SOURCE: The Incentive Research Foundation

September 24, 2013 16:25 ET

Study Finds That Technology Infrastructure at a Venue Can Determine the Success or Failure of an Event

Planners Say That Tech Issues Have a Big Impact on Meetings and Incentive Events

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwired - Sep 24, 2013) - It's no longer just about a meeting site's location and facilities. Event planners have now added Wi-Fi quality and availability to their list of "must-haves" when selecting a venue.

The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) recently summarized the results of a qualitative study carried out by a team of graduate students from New York University's Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management. The study explores how today's technologies -- Wi-Fi, virtual gatherings, social media, mobile apps, and others -- help meetings and incentive events achieve corporate goals and objectives, specifically examining what drives the adoption of various technologies and any impediments to their use.

Technology Is the New Basic Utility

The study reports that planners say technology has become a major determinant for site selection as they realize that the technology infrastructure at a venue can determine the success or failure of that event.

Some highlights of the findings include:

  • Wi-Fi connections are the single-most important feature for planners and venue hosts. They view Wi-Fi as the new "basic utility" (similar to lights, water and restrooms), and generally feel it should be free or more reasonably priced rather than a luxury add-on. 
  • Social media has great appeal to incentive event planners: Planners use social media to engage, build communities and market, noting that social media can extend the social interaction period beyond the event itself, increasing overall networking and interaction. 
  • At events, mobile apps are viewed as a benefit to distributing materials such as program schedules and information, and to maintaining contact with incentive event attendees. Planners are also using text messaging and websites to create engagement and disseminate information.
  • Respondents agree that online "virtual meetings" will not replace face-to-face meetings altogether, especially incentive events where attendees receive rewards and expect unique experiences.

The Social Media and Mobile App Factors

Many respondents believe that social media, another tech "hot button," is a double-edged sword: it can enhance the experience and event marketing, but it can also be a time-consuming distraction. The study notes that participation in online social spaces usually follows the "1:9:90" Rule: 1% create content -- 9% interact with the content -- 90% are spectators to the content and interactions.

Many planners surveyed believe that mobile apps help increase collaboration by facilitating interactions between attendees and presenters. In fact, mobile apps are displacing audience response/polling systems, which require additional effort for presenters and a separate setup. They create an "exchange dynamic" between the attendee and speaker whereas response/polling systems are sometimes one-way. Likewise, mobile apps can reduce printing costs through paperless meeting agendas.

To effectively incorporate virtual meetings, social media and mobile app technologies on site, planners need to a) understand their audiences; b) establish goals and objectives for the event; and c) be able to articulate how technology will assist in achieving their goals and objectives.

To download the full study, which provides further details on a range of findings, please go to:

About the IRF:
The Incentive Research Foundation ( funds and promotes research to advance the science and enhance the awareness and appropriate application of motivation and incentives in business and industry globally. The goal is to increase the understanding, effective use, and resultant benefits of incentives to businesses that currently use incentives and others interested in improved performance.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jon Lieb/Lois Russo
    IRF Media Relations