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Observation: the changing face of conferences

By Graham Langley-Jones, managing director, Thorns Group

We’ve noticed that a growing number of exhibition venues now marketing themselves as a conference venue. This enhances their offering and demonstrates the need to maximise the delegate experience.

As visitors seek to make the most of their time out of the office when attending an exhibition, and organisers seek to enhance the content of their shows through conferences, keynote speakers and seminars, it is logical that venues develop their facilities to meet these needs. With overflowing inboxes and to-do lists it’s vital for the delegate to get the most out of their day and come away with content that will help them with their next project.

After our recent visit to Confex Future Focus it’s clear that technology is now a major factor in how conferences are organised. By embracing technology we’re seeing more and more congress organisers providing cutting-edge apps and interactivity with the view to move to an almost paperless conference.

From our time working with an assortment of modern and traditional venues nationwide including The ICC, Aston University, and Think Tank Birmingham to name a few, we have seen a more diversified approach to how conferences are organised. We see more and more furniture hire requests for breakout zones and chill out areas and as technology takes precedence at conferences we’re also seeing an increased interest in our power charging furniture to accommodate the delegates’ need to remain fully charged in an interactive session. Our operational team have also seen an increase in the number of conferences and congresses they deliver to month on month, nationwide and across Europe.

As a supplier to the live events industry our biggest challenges surround tighter budgets and, sometimes, even tighter turnaround times. Even with these challenges we continue to pride ourselves on delivering excellent customer service day in day out and maintain our reputation as a leading furniture provider. Tighter budgets provide us with the opportunity to be more creative in terms of our offering to venues and allows us to fully showcase our consultative approach on all events; from the initial idea all the way through to delivery.

When working with a conference venue we see it as a three way relationship between the venue’s client, the venue itself and us. We understand that a conference organiser needs trust and transparency from us, the supplier, in order to meet your objectives. An added bonus, for us, is that a blossoming relationship is formed where we can relieve your stresses and we work together to deliver the perfect event. A win-win for all parties involved! We always advise you to talk to your supplier about any issues you foresee and most importantly how you want your event to run so that we can deliver the best solution on time and in budget.

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