Perhaps I shouldn’t let it get to me but I get really irritated by the amount of misinformation that’s bandied around the meeting and exhibition industries these days. What do I mean? I had an email a while ago from somebody suggesting that ‘big data’ would be a good topic for a seminar for the meetings industry. The reality is that few meeting planners will have a database with more than a few thousand records in it. That’s not big data. Big data involves millions, possibly billions of records. But the person who suggested it wasn’t the first I’ve seen suggesting that meeting planners need to understand big data.
In another case, a major company in the meeting world suggested , in print, that delegate traffic could be measured by placing RFID readers under the carpet over which they’ll walk. I suppose if you’re prepared to pay for battery powered RFID devices, that could be possible but most RFID badges can’t be read at more than a metre range. In the same report the company claimed that RFID could enable delegates to register remotely. But RFID is only an electronic equivalent of a bar code so it has no effect on the ability of delegates to register remotely.
Then there’s the whole free wi-fi thing. If you’ve got an event with a few hundred attendees, free wi-fi might be feasible. If you’ve got more than 1,000 attendees, forget it. If you want a wi-fi system that’s reliable and will enable all your attendees to make use of it, you are going to have to pay. It’s just too complicated to expect anything else.
There are still people claiming that social media is absolutely essential to a successful meeting or exhibition, in spite of the evidence. Look at the Twitter feeds and FB page comments for events and what do you get? Exhibitors exhorting visitors to go to their exhibits, people telling the world that they’re excited to be on their way and, at the end of the event, the same people on their way home having had a wonderful event. I’m pleased they enjoyed themselves but do I care?
People are still flogging virtual exhibitions as if they were a realistic proposition yet there is absolutely nothing to suggest that they’re right. The recent Daily Telegraph Festival of Motoring was a brave attempt at running a virtual exhibition but it looks to have fallen flat. I’ve tried to find out how many unique visitors they had but the fact that they won’t tell me suggests that we won’t be seeing a repeat of it.
Unfortunately some meeting planners believe this and other nonsense. Maybe I need to start asking the tutors on the university courses how they teach students to evaluate technology and its suitability for their events.