From the role of AI in event booking to getting creative with catering and assessing how we can return to in-person events safely, we tackled some of the important issues facing the industry at the moment. Here’s everything we’ve learnt.

The Role of AI & Automation in Events

HeadBox CEO, Andrew Needham and HeadBox CTO, Gavin Spurling.

When it comes to a company’s meetings and events programme there are four big problems that keep coming up in conversations with customers, lack of choice, lack of efficiency, lack of reliable data, lack of real-time pricing. Here are the four ways that AI & automation can tackle these challenges.

Personalised experiences: The ability to understand users, what they want and their preferences so their HeadBox experience will always be accurate and unique.

Pricing: Instant, accurate prices for each enquiry created based on the analysis of thousands of historic event enquiries.

Smart venue recommendations: Highly personalised and relevant venue suggestions instantly without human-intervention.

Style preferences: The ability to make venue recommendations based on aesthetic preferences as HeadBox machine learning understands particular styles.

Looking for more: HeadBox CEO, Andrew Needham discussed this topic in detail at the ITM Conference 2020 in a Pecha Kucha presentation. Watch it here.

How to do more with less

Charlie Marr, HeadBox COO, and Sam Peck, HeadBox Business Sales Lead

Reduced budgets: Companies have experienced a lower than expected economic performance as a result of Covid-19. People believe this may lead to reduced budgets for events. 

Reduced headcount: 20% of the British workforce were on furlough in June. Some teams may see a reduction in personnel resource as a result of the furlough scheme coming to an end. 

Increased Scrutiny on ROI: CFOs and Procurement Directors will be laser-focused on the returns that M&E spend delivers for the business. 

Virtual events skills gap: Organising virtual and hybrid requires a different set of skills to organising in-person events, which requires upskilling for teams across the UK. 

Looking for more: Our Live @ Home studio recording of Andrew Needham, Founder and CEO, and Charlie Marr, COO, shines a light on the “New Normal” for meetings & events and explores some solutions to meeting those needs (whilst also giving you an idea of how you can use Live @ Home for virtual events)

Venues, staying together, staying safe

Stephanie Mechanic, Head of Events, The Conduit & Bianca Searle, Senior Events Sales Manager, ODEON

Striking a careful balance between creating guest safety, staff safety and the wellbeing of the staff members who need to execute the plan is vital when creating COVID-safe policies  

Bianca Searle, ODEON

New requirements: One-way systems, sanitising stations and new catering requirements all need to be put in place, including the process of cooking, what is cooked and the presentation. These all need to be considered when putting together COVID-safe policies at venues.

Sustainability is a concern: Introducing safety measures often means using disposable or single-use items e.g. masks, hand sanitiser bottles. Safety is the top priority at the moment so on occasion sustainability has had to be considered a trade-off for people’s safety. If this is something the industry is going to need to tackle in the future then sustainable COVID-safety needs to be on the agenda.

Flexibility is key: From social distancing capacities to flexibility with cancellations and contracts; a willingness to be amenable and understanding is so important at the moment. Varying degrees of client confidence levels need to be considered.

Read more: HeadBox Safe Events Guidelines

Passport to international events

Massimo Krekels, Assistant Director of Sales, The Conservatorium

Top of the priority list for bookers at the moment is risk management: Clients want to be made aware of cancellation policies and “corona clauses” and what they include early in the conversation. Flexibility seems to have become more important than price.

Face-to-face events are not fully replaceable: People like to meet each other and commercially there is nothing more effective than being face-to-face. Once a vaccine is available and trust to travel has returned, face-to-face events will slowly get back to 2019 levels, although this will take a while. 

For now, looking at global events, companies might choose to fly in people who have no travel restrictions in their countries of residence and live stream the event with people who are in countries where travel restrictions are still in place. 

Until there is a vaccine, verifiable sanitisation processes, space restrictions in meeting rooms / delegate flow / social distancing and boxed meal opportunities are some examples of things that will be more important than ever before.

Virtual & 3D tours and client testimonials are key: They are a cost-effective and safe way to showcase the venue in the absence of a site visit.

If you would like to find out more about how a HeadBox 3D Tour could work for your venue, click here.

Immerse yourself in a 3D event

George Foden, Director of Events, Wise Productions

3D Technology is a sustainable solution for the future: In-person events usually require full production, transport of the equipment lighting AV and sound, a day of event build, crew catering and all of the environmental factors associated with this. However, you can achieve a similar result for a virtual event with a day in the studio and a small camera crew. 

Budget-Friendly: 3D technology ranges from an ‘off the shelf’ production package to a fully immersive 3D venue, with full concept creation and all the bells and whistles. You can achieve fantastic slick production with any budget.

Hybrid Events: 3D technology allows you to take your production and creativity to the next level. Most iconic or historic venues in London will have rules and regulations over what production you can achieve, whereas with virtual events, the sky is the limit.

Creative catering – food for thought?

Jimmy Garcia, Founder, Jimmy Garcia & Rhiannon Williams, Sales Director, Zafferano

There is a need to add in something fun to virtual events (especially when they are social ones), and catering meets this need well.

Adapting to the new normal: By creating an exciting and creative selection of hampers to cater for virtual events at home, this adds a physical element that is often missing.

COVID-safe preparation: Jimmy Garcia and the team worked throughout the lockdown, so they were constantly adapting and being agile. Social distancing in the kitchen, masks and a small team are some key ways that they have stayed safe.

‘Virtual event dining’ – here’s how it works: A choice of hamper is decided on, HeadBox does all of the organisation and coordination in terms of collecting guest’s addresses. Addresses must be sent to the supplier 10 days prior to the event. Day before the event, everyone will receive their box to their door – exciting! This is then stored until the day of the event. 

Tacos and tequila have been a runaway success!

You can watch the highlights from the event here.

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