London’s Love Byte: Tech Fest

2Humanising-the-robot-society--Nesta-(2)It’s almost that time of year again when more than 200 independently run events are held alongside each other, putting London on the map as Europe’s leading technology hub.

As London Technology Week (LTW) returns to the capital on 15-21 June, industry professionals look forward to a week of face-to-face events celebrating London’s global position as a hotbed of tech innovation, business successes, entrepreneurship and creative talent.

Last year, event consultant and meeting designer firm Gallus Events welcomed more than 100 event professionals to Excel London during London Technology Week, for its third Tech Fest event.

What is Tech Fest? …

“It’s designed to help event organisers identify, understand and overcome the barriers to the adoption of technology”

– William Thomson, Tech Fest curator and head honcho of Gallus Events

As Thomson says, technology can be a powerful tool allowing planners and their audiences and stakeholders to achieve things they couldn’t even dream of a few years ago. “However, persuading stakeholders to adopt technology is never easy so Tech Fest plans to bring together planners and event technology companies to jointly address the hurdles which get in the way when trying to  adopt new technology,” he adds.

WeBlogEvents speaks to Thomson in the midst of planning the event, on the importance of educating the events industry on #EventTech.

What does Tech Fest bring to London Tech Week?

I think we bring something different to many of the other events taking place. We are a couple of years older than LTW as Tech Fest is in its fourth year so we feel pretty established now however we want to make sure we keep it fresh and innovate. Tech Fest is unashamedly about Event Technology but it is also about showcasing innovation in format, experience and atmosphere and creating a new way for suppliers and customers to meet.

TechFest2014_029How do you intend on placing #eventtech at the very heart of an event?

One thing I’ve noticed, I suppose from my earliest jobs in the industry, was that when a conference had an exhibition you’d sometimes miss it! I think you’ve got to be very open. We say to attendees that the main reason that we expect them to attend is so that they can find at least one bit of technology: that’s there objective and has to be one that we support. So we don’t tell people to finish their meetings if they are happy to continue, we allow the exhibitors to offer their time to the attendees and for the attendees to choose. The learning is key but the objective is to help them understand the benefits and the challenges of using event technology.

What are the main findings/challenges when conducting event consultancy?

Going into any organisation and suggesting that they can do things better (or more subtly differently) is difficult. However in most circumstances someone has seen that change needs to happen. Once the organisation has overcome this barrier a process can be put into place that helps them improve.

Can tech add value to events?

It has to! There isn’t really any use in adding it to your event if it doesn’t add value. One important point – and the one that I suppose I do bang on about – is that the value that can be added can be to the planner. If the tech used helps them add more value then the attendees and stakeholders will see the value through their time being creative and proactive. Too often our focus on Tech is the attendees facing event technology. I am a huge fan of automated marketing, scheduling platforms and online registration systems.

Tech-fest-2014What are your #eventtech predictions for the next year?

Simply that more planners will be more tech savvy. There’s a whole host of great online resources and quite a few events for event tech that the message must get through to more planners that Tech can help them be better planners as well as run better events. The important thing is that seeing a whole of event technology without any real support for planners isn’t going to have as much of an impact. That’s why context is so important, and that’s why at our event Tech Fest we are focusing on how to overcome the barriers to successfully adopting Event Tech. When attendees are supported in that they are more likely to take advantage of the event tech on show.

Last year Tech Fest had retro floppy disc badges and personalised mugs, what can we expect this year?

We kept all that a surprise and we will do the same this year. We worked out that almost a third of attendees took a picture of their badge or mug and shared it on social media. Many still have the mug and use it every day! So we have some thinking to do to continue that innovation. I’d welcome any ideas?

For a sneak peek into what Tech Fest has in store for us tech geeks, here’s a list of speakers lined up for the event:

  • Sallie Coventry, Reed Exhibitions (@salliecoventry)
  • Neil Thackray, Briefing Media (@neilthackray)
  • Nick Morgan, Big Cat Group (@nickbigcat)
  • Gianfranco Chicco, Social Media Week London (@gchicco)
  • Ben Cardew, Primavera Pro (@bencardew)
  • Gemma Milne, Ogilvy & Mather (@gkmilne1)
  • Laura Hardie, Association of Project Safety
  • Beth Sheppard, Green Power Conferences (@BethCShep)
  • Ricardo Molina, Brightbull (@BrightBull)
  • Paul Clarke, Paul Clarke Photography (@paul_clarke)
  • Miguel Neves, IMEX Group (@IMEXMiguel)
  • Steven Sarossy, Persuasion and Influencing Trainer

As the city gears up to act as a hotbed for innovative technologies and thriving clusters in fin-tech, med-tech, fashion tech, ad-tech, gaming and SaaS, we look forward to heading to the 100+ venues where even London’s sewer system serve as an event venue, showcasing the fibre optic technology running under the city’s streets.

What do you think #eventprofs? Will you be attending? Send us an email to weblogevents@gmail.com with your thoughts, or tweet us at @weblogevents.

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