66: How Technology is Changing the Meetings & Events Industry

We have the great honor of speaking to an icon in our industry today! Corbin Ball, aka Mr. Technology, is an influential leader who has been sharing his knowledge, insights, and technological discoveries for many years! He was inducted into the Events Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders in 2018 and was named the most influential person in the Top 25, five times!

In this episode, Corbin talks to us about AI (Artificial Intelligence), AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), and data insights and analytics. We hope you will enjoy listening to our conversation!

Corbin Ball’s bio:

Corbin Ball, CSP, CMP, DES, MS is an international speaker, consultant, and writer helping clients worldwide use technology to save time and improve productivity. After more than a decade running international citywide technology meetings, Corbin transitioned in 1997 to become a highly acclaimed speaker with the ability to make complex subjects understandable and fun. Corbin is a 2018 inductee into the Events Industry Council’s Hall of Leaders, the most prestigious honor in the meetings, conventions, and exhibitions industry. He is the only person to have received both the MPI International Supplier of the Year and the MPI International Chapter Leader of the Year awards. Corbin has been named as one of “The 25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry” five times by Successful Meetings/Meeting News magazines. Corbin was named last month by Cvent as one of “20 Event Professionals You Should Be Following.”

Corbin Ball’s journey

When he left college, Corbin became the Director of Educational Media for Western Washington University. That was where his immersion in technology began. Several years later, he was asked to help a small engineering association with the technological side of their events. He continued working for that association for about 15 years, during which time they grew to run the largest meetings in the world in the area of optics.

Technology was going to change everything

In 1997, Corbin saw that technology was going to change everything. It became apparent that technology would change the world of events profoundly. So, he decided to travel more and form his own business as a speaker, consultant, and writer, focusing specifically on event technology. He was the first person to do that, and it has been a fun ride for him ever since then!

Corbin Ball can lay claim to the longest-running website

Corbin has the longest-running event technology website (www.corbinball.com). He started it shortly after forming his business, Corbin Ball and Company. He has loved helping event professionals understand technology so that they can improve their business processes.

The silver lining

The pandemic taught Corbin to slow down, smell the roses, and enjoy life wherever he is.

Technological changes

During the last 14 months, there has been an explosion of innovation, particularly in virtual meetings. Virtual meetings have changed more during this time than they have in the past decade.

The year of hybrid event technology and innovation

All the best practices that we have learned from virtual meetings will forever change the face of in-person events. Corbin thinks that 2021 will be the year of hybrid event technology and innovation.

Profound changes in society

The best practices that we learned and the forced increased digitization of how we do business have created profound changes in our society.

Corbin Ball’s thoughts on the future marketing of events

The way that events get marketed will be different in the future. As Corbin explains, there has been a lot of talk about establishing a year-round community and creating marketing campaigns to market events to that community. That community will use AI and do things differently and more efficiently.


There is nothing that can replace face-to-face communication, interaction, and relationship-building, which are all key parts of the sales process. Exhibitors at exhibitions have complained of having low net promoter scores because they were unable to make the same connections as they do at face-to-face events. Yet, Corbin still feels that the virtual meetings piece will be substantially larger than it was in the past.

The impact AI will have on meetings and events

Corbin feels that AI will become one of the biggest and most profound trends of this decade. It will change everything. AI has many applications for events. In 2019, Wordly.ai created a technology for events that accurately translates voice into audio and text in 16 different languages. That technology can be used for virtual events to open the translations up to a much broader audience. Chatbots will also be helpful for events, as will AI technologies designed for biometrics. Zenus.ai does facial recognition for meeting registration and access control accurately, quickly, and securely.

Anonymous facial analytics

In the area of anonymous facial analytics, gender, estimated age, levels of interest, and emotions can all be measured. Facial analytics applications can also count the number of people in large groups, measure their age and gender, and even measure whether or not they are paying attention during an event. We will see facial recognition technology used more frequently for travel and hotel check-ins.

Non-contact palm scans

Non-contact palm scans can automatically scan the contents of a grocery basket instantly.

AI customization for events

Some companies have been using the data points from people’s event registrations to create algorithms to help them find matches for their interests with the exhibitors they should see or the sessions they should attend. There is a lot of growth potential in that area.

Video recap

Another company has designed video recap software specifically for events. It creates searchable transcripts that highlight the key points throughout the presentations.

Vertical markets

Every vertical market, from farming to pharmacology, will also be affected by artificial intelligence.

Virtual Reality

For a virtual reality experience, you put on goggles and get taken to another place. Although that is not ideal for events, it can be helpful for hotel sales, site inspections, or elaborate equipment demos.

Augmented and Mixed Reality

Mixed reality is similar to augmented reality. It involves layering additional objects, information, or a character within the view that you are seeing. It can provide an effective display, but the headsets are, unfortunately, quite expensive.

AI on a phone or tablet

The technology for using AI on a phone or a tablet is well-established. It has been around for more than a decade. Recent upgrades to android devices and iPhones have improved the technology and made it much easier to use.

Augmented reality glasses

In the future, we will be using normal-looking glasses that have augmented reality components for many different applications.

Projection mapping

With projection mapping, you can layer a digital experience on top of something concrete. You can convert the side of a building to be animated or create a stage set where people can interact with things that are not there. The technology for projection mapping has improved recently, making it easier to use and less expensive.

Data integration and analytics

One of the benefits of virtual meetings is that every click is trackable, and you can get rich data from every attendee. The same thing can apply to face-to-face events, although that is a little more difficult. Many systems will automatically give you data and analytics. Data analytics typically requires three things:

  1. You have to integrate all your different data sources with the analytics technology.
  2. You need to use artificial intelligence to analyze the data and see the insights.
  3. You need to make the data accessible to humans. (For example, by making a graph or a chart.)

Once all the data has been brought together, you can use it to better serve your customers by providing them with what they are interested in and what they want.

Connect with Corbin Ball

On LinkedIn

On Website

On Twitter

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Eric Rozenberg

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