Conference News January 2018 - Page 5

5 Editor’s Letter Humanism, the new technology? ew Year, new opportunities…and some old anxieties. I’m sure the hospitality sector at least has done well over recent weeks and that among all the celebrations, there have been plenty of smart New Year resolutions for taking our events businesses forward in 2018 and beyond. The Liverpool showcase in London recently flagged up a host of exciting events planned for the city as it celebrates 10 years since its European Capital of Culture that kick started so many big events in the city. Congratulations to Coventry, too, nominated as UK City of Culture for 2021. Sadly, UK cities will no longer be able to put their names forward for the European competition, but there have been suggestions for a Commonwealth City of Culture designation. New circumstances call for new approaches. We also welcome new business events leadership at Visit Britain and Visit England with the appointment of the dynamic Kerrin MacPhie. We all know we have a great UK product, so let us help all our national ambassadors as best we can to put our business cases forward abroad. And for those focused on the UK market, we urge you to gather with us under the big tent that is International Confex at Olympia, 28 February–1 March. There is a packed programme in store and a holographic keynote. Our friends at IMEX recently flagged a trend for a swing back to humanising the industry after a long run of industry praise for all manner of future tech. Is it time, perhaps, while hailing innovation and gadgets that make our jobs better, we are equally enthusiastic for verifying proof of business efficacy amidst all manner of claims for the likes of drones and AI and ‘any old app’? I remember not so long ago many were quick to champion the automisation of small meetings bookings for up to 50 people. All could be done last minute with no fuss. Sadly, when Wyboston Lakes took such a booking online in December, just hours before a weekend meeting room tenancy, it turned out to be from far-right group Britain First. Lack of human double checking and investigating, it seems, led to a massive embarrassment for management and unwanted national media coverage. So, let’s not forget the human touch and values, as we move away from the festive spirit into challenging waters. Paul Colston Managing editor, Conference Portfolio Mash Media Group