Data is the key to the success of events. Every event you create generates a mountain of data ranging from contact details to dietary requirements to sponsor leads. As the event approaches, that data is typically shared across a variety of roles from exhibitors to advertisers to hotels. This data can also move across international borders. Put simply, a lot of information moves around a lot of different people in a lot of different countries. 

Good data protection practice starts at the source: the registration process. In our privacy-conscious times, event attendees have changing expectations about the use of their registration information. Although attendees do expect organisers to resell their data for marketing purposes, they also expect that information to be shared safely, fairly, and responsibly. Attendees also assume that information not required for marketing will be kept confidential, and that sensitive personal information will remain safe.

In our privacy-conscious times, it is important for PAs and event organisers to understand their legal obligations to this data and to the people behind it. European law requires careful stewardship of personal data regardless of industry, content, or nationality. EU data protection rules will become much stricter in May 2018 when the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU’s new data protection regime, comes into force.

Fortunately, good practice is easier than you might think. Approaching your events data from the perspective of responsible stewardship, rather than box ticking, will save you from potentially embarrassing backtracking later on.

It can seem daunting but, as with health and safety regulations, every organiser of every event needs to understand it. It is a subject that I feel passionately about which is why I am speaking about this subject at the Conference and Hospitality Show on 4th April.

Event industry professionals face daily data protection dilemmas – ranging from USB stick usage to passwords to web hosts. I will go through these dilemmas and examine the lessons learnt by organisations who failed to take data protection seriously. We will delve into the imminent future of our data protection obligations, and give you a greater understanding of the questions you need to ask to ensure robust data protection standards across all levels of your business.

Simon Clayton, chief ideas officer, RefTech – who you can see speak at our upcoming CHS17 event in Leeds.

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