Conference QT at Confex debates technology in the events industry

The fourth edition in the Conference News Conference Question Time (CQT) series was held before a packed theatre at International Confex in London yesterday (12 March). The core topic for the event was “Are event apps all they are cracked up to be? And is it worth going hybrid?”

The event, sponsored by Cvent, featured a panel including John Martinez from Shocklogic; Dan Walker from Ashfield Meetings and Events; William Thomson from Gallus Events; Lex Butler from Zibrant; and Toby Lewis from the Live Group. The event was chaired by Richard John from RJA GB.

Richard John posed the question: ’Is there too much technology and is it getting in the way of face to face?’. Shocklogic’s Martinez said face to face would not disappear, and emerging technology would open new doors in the events industry.

Gallus Events’ Thomson added that: “Technology is not just used on the day of an event, but it also helps organisers amplify the event’s message.”

“The content and message from an event is always wider than the room and technology is crucial to this,” he said.

On the issue of hybrid and virtual events, Zibrant’s Butler said a combination of face to face and hybrid could extend the reach of an event and means the door isn’t closed on those who cannot physically make the event.

Butler said she was a strong advocate of face to face and, in her opinion, pure virtual events were “flat and not engaging”.

To counter the engagement issue, Live Group’s Lewis said virtual webcasts should not be longer than 30 minutes and organisers need to put “more effort into webcasts than live events to keep the audience engaged”.

Walker added it was essential to make sure the online attendee had a voice and was offered online help during the event.

When talk turned to event apps, the panel was in agreement that more needed to be done to make sure they were beneficial for delegates and attendees.

Walker said that if there is no standout reason for delegates to get involved and get interested in the app then quite simply they would not download it.

“We have a low tolerance level when it comes to technology,” he added. “And if delegates have trouble downloading it, for example, they will lose interest.”

Other issues covered during the debate included the issue of Wi-Fi and making sure venues were aware of what exactly they could deliver; top technology that had the power to ’blow you away’ (which included social collaboration tools and Google Glass); and who should cover the cost of technology at events.

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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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