Gareth McTiffin, marketing and events manager at Merlin Events London, discusses how cultural venues are adapting their events by engaging with technology.
What is a cultural venue?
Generally conceived, a cultural venue is a building with national significance, and it comes in various forms from historical, iconic and heritage sites to galleries and museums. London, often referred to as the cultural hub of the world, boasts a range of unique and diverse venues.
Take the South Bank for instance; in such a small space you have a choice of venues, it could be the National Theatre, Royal Festival Hall, Sea Life London Aquarium or Queen Elizabeth Hall. In South Kensington too, the Science and Natural History Museums take pride of place – there really is a huge amount of choice. And the best thing is, all these venues are built for events.
The role of technology in events
Technology has always played a part in the industry by shaping how guests understand and network through events. Today, this technology plays an even bigger role, helping to streamline admission and operational processes as well as helping event organisers market and interact with attendees pre and post event.
Hot at the moment is 3D projection and mapping, which is only slightly trumped by the investment in virtual and augmented reality which now has a particular purpose in some cultural venues. Iconic locations, from Madame Tussauds to Abbey Road Studios, have launched virtual show rounds so that clients can experience an immersive event from the comfort of their office. This in particular has proven fruitful during daytime and busy operating hours. Cultural venues, as with technology, are becoming the event template, and prove increasingly popular with other venues.
How are cultural venues using technology?
Regardless of whether it is an historic hotel, museum or retail outlet, clients and their guests have a certain expectation of technology. Wi-fi, integrated lighting and sound systems can be found in most places as part of the venue’s offering. Ticketed events now use RFID coding to admit and serve guests, and this can be seen in lots of venues including the London Dungeon and Olympia London Conference Centre.
Should cultural venues be using technology?
Cultural venues are no exception when it comes to keeping up to date with technology. To remain competitive, venues have to be thought leaders – it is the only way to maximise their product and satisfy their audiences as well as streamline their processes. Cultural landmarks are also extremely apt when it comes to social media. Being online throughout the whole event allows venues to be seen and advise clients on how to maximise their creativity and thought leadership.
Technology is an integral part of our everyday life, which is why most venues value and understand it, and if they don’t then they should. While being true to their core, cultural venues have to evolve with technology to remain relevant and continue to drive business. The goal at the end of the day is to ensure our clients are always happy.
Gareth McTiffin is marketing and events manager at Merlin Events London.