Steve Sayer, commercial director at The O2 talks about the increasingly important role technology at venues play in today’s event landscape.
It’s very easily done for a venue to promise the world when it comes to the technology they are able to offer for an exhibition, conference or event, but it is often a lot harder to deliver on this promise, especially when you don’t have a sufficient infrastructure in place in the first instance.
As an international music and entertainment venue we host thousands of fans for all manner of events, from music concerts for high-profile performers, to major sporting events. Whether it is a music concert, boxing event, an NBA season game or a corporate exhibition, we know that our fans and delegates expect fully functioning Wi-Fi as standard, regardless of the amount of people that could potentially be trying to access it at the same time – that’s our problem to solve.
Wi-Fi is especially important for our naming rights partner O2/Telefonica; after all it is their name above the door. They’re passionate about the facilities and technology underpinning this venue, as are we, and it’s why together we have invested in high-density Wi-Fi last year.
Accessible across our entire campus, this significant investment has resulted in a free and robust Wi-Fi solution with the capability of handling over 15,000 connections at any one time.
Our fans demand the ability to connect to share their experiences or the content they’re seeing or to engage with the conference they’re attending; connectivity is an absolute requirement.
The infrastructure was tested to the max in our recent run of One Direction concerts in 2015. Their fans live online and connect to their friends on social media to share the experience, the music and the pictures they take. We recorded the highest level of connections during their run and also broke every social media record for the venue through sheer engagement from their fans. If we can handle the 1D fans, we’re ready for any corporate event, exhibition or meeting possible.
Today’s event landscape
We know that technology plays an increasingly important role in the event landscape, be it sharing content and engaging on social media or developing new ways to showcase a product.
In addition to our high density Wi-Fi, the venue’s in-house team have worked with the best artists in the world to create visual spectacles and these principles are in demanded in the event space too.
From projection mapping to advanced rigging, sound and lighting, we know clients want to impress and want the best. O2 worked with us last year to create the world’s largest projection on our roof to celebrate their support of the England Rugby team, through the Wear The Rose campaign, which culminated in Wear the Rose Live, a major live event send off for the team, attended by 15,000 people.
It was a truly spectacular achievement and while the team may not have achieved success on the pitch, they were under no illusion of the support they received from their sponsors and fans. Rugby followers could tweet their messages of support and have them broadcast on the roof of The O2.
As a venue we have our own broadcast network, made up of some 280 digital signage sites and a unique ‘arenamation’ ribbon that runs around the interior of the arena. The network runs between 250 and 350 pieces of content per day, displaying partner ads, event content and promoting future ticketed events.
New research from London & Partners and CWT Meetings & Events last year revealed that 70 per cent of event professionals felt that new technologies, such as sensory technology, will make meetings and events more interactive and engaging.
However, a high proportion of respondents also said that new technologies are not being used to their full potential.
From our point of view, we want to make sure that as a venue we are making the most of the new technologies available to us and encouraging our clients to integrate these into their events. A tweet wall for example, or projection mapping used at the recent NBA London event can help bring an event and brand to life, giving attendees a lasting memory of your event.
Projection mapping is an area we’re getting asked about much more. Clients can see the benefit of using this technology not only to wow their delegates but to also save money. Why not project your new product or launch around our venue rather than incurring the huge expense of shipping your products into the building. Technology can excite but also save on your event production costs when used effectively.
New technology is clearly driving forward change within trade exhibitions and events, and we want to be leading the charge wherever we can.