I vividly remember the world before the internet. We can all agree it was utterly life-changing, but not in ways we could have possibly expected. In the meetings and event industry alone, the past ten years have seen a wormhole of advancements on every level.
From the beginning, I think we saw the potential to save time. Email, Instant Messaging, Google, Amazon, software applications of every kind—they allowed humans to get more done in less time. But what have we done with the leisure time these advances have afforded us? Usually, we work.
In a recent article titled, “Optimizing Ourselves to Death,” author Zander Nethercutt notes this paradox, specifically as it relates to our free time. He writes:
“Services designed to save time can misfire, as people see them not as services that will give them more time to relax, but as services that will increase the amount of time they’re available to work.”
To many of us, time-saving tools are good for one thing and one thing only: freeing up time that can be used to get more done. Rather than using our newfound free time to foster meaningful relationships, create memories, have fun, or practice rest, our tendency is to squeeze productivity out of every free moment.
For all its wonders, we know that tech advancements have ushered in a host of challenges and distractions, especially from our lives outside of work. But it’s here to stay, so it’s worth considering:
On the rare occasion that someone does take time out of their highly optimized and busy life to attend a concert, conference, or ball game, how can we marry technology and our venue space to encourage more human connection and flourishing?
It’s a question to consider not just for attendees, but also for ourselves. While technology can reduce administrative tasks and inject more ease into our day jobs, we have to be the ones to seize personal opportunities for rest and play.
The beauty (and irony) of working in this industry is that oftentimes, it is your job to create the “rest and play” opportunities for others. But if you’re setting healthy boundaries for yourself, it can be an extremely rewarding line of work. How many people can say they get paid to be a part of making meaningful experiences for others?
Those that work in venues of all kinds have the unique opportunity (and challenge) to partner with technology to create more inclusive and collaborative environments that encourage fun, connection, and shared experiences for visitors. For a family visiting your sports facility, how does your staff and program make a game more than just two hours spent in a row of seats? Independent of the event taking place in it, how does your venue create an atmosphere that visitors are excited to leave their regimented routines for?
As we move into the next technical revolution—event and venue professionals can use these advancements as new means to achieve a familiar end: deeper connection with those we love and the community in which we live.
While some initiatives are more technologically complex than others, the following are just a few ways to help achieve that end and enrich the visitor’s experience:
- Innovative and “green” architecture / design
- Interactive art installations
- Augmented reality spaces to explore together
- Unique dining experiences, such as food trucks
- Local art
- Local food vendors
- Pedestrian havens
- Community gardens
- Offbeat concessions
Of course, such initiatives will require input from the community, as well as good old fashioned trial and error. But the sky is the limit, and for all its pitfalls, technology doesn’t have to be the enemy of healthily-spent free time. Quite the opposite—it can encourage it. How can your venue do the same?
About the Author: Melanie Taylor is the Asia Pacific Sales Director at EventBooking, the world’s first cloud-based venue software company. Melanie has extensive experience in software as a service, business growth, and finding the best solution to meet complex requirements.