July 2, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio

Missed part 1 of this story yesterday? Read it here.

Event technology pioneer Jo-Anne Kelleway says the digitisation of events is taking the industry into exciting territory. And it couldn’t have come sooner – she has been advocating for this for years.

She says there are a wide range of opportunities now being explored from gathering and analysing new data, and how to monetise these.

Understanding the data is where the event tech comes in.

Everyone is trying to understand how best to monetise the shift to more digital solutions and the embracing of hybrid models, which are widely considered to be COVID legacies.

“Info Salons has employed a whole department of data scientists in Dubai,” said Kelleway.

“The $64 miillion question is how to monetise. Looking at ‘journeys’ on websites and then on the show floor and looking at ways to monetise this for exhibitions. It may be about how to bring ‘better’ buyers to the booth or understanding the ‘flow’ at the show and where people want to be at events.

“Data and digital can bring new insights. It’s very exciting.”

Kelleway outlines an example of how this is playing out. “We have created a new machine learning program through which we can, for example, put 10 years of data for a client into the system. Combine this with pre-registration data and we can we create a traffic light system that sorts the contacts into green, amber and red.”

Kelleway says the traffic light system allows the marketing effort and investment to focus on the prospects that need more conversion focus.

“Spending can then be focussed on this group, and not on those who won’t be coming to the show or those who have already made up their mind to come.”

Kelleway is very reflective about the impacts of COVID on the Australian market. She says Australia has done a poor job on vaccination and on a consistent approach to border closures and lockdowns.

“We need to get vaccinated. The industry will not get through this pandemic if people don’t get vaccinated – it will be mid-2022 before we get back on our feet.”

She has a strong grip on what’s happening around the world and the pace of recovery.

China and United States were hit very hard with the early wave of Covid-19 in 2020 but are rebounding much more quickly than Australia because of the success of their vaccine rollouts.

Her remarks come on the eve of another major 14-day lockdown in Australia for five million people in Sydney and surrounds. And this dovetails Melbourne’s catastrophic fourth one. Three other Australian cities have since gone into lockdown too.

Kelleway knows first-hand of the impact. In July alone, Info Salons clients have deferred eight major events and Kelleway expects more events outside Sydney will also be affected.

It’s been a period of reckoning for Kelleway, the new international industry ambassador for the Freeman Group. Selling her business three years ago was lucrative and well-timed. She worked very hard to build her business and pioneer event tech in Australia and around the world.

She has been one of most successful women in events and particularly in event tech.

A lot has changed over the past 18 months for the industry and for Kelleway too.

She says she now values being at home and in Australia – “I’ve realised I don’t want to travel so much anymore, I was away for half the month, every month,” she said.

“But being on Zoom so often, I also realise how much I miss the people in our community around the world and in Australia. I miss seeing everyone – this industry is a community. Everybody is struggling – and I hope our friends and colleagues can hold on and get through this latest ordeal.”