Will ‘Air Venues’ Become the Next Big Thing?

This Just In


U.K.-based Richard Jebb writes about the events industry.

We hear a lot about how wireless connected technology is changing the event industry. I’m thinking along the lines of virtual reality, augmented reality, video-conferencing and all those other wonderful tech-enabled advances that are, and will further, change business-event structures, possibilities, expectations, and outcomes. What I feel we’ve heard less about is how wireless-connected technology may dramatically change business events by increasing the choice of venues.

As we all know, conferences, meetings, and events need good presentation equipment. The larger the event, the more complex the audio-visual infrastructure required, and the more dedicated the venue, the more advanced the audio-visual equipment it offers.

But let’s look at some of the trends we’re seeing in the events industry at present:

  • Millennials driving the demand for inspiring spaces to meet, work, and socialise
  • A constant necessity to increase audience engagement
  • The rise in importance of personality and personalisation
  • A desire for businesses to be green, sustainable, and considerate
  • An expectation for events to leave a legacy for the communities that support them
  • Delegates more likely to show up if you offer them an Instagram-able experience
  • And the increasing availability and lower cost of technology that enables you to engage and interact with thousands of people simultaneously through audio and video, no matter where you are

The list could go on, but with the price of increasingly mobile audio-visual technology falling, and the ability to distribute event content via high-speed wireless data networks, it all points to event venues becoming more than just a space to gather: The venue can become part of the event experience personalised to a group’s requirements.

In much the same way that there are now multiple tick boxes for dietary requirements and this has driven improvements in venues’ F&B offering, the desire to attend events that tick certain experiential requirements is likely to increase. We may now see a trend where technology frees events from conference rooms, creating a world where event organisers can cost-effectively turn almost any space into a high-tech conference room, with all the benefits of being an inspiring place to be.

So where may these events be held? There are, of course, already thousands of spectacularly different and inspiring venues such as cathedrals, ancient battleships, and art galleries, so I expect we may see an increase in the viability of these types of spaces, but I’m also expecting the increase in a different approach. An approach that can be compared to those sunny summer afternoons at school when the teacher said, “Hey children, it’s such a lovely day, pick up your chair and carry it through to the courtyard; let’s have our lesson outside.”

Perhaps it’s human instinct, but for so many people inspiration comes from being in the outdoors, from being surrounded by greenery and looking over wide expanses and breath-taking views. When wireless technology enables such places as beaches, forest clearings, and mountain retreats to offer fantastic audio-visual experiences, will we see more large events finding their way there? Has technology turned everywhere into a potential high-tech venue? I predict the rise of what I’m calling “Air Venues.”

Brands and businesses that host events in unique and unusual Air Venue settings could benefit immensely. There’s the impact on inspiration (see above), but also turning up the notch of creativity and enriching the experience increases the chance of photo- and video-sharing on social media. It’s the equivalent of turning attendees into brand advertising. Imagine the potential to raise brand awareness by having events posted on attendees’ Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, then shared by friends and colleagues. Truly unique experiences may even go viral and the brand will reap the rewards of multiple online interactions.

Some may say this is all fanciful conjecture. They could be correct, but I believe Air Venues have the potential to be a big thing in the not-so-distant future of the business-events industry.

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