The use of drones at events is becoming more common every day. In fact, drones are one of the hottest event tech trends, and they’re being used in a wide variety of creative ways at all kinds of events. From indoor conferences to outdoor festivals, drones are providing entertainment, advertising, security, and more.
While drones can be an exciting addition to your event, you need to think about your goals before you invest. Fortunately, drones can be very affordable – depending on how you want to use them. As a result, it can be easy to fall into the trap of adding drones to your event just because they’re trendy. The reality is if drones aren’t a strategic element of your event, they can actually distract attendees and do more harm than good.
Of course, there are also a variety of laws you need to be aware of and follow when using drones at events, and those laws change from state to state. Always make sure you hire drone pilots who hold a commercial pilot license to operate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and follow all FAA rules. To give you an idea of some of the rules you’ll need to follow if you use drones at your event, consider these laws:
- Drones flown for commercial purposes (like events where tickets and other things are sold), must be registered by the FAA.
- Drones cannot be flown out of the sight of the pilot.
- Drones cannot be flown above 400 feet.
- Drones cannot be flown within five miles of commercial airspace, national parks, or federal buildings.
The list goes on and on, and as mentioned above, you have to follow state and local rules, too, which can change from one municipality to the next. Do your homework, understand the laws, work with a licensed pilot who understands the rules and your event (and has insurance coverage for liability purposes), and you should be okay.
Also, make sure the venue allows drones and that the space where your event will be held can accommodate the clearance required to fly a drone. This includes not just ceiling height for indoor events but also signs, banners, lighting, displays, and so on that could get in the way of the drone either indoors or outdoors.
How to Use Drones at Events
Despite the growing popularity of drones at events, many event organizers aren’t aware of the creative ways to use drones at their events. Yes, drones can take pictures and videos, but what can you do with those pictures and videos? And what else can drones do besides capturing visual images? Here are 10 innovative ways to use drones at events that you can steal:
Drones can take amazing aerial photos of your events that you can share to social media for real-time engagement during your event. They can also take photos of the venue before your event, which you can use for marketing. Share these images on your blog, in your newsletter, on your ticket sales page, and on your social media profiles to generate excitement and ticket sales. It’s an effective form of social media marketing for your event.
For example, people love to see progress as an event comes together, and stunning aerial photos of a stage being set up or decorations being hung can motivate people who haven’t purchased tickets yet to do so. These images can also motivate people who have already purchased tickets to share the images with their friends, which gives your event more word-of-mouth marketing!
In addition, you can use these photos in your marketing materials for future events if you hold an event more than once. For example, annual festivals could use drones to take photos of the large crowds to show next year’s prospective ticket buyers all the fun they’ll miss if they don’t attend. These photos are also perfect to use in your marketing materials, event website, and ticket sales page next year (or whenever you hold the event again).
Drones capture gorgeous aerial footage of events. The sweeping images can feel very immersive and are perfect to use for marketing future events. However, you can use drones to capture video footage for event planning, too.
For example, if you’re scouting locations for your event, not only can drones capture the entire site you’re considering, but they can also capture hard-to-see and hard-to-photograph areas. This is particularly helpful when you’re scouting multiple locations and trying to remember what each offered or when you need to share visuals of possible locations with your team back at the office.
You can also use drones for mapping event locations. Many drones use LIDAR sensors to create site surveys and both 2D and 3D maps. These geological maps can save you a lot of time and money depending on the type of event you’re planning and the locations you’re considering.
3. Live Streaming
Live streaming events is so popular, and using drones to capture the video for a live stream adds so much more to the experience. Drones can move around and make viewers feel like they’re actually part of the event. You could live stream artists when they’re performing, a backstage tour, and more.
Keep in mind, live streaming doesn’t have to be limited to during your event. You can hold live streams using drones to reveal exciting announcements or progress as the event is being set up. Don’t be afraid to get creative because every live stream provides an opportunity for people to get excited about your event, tell other people about it, and buy more tickets.
4. Surveillance and Security
Drones can operate as mobile security cameras. When the drone sends footage back to a monitor that your event staff members are watching, you can quickly identify anything that might be out of place or could pose a danger to attendees. When a problem is detected, the drone pilot can “target” it and follow. Some drones even have warning signals built in that can go off when there are problems.
Using drones for security gives you flexibility to see everything that’s going on in a new way, but be careful. You don’t want to invade people’s privacy!
