Traditional convention centers conjure up familiar images—expansive lecture halls and conference rooms, rows of auditorium seating, and large exhibition spaces. With the world going digital, many assumed that the meetings industry would become less relevant, as people would prefer to cut travel time and meet online. But surprisingly, trends show the exact opposite happening.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, conventions are expected to expand by 44% from 2010 to 2020, and the job outlook in this industry is projected to grow 10% from 2014 to 2024—faster than the average for all occupations. With such robust growth potential, the key differentiator for convention centers will be the services and facilities they can provide.
Convention centers have traditionally been meeting areas that cater to a variety of events. However, as events today are evolving in their formats, so are technology requirements and attendee expectations. Let us look at some of the challenges that convention centers are grappling with.
Outdated Communication Infrastructure – Even as the very definition of a meeting place evolves, previously underutilized spaces within convention centers are playing an important role in attendee engagement. Imagine pop-up shops with their informal vibe or workshops that have people moving from one space to another. While this pushes up the interest factor, helping to increase footfalls and popularize a venue, it requires that the communication infrastructure be robust and consistent throughout the venue.
Archaic Security Features – High-density environments like convention centers, where multiple events and conferences happen in parallel, require robust security arrangements that ensure the safety of both the event organizers and the attendees. It is also crucial that the security staff, which is mostly mobile due to the nature of their work, is able to communicate effectively within their teams to be able to provide impeccable services.
Mobile and Contractual Workforce – Any event or conference at a convention center will typically require a mix of both in-house and contractual workers to pull things off. Having a large, alterable workforce that is constantly on the move creates its own challenges. Not only do traditional setups have to deal with modern concepts like BYOD (bring your own device), they also have to be suitably equipped to provide this mobile workforce all the critical communication facilities without compromising their internal security.
Enriching Events with Rich IP Communications
When catering to multigenerational and multicultural audiences, it makes business sense to rely on advanced technology to improve customer takeaways. Unified Communications (UC) help enhance communication capabilities of convention centers by streamlining their daily business processes, thus driving sales and boosting business—all this while consistently exceeding customer expectations, which is a non-negotiable in our times!
Here are some examples of how these convention centers of the future can enhance productivity and at the same time provide a memorable guest experience.
Improving Mobility – Adopting the mobile UC application over a robust Wi-Fi network that’s optimized for multimedia can contribute greatly to a convention center’s success. With ease in communication using voice, chat, or video and support for BYOD, convention centers make it convenient for both exhibitors and contractual employees to stay connected.
Apart from several such productivity benefits of mobile UC, deploying IP enabled PBX systems with mobile UC capabilities can bring down telephony costs substantially.
Assuring Omni-Channel Engagement – Whether it is accelerating the speed of doing business or elevating responsiveness, a reliable communications system is the backbone of any business. This is especially critical to intensive customer-interfaced environments such as contact or customer service centers. By bringing together multiple modes of communication, UC can provide convention centers single number reach to potential clients. Its integration into multiple business applications would assure that the reception and call centers have no missed business opportunities, support staff can keep all exhibitors and sponsors happy, and security staff can react timely to any suspicious activity. UC also enables event organizers to send mass notifications with its alerting capabilities within event mobile apps. This helps them to stay engaged with exhibitors and conference attendees by responding to every single call or message that comes in.
Enhancing Meeting Room Experiences – Meeting rooms are still an integral part of any event, tradeshow, or convention and are used to conduct business in private settings. Businesses expect these meeting rooms, even in temporary settings, to be fully equipped with internet access and a phone system to conduct conference calls. Imagine the challenge of installing a traditional phone system in ad hoc settings! Wi-Fi enabled IP desk phones and UC desktop and mobile applications enable event organizers to provide such value-added services to exhibitors without incurring major cost. UC can pep up run-of-the-mill conferences with exciting technical alternatives like Web and video conferencing, data sharing, interactive whiteboards, and desktop sharing. These features bring in more color to the program and offer a break from the monotonous and predictable presentations of yore.
Encompassing UC brings a variety of advantages to the convention center business, from lowering operational costs, improving productivity and connectivity, to providing Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to event organizers. Only timely adaptation on the part of convention center owners can keep them relevant in a market that promises to become fiercely competitive in the days to come.