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October 21, 2008

Oliver Richardson:It’s not the technology, it’s how you use it

The events, exhibition and conferencing industry has access to an incredible amount of advanced technology, but, says DB System’s sales director, it’s a mistake to think that an event will be an automatic success simply by using the latest and most dynamic equipment available.

There is an overwhelming range of auidio-visual (AV) and IT technology to choose from, but I believe that it’s important for an exhibitor or marketing professional to not feel in awe of this technology.

In fact, I believe it should be the AV and IT partner that makes the decision as to what technology should be used. Ideally, AV and IT partners should work closely with exhibition stand builders and designers. DB Systems is increasingly getting involved with agencies as early in the process as possible, sometimes even at the pitching stage. This hands-on approach ensures that clients receive the best possible technology solution and avoid those annoying and often expensive technological pitfalls.

The right reasons

If you are going to invest in high-end, bespoke technology, then I’d say you should use it for the right reasons, not just because it’s the latest thing. The choice of technology is a balance between cost and practical event logistics. Very often AV providers will choose the easy or ‘what’s in stock’ option. This is not a position I like to take.

I’m equally comfortable recommending that a client use more familiar, reliable, high-quality technology, as well as the cutting-edge equipment, such as plasma walls and touch screens as long as the technology successfully achieves the desired effect for the client.

Do something different

I’d also advise clients that it is worth considering novel ways of using more tried-and-tested technology. DB recently installed twin seamless plasma screens, which served as a visual incentive for delegates to enter the stand. This was achieved by having the walls facing each other and programming the content in a way that bounced the story from one side of the exhibition stand to the other. This interactive set-up proved to be a great hit with delegates, while at the same time getting the message across in a clear and exciting way.

However, sometimes it’s inevitable that you have to use advanced technology. For example, at the Farnborough Airshow earlier this year we installed a 3D holographic projection theatre, which was used to play a virtual presentation of the client’s latest aircraft engine complete with a holographic male presenter standing at the side of a live stage. This was an appropriate use of the technology, as it was the best way to showcase in a way that illustrated the inner workings of the product, and in a show-stopping, memorable way. Holographic projection of a bespoke animation was by far the best way to achieve this difficult brief.

Recently, I was asked by a top London exhibition design agency to upgrade a large exhibition project from DVD playback to Blu-Ray playback (HD). While it is, in today’s financial climate, important to carefully consider whether or not to make the investment in both playback equipment and screens, an AV partner should not allow this to significantly influence decisions. In this situation the agency and I agreed to invest in PS3s as the playback device, simply as they have a wider range of usage to a rental company in the long term.

Stay focused

So, regardless of whether you are using standard or advanced technology, it is best to use whatever is appropriate to the audience and the brand message, and whatever best blends in with the exhibition stand. A fair definition of the incorrect use of technology is when it gets noticed for the wrong reasons, or if the technology is noticed more than the message, and sadly this does happen occasionally.

An AV partner should gauge from its client want it wants to achieve and then match the technology to the project. AV partners also need to stay focused on what we do best, which is build technical solutions for our customers for use at live events and offering them what they need at the right price. Good honest value for money.

Oliver Richardson is sales director at AV and IT solutions company DB Systems

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