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The benefits of GDPR

Tanya Pinchuk, managing director at ExpoPlatform, outlines some benefits of GDPR to organisers

With the enforcement date of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) just around the corner, and social media data use under intense media scrutiny (Facebook/Cambridge Analytica), there has never been a better time to ensure your data affairs are in order.

But rather than focus on the negative side of this new regulation, we should be looking at the benefits that it will bring.

Increased attendee awareness, a higher quality of pre-event networking for those who opt in, and ultimately improved attendee trust – a word that sits very heavily with any company trading in data today – are all by-products of this new regulation.

Companies should begin by paying attention to the areas of their business most affected by GDPR, areas that as a consequence will have the greatest impact on your organisation. While internal factors such as personal data and accounts will be more sensitive, external factors such as registration details and information on delegates are where the majority of event organisers will look first.

And it is here that GDPR brings great benefit to organisers. Online networking and matchmaking services for clients who opt in mean that metrics and analytics will be much more meaningful, as organisers will be able to identify attendees who contribute value to their event. Data collected during registration while using the mobile app or browsing the website, such as cookies or IP address data that allows registration and/or log-in through social networks, all falls under personal data for the purposes of GDPR.

To avoid losing track of those that have opted in or out, consider consolidating databases that contain this information into one central location. Build a data map of your event-marketing database, review how it was obtained and is currently being used, what is obsolete and what is unnecessary and remove entries accordingly.

One of the most important changes is that all event clients now have to be explicitly aware of the purpose and type of data being used and must give explicit consent to the use of their personal data for the stated purpose. They must also have the ability to access their data and request its deletion. Data stored in this way must be subject to tests for valid consent, transparency, correction, erasure, data portability and automated processing.

So what does this mean for new and emerging technologies entering the event space? 

Well, these companies now bear the burden of explaining their benefits not just to the organiser but also to the delegates and attendees at their event. 

Something that is specifically useful for the organiser while also harvesting end-user personal data, is unlikely to be accepted by the delegates. It must be of clear benefit to them, and therefore the software you are using will need to be pitched accordingly. Additionally, the new regulations prevent organisers from collecting more information than is required - an online marketing campaign must remain in the online universe, for example. 

The new regulations have empowered delegates by democratising their data and enabling them to have a say in what technology they wish to engage with and how they want their data to be used. Organisers should seize this opportunity to build more meaningful relationships with their delegates and sponsors in order to deliver better experiences.