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Technology and sustainability on the slide, finds QHotels panel

Technology and sustainability lagging behind when it comes to events, say eventprofs on QHotels’ Event Profs Panel

Pictured: members of the QHotels Event Profs Panel

The events industry is slow to adopt new technologies and has seen sustainability slide down the list of priorities according to the young event professionals 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 events industry. 

The key findings from the discussion were as follows:

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.  

Hannah Hodges of Gorkana said: “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.” 

It was thought that live streaming and VR could also quickly become an expectation among time-precious event bookers and organisers, as an alternative to fam trips. While new technologies such as VR and live streaming go down well with delegates, the panel said 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 agreed 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. 

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

While technology has rapidly improved, the panel felt there was still 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.

The panel also highlighted that while event apps are of huge value at large-scale events, the variety of handsets and devices available means that the experience of using an app is not consistent from one delegate to another.

Jenni Joynt of Hilti GB said: “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?”

Similarly, while 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. 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.

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.

QHotels’ marketing director Claire Rowland, who led the roundtable discussions, said: “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.

Findings and discussions from the events can be found in the Event Profs Panel Report, available on QHotels’ website:

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