Cartagena Inspira interview with Stephane Doutriaux, Poken Founder and CEO

Cartagena inspira 4In the lead up to Cartagena Inspira, Latin America’s capstone event for Communication, Creativity and Innovation, Érika Duarte, Communications & PR Manager, recently caught up with Poken Founder and CEO, to discuss the evolving role of data, gamification and the events space in the region. Stephane will join a host of international speakers in Cartagena, to share his insights on ‘Gamification in the event space and strategically driving behaviour’, at the conference on September 28th.


Could you tell us a little about data in the trade show and event space? Do you feel that trade shows, festivals and corporate events mismanage their data and corresponding opportunities? How can Poken help with this?

The primary objective of most events is to satisfy their sponsor’s objectives.  Because of the many challenges involved in pulling together an event, and frequent last-minute challenges that the organiser faces with simple logistics or last-minute sign-ups, we often see lofty goals drawn back to the same set of basic targets at the cost of long-term strategic vision.  In this sense, yes – many event organisers miss the opportunity that collecting detailed, relevant data can provide them, especially as it relates to long term planning. One challenge is, data becomes increasingly interesting and valuable, the more history you have – so the first year you start collecting some new data points is generally the year that the data collection has the least immediate value to you and your stakeholders – you need something to compare it to. The more history you have, the more insights you can draw:  The biggest hurdle is therefore to decide to start collecting more data points. But the investment pays off in the future: That’s the benefit that we see large or more experienced organisers have – they have been collecting data for years, and are therefore more confident in making strategic changes to their events.

There are a number of different technologies and platforms in the market that can help you collect key metrics. Evolving from collecting only registration data, to measuring actual interactions between exhibitors and buyers, measuring traffic patterns in front of sponsor’s exhibits, measuring linger time, eyeballs, and event collecting what we call “intent” (an actual action from a participant, resulting from a specific touchpoint during the event) – there are significant benefits to having actual numbers for all of these angles.


What are the most required or popular products and services in Poken’s platform?

Poken started 8 years ago with the main focus of increasing, and measuring, networking and engagement at events.  We have spent the past 8 years building additional tools that seek to make the experience as seamless and effective as possible for event organiser to deploy, and for event participants and exhibitors to benefit from.  So at the core of Poken is our service to help boost event’s results, through increased networking. But this service is deployed through several different products that we present as “modules”, which are designed to fit within the event organiser’s strategy, depending on event type and on whether it’s the first year they work with us. For example, on-site networking will be enhanced (and have higher quality) if you use our pre-event “Business Match-Making” module – this tool is embedded in your event website, and it helps your participants plan their journey, ahead of time – requesting meetings with relevant buyers or sellers, signing up for the most relevant sessions, etc.  This helps everyone make the most of their time on-site.   During the event, we have some light “gamification” options that are designed to help drive people towards the content that will also make them feel that they’ve gotten the most out of their event.   But from the organiser’s perspective, the most popular is our Metrics Module, whereby they see all the interactions and the data, post-event.


Historic center of Cartagena with several important churches visibleHow important is Latin America for Poken?

LatAm has always been a core piece of our business – we are originally a European company, so we built our platform to be fully multi-lingual, and our business started very early on in Spanish speaking countries, from Spain to Mexico and Argentina.   We have now structured our market approach in LatAm, with core partnerships including one in Colombia, with a partner, Alun Ideas, which is the most creative of all of our representatives.  That is a good fit, because from what we’ve seen Latin American events are, to be honest, more fun that a lot of events in other countries.  People enjoy networking, they are very open, and very keen to try new technologies.


In Cartagena Inspira you will focus on Gamification. Can you please tell us a bit about what you will be presenting?

At a number of high-profile events I have been encouraged to talk about Gamification, because I think in many instances it is a term that is misunderstood.  Gamification doesn’t mean integrating Pokemon Go into your event – that would tend to wreck its core purpose.  Implemented correctly, gamification takes the form of a strategy that simply, often discretely, attempts to drive your participants’ behaviour so that they are achieving more of their objectives, and feel that they’ve achieved more, at your event.   The reason we call it gamification is that you are not giving people a to-do list: You are influencing behaviour through simple incentives, through strategic communication, using technology that people must be familiar with and find very easy to use.   It’s important to educate event organisers about Gamification, because we can help them avoid making mistakes – we have learned so much in the past years, about what works and what doesn’t work, by working with sports-related events such as the Youth Olympic Games, the Boy Scouts of America,  some of the leading Sports Federations, and applying these learnings to corporate clients such as ASICS, Novartis, Microsoft, and many more.


Thank you Stephane for your time. We very much look forward to seeing you in Cartagena.

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Check out the video case study and our Whitepaper on Driving Event Engagement Through Gamification. Or click here to get started on making your event a success today. 


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