Venue technology trends Q&A with Michael Duckworth

Michael Duckworth

Michael has entered his 25th year working in the AV & Events industry. With a career that began in technical operating and show delivery, technology and production has been a constant in Michael’s working life.  

This year the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) announced a new department named Technology & Innovation incorporating the areas of Audio Visual, Information Technology and Event Management Systems to be led by Michael. 

The Centre is an Entegy Partner and has been offering clients event apps integrated with venue wayfinding since 2014. We caught up with Michael to find out about the latest venue technology trends and how BCEC is enhancing the Centre’s culture of innovation and leveraging technology and knowledge to ensure continued growth and development.

What should an event organiser look for when choosing a tech-friendly venue?

A great on-site support team who understand the clients needs and partner with them to deliver a shared vision and achieve positive outcomes for all.

Secondly, look at what the venue offers as part of their integrated offerings, this not only has cost benefits but reduces the number of external suppliers you have to manage. 

Lastly, look at the products and services that extend your message beyond the venue and engage with delegates on different levels. Platforms such as virtual attendance gives delegates an avenue to remotely access live images and content for a reduced fee. Event apps with live schedules and direct messaging allow attendees to start interacting with conference materials prior to arriving on-site. Enhancements such as gamification are also a great way to ignite friendly competition and another level of interaction within the event. 

delegates looking at mobile phones

What are you doing at BCEC to keep up with tech demands of the industry?

We are embracing new technology and always on the look-out for products to benefit attendees and event organisers, as well as overall event outcomes. 

For example, we began offering the Entegy Suite to clients in 2014 to enhance and complement the technical event and conference landscape. Event apps were not new to the industry but we integrated venue maps for wayfinding as well as Centre and local information to create an invaluable tool for event organisers.

Replenishing hardware regularly and investing in new technology is also of high importance to improve efficiency and sustainability. As part of recent upgrades we have implemented laser phosphor projection technology to replace traditional mercury-lamp light sources. This reduces the number of consumable lamps required during the life-cycle of the hardware that go to landfill.  

We recently invested in updated lecterns that feature audience-facing digital signage and digital banners for branding and sponsorship opportunities. This reduces waste and is much more dynamic, allowing the user to instantly update content, without the need to reprint signage.

digital podium

How do you use technology internally amongst staff and departments?

Many of the AVPS staff at BCEC are on the go and not sitting at a desk. The Centre has taken a number of measures to empower them with virtual and cloud-based tools to access information on-the-go to streamline delivery. Digital notice boards are used to communicate to staff in back of house areas via our digital signage platform. This ensures access to live event information and enhances the workplace experience. 

audio visual operator

Are there any events you have seen use tech really well?

There have been some great examples of events using technology to engage their attendees and create an immersive experience.

One recent event used lighting design to transform a space from keynote into breakout sessions. A division was created by washing the floor with different coloured lights, visually breaking the space into zones. A silent PA System was used for the 3000+ attendees to tune-in to the breakout presentation on their chosen stage. This allowed the plenary space to be quickly transformed into a multi-zone breakout space.

What ways are venues using technology to enhance events for attendees?

We’re finding ways to communicate, engage and provide useful tools to attendees while on-site. 

The Centre provides conference tools such as free Wifi, charging stations, digital signage for wayfinding and cashless payments including cryptocurrencies. 

We also have engagement tools available such as lead capture and polling apps, which really bring the fun factor to an event when paired with our throwable ‘catch box’ microphones to keep debate active and questions flowing.

delegates using catch box

What ways are venues using technology to make event organisers lives easier?

Event planning tools such as virtual 3D representation of your event space, previewing the production design elements ahead of your event.

Dedicated Speakers’ Presentation Centres with experienced production staff on hand.  This allows presenters to review and fine-tune their content prior to delivery.  

conference plenary session

What’s next for BCEC?

There are so many opportunities to leverage new technologies for events. Bots and virtual assistants have plenty of potential uses plus new ways to visually activate a venue through digital content, projection mapping and signage.  This creates a smart venue approach where people and technology connect. 

Do you have a go-to for trends and innovation news? 

Rave publications – production blog from the US.

TechRadar– technology news and reviews, covering computing, home entertainment systems, gadgets and more.

AV Network online resource for audio visual news and industry trends in digital signage and rental and staging for systems contractor.

AV Interactive – covers all aspects of professional AV – including event and video production, rental and staging, presentations, digital signage, audio, displays, systems design and video conferencing.

Looking for a tech-friendly venue?

Take your event to the next level with Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s AV & technology services.

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Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre