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ConferenceLeeds reveals technology advancements in the city after research emphasises importance of new meeting techniques

With Leeds Digital Festival starting this week, Jennifer Young, Associate Director of Visitor Economy for ConferenceLeeds, highlights the technology investments that venues in Leeds are making, cementing the city’s place as the tech hub of the North.

The latest results from the British Meetings and Events Industry Survey (BMEIS) showed that event organisers find it frustrating when venues are not always knowledgeable about new meeting techniques. It was also recently reported that the UK is adopting digital technology much faster than any other European country, particularly in the North, with Leeds as the tech hub of the North.

As we prepare for Leeds Digital Festival to hit the city for the second year from 25th – 29th April, it is clear that Leeds is dedicated to embracing new technologies. We’ve seen some of the venues that we work closely with at ConferenceLeeds making key investments in order to upgrade their technology offering over the last few months. New technologies, including the use of social media and webinars, are being widely used not only to host conferences, but also to assist with organising them, so it’s essential that venues respond to this. Not only this, but it’s clear from the BMEIS results that organisers find it difficult to work with venues that don’t have the services to meet their requirements.

Meetings in the modern, digital age are all about being able to collectively plug in and share data from various devices and over the last year we’ve seen many of the venues we work with make investments in advanced meeting room technologies. One example of this is Carrwood Park, a serviced office and meeting room provider, which has added table top connection hubs to each of it’s meeting rooms - ensuring delegates can plug-in to varying devices with convenience and ease. Whilst Carrwood Park has always been at the forefront of meeting room and serviced office innovations, its most recent technological investments ensure the business park is keeping up to date with industry demands.

Horizon Leeds is a leading conference, learning and meeting space, which was created with technology at its heart. With state-of–the-art technology on offer, including AMX touch screen technology in each room, iPads available for hire for conference delegates and even a touch screen coffee table, Horizon is a truly innovative venue. One project that Horizon is launching at this year’s Conference and Hospitality Show, which is set to change the face of conferencing technology in Leeds, is its augmented reality systems that will allow conference buyers to take a virtual tour of the venue simply by wearing the augmented reality glasses.

Another venue that we work closely with is the Hilton Leeds City. In 2014, it refurbished its fourth-floor meeting centre in order to effectively cater for conference organisers that need cutting edge technology at their fingertips. The update included incorporating iPod docking ports, electric drop down screens and ceiling-mounted LCD projectors to its meeting rooms.

One venue that has made a significant contribution to upgrading the technology in its conferencing facilities is Oulton Hall; it recently announced that it is planning to evolve its venue capability by investing more than £1m. As part of this, the Wi-Fi service will have greater capacity so it supports the high-density use required by allowing 500 simultaneous connections that can be maintained throughout any conference or event. Even with that many connections, the venue can guarantee a bandwidth of 900MB, which is essential for larger conferences.

Finally, The Royal Armouries has continually invested in technology to ensure its conference facilities are modern and up to date, including recent investment in new wide format digital projectors and screens. With 48 digital light boxes, this venue is able to instantly transform the floor to ceiling star cloths to match the corporate colours of the event.

We’ve seen a specific change in the expectations event organisers have for conferences – now, they want something fresh and different, an even more bespoke offering and this is likely to continue to evolve. It is vital that conferencing venues adapt to suit the changing needs of organisers and delegates, and it’s great to see Leeds investing funds and resource into this now, to ensure it maintains its status as a technology hub and an innovative city to do business.