A long-standing frontrunner in the global events sphere, the UK continues to be a top destination for business shows – and this has not changed despite the shadow of uncertainty brought on by the Brexit referendum. In fact, according to recent figures, the events industry as a whole is currently worth a massive £42.3 billion to the UK economy.
The two largest segments are business conferences and meetings, which account for approximately £19.9 million of the total value. As a top global destination – consistently placing third in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 ICCA rankings as a destination for business events – the UK attracts huge amounts of attendees from all over the world.
Looking to the future, it is difficult to predict exactly what obstacles the events industry will come to face in the following months as a result of the UK leaving the European Union (EU). However, it’s clear that the industry is robust – so as long as planners and organisers keep delivering quality events, the industry is sure to overcome any hurdles that may come its way after Brexit.
To help alleviate some of the pressure, however, businesses within the sector would be wise to embrace digital innovations that can offer more engaging and exciting experiences, promote higher attendance – and, most importantly, protect the UK’s established position as a top destination for events of all natures.
Challenges facing the events industry
Many large business events – trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences and the like – draw in huge numbers of international attendees from around the world. Naturally, there are concerns that after Brexit, the UK could lose its allure for European companies looking to hold large events. In fact, a poll conducted by the Business Visits & Events Partnership found that 60% of its members believed the UK could attract fewer events if it left the EU.
Relying on international trade and investment like many other sectors, Brexit poses a potential risk to the current relationships underpinning the sector. But this simply emphasises the need for event organisers to innovate and remain competitive. Promising simple solutions to outdated methods and practices, technology can help businesses to deliver better events, in turn ensuring that the UK remains a go-to hub for large B2B events.
How tech can help
In reality, Brexit is likely to shake up the events industry to some extent. However, it could also prove to be a catalyst for positive change for the sector. Stepping away from outdated practices, the UK’s shifting trading relationship with the EU could encourage businesses to innovate and explore new opportunities– driving the industry towards greater efficiency.
To stay ahead of the game, event organisers are encouraged to explore the wealth of opportunities that new technologies offer. Indeed, innovative solutions to long-standing problems are readily available to help modernise obsolete methods and continue enticing large numbers of attendees from all across Europe.
Going cashless, for instance, is a great way to keep up with recent trends and encourage greater numbers of people to attend events. To prove the point, the recent 2000trees festival was hailed as a major success for drastically improving trading efficiency and enhancing consumer experience – all by going 100% cashless.
Attendees at the 2000trees festival were all provided with RFID wristbands upon arrival – making this the only payment method accepted across all bars and traders onsite. And according to research by tappit, there is a clear consumer demand for cashless methods of payment. Three quarters (73%) of all respondents said they prefer to go cashless – particularly in light of the added speed and security these methods offer.
Utilise event marketing technology
Along with adopting cashless payment options, event organisers can take advantage of marketing innovations that make advertising an event significantly more effective.
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. Thankfully, marketing technologies such as Evvnt can simplify the process of attracting attendees, making sure an event has the biggest possible reach.
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.
Cater to the social media generation
The high prominence of social media in today’s society provides huge opportunities for event organisers looking for better ways to advertise their events and fill them to capacity. Heavily reliant on social media apps, attendees across all types of events are increasingly demanding free and fast Wi-Fi – guaranteed connectivity has therefore become essential for any business looking to host a great event.
Social media has also become a powerful advertising tool; giving people the ability to post photos to their Instagram accounts, tweet about their experience, or even livestream the event itself is a fantastic and simple way to boost awareness and attract new audiences for future events.
For those looking to exceed expectations, utilising the growing allure of VR is a way of attracting attendees who are seeking new and exciting experiences. Organisers, venues and marketers who are looking for ways to make their event stand out should not overlook the potential of this new technology.
Bringing virtual reality to an event experience doesn’t have to be overly complicated; basic product demonstrations at trade shows or 360-degree virtual conferences, for instance, on their own can make a world of difference by providing attendees with an unforgettable experience.
Ultimately, while Brexit may bring some uncertainty, there is still a plethora of opportunities for the UK’s event industry to prosper in the coming years. Staying competitive could be as simple as utilising innovative technology that makes planning, marketing and hosting an event more efficient and effective. And with changing consumer demands, it’s important to keep up-to-date with developing trends to safeguard the UK’s position as a top global destination for events.
Richard Green is founder and CEO at Evvnt, a UK-based events marketing business. Established in 2012, the company publishes events on a network of event listing sites, offering its services in various categories including classes and courses, comedy, conference, exhibition, live music, nightlife, sports and leisure, social, and association.