Published: 14 Dec 2015

NEC successfully hosts Insomnia56

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) successfully hosted the Insomnia Gaming Festival from 10-14 December. The unique 24/7 festival-style event was the first of its kind at the NEC and offered the venue an amazing opportunity to showcase what it can do.

Insomnia56 - which has relocated from the Ricoh Arena – included; a ‘LAN Gaming Hall’ allowing visitors to game 24-hours a day, as well as live stage shows, e-sports tournaments and an exhibition hall which provided entertainment for day visitors and weekend festival ticket holders.

The event bought with it some exciting challenges for the NEC in regards to the technical, logistical and catering demands, but the venue team worked closely with its catering partner Amadeus – also part of the NEC Group – and the show organisers to ensure that these requirements were delivered creatively, efficiently and successfully.

Sophie Gardner, Senior Account Manager at the NEC, said: “Insomnia 56 is a great example of how we are able to adapt our offer to ensure that we deliver a fantastic show. Not only did we successfully deliver the 24/7 element of Insomnia, we also balanced our normal operations and managed the site as a whole, which included a show at the Genting Arena. We were proud to welcome thousands of gamers through our doors.”

Craig Fletcher, Founder & CEO at Multiplay, said “We are delighted to have worked with the NEC to deliver our biggest and best Insomnia gaming festival to date. We chose the NEC as our hosts because we know that this show will continue to grow in popularity and the venue not only gives us the flexible space to physically grow, but also has the knowledge and experience to help find new ways to enhance the visitor experience. Despite being a bigger venue than we have ever worked with before, the team behind the scenes has really added a personal touch to the service and made the transition a lot easier. The NEC only won this contract in early September and to have turned this around in just a few short months proves we made the right choice.”

Over 1500 people – known as the BYOC community (Bring Your Own Computers) attended the show as well as day, weekend festival and console ticket holders.   The show was Insomnia’s biggest winter event to date with a footfall of over 27,000.

The NEC provided power and an internet connection for each member of the BYOC and console  community for the duration of the event, requiring a huge bandwidth. In order to deal with this demand, the venue worked alongside its Internet Service Provider, Colt, to install a new 10Gbps internet pipe.

While the new pipe only operated at 5Gbps during this event, the NEC installed a wire with greater capacity to meet the expected demand as the show grows over the course of its three-year contract at the Birmingham venue.

The BYOC community was online for the entire duration of the event, so ease of catering was critical. To maximise its offer, Amadeus teamed up with QJacker to develop an app enabling this community to order food and drink on-line and have it delivered to their station. The caterer also extended its operational hours during the show; the BYOC community were able to use QJacker each day between 8am-2pm, there was be a 24/7 bar located in the hall and the catering units in the NEC piazza were open into the evening. 

Amadeus also worked with its service partner MPM catering to provide Cook Street kiosks on the exhibition show floor as an extra dimension to further support the fixed catering facilities in halls.

The UK’s number one caterer was in regular communication with the show organiser to help understand this visitor community better and shaped its offer accordingly; pricing points, menu and eating patterns were all adapted to ensure that the catering offer met the demands of the audience.

The format of the show required extra staff to work around the clock to ensure that the event ran smoothly. IT specialists and mains technicians were available 24 hours a day, as were traffic teams and Amadeus staff.