Interview with Marie-Claire Andrews from the New Zealand company SmartShow. She talks about an event & meeting smartphone application called ShowGizmo. ShowGizmo has been used on every continent except Antarctica. The ShowGizmo template is a very exciting way to add a show application to your next event.
ShowGizmo combines web and smartphone technology to create more productive, valuable events. It enables event organizers, sponsors/exhibitors and visitors to access and manage information for trade shows, conferences, exhibitions and other events events and better connect with each other using the wide range of functions to achieve better results and improve their return on investment.
Speaker 1: Welcome back to the meetings podcast. This is Mike McAllen of Grass Shack Events & Media and today our special guest is Marie-Claire Andrews. Hi Marie.Speaker 2: Hello. How are you?
Speaker 1: Hi. Hi Marie-Claire. You are from ShowGizmo.
Speaker 2: That’s right.
Speaker 1: And you are down in New Zealand which is fantastic and so first why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into like the events world.
Speaker 2: Sure. So we’ve actually been running ShowGizmo or smart shows the company name for just over a year now which I think makes us if not one of the oldest mobile app for events companies probably at least a teenager if not kind of middle age and before that we were selling virtual events technology. A group of us thought that we’re being based here in New Zealand we have all sorts of challenges about reaching audiences and getting people to come here is quite a big deal, it’s a long long way and I think people are still worried sometimes that the lights aren’t on the weekends and the sheep are going around the treadmill to keep the internet going and things like that.
So we were trying to think of ways to encourage people to participate in events and virtual event technology seemed the way forward but it was a little too difficult for our community to grasp. It wasn’t a satisfying experience at that time. This is a couple of years ago you know when the tech was just coming out and frankly everyone still wanted to mix and mingle but we took what we learned from all of that and our experience in running events ourselves and watch the smartphone revolution just coming at us full and thought right let’s take a look at those good learnings and create a mobile app for an event but not a shiny fancy glitzy one for the big huge events. We wanted to be the smartphone app for everyone.
Speaker 1: That’s cool.
Speaker 2: And so that’s what ShowGizmo is. We’re aiming for midsize organizers and the associations and anyone who really wants to take advantage of the technology but maybe not spend quite so much and not have to learn very much about [geekery] where we take our best place.
Speaker 1: That’s nice. It’s very good.
Speaker 2: Yeah.
Speaker 1: People like for us to be simple. I was looking through your website and you just don’t do events there in New Zealand you do them all over the place.
Speaker 2: Well, there’s only four million people here so there aren’t that many events actually really going on. There’s probably about only 40 major event organizers here so for a company like ours to be successful we have to be out there and we have right from the start. So we’ve been mobilizing events over in the UK, we did complex over there, we’re in the Middle East, in Dubai, Bahrain, Kenya, Australia. Yeah, right around the world and we have our first US event is just happening this month. So it’s very exciting.
Speaker 1: Oh, really. Where is that?
Speaker 2: Pretty much — in Ohio.
Speaker 1: Oh, how funny. That’s great.
Speaker 2: Uh-huh.
Speaker 1: Congratulations.
Speaker 2: So every continent but Antarctica. I’m not sure there’s a massive events industry there so we don’t see about that.
Speaker 1: No. No. No. No. So tell me what is ShowGizmo. What does it do?
Speaker 2: Okay.
Speaker 1: For you.
Speaker 2: Internet show. ShowGizmo is actually a website really. It’s an event community. So that profiles the show, the exhibitors, the delegates and that’s where the analytics about whose doing well what and whose interested in what gets captured and then it’s supported by native apps, native smartphone apps that put the show in everyone’s hand. So think of it like a template really. The app ShowGizmo is in the store all the time and our event organizers populate it in real time by entering information into the site so they get native apps really quickly. You know by the end of the day if they’re speedy in filling in their forms but they don’t have to code a unique app for every event or wait for those apps to be put in the store. So it’s like yeah, it’s like a template I guess. We also write label and create custom apps but really ShowGizmo is a cool product.
