Meeting Martin: Technology’s great, shame about the music

While nobody was watching the world has gone completely mad. Once upon time you were born, left school at 15, spent 40 years mixing concrete, retired, and then died.

As you were careering through life you intermittently voted Labour, Shirley Bassey was the only the thing on the radio, and the only news that mattered was the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Read more Meeting Martin: I was an eventprof, and I never knew.

Today, life is a veritable smorgasbord of trials and tribulations. Now you don’t know who to vote for. Are the Tories that bad? Have the Liberal Democrats been misunderstood all this time, and… who are the other lot?

Furthermore, the music of today moves at such a pace that an entire career cycle can be over and done with by breakfast.

And then there are current affairs. We are friends with the Gulf nations and Israel, but they don’t get on with each other, so we don’t know what to do. Then there’s this whole EU business. It’s good if you’re German, not so much if you’re Greek. President Trump is keeping his election promises but upsetting Mexico, is that good, bad? And then, worst of all, there’s Kim Kardashian’s latest wardrobe malfunction.

It’s all so wearisome and complex. How can we find time for anything when we’re trying to keep up with what’s going on?

At the grand old age of 32, I find myself struggling to keep up, and not just with current affairs or Kim Kardashian’s latest frock. Only last week did I hear about a band called Little Mix who, according to some in my office, are quite a big deal. According to Wikipedia, this quartet of songstresses was formed in 2011 and apparently can point to four number one hits. To me, they sound like a bag of gerbils being beaten with a frying pan, but they’re still popular.

Then there’s online shopping. It’s a pursuit I am still relatively new to. When I lived in Abu Dhabi, online shopping wasn’t really possible because there is no recognised address system, so when I moved back to the UK last year I tried to Ask Jeeves how it might be done.

The Internet Elders, it turns out, killed off Jeeves in 2006, so I turned to my wife for help. She set me up with an Amazon, which means I can now spend money on things I don’t really need without needing to put on trousers.

And then there’s Uber. Uber has revolutionised the ancient art of ordering a taxi. No longer do you need to ring around eleventy-twelve minicab firms in a desperate attempt to save £2. The need to re-mortgage your house to ride a black cab from Pimlico to Piccadilly is also no more. Uber locks on to your location, you type in where you want to go, drivers bicker for your custom, and then the winner turns up in a useless Toyota Prius. And it’s cheap.

I can’t keep up.

This, naturally, brings me on to the subject of event technology.

When I visited ibtm world last November, it was the first time I’d been to a show for quite some time, and I didn’t give it much thought beyond knowing the date and venue and planning a couple of meetings in advance.

It was only after the first day was over that I found out there was a special app. The app gave me the chance to view the schedule of talks, a map, a sort of Tinder for eventprofs function, and a portal with which to provide feedback.

It was a fascinating piece of programming, but I wondered how many of the several thousand people in attendance were actually using it.

Without wishing to make wild generalisations, I spoke to more people who weren’t using it than those who were. And this reveals an alarming truth about event technology: vast swathes of people in the industry don’t ‘get it’.

I totally understand this. Even 10 years ago – which according to my calendar was also part of the 21st Century – a lot of events were run on ink and paper. Maybe a printed spreadsheet if the Duke of Edinburgh was coming. The smartphone was only just creeping on to the market in 2007, and the concept of ‘apps’ was as alien to us as ET.

The event technology section of the industry has been the fastest growing over the last decade, with technology now available for almost every aspect. But people are still running around with notebooks looking for a pen that works.

There are large numbers of people who have been working in the events industry for a long time, and while I don’t doubt that they would be interested in learning more about event technology, why should they when the ‘old ways’ work well for them?

Indeed. I believed for a long time that if I needed a new toaster I had to suffer the indignity of putting my trousers on and drive in to town. Now, I can order one to my door from the sofa. If I needed a taxi, I used to have to tear apart the drawer by the front door looking for business cards of local minicab firms. Now, I open an app and let the drivers fight for my custom. I used to not know who the Little Mix were. Now I do, and they’re appalling.

There is a belief that a lot of event professionals are reluctant to embrace technology because they prefer leeches and horse-drawn carriages, but the truth is that they probably don’t have time to learn more about it.

My message to them is simple: it’s better.

Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard is the Deputy Editor at Conference News. Formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard is the Deputy Editor at Conference News. Formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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