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Technology and sustainability lagging behind when it comes to events, say events profs on QHotels panel

QHotels panel event professionals
The events industry is slow to adopt new technologies and has seen sustainability slide down the list of priorities according to the young event profs on QHotels’ Event Profs Panel.
The findings are part of the second report from the group, formed by QHotels to bring events professionals with less than five years’ experience together, to help shape the future of the C&E industry.

While expectations of what technology should be offered as standard have increased – with connectivity and ‘ready to go’ AV facilities being minimum requirements- emerging technologies such as, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are slow to penetrate, due to high cost, low client demand and concerns over reliability. 

Sustainability, whilst a priority for corporates and agencies internally, is often thought to be overlooked when it comes to events and choosing venues, with cost and additional benefits proving to be more important. 

Contributing to the roundtable discussions were agency and corporate events professionals from PwC, Absolute Corporate Events, First Choice Conference & Events, Donaldson Davis, Compleat Conference Company, ArrangeMY, Brief2Event, Hilti GB, Gorkana and Porterhouse Medical attended the events.  

Key findings:
·         Panel members explained their biggest concern when it came to technology was reliable, ‘ready-to-go’ AV technology and connectivity - the expectation being that venues provide these as a minimum requirement, rather than an additional service .For panel members, this included HD projection and enough bandwidth capacity, without any additional charges.   

·         It was thought that live streaming and VR could also quickly become an expectation amongst time-precious event bookers and organisers, as an alternative to familiarisation trips.  

“Wi-Fi is key for venues and should be provided.  I’m always shocked if you have to pay for it and actually think it’s funny when I read ‘Wi-Fi is included’ in venue marketing materials.” -  Hannah Hodges, Gorkana  

·         Whilst new technologies such as VR and live streaming go down well with delegates, the panel believe that unless they have a specific role at an event, or perform a necessary task, they remain a side show, offering little value.  

·         The panel agree that until emerging technologies become mainstream and are part of delegates’ everyday life, they won’t gain a foothold in events, therefore more needs to be done to educate clients, bookers and delegates alike.  

“When technologies become the norm, that’s when we’ll see it in events.” – Chloe Hampton, First Choice Conference & Events  

·         Whilst technology has rapidly improved, there was still felt to be an inherent risk in using new, innovative systems, with cost, reliability and lack of customisable options acting as barriers when it comes to using and adopting new technologies.  

“We’ve had one event where the technology failed and as a result impacted the entire afternoon” – Barbara Vode, Porterhouse Medical Ltd  

·         The panel also highlighted that whilst event apps are of huge value at large-scale events, they aren’t without their problems.  The variety of handsets and devices available means that the experience of using an app is not consistent from one delegate to another.  

“The issue with event apps is that not everyone can or will download it and therefore, you have to cater for them as well, which means you have to ask the question, is it worth it?” – Jenni Joynt, Hilti GB  

·         Similarly, whilst the importance of sustainability has grown over the last 10 years and panel members’ own organisations have strong CSR policies, the impact of sustainability on events and venue selection was felt to be minimal.  

“Sustainability is still a ‘nice to have’ for many people in our industry.” – Chris Whelan, PwC  

·         Panel members explained they’d have to fight for a venue to be chosen on its sustainability credentials rather than cost, with panel members describing CSR as a ‘nice to have’ with additional benefits and value-added services all felt to take greater priority.  

“I would have to fight to get a venue based on its sustainability credentials over price or payment terms.” – Jenni Joynt, Hilti GB  

QHotels’ Marketing Director, Claire Rowland– who led the roundtable discussions - said: “Our Event Profs Panel roundtable event provided a great opportunity for panel members to share valuable opinions and ideas and their views on technology and sustainability have been particularly insightful.   

“Over time we will use these views to improve our own service, technology, facilities and packages, to address what’s important to this generation. But beyond that, by sharing the panel’s views, we hope to stimulate discussion amongst the industry around these important topics, to help shape the future of events.

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