Speaker 1: And so ShowGizmo is like pick and choose like from a menu of things that you might want for your app. Is that how it works?
Speaker 2: It’s actually a structured template. So the event organizers give away a little bit of flexibility and return for the speed and efficiency I guess really. But it has pretty much everything you would expect. So it’s a digital show guide. It’s got the exhibitor listings. It’s got Twitter feeds. It’s got a floor plan. It’s got the schedule. It’s got speaker presentations.
Speaker 2: It’s got all of the things that we notice people really want to wanna take their phone out of their pocket for an event you know the key things and that it also actually has integrated lead capture in it for exhibitors. So through QR code scanning they can basically generate more leads. So the delegates use our app to scan their code at their booth, get a little of that exhibitor’s information straight to their phone and then return, give their name and email and information to the exhibitor.
Speaker 1: Wow. That’s very cool.
Speaker 2: Kind of like eating away at those third party bar code scanners that have been out and about in the market for a while.
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Speaker 2: Everyone has a scanner in their hands so why bother.
Speaker 1: Right. Right. And I guess then they can give you also all their information about whatever their booth is or whatever they’re selling, right.
Speaker 2: Exactly.
Speaker 1: That’s the exchange.
Speaker 2: Exactly. So you don’t have to carry around all of that fancy brochure stuff that looks so shiny and smells nice and then you throw it away when you get home.
Speaker 1: Right. It’s very green. So I guess you’re saving all the trees and everything in the world.
Speaker 2: Absolutely.
Speaker 1: So how do you find and this is a question just because I’m just sadly here in the United States most of the time.
Speaker 2: Yeah.
Speaker 1: So how is it for like for these other countries like for internet. Is the internet faster? It’s interesting because it’s so slow here and you go into these big conferences and it’s just you know these great cool apps you get here and then you go to like comfort and you can’t use it because everything is so slow.
Speaker 2: It’s so slow.
Speaker 1: Yeah. I wondered how it is down there in New Zealand and then how you scale that to other countries.
Speaker 2: New Zealand is kind of fascinating because it’s a small population. We actually get used as a test case for quite a lot of tech innovation. So we have pretty awesome internet here and actually every event I’ve been to here in New Zealand has really good wireless app to shows. So unlike we went to the UK for example and whilst their general 3G is great once we got into the events you know you are being pillage for the amount of money you have to spend to have a decent internet connection inside the event arena. So it’s quite mercenary there. It’s still good quality but very expensive and the data roaming charges are just deadly.
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Speaker 2: And that’s the challenge. That’s the thing we have to think long and hard about is that you know whilst our first premise was to try and encourage more people to participate in events if they’re dealing with data roaming or you know just to browse an exhibitor’s profiles it will cost them 23 bucks and that’s not really ideal. But in the Middle East it was pretty good. Bahrain a little bit slightly slower. It’s just the pricing of it is what effects the uptake really and they use.
Speaker 1: Right. It’s funny this is so kind of out topic.
Speaker 2: Yup.
Speaker 1: But I met a guy recently here where I’m very close to Silicon Valley where all the tech is going on too.
Speaker 2: Yup.
Speaker 1: So I met this guy and we‘re having a beer and he was telling me he has a small company and he just brings his own internet into the outside the event and he can just shoot it across the whole —
Speaker 2: Wow.
Speaker 1: — comfort center and I should be handing this case carried out to everybody because he says.
Speaker 2: Wow.
Speaker 1: And then you can brand it as whatever you want and supposedly it’s free space that anyone can do that.
Speaker 2: Awesome.
Speaker 1: Here. Yeah, and it was way faster plus it’s branded so when you go the front page it says ShowGizmo would like to offer you free internet and so everybody you know it’s pretty cool anyway. I thought that’s…
Speaker 2: I’d like to meet — yeah, I’d like to meet that man. He sounds cool. Send him down.
Speaker 1: So what are you finding with ShowGizmo that people, the attendees, the best features what is or the organizer what are they most jazz about it when you weigh how are you getting all these clients everywhere.
