And don't look for meaning in meaningless data, advises Simon ClaytonBig Data: it's a great term, but it's being bandied about our industry like sweets at a kids' party. It's everywhere at the moment. I've been to several conferences and I read the industry press and you can't move for references to it.
But I can state categorically that no-one in the events industry has Big Data. There, I've said it. Every one of the people discussing the use of Big Data within our industry is peddling a misconception. Big Data does not exist in the events industry.
Poor planning makes perfect events unachievableProfessional organisers like to get all their ducks in a row before they commit themselves to any event. There is nothing worse in event-planning than organising as you go along and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, the perception by internal non-specialists that ‘events are easy’ does not promote clear thinking and good planning.
Emma Cartmell, CEO, CHS GroupMany of us in this sector are business owners and I’m pretty sure that I’ve read that we have far more entrepreneurs than most industries. But whilst starting a business is hard, growing a business is, in my opinion far harder, so I am very keen to learn from others who have done it successfully.
Corporate groups are still welcomeThailand has long been a favoured corporate destination, especially for incentives. The death of His Majesty King Bhumipol Adulyadej, though after a long illness, has shocked the nation. The whole country, therefore, is in mourning. His Majesty, aged 88, had ascended the throne at the age of 18 after the sudden death of his older brother. He became the world’s longest serving monarch.
Simon Clayton is not convincedArtificial intelligence (AI) has been the stuff of sci-fi for decades and is now finally making some interesting leaps into the consumer world. Seth Shostak, Director of the Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI), says: ‘Within 20 years, you will have one computer that's smarter than all humans put together.’
Sydney Paulden asks if you have ever seen instructions on how to use a hotel bathroom?There is one thing that always seems to be missing from a hotel room. That is a sheet of simple instructions on how to use the controls of the shower.
Bring up this topic in the company of any frequent traveller and you get immediate recognition of the problem and the examples of start flowing of the problems people have encountered over the years.
Jennifer Young, Head of ConferenceLeeds, quotes the statsThe UKCAMS report (UK Conference and Meeting Survey 2016) shows that West Yorkshire held an estimated 80,000 business events during 2015, accounting for a direct spend of approximately £595m in venues and the local destination. Venues in Leeds alone generated the majority of this, hosting 58,400 events with an estimated £501m of direct expenditure.
‘Experts’ may not be so expert, after all, says John FisherThe rapid rise of venue search suppliers comes as no surprise to observers of the Internet. The voracious need for timely information delivered instantly is the basis for all digital businesses around the world - from comparison websites to GPS app users.
Venue search agencies have not been slow to exploit the needs of public and private organisations who require a suitable venue for their next event at the right price…as quickly as possible. It all takes time to do that for yourself and, as we all know, if you have no venue, you have no event.
Simon Clayton highlights the dangersEvent organisers collect a lot of data, but how long can that data be kept, what can be kept and how do you determine what’s safe to retain?
Two of the core principles of European data protection law, under both the old and new regimes, are that the data you collect must be relevant to the ways you are using it and that it must not be retained for longer than is necessary. Event organisers should consider these two standards together.
Event organisers have to prevent it being misusedWe live in a busy world and the transient nature of our industry can mean that we are quick to move on to our next event. But before moving on, it’s worth making sure that your policies and procedures include tying up some loose ends.
It can be tempting to keep registration data indefinitely, because you never know when you may need it, but the more data you have stored, the more likely you will be hacked – especially if it is spread over multiple servers.
Why is the event sector different?Women in positions of power seem to be making the news these days. UK Prime Minister May, Bundeskanzlerin Merkel, Scottish First Minister Sturgeon, US presidential candidate Clinton, MD of the IMF Lagarde…and so it goes on.
But in the events industry, even though there are many more women running events than men, there are not many females running event companies. Why should this be so?
Answers to important questions for event organisersData is the key to the success of events. Every event generates a mountain of data ranging from contact details to dietary requirements to sponsor leads. As the event approaches, that data is typically shared across a variety of participants, from exhibitors to advertisers to hotels. This data can also move across international borders. Put simply, a lot of information moves around a lot of different people in a lot of different countries.
Exit would bring us more, not less, bureaucracyUK event managers, in or out of Europe?
If you have been in the UK for the past few months or work there permanently you will be aware that the UK is about to vote in a national referendum. The question being asked is a simple one: Should the United Kingdom remain a member or leave the European Union?
Sort the hype from the real benefitsI’ve often written about the hype surrounding new tech products and our industry’s insistence on announcing them with fanfares and declarations that they’re life-changing. This insistence in promoting untried tech can be confusing and organisers often say that choosing the right tech is the most confusing part of their role. Anyone in this bewildering position may find it useful to consider this: all new technology goes through a ‘hype cycle’ – five key phases of a technology’s lifecycle. Understanding the hype cycle will help you decide if, or when, to adopt a technology.
. . . otherwise they have to host cardboard boxes!I’m a great admirer of the way hotels run their businesses. On the surface everyone you meet is as nice as pie and always enthusiastic to show you their latest improvement or upgrade. When it comes to the size of rooms and their current availability, they can be charmingly vague and relaxed. But don’t let this fool you.
Not only equipment has to be fail-safeThe Internet of things (IoT) has received some bad press recently when the company behind Revolv announced that they are withdrawing all support for the product. Revolv is a little device that sits in your home and allows you to control lighting, heating and other home functions remotely via an app on a mobile device. The company behind it announced a while ago that they would be halting manufacture, but only now have they completely withdrawn support. Without that support it simply stops working – rendering it ‘as useful as a tub of humus’ according to one disgruntled user.
Terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul and elsewhere have prompted lots of media comment about ‘safe places’ to take corporate meetings and conference delegates. It makes interesting editorial copy, but it’s closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.
A very successful low-tech conference – on technology!In our industry, we seem to be constantly told that keeping abreast of technology is essential; our industry conferences would seem antiquated without the obligatory technology streams. But who’s telling us that it’s vital to use the latest technology in events and where’s the proof?
John Fisher provides a checklist of 7 essentialsA recent survey by Q Hotels in the UK highlighted the fact that more than 70% of event organisers lose at least two hours sleep the night before organising an important event.
More than a quarter reported that they feel anxious before an event. 98% say that they need time for their body to recover after an event due to all the pressures exerted by the constant do-it-now demands of professional event management.
Being concerned that all the planning goes right on the big day is not exclusive to event organisers, of course.