Following our 4th Birthday party celebrations last month, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start looking at the year ahead with Gavin Spurling our CTO, to set out our big plans for year 5. 

The events industry isn’t short of problems that we could try to solve through human-kind event tech. It’s an industry yet to undergo digital transformation driven by smart software or artificial intelligence and is plagued by manual, inefficient and time-consuming processes that decrease productivity while increasing costs.  
Within our Product and Tech teams, our vision is to build brilliant products that are smart, scalable and turn our users into superheroes. In order to deliver against this, we need to be focussed on a handful of impactful areas that will take our product offering to the next level in 2020. As with everything we do at HeadBox, we start with our customers to understand their problems so here are the five key areas we are focusing on with our human-kind event tech next year.

Supercharged Search

Thousands of Guests hit HeadBox each month with one objective, to find the perfect venue for their event. A search engine isn’t a new concept and is the basis of almost every digital marketplace, but when searching for a venue the criteria can be extremely complex. Not only do the results need to serve up Spaces that match budget, location and required dates but our Guests also need accurate recommendations based on style, decor and even architecture in some cases. A basic search functionality simply doesn’t deliver the quality of results that we want to provide.
Until recently, offering accuracy on pricing and style would be a point of difference that only a Venue Event Manager could offer. However, by leveraging the thousands of data points produced by daily decisions made by and with our customers, we are training our machine learning algorithms to offer a similar service to every corporate booker using HeadBox. This means using historical event data to predict the final cost of an event, giving realistic recommendations to a corporate Event Planner.
This also means understanding our Host’s behaviour, enabling us to recommend a venue which is going to respond quickly to a request when there is a quick turn-around required. Most excitingly, it also means leveraging deep learning and computer vision technology to train our recommendation engine to recognise stylistic themes and nuances in venue images. In an industry driven by striving to achieve a Guests ‘dream event’, these insights will give us an empathic advantage in moving beyond simple search and delivering expert recommendations for all our Guests next year.

Data-driven Prices

In most cases, when a Guest lands on our marketplace they will have an event budget in mind. This plays a huge part in their decision-making process when choosing their favourite venue. Those within the events industry will know that quotes provided by Host venues to potential clients are calculated based on many factors such as seasonality, occupancy rate, type of client and much more. Without a considerable amount of back and forth with the Host, Guests simply aren’t able to obtain an instant, accurate quote from their initial enquiry.
In 2020, we’ll be exploring how we can bring automated event expertise to our clients by developing a deep understanding of the events market. Deep analysis of historical event data will allow us to provide automated cost insights to our Guests, suggesting how a move of dates or venue could save them a considerable amount on the final spend. By next year, we will offer real-time, expert pricing advice to our Guests, the quality of which would only be anecdotally available from traditional events agencies.

Personalised in-app Experiences 

Whether you’re a booker, a business or a venue we want to understand what you want to see in our products and then optimise your experience so it specifically targets your needs. Building outstanding products rests on streamlining or collapsing existing processes to make customer’s lives easier. By observing trends and patterns in their behaviour and learning from them, we’ll be focussing on delivering outstanding unique customer experiences within our products. 
In 2019, there are very few paid software offerings that do not offer a tailored user experience. Open Netflix and you see personalised recommendations, Amazon will suggest products based on your shopping history and AirBnB will offer curated content just for you. Similarly, HeadBox Business will offer a personalised experience for our corporate clients by using contextual subscription data and company booking history next year. 

Democratising Data 

One of the biggest problems within an industry that’s yet to be disrupted by technology is the lack of available, actionable data. Without data, it’s challenging for our customers to analyse, drive actions and improve based on quantitative information. We collect a huge amount of data at HeadBox and we’ve been working hard over the last quarter to put that to good use to help deliver these invaluable insights to our clients. 
Our data will unlock a variety of benefits for both our Guest and Host clients beyond machine learning. Our aim in 2020 is to make this data as accessible as possible to help provide quantitative KPIs and industry standards across the events world.

International Scale 

The HeadBox platform is already prepared to go global, with the necessary infrastructure for language, currency, tax, and legal, to launch in any city in the world in two weeks. In 2020 we will be focusing on streamlining our launch strategies in other countries now we have launched Ireland and the Netherlands and exploring what our product needs to facilitate in order to scale quickly. This includes examining the way we onboard our Business clients and our Host venues outside of the UK. 
International growth also means exploring what the additional services are not yet included in our product proposition and a large focus for 2020 will be on the digitisation of experiences for our corporate clients alongside venues and event suppliers. By 2020, 35% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials, the drivers of the experience economy and we want to ensure that HeadBox is ready for that. 

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