The 2022 Guide to Smart Events

So you’ve heard the buzzword “smart events” around the industry lately, but aren’t quite sure what it means or why everyone is talking about it. 

We’ve taken our own experience running smart events, reached out to fellow eventprofs, and compiled all that information in one place for you. 

Here you’ll learn what constitutes a smart event, how they work in real life, the importance of an all-in-one community platform, and get some helpful tips on how to run your own successful smart event. You’ll have all the info you need to start planning your own smart event in no time! 

What's the difference between a smart event and a virtual event?

The quick answer is that a “virtual” event occurs 100% online. A smart event can be a virtual, in-person, or hybrid event that gives technology a primary role in elevating the overall event experience. It essentially improves the experience for both organizers and attendees by putting technology to work for you to improve the registration experience, increase monetization opportunities, boost engagement, and more. 

What is a smart event? 

You’ll hear many different definitions around the industry, but they all lean toward a technology-driven event with physical and online components - and unprecedented possibilities for data capture. 

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When it comes to data, an all-in-one smart event platform is the way to go because it streamlines the flow of data from every capture point right into the organizer's personal dashboard, available at any time. Smart events also give exhibitors and sponsors more opportunities to better track their leads with technology-driven data collection.

Eventprofs we’ve spoken to, including marketers, event tech experts, and event planners, have shared their own definition of a smart event:

“The infusion of technology & serendipity to optimize participant ROI.”


“A smart event, to me, is an event which uses data in a meaningful way: Tradeshows use demographic data from registration with behavioral data from the event to profile their audience to better sell/prove ROI to their exhibitors/sponsors. Corporates uses intent signals from events to optimize follow up/next events and move attendees (leads) through the sales funnel“


“Smart events are not just about the tech, but about the intentionality of how organizations design content and connection opportunities with the attendees in mind. They’re user-friendly experiences that make attendees want to engage voluntarily, but it also ushers them towards connection with the right call to action at the right times.”


“Relevant content and connections I need just a click away!”


How to run smart events

Now that we know what a smart event is, let’s look at how to run one. Spoiler alert: you need to improve your tech stack and reduce the friction of data flow.

An all-in-one community platform does the work for you

Your best option for successfully running a smart event is to invest in an all-in-one community platform. The “all-in-one” speaks for itself, but let’s dive into the details.

For on-site and hybrid events, this type of platform should provide a mobile app for attendees and exhibitors that at the minimum includes intelligent networking features, a built-in floor plan, and an easy-to-view conference schedule. This gives your attendees and exhibitors access to all the important information you want them to have about your event in the palm of their hand. 

For virtual events, platforms like Swapcard offer AI-powered matchmaking, so your attendees can simply log on to the platform and have session and networking recommendations at the ready! AI algorithms create a data feedback loop that makes sure all attendee and exhibitor data is used in a functional, value-driven way.

You might be wondering how an all-in-one community platform can improve the user experience? Nancy Walsh, President of Informa Markets North America and a client of Swapcard, recently spoke about how offering smart events can optimize a client's experience: 

"A multi-channel approach that leverages the value of physical platforms complemented by digital solutions that create multiple touchpoints for connection and market access throughout the year is the future of our business."

- Nancy Walsh, President, North America, Informa Markets

So where does community come into play? We’ll go into more detail later on in this article, but essentially your platform becomes a home and focal point for your attendees that goes beyond the traditional event days. It’s a place where attendees and exhibitors can continue to interact, network, and make connections 365-days a year. 

What is a smart event

Data is your friend

A truly smart event also provides organizers with data and lead-capturing that you can’t find anywhere else. This includes in-depth data tracking and measuring features for the organizers, lead retrieval and badge scanning, and a data dashboard for exhibitors and partners. 

Why is data so important? It’s the key component that makes a smart event stand apart from a “regular” event. Imagine all the information available to you as an organizer that you haven’t been able to access before. You can discover what sponsored sessions were the most successful, how ads performed, how your attendees interacted with your content, how long they spent on your platform, how engaged they were with your event, and so much more. 

Without having to put any extra effort into planning your event, you’ll have data aplenty. You can then put this data to work for your next event to make it an even better and more lucrative experience. 

Data is your friend

Sponsorship packages that deliver

A smart event provides visibility and promotional opportunities for exhibitors and partners that far exceed those available at a “regular” event.  Thanks to the data you collected, you’ll now have hard proof to share with potential sponsors when offering them tiered sponsorship or partnership packages.

How do smart events help build a community? 

Your all-in-one community platform is an important part of your smart event because it uses technology to extend the ROI of your event, increase your brand reach, and grow your audience. 

Your platform is your community’s home and keeps them connected, wherever they are in the world. 

It connects audiences at home and onsite, gives everyone access to the content throughout the year, provides a community discussion board, and also has an interactive newsfeed that keeps members up-to-date on current happenings, among other offerings.

Remember when we mentioned earlier the visibility to sponsors and exhibitors with a smart event? This is also where an all-in-one community platform comes into play. Since the community platform is available 365-days a year, that’s bonus visibility and access to key audiences that sponsors and exhibitors wouldn’t have with a traditional event. 

Now, sponsors can host webinars, roundtables, or sessions to reach and directly interact with their target audiences; exhibitors can use the community platform’s marketplace to sell items and continuously network with potential clients. The community keeps on giving.

The future of (smart) events

Not to sound cheeky, but a smart event really does live up to its name. 

As an organizer, you’re harnessing technology to enrich the overall event experience. As an attendee, exhibitor, or sponsor, it’s an experience that’s well worth your time and money because you know this smart event is making the best use of both.  

If you’re interested in seeing the power of an all-in-one community platform in action, Swapcard would love to hear from you. We’ve got the expertise and experience to help you build your community and deliver a (smart) event to remember!

Talk to us

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