CEO and founder of UK venue platform Headbox, Andrew Needham, discusses the evolving nature of technology in the MICE sector
The Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry is one where old is meeting new, where age-established methods and ways of working are colliding with innovation and new ideas. And, as is so often the case when these two opposing approaches come into play, there are plenty of hurdles to overcome in order for existing businesses to be innovative and push boundaries. As a result, the door is opening for new, agile enterprises to enter the market.
In today’s marketplace, the catalyst for progression is technology and the cultural shifts which ensue as a result of these technological advancements; the reciprocal relationship between these two aspects is propelling innovation forward. These cultural shifts are seen in consumers’ demand for an ever-increasing fundamental level of tech in products and services. Technology makes plenty of services more efficient, and while this is clearly a positive change, advancement also marks a point of no return. Any business that doesn’t make the most of technology to provide the most efficient and easy service risks becoming old-fashioned and obsolete.
Technology and the expectations of the consumer are bringing more transparency to the industry and more immediacy – two of the values that lie at the heart of our HeadBox business. We have used technology to bring the whole venue booking process online, publishing all details about a venue upfront – including costs – to put consumers in control. When people are so used to turning to the Internet to finding out what they need in minutes, if not seconds, a system which involves a middle-man is one that is losing its appeal for many. In the Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry, technology is enabling supply and demand to be directly in touch. Of course, there will always be a need for expert knowledge and experience, but technology is refreshing ideas regarding the areas where this is a necessity.
Technology will be implemented in the Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions sector in plenty of ways, and it already is being used to great effect. Companies within this industry are taking great interest in investing in apps, for example, and others are looking at more adventurous forms of tech. But to implement new tech in long-established business often means a total overhaul of existing systems and practices. This is where a shift in the industry is appearing, where new businesses with tech at the forefront of what they do are being granted access to the marketplace.
The industry is beginning to change and progress, but, as we have seen time and time again, technology waits for no one to catch up. Technology is ever-changing, never static and once an idea takes hold and has the popular support of the general public there is no way to go back, only forward. It is an exciting time, full of potential for the Meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions sector but one that requires agility and proactive, rather than reactive, ways of working.
There is plenty of scope to be pioneering in how the MICE industry uses technology, this is where HeadBox.com arose from. A demand for a way to book venues that was online, more efficient and streamlined as every other website and app that society uses every day.