, automating exhibitions via ops tech, and other innovations, will mean organisers and exhibitors can compete with the spontaneity and lower-cost bases of their virtual counterparts. 

Interoperability

While the metaverse might seem a way off, many aspects of Web 3.0 are already glaringly apparent, and the exhibition technology industry needs to learn to work together, and share its code and platforms. 

In a sea of event technology, interoperability will be required to allow diverse software offerings to interact seamlessly – and to ensure this happens, companies must become more transparent and holistic in their thinking. 

NFTs

You’re sick of hearing about them, but we think there’s a few overlooked ways NFTs can add real value to your exhibition… now. Ticketing, for example, could be enhanced, not only in its security, but also in its value and appeal.  

For example, your guest speaker could record a few exclusive bits of content for selected ticket holders to encourage visitor uptake, with the NFT being ‘unlocked’ only once the recipient has attended your exhibition. Could we see a future where event attendance is incentivised by valuable NFTs? We reckon so.

FFAIR offers online platforms to automate the management of exhibitor information and orders.

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