Podcast

Hear the QEII Centre’s Deborah Jones, CTS, discuss the venue’s AV upgrades and how they contribute to an exceptional experience.

Challenge

Deliver the “wow factor” that conference and meeting planners want for their audiences by employing the latest AV/IT technology, improved connectivity and professional service.

Solution

London’s Queen Elizabeth II Centre started by upgrading the areas visitors see first, with a stunning videowall and engaging digital signage. Better network connectivity and IPTV services set the stage for further upgrades to enrich the visitor experience.

The Team

Venue: Queen Elizabeth II Centre
Integrator: AVMI
Integrator: Feltech Electronics

Located in the City of Westminster, the Queen Elizabeth II Centre (QEII Centre) is Central London’s largest dedicated conference and exhibition facility. It offers 28 conference and event spaces across seven floors, capable of hosting up to 2,500 people at a time. Every year, more than 400 national and international clients hold events at the venue. Last November, the QEII Centre was named Large Venue of the Year by the Event and Visual Communication Association.

Currently, the QEII Centre is undergoing a significant AV/IT upgrade — one that enhances visitors’ experience and introduces more ubiquitous, enhanced connectivity to the world-class facility. In November 2014, the QEII Centre unveiled the first stage of the upgrade, fittingly, throughout its entrance foyer and first level, where conference and trade show participants get their first impressions of the venue.

“Our team has developed a new brand for the QEII Centre, including a new name, logo and a strategy,” said Deborah Jones, CTS, the QEII Centre’s AV/IT Sales Manager. “The interior decor in our new foyer and our new audiovisual systems promote the brand, which is bold, dynamic and innovative.”

One of the first things QEII visitors now see when they enter the building’s foyer is a new, dynamic videowall, composed of nine 55-inch NEC high-definition monitors, arrayed in a three-by-three-screen configuration. Clients can purchase screen time on the videowall to display their unique content, which serves as a spectacular branding opportunity for companies, as well as a revenue stream for the QEII Centre.

To one side of the videowall is the QEII Centre’s registration desk, where 26 unique 2560 x 1080 NEC monitors replace the area’s static, printed signage. According to Jones, clients who hold their events at the QEII Centre can display their own electronic messaging on the registration screens, thereby making the event more targeted and personalized for attendees, or the QEII Centre can post information directly from its database of events.

Throughout the new foyer, the QEII Centre foyer installed motion-activated LED lighting to enhance the registration process and to create a comfortable, airy space.

In time, this type of visual communication experience will permeate the QEII Centre. “We will increase and update the digital signage on all seven of our floors,” Jones says. Spreading high-definition video throughout the venue is important to meeting the public’s expectations and underscoring the QEII Centre’s message of innovation. Jones says the team is even planning to roll out 4K ultra high-definition in certain areas of the venue.

Making Connections
Internet connectivity is important to visitors at a venue such as the QEII Centre. To that end, the latest technology upgrade included a faster 1 gigabit-per-second (Gbps) fiber-networking backbone and new, higher-performance wireless access points for better WiFi coverage.

The QEII Centre’s client network also serves another important purpose—providing connectivity for the facility’s IPTV system. Jones says one of the primary uses of the IPTV system is to stream audio and video presentations from designated conference spaces into breakout rooms or refreshment areas. This capability allows QEII Centre clients to welcome additional attendees to their events because they can make sessions available in multiple areas. And visitors enjoy access to presentations from different locations.

Recently, the QEII Centre hosted an event in its Churchill Auditorium that required hanging a ton of equipment. “Their event involved incoming feeds for separate operations, holographic projection and live relays via our IPTV system,” Jones explains.

Last December, just a month after the technology upgrades were unveiled, another client was drawn to the new features of the QEII Centre and the Churchill Auditorium. Bouygues Energies & Services, a customer-centric facilities management and energy performance partner, selected the newly-renovated QEII Centre for its annual conference. Bouygues operates in more than 25 countries worldwide and is part of the Bouygues Group, a global brand employing over 130,000 people in 80 countries within the construction, civil works, energy, services, telecommunications and media sectors.

“The challenge was to find a venue that could host a conference in the day and a staff Christmas party in the evening,” says Emma Weatherby, the company’s Communications Manager. “The Churchill Auditorium was perfectly sized for the conference and allowed us to deliver an informal cabaret style event with the professional AV support we were looking for.”

Although the upgraded facilities were a draw, the Bouygues team also appreciate the AV services the QEII Centre brought to bear in order to make the experience outstanding.

“They understood that we were not AV professionals and took responsibility for the whole visual experience,” Weatherby says. “They provided set mock-ups and gobo [lighting] production, and on the day they even sourced music to welcome our speakers up on stage.

“The dedicated QEII Centre AV technician who ran the floor during the rehearsal and the main event took away any worry associated with microphone switching and late arriving speakers,” continues Weatherby. “Our conference was also heavy in video content and the technicians in the booth made sure that the switch between PowerPoint and video presentations was seamless. This was despite some of content arriving late and the order of our presentations changing even a couple of hours prior to the event.”

Professional Service and Standards
The QEII Centre is a member of InfoComm International and many of its technicians, like Jones, are highly trained Certified Technology Specialists (CTS). Jones says the new AV/IT systems were integrated to meet standards described in ANSI/INFOCOMM 2M-2010: Standard Guide for Audiovisual Design and Coordination Processes.

Going forward, the QEII Centre will continue to reinvent the visitor experience through AV technology. The new foyer already includes new Sennheiser LSP500-based wireless audio for background music. Jones says audio enhancement is also on tap for the rest of the venue.

“We will finish upgrading all audio systems to digital audio,” she says. “We’ll also install lighting and audio systems via touchpanel controls in banqueting areas.” All of which makes the QEII Centre more welcoming to clients such as Bouygues.

“And we will continue to enhance technician and project management skills though in-depth training,” Jones says. Because an exceptional experience isn’t only about great AV technology.

Equipment Highlights

The Queen Elizabeth II Centre includes audiovisual and IT systems from many different manufacturers, including but not limited to:

Avaya (voice over IP, videoconferencing)
Datapath (videowall processor)
Exterity (video over IP)
Extron Electronics (fiber-optic switching)
Hewlett-Packard (virtual networking)
Meru Networks (wireless networking)
NEC (displays and videowall)
OneLAN (digital signage software)
Sennheiser (wireless speakers and monitoring)

Written by James Careless, Special to InfoComm International®