Exhibition News October 2017 - Page 47

COLUMN: SALES The VR-savvy venue Mathew James, group marketing communications manager at The International Centre, Telford, on a hi-tech tool and its sales advantage E vents are about making connections and creating experiences that will impress and memories that will last. This is entirely dependent on bringing together the right people at the right time and in the right space. Event professionals work fl at-out to make that happen. Whether as an event manager, events agency or a venue, we all want to achieve the same objectives: to deliver the best product launch, to hold the best possible annual conference or to do as many deals as possible at a trade exhibition. But, in an industry that is focused on bringing people together in the traditional sense of the word, a question remains about how we can harness technology to make face-to-face events run more effectively. At The International Centre, Telford, we have been inspired to think about how new technology can enable us to do our job better, which in turn helps others to analyse how they can improve overall effi ciency in their roles. One such advancement has been the introduction and use of virtual reality (VR) technology, which allows us to promote the best of what our venue can offer to event organisers in an exciting and innovative way, without leaving their desks. Nothing matches arriving, parking right outside and walking into one of the UK’s biggest events centres – and experiencing The International Centre, Telford, fi rst hand. Event professionals are, of course, very busy people, so for when a fi rst- hand visit is an impossibility, we now have virtual reality techn to give clients an identical experience remotely. This allows them to make informed decisions based on insights the technology can bring. Taking our venue to both existing and new clients through VR not only shows our fl exibility in catering to the needs of event organisers, but demonstrates a willingness to push our own boundaries, and those within the industry, in how event spaces can be explored. Virtual reality allows us to promote all 15,000sqm of space across two fl oors at The International Centre, Telford, in a way that communicates our key selling points quickly, imaginatively and creatively. “Whilst VR is not a brand-new concept, it is still underutilised, and the potential for the technology to make a big impact is signifi cant” We launched our VR programme to the UK events market in 2016, confi dent in the knowledge that we were the fi rst large venue in the country to use the technology. A fully integrated social media campaign led to our sales managers quickly confi rming around 30 appointments with event buyers in the fi rst 30 days. In just under fi ve minutes, a potential client can have an awe-inspiring, 360° tour of the venue, from the comfort of their own offi ce. They can see all our event spaces, how fl exible the venue is and how other features of the centre, such as being non-branded in order to provide a blank canvas space, can help them achieve their objectives. Whilst VR is not a brand-new concept, it is still underutilised, and the potential for the technology to make a big impact is signifi cant. Our sales team can let VR do the talking for itself, leading to traditional sales methods being used less often. This reduces the time it takes to thoroughly present a venue, helping both sales teams and event organisers/agencies to do their job more effectively. The proactive use of VR technology is a great introduction for our sales teams to pitch to agencies and prospects; they are usually impressed and intrigued by the application of the technology. This immediately attracts them to the venue and often encourages them to visit themselves. Both The International Centre, and Telford, as a destination have received signifi cant investment in the last ten years. Using advanced technology is the best way in which to present an equally state-of-the-art complex, especially when promoting onsite hotels and the plethora of shops, restaurants and leisure amenities that are increasingly important to agencies seeking the ideal venue. The fl exibility of the technology and the speed at which it can be updated will also allow for any planned future additions to the town’s Convention Quarter to be presented through VR, ensuring a ‘live’ view of the venue is always readily available. Telford is the birthplace of the industrial revolution; Shropshire the birthplace of the modern-day Olympic Games. It is no surprise, therefore, that locally we continue to take the lead in innovation, by embracing new technologies we believe can revolutionise the events industry. exhibitionnews.co.uk | October 2017 47