The CEO of Manchester Central has outlined his strategy to transform the iconic venue through technology.
The eyes of the world are currently focused on the 28,300 square metre venue as it plays host to the Conservative Party Conference amid high security.
Shaun Hinds, who succeeded Angie Robinson as chief executive of the conference and events venue in 2017, said digital improvements were vital as the business moved forward.
“No business can be complacent and immune from disruption,” he told BusinessCloud. “We expect disruption to come in all sorts of different ways and that’s part of the reason for the digital strategy.
“We will continue to be a world class events venue but in the future we will be an events venue with a viable digital stream alongside.”
The 51-year-old said speedy Wi-Fi, an eye-catching website and interactive social media were all essential to any successful events business but they didn’t go far enough.
“We are the ultimate analogue business,” he said. “We rely on people physically coming together to meet. We’re developing a meaningful digital business to complement the normal business. We’ve also just launched a podcast.”
Manchester Central has hosted everything from X Factor to Britain’s Got Talent over the years but can also host corporate dinners for up to 3,500 people.
“We’re just about to launch an app that means when you come in you scan a QR code and it will deliver an app (on your phone) that will enable you to order drinks direct to your table rather than queue at the bar,” he said.
“In the events business it’s groundbreaking.”
Hinds said the venue was also ramping up its eCommerce business. “Anyone coming to Manchester Central will be able to buy things off us online, whether it’s catering, power or meals,” he said.
“We’re also working with Manchester Digital on our first ever Hack Central event in November. We’re inviting them to come to the venue and develop technical solutions that will add value to our clients and delegates. If we find one we’ll develop it.
“We’re going to embrace digital.”
Prior to joining Manchester Central, Hinds led international operations at BridgeStreet Global Hospitality and has more than 25 years’ experience working across hospitality, property and business service sectors.
Manchester Central has a core staff of 120 people and a turnover of £18.5m.