Venue update

From May 2023 onwards our daytime availability has changed. We remain open for evening and weekend event bookings. Please contact us to find out more about our availability.

Reflections on International Confex 2022

April 2022

Hands up who has missed face-to-face events? As the whole world answers a universal ‘HELL YEAH’ it’s clear that, on so many levels, the pent-up demand is palpable. After a long two years of cancelled events and postponements, we are delighted to see the events industry bouncing back in full force and have so many events taking place at full capacity once again.

To ensure a 2021 show, International Confex was pushed back to September 2021 with the 2022 event back in its usual slot of March at Excel London. Can you believe 2022 is its 39th year? Organised by Mash Media, Confex is the largest gathering of event professionals in the country. With a huge mix of venues and suppliers showcasing their offering to event buyers it’s the perfect place for like-minded people to build their network, do business and ensure they’re staying up to date on all things events.

As well as showcasing some of the latest developments and insights, Confex hosts over one hundred talks from experienced event professionals. Spread over two days, these talks cover a range of event-related subjects from global industry trends to the Metaverse, and Corporate Social Responsibility.

 We were delighted that our own Catherine Owen, Head of Venue Sales here at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, was selected to speak at Confex this year. Catherine was chosen to discuss the all-important topic of Diversity and Inclusion. The events industry is continuously evolving, and it is so important for us as event professionals to ensure that we are adapting and growing along with it so that everyone receives fair and equal opportunities.

Catherine has collected extensive and invaluable experience over the course of her career, and constantly ensures that equality, diversity, and inclusion remains at the forefront of conversations, so she is well equipped to lead discussions on this topic! It was great to see so many faces again after such a long time, and the atmosphere was fantastic.

Edward Poland, co-founder of Hire Space and the curator of all sessions within the London pavilion again this year, tells us

‘It was brilliant to see such a buzz at Confex, with a sense of real optimism abounding. The speakers were of the highest calibre, with real experts in the fields discussing the most important issues impacting event professionals. Hire Space were delighted to be involved with such a forward-thinking and important event.’ Edward has a wealth of knowledge about the events industry and spoke in sessions about recruitment, technology shaping the events sector, hybrid events, and brand storytelling.

The first of Catherine’s panels, titled ‘Diversity vs. Inclusion. Helping your workforce learn the difference’, was presented alongside Mike Sealy, Director of Diversity & Inclusion for Informa Markets and chaired by Shonali Devereaux the co-founder of the Diverse Speakers Bureau. Together they discussed the meaning and difference between diversity and inclusion, enabling event professionals to understand and implement a better strategy day-to-day. It was hosted on the newly established People & Culture hub, a solid display of Confex’s commitment to inclusion.

The stand was spearheaded by industry leaders Diversity Ally and designed to be open environment to generate conversation and provide a welcoming space. Those who attended the talk had a real interest in equality, diversity, and inclusion, delivered hard hitting questions and provided a fantastic discussion.

Promoting and supporting diversity and inclusion in an events team is an important aspect of good people management and doing the same at an event is important to ensuring you are reaching the widest audience and providing them the safest and best experiences. It is about valuing everyone as unique and as a valued individual. Being diverse and having a clear diversity and inclusion policy for your organisation or indeed for any events you are planning will protect your organisation, team or project from risk. The {10-11} team are excited to be working with Gabrielle Austen-Browne and Diversity Ally this year developing our own strategy and putting our words into action.

 Catherine also spoke on a panel which discussed the challenges and opportunities that venues and event organisers face when striving to achieve accessibility for everyone. This panel, ‘Accessibility in events: making a real step forward in 2022’, was delivered alongside two other remarkable panellists: Lizzy Eaton and Isaac Harvey. Lizzy is the founder and director of Oddity Events and Marketing, an agency specialising in designing events with flair for high-level policy influencers. Isaac is a video editor, alongside being the president of Wheels and Wheelchairs, a fantastic group of wheelchair users and skaters who go out together as a group to enjoy the sensory rush of speed and collaboration as an accessible sport.

 It is great that inclusion is now firmly part of the narrative around events today, however those with disabilities still face challenges participating in events. The industry should constantly be striving to improve this and make all events accessible for everybody, so this was a great opportunity for Catherine, Lizzy and Isaac to share their knowledge with the audience and ensure what was spoken about isn’t just talk.

Making events accessible to the widest audience should be at the forefront of event organisers minds. Considerations beyond ramps and lifts are necessary. The approach to access and inclusivity ought to be wholistic and touch on every aspect of event planning from advertising to delivery and include everything that will make that person's experience the best it can possibly be. Simple and cost effectives solutions which venues and event organisers can implement to ensure everyone has the same great experience. Not only is it the right thing to do but it will affect your bottom line you will open up more marketing and inspire customer loyalty.

A few of our top tips and tools to enhancing accessibility:

·      Seek feedback! Your guests insights are unbelievably valuable – Be brave and ask for their warts and all opinions because it will help you make necessary improvements

·      Train your teams – staff confidence is paramount to ensuring consistent customer service for all. We are pleased to work with industry leading disabled owned Enhance the UK for disability awareness training

·      Ensure a diverse team are planning events or being consulted, to guarantee you are making accessible choices.

·      Stay on top of industry insights – always keep learning, you can review our friends at Hirepaces own learnings from the Confex panel and they share a wealth of tools for venus and event profs here.

“It was a fantastic opportunity to speak on these subjects at Confex with so many industry revolutionaries. As an industry we had to adapt quickly to the impact of Covid. We deftly shifted to virtual and then to hybrid events. This change benefitted from being more inclusive by removing physical and economical barrier to event attendance thereby naturally creating a more inclusive event experience. However simply having a virtual option so a guest doesn’t have to travel to a venue doesn’t necessarily make it an accessible event. It is imperative to consider all attendees, those that maybe deaf or hard of hearing, those who are neuro divergent, who may struggle with social anxiety, individuals with hidden chronic pain conditions, those expressing breast milk or requiring a space to pray. The pandemic provided time and perspective on the importance and necessity of accessible and inclusive events. It feels like our industries priorities are shifting and but there is a long way to go. Indeed, Confex itself can learn from this year’s panels, industry experts and passionate attendee feedback to shape their event going forward and making it a more fully inclusive and accessible show to ensure its success for another 39 years. That said it was fantastic to see Diversity, Inclusion, Accessibility and Sustainability at the forefront of discussion at this year’s show “

Confex was, as always, a fantastic experience and we thoroughly enjoyed hearing Catherine and all the other amazing speakers talk about unique and fascinating topics that they are all undoubtedly passionate about, and highly relevant to the events industry. We are already counting down the days until International Confex 2023! #seeyouatconfex