The UK’s events industry is growing at an impressive rate. Made up of over 25,000 businesses – spanning from organisers and venues to marketing organisations and suppliers – the sector is now worth more than £42.3 billion.
Business-to-business (B2B) events are the largest contributor to the industry, accounting for a massive £19.9 billion annual turnover, and overseeing 1.3 million conferences, seminars and networking sessions annually. In fact, the UK is one the top-ranked countries globally when it comes to hosting business events, having placed third in 2015, 2016 and 2017 ICCA rankings.
However, there are fears that on-going uncertainty surrounding Brexit could undermine the UK’s overall popularity as a destination for events. To maintain the current momentum, event organisers must keep up with developing trends within the industry and explore how digital innovations can help enhance their events.
With technology disrupting the way events are both run and marketed, it should not be overlooked as a powerful tool that could help protect the UK’s position as a leading international hub for businesses to meet, learn, network and grow.
Difficulties facing event organisers
There are understandable concerns that after Brexit, the UK could be seen as an ‘outsider’ destination for European companies looking to hold large events. In fact, in a poll conducted by the Business Visits & Events Partnership, 60% of its members said the UK could attract fewer events once it left the EU.
Like many other sectors, the events industry relies on international investment and trade, with Brexit posing a risk to current trade relationships underpinning the sector. But challenges can also be opportunities, and those who innovate could march ahead of those who stand still.
With many events relying on international attendees – and attendees becoming ever more demanding about what they want from events – tired formats will no longer suffice to attract people from across the world. Organisers should look to technology to keep pace with changing consumer demands and continue to meet high expectations. What’s more, marketers can also use digital innovations to ensure they get maximum exposure for their events, in turn enhancing the odds of securing more revenue from them.
The pace with which we are moving to a cashless society is apparent – the convenience that cashless payment methods offer means that every day, more of us are abandoning physical cash and opting instead for alternatives like contactless credit cards and ApplePay.
Event organisers are quickly taking advantage of this trend and offering attendees cashless alternatives. 2000 trees were the latest UK festival to go 100% cashless – and all thanks to RFID technology.
The organisers of this event, which was attended by a massive 10,000 people, provided all attendees with RFID wristbands upon arrival – making this the only payment method accepted across all bars and traders onsite.
The initiative was hailed as a massive success – not only for drastically improving trading efficiency but also for enhancing the customer experience by catering to changing consumer demands. According to research by tappit, there is a clear consumer demand for cashless methods of payment, with 73% of respondents saying they prefer to go cashless – particularly in light of the added speed and security these methods offer.
Great tech expectations
More generally, events in both the B2B and B2C markets must appreciate the fundamental demands of today’s society. Namely, free and fast Wi-Fi is essential in enabling individuals to enjoy themselves at events; guaranteed connectivity can also help boost awareness of an event by encouraging attendees to provide updates across social media.
Similarly, event organisers can consider providing apps for attendees – these apps can show people the activities on offer, where things are taking place and also prompt the crowd to provide real-time feedback on what they are experiencing.
Moving further afield, technologies such as virtual reality (VR) deliver new and exciting experiences for people who attend events. And so, as organisers, venues and marketers looking to make their events stand out – particularly in drawing international attendees to the UK – these technologies are proving increasingly important.
Equally important is the marketing of an event. Traditionally, marketing an event has been a time-consuming endeavour; one that involved manually making individual listings to be hosted on different event sites or social media pages in the hope of securing ticket sales. It was an inefficient and cumbersome process, but thankfully digital innovations are completely changing the way organisers advertise their events.
Events marketing technologies such as Evvnt can simplify the process of attracting attendees, making sure an event has the biggest possible reach. Indeed, having built up a network of partner websites used for marketing events, Evvnt’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) tool delivers widespread awareness of events by automating the listing process. By completing a single listing, this can then be aggregated among thousands of other sites – saving organisers time and money while boosting visibility significantly.
Such simple technological solutions are readily accessible to event organisers and are key to continuing to attract large numbers of attendees. Regardless of the type of event that is being held – whether this is a small networking session hosted at an office or a large-scale sporting fixture that draws in tens of thousands of fans – organisers must keep up with the changing landscape and focus on providing a good customer experience. And with a renewed emphasis on technology and the possibilities that it brings, the UK can maintain its position as a top global destination for events.
Written by Richard Green, CEO and Founder, Evvnt