With the roadmap out of lockdown set out and the return of large scale live events due to take place from summer, the QEII Centre looks at the benefits of attending live events, what makes the experience so special and why we can’t wait for them to return.

After twelve months away from live events, we reflected with colleagues across several departments what they missed about the experience and what they are looking forward to. It is evident that aside from the big things such as the interaction and networking, it is some of the event features that don’t normally come to mind that have bene missed such as the hum of lunchtime chatter, the delicious aromas emanating from the kitchens, seeing delegates heads go up and down between making notes and listening to the speaker.  Whilst we should be very grateful to technology for helping to plug the gap in these last twelve months, keeping the industry meeting and learning, it cannot replicate the live experience.

At the QEII Centre, here are our five key benefits of attending live events:

Networking & serendipitous moments
A significant factor in attending large-scale events is to build a network. With such a wide range of people attending on the day, they provide the perfect opportunity to catch up with peers, meet new contacts and potentially even find mentors or collaborators.

Events provide several different ways to network and allow for pre-arranged and spontaneous connections. From meeting peers in workshops, networking during breaks or pre-booking slots through event technology (where used) there are so many ways to expand your network. Thomas Mauch our European Account Manager, highlights just how many opportunities to network and event provides, “You can wander around the exhibition areas (being lured to an exhibitor stand, and hear what they have to say), finding and talking with potential clients, or being introduced to new people through your peer network”.

The serendipity of a live event can lead to all sorts of opportunities that you may never have imagined. These can pop up in all forms from reluctantly attending a session that may change your life or career to meeting to a chance encounter waiting for the cloakroom or the lunch queue, where you meet a new business contacts, generate new business or sponsorship deals. We have even had couples first meeting at an event being held at the QEII Centre, so whether it is business or personal, you never know what these chance encounters can bring!

To learn & pick up new ideas
Of equal importance to networking is attending an event where you take away new ideas or change the way you think. Events enable you to discover everything from previously unpublished data to new insights from thought-leaders. The type of learning you take away will vary from the session for examples panel discussions enable you to get a variety of views across sectors whereas workshops provide an opportunity for more targeted discussions with your peers and plenary sessions offer you the opportunity to dig further into what the presenter has been saying. Whatever the format, you should come away from an event reinvigorated by finding solutions to challenges and answers to questions you hadn’t been able to find.

Staying relevant
Attending live conferences and events enables you to stay up-to-date with all that is going on in the industry, whether that is hearing the latest data trends or growing your network. If your peers are in attendance, not only will you not be privy to the knowledge that they have gained but you will not be able to grow you personal network as quickly as those who met at the event. Who knows, a potential future employer may be in attendance and you wouldn’t want to miss out on meeting them!

Energy and excitement
There is nothing that can beat the live event experience and the energy that is present throughout a day. Whether it is the more subtle energy of watching engaging speakers deliver new and interesting ideas or concepts to the breaks where the energy of networking and meeting or making acquaintances permeates throughout the venue. This is reflected in the thoughts of our Senior Event Manager Emile Bolt, who agrees that. “Live events generate excitement that is unparalleled. People bounce off people and you get that energy with in-person events. We need to bounce, we need to feed off that energy, we need to be energised”. 

Experience a new place
Although the purpose of an event may be to learn and network, the event locations often give you the opportunity to explore new places and cultures. Sometimes both can be combined – with delegates often having to travel long distances or from overseas – as networking evenings offer the perfect opportunity to explore some of the local culture and extend the life of the event. Marketing Manager, James Bogle agrees that the venue location can make a real difference to the event experience, “At the QEII Centre, we are very fortunate that our location is surrounded by several major attractions such as the Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament and a short walk from the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. There is plenty to do in the evenings, as we are very close to several well-known shopping streets and some of London’s finest restaurants and bars”.