5. Logistical Monitoring
Just as you can use drones for security and surveillance, you can use them for logistical monitoring. For example, use drones to monitor traffic in the parking lots and at the gates or doors of your event. If lines get long, you’ll know immediately and can dispatch additional workers.
Since drones can monitor all parts of an event – even large outdoor events – your oversight of the logistics of your event can be greatly enhanced. You just need drones, pilots, monitors, and people watching those monitors. AttendStar has worked with events in this way in the past and the team has seen how effective drones can be at keeping events running smoothly at all times.
6. Visual Shows
Drones are great for entertainment, particularly visual shows. Many events have used drones for aerial shows, including night-time shows with lights timed to music. They always draw a crowd and create a shareable moment. Attendees will take videos of the drones performing with their smartphones and share them on Facebook, Instagram, and more.
While large-scale visual shows featuring drones typically have to be held outdoors where weather can be a factor, you can use drones for entertainment indoors, too. The scope of the show just has to be much smaller.
7. Racing for Entertainment
For some events, drone races could be a perfect fit. With drone racing, you hire a number of drone pilots to race their drones at a special event within your event. For example, an air show might promote a drone race where attendees can cheer on their favorite drone.
Like drone visual shows, drone races always attract a crowd, so be prepared! They’re also great for marketing, so be sure to mention them in your advertising and promotional messages. You’d be surprised how many people who are thinking of buying tickets to your event just might be convinced to buy after hearing they’ll see drone entertainment while they’re there.
Why should a company invest in a water bottle, banner, or bag when they can invest in a drone? Typically, event sponsorships allow sponsors to show off their logos in specific places during events such as on banners, posters, conference bags, flyers, T-shirts, and so on. All of those opportunities to raise brand awareness seem boring compared to showing off your logo on a drone, right?
Since drones are so popular and are highly likely to get noticed by attendees, you can even charge a premium for drone sponsorship. It’s a great way to give sponsors an innovative way to get in front of your attendees that many of them will love and be willing to pay more for.
9. Mobile Hotspots
Did you know that drones can be used as mobile hotspots? That means if your event needs better internet speed or network connections, adding a drone hotspot can make a big difference. Think of it this way, have you ever been at an event, taken a picture, and wanted to share it on Facebook or Instagram but you couldn’t because the wi-fi was terrible? For anyone who doesn’t want to exceed their data limits, having a fast wi-fi connection is important.
With that in mind, adding drones as mobile hotspots could boost social media sharing and word-of-mouth marketing during your event, and if you hold your event annually or on an ongoing basis, that social media sharing is essential to future ticket sales growth!
In recent years, drones have been used to deliver items to event attendees in some very creative ways. Drones can be used to drop off food, giveaways, swag, and contest prizes to attendees in an exciting, buzzworthy way. While drones cannot fly directly over people’s heads in most states, they can deliver items near people. Just create designated drone delivery areas at your event, and you’re all set.
You can bet that when those drones fly in with a delivery, everyone will be watching, snapping pictures, taking videos, and sharing them on their social media profiles! It’s something attendees will talk about long after the event is over.
Your Next Steps to Use Drones at Events Successfully
Once you understand the laws and find a drone pilot (or pilots) to work with, you need to make sure the pilot understands your needs and goals as well as the venue layout and restrictions. For example, the drone pilot might need to get special permits or might learn there are certain areas at the venue where the drone cannot fly. You need to learn these details as early as possible.
Also, make sure the pilot brings adequate batteries and only flies the drones at designated times. Drones can be loud and create a lot of wind, so it’s important not to fly them at times when they could distract or annoy ticket buyers. A good rule of thumb is to keep drones at least 25 feet away from people.
Work with your pilot to identify any problems or obstacles at the venue, and together, make a plan to integrate drones into your event in ways that help you reach your event goals. It’s a great idea to create a storyboard of images and videos, so the pilot understands the shots that need to be taken for specific purposes as well as the overall story you’re trying to tell. That way, you can be confident that you’ll get the images and footage you need before, during, and after the event.
Remember, drones are very trendy right now, and they can be fun and exciting; however, if they don’t help you achieve your definition of a successful event, they’re not a wise investment. The good news is drones are very affordable, but don’t let the price tag sway you if they’re not going to help you reach your event goals.
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