Skip to main content

Who is the database landlord?

In his latest blog, Mash Media MD Julian Agostini ponders over data ownership now event technology is in the mainstream

Have you booked a restaurant yet or a table at the pub? It’s almost as if that whole part of our social lives has been forgotten: will we all remember how to do it?

It may also be difficult for the venues to manage or meet our expectations. Have they been reduced through desperation or are we dreaming of an extravaganza for the big return?

One of our last experiences as a family, before the latest big lockdown, was at a ‘bring your own’, which my daughter had found online. Not an experience I’m used to, in truth, as I don’t think that would go down too well at various industry lunches hosted by Mash Media; although it would be interesting to see what people bring.

Anyway, we had corralled two tables of six for the event, had a decent meal and a very good evening. It was only as I was leaving that my daughter pointed out to me that we had enormously over catered on drink, unsurprisingly. When I popped back in and asked the waiting staff, they smiled knowingly and went to retrieve all that remained. I was slightly confused and perturbed, is that the practice? I asked and they said that most customers forget or decide to leave any excess, which the venue then claims as its own. Hmm, I thought. Is that OK?

The idea of brining business to a venue and then for them to retain part of your collateral for their own future use is alien to us as event organisers. Imagine if every venue you hired decided to register all your visitors and then when your tenancy was done your visitor database was claimed as belonging to the venue. Would you be happy with that? Surely no organiser would stomach that, or would they?

In the brave new world of hybrid events, the platforms that we are all using are surely the virtual venues. These have been a fantastic addition to our offering, let’s make no mistake and so it’s vital that we establish the terms of engagement with which everyone is comfortable. We need these platforms as part and parcel of our industry for the foreseeable future, so what are the rules?

Many platforms are currently retaining the data of all the visitors which technically is theirs for future use, should they choose. They are not the first supplier that has been entrusted with our data, of course. Research companies and registration businesses to name a couple, for example. To my knowledge, these relationships have never been breached by the third-party exercising use of the data for their own benefit. We need to ensure that the same happy marriage is in place with any platforms that our coming into our marketplace.

Everything, of course, would need to comply with local data laws.

These are new partnerships for our industry and so we are feeling our way and trust needs to be earned. An organiser is always paranoid about their data, and rightly so; it’s the prime asset. If someone else has access to all the details, what is to stop these virtual venues becoming organisers themselves? They are welcome to, of course.  Many traditional venues run their own events, it’s a natural route for business expansion and we welcome more organisers but not with someone else’s hard earned and sophisticated data.

Food for thought, perhaps. Or maybe I’m over-thinking this and my words of caution are from someone who’s been in lockdown too long. Someone take me to the pub!