BY ROB COTTER

Remember the last time an attendance confirmation fax slowly ground itself from the machine to land on your desk? Wasn’t recently, was it? Didn’t think so…

Over the past decade Gen Y’s burgeoning technological toolkit has transformed every corner of the MICE industry, consigning fax machines and their functionally gaslight companions to the notional MICE Museum of Historical Artefacts. The 2008 GFC onset, however, and shaky economic conditions it has wrought has been reaching every industry corner too, clipping the wings of its hi-tech flight by elevating cost control to primary concern. Mix in the equally significant emergence of CSR and sustainability, and the ‘children of the web’ stamping their tech-savvy seal on modern events have also had to adjust to being children of austerity saddled with environmental responsibility.

Shading ahead

So what will this mean for the industry? Well, imagine a Venn diagram of tech innovation, environmental consideration and economic prioritisation: whilst each field will continue to develop independently, the engine of opportunity driving the industry forward will be ideas that fit the shaded area where they overlap. Firing this engine and hinting at the kind of idea that will sit in the shade was a recent unveiling by a young Spanish supplier at EIBTM 2012.
“During several events that we were producing, we saw the opening for an innovative and ephemeral stand or booth that was sustainable, easily adaptable, customisable and practical,” said Kubikat Studio S.L director, Lídia Marsal.
“Together with the industry experience of the other company members, we decided to risk everything on a new concept: the Kubikat, a recycled and transformed container with fully automatic opening that can be used for road shows, product presentations, pop-up stores, restaurant or lounge bars, event stand
and many other uses. It can meet all
these needs.”

Three cheers for innovation

Reusing a container as a show stand, Kubikat ‘contains’ the main ideas needed to tackle current industry challenges. First of all is its backbone of environmental responsibility, not only of reusing existing materials, but also eliminating construction waste arising from events, being designed for long-term use and easy transport. It is also fully equipped with slide-out solar panels for energy self-sufficiency and the internal equipment – furniture, lighting, audio system – is selected to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Secondly, cost savings are met by there no longer being the need for personnel, material or time considerations for set up; it’s as simple as deliver, hit a button and watch it unfold. The initial outlay of rent or purchase can therefore be quickly recouped over a number of events and the ability to update and customise it keeps it in tune with any changes to brand image. Power self-sufficiency also removes any extra
event charges.
And thirdly, the units are freighted with tech innovation, managed from a single internal control point, or even a laptop. At the touch of a button the container walls separate to become floors, awnings and solar roofs, creating an inner space with LED screen, wifi, counter and furniture that can all be customised to client spec.
“We hope that the product will become popular all over the world, as we offer it worldwide, it can be transported anywhere and we can adapt and personalise it to any brand,” said Marsal. “We believe it will be an excellent example of practicality and sustainability in the event industry and it is really addressed to professionals looking for innovation, sustainability and resources optimisation.”

Crisis the mother of invention

Not simply an excellent example, Kubikat is also a timely example of how technological know-how can be harnessed to current economic and environmental challenges to unlock unique products for the industry’s future. As such it is real food for thought for today’s tech developers, event managers and those on the supply side.
With the GFC and rising pressure of environmental responsibility already mothering invention, the MICE industry needs its family of ideas to blossom in the years ahead. Initiatives as good as this leading the way, let’s hope it continues by the container load!