Apple is putting your driver’s license on your cell phone, and I’m frustrated California isn’t one of the first set of states adopting the technology. I’m the guy who jumps into every new technology fad first, but this one in particular is the latest in a series of technological advances that just makes sense. We’ve already embraced paying with our phone, reading restaurant menus via QR code, and showing our tickets to the venue with our phone over the last year; now the digital driver’s license feels like the latest thing we need to adopt. 

The adoption and innovation of technology during the pandemic has completely shifted consumer behavior. Work- from-home, eLearning, telehealth, and online shopping have shifted every aspect of our day-to-day transactions and if we don’t adjust to this new reality for peer-to-peer fundraising events, we’ll be behind others who are innovating their participant experience. The speed and adoption of digital technology has covered a decade in days. As we have been adjusting in real-time, here are the event interactions we are updating for our events. 

Check-in and Registration 

We are all used to making restaurant reservations and getting tickets online. When I go to Target to pick up my groceries, they already know who I am. Participants expect the same experience at your event. It doesn’t take a big financial investment to think through how to streamline your check-in operations. Three great options: Sending out a “fast pass” to participants who check in online pre-event, or sending a unique QR-code to those who pre-registered, or creating QR code signage at the event that participants scan with a look-up for self-check-in. Paper reports create queues on event and also decrease the accuracy in your data, and it’s that data that can help you cultivate key performers. 

Donations and Financial Transactions 

I was surprised when I had to pull out my credit card at the coffee shop yesterday. After all, I’m that guy who wants my driver’s license on my phone. I don’t remember the last time I carried cash. Frankly, I don’t want to be handling cash these days (and don’t get me started about business cards — that’s another soapbox with some cool new options). Think through how you’re going to adjust to the new normal of payments. Even the woman who sells me the amazing peaches at the Farmer’s Market has a Venmo account. Make it easy to get donations from your participants. Create team-specific QR codes you post at the event for people to donate directly to a team through your fundraising platform. Create other QR codes for day-of event registrations. Heck, just create one huge fun donation station! No one needs cash or a credit card anymore. There are no excuses. Donation payments are just a swipe and click away. Leverage how frictionless it is for people to donate to you when they are most inspired by your mission. You may need to convince your accounting team to establish a Stripe account for mobile donation payments or determine the system you need to make it seamless, but that investment will pay off. 

Text to Communicate  

Email is dead! There, I said it. You know how to get your participants to pay attention to important event information? Text them. Now, it’s true that three years from now I may be writing a blog post proclaiming text is dead. But for right now, texting is where it’s at.  Participants will pay attention if you text them a link to the important information webpage the morning of the event.  Many of them will even text you back with questions, and you should be there ready with answers. It’s a great opportunity to connect with and engage your constituents. Do you know what else you can text them? A request to donate right when they’re experiencing the best part of the event. Use text as a way to build a relationship with your participants. It should be a two-way stream of communication and can act as a great cultivation tool. 

Second Screen 

Recently, I watched the Tony awards. OK yes, I’m also that guy. During the entire show we were commenting back and forth about what was being said online. We were having a conversation about the conversation, and it was second nature. Following the Twitter threads about the event became as much a part of the spectacle as the event itself. “Jennifer Holiday?. WTH is Paramount??? Chenoweth and Menzel 😭😭😭.” And if you don’t speak Tony’s, how about Monday Night Football “Cowboys 🙌. Landry Shift. Eagles 🤕🤕.”  

We all do it. Interacting with our community via a second screen is another way for us to feel like we’re a part of something bigger. Embrace this sense of community to cultivate your participants. Provide a forum during the event. Talk about where to find that online forum from the stage. Use immersive technologies like Charge Running to provide a broadcast that all your participants can hear the whole event even when they are out on the course. Blend your in-person event with digital interactions or what some are calling “phygital”, meaning the combination of physical and digital, to create more immersive experiences. 

Vaccine Verification 

Yes, this is the elephant in the room. Some organizations are nervous to wade into these waters, as no one wants to dissuade potential participants from activating and raising money. Even if verification isn’t something you plan to do, it could be mandated by the local county or state. As a contingency, we’re making plans on how we’ll verify and process vaccine verification because the guidelines could change at a moment’s  notice.  

The transition adjustments I mention above are no longer just nice to have. The time for change and innovation happened and expectations changed. Frictionless and phygital are the new normal, and one day I won’t have to worry that I forgot my driver’s license at home. 

Patrick Riley

Patrick Riley, Senior Vice President of Accounts at Event 360, has more than 18 years of event experience, with a focus on developing great client relationships. He is practiced in all aspects of event operations – from marketing and advertising to planning and event execution. Patrick uses project management best practices to create amazing event experiences for participants, volunteers and our client partners.

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