Speaker 2: Well, first of all because they can have a native app instantly. So often they’re making decisions they like. We’ve got to have an app for an event. It’s a box to tick, the world is telling us apps, apps, apps. I’m not quite sure oh I’ve left it very late. What shall we do? And we can roll it up super-fast for them so that’s one thing. And then also we have an account management service so we actually help them with their mobile strategy as well so yes, we’re geeky and we’ve got some great tech but we’ve also got a team of people that know how to bring it to the event mix so that helps them hugely but in terms of the features the system itself the delegates mainly what they want to use as the map and the schedule. They wanna know where am I going and what’s happening next that’s the thing we noticed they click on most.
The exhibitors love the lead capture. They totally understand about getting their brand in people’s hands for a whole lot longer than just one or two or three days of the event and then yup, knowing that they can capture more leads through the QR code is just a complete winner for them and then the producers they make money from it, they get it sponsored and there’s various but real estate they can use to get the apps sponsored and then they’re also capturing a whole lot more analytics about whose doing what which can help them sell next year’s event and then just little things like the push notifications and the alerts and the emails you can send out through the system just extends their whole life of the event.
So we’re all trying to find ways to you know leverage the event itself outside of the short period of time it’s live and then starting with a lot more with Facebook and lot more with LinkedIn and then the mobile app being available for basically up to a year that’s a really you know build up community and talk with them for a lot longer and…
Speaker 1: Oh, I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Speaker 2: No. No. That was full stop.
Speaker 1: As you were talking I had 16 questions I wanted to ask you but that being said that’s the coolest thing too was that you said is that you’re totally dialing in to people to use this.
Speaker 2: Uh-hum.
Speaker 1: Do you ShowGizmo because I know that we’ve had so many problems trying to get apps up and running fast and then also to have somebody to you know to help you along —
Speaker 2: Yup.
Speaker 1: — with some sort of strategy that’s brilliant, right because it is that’s just always the problem that we have because people are decided to do events how late now they don’t all the time.
Speaker 2: Yes. Yes. And they I mean the technology at the end of the day I mean Tim will kill me for this but it’s just technology, right. It’s just cool tech.
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Speaker 2: They only matters if people use it and they only use it if they understand what the point is and so there’s a whole new communication strategy for event organizers. They have to explain the benefits and how it intermingles with all the other communications they’re doing around the events so that’s what we help with. We give them that language so that they know how to get people to do things and enjoy it.
Speaker 1: That’s fantastic. And then also with the push notifications then you can also make changes the whole time. I mean.
Speaker 2: Yeah, absolutely.
Speaker 1: So if there’s a change some speakers said or something you can alert people or.
Speaker 2: Yup, and they can actually update the content that goes out into the apps in real time. So they just use their websites, change the schedule around, reload the presentations and then next time you have a quick look at the schedule you’re seeing the real schedule.
Speaker 1: That’s very cool.
Speaker 2: It is live. Yeah, we think so. Thanks.
Speaker 1: So obviously however is in Ohio can they go check out. I guess you can’t just walk to an event to check it out but how would somebody find you.
Speaker 2: So the best way is our website. Showgizmo.com gives people the chance to connect with us and then get a free demo. So people can explore and create an app and download the system and play around at our website as if they’d already brought it if they just rock along to the website.
Speaker 1: That’s awesome and then if someone would want to get a hold of you how could they get hold of you.
Speaker 2: My long complicated name at showgizmo.com.
Speaker 1: [email protected]. Okay.
Speaker 2: It’s just my first name. We should make it MC should we.
Speaker 1: Yes, we should because your name is very difficult Marie-Claire. Okay, well thank you very much for talking with me. I would love to have you come back another time to you know I’m sure you guys are gonna — sounds like you’re constantly doing new stuff too. So —
Speaker 2: Yup.
Speaker 1: — to have you come back and talk again next time.
Speaker 2: Thank you. I’d love that. Next stop Antarctica.
Speaker 1: Yes. Yes. That would be fantastic. Alright, Marie-Claire thanks so much and thanks again.
Speaker 2: Thanks, Mike.
Speaker 1: Bye. Bye.