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MASS ENTERTAINMENT TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE

(CIRCA 1981)

 

Increasing interest in themed entertainment attractions in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s created a unique opportunity for the Doultons to introduce the more complex and more expensive American-type venue to Europe.  With only a few notable exceptions (The Beaulieu Motor Museum and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in England, Deftelling Theme Park in Holland, and Tivoli Gardens in Denmark),  Europe had no real themed attractions with entertainment content.  Those that did exist had minimal investment, unsophisticated training programs, a poor food product, and did not offer an ample amount of fun.  Euro-Disney, and the host of other projects were still some years into the future.

 

Calling upon their wide industry contacts, the Doultons sponsored the first-ever European conference exploring the future of Mass Entertainment, American style.  They assembled the then industry visionaries from the US and the UK as speakers.

 

Sir Michael Montague, Chairman of the English Tourist Board opened the three-day symposium with Lord Montagu, owner and operator of Beaulieu Palace and Museum, one of England’s most successful attractions, delivering the keynote address.

 

Over the three-day symposium nine outstanding industry experts provided fourteen speeches, a series of eight workshops, two Q&A symposiums.  The event included a black tie ball. 

 

In all, over 300 delegates (bankers, developers, designers, architects, economic consultants, representatives of governments from over a dozen counties as far away as Hong Kong, etc.) attended the conference, which was held at the Royal Garden Hotel adjacent to London’s Kensington Gardens. 

 

The Mass Entertainment Technology Conference served as a catalyst for a number of themed projects which were built soon thereafter and the upgrading of many more.  As a direct result of the Conference one of the American speakers accepted the position as managing director to operate a major historic castle in the UK, and later a major UK Zoo.  Two other speakers, who had never traveled abroad before the Conference, leveraged the opportunity to launch lucrative international leisure consultancies. 

 

A London Telegraph feature article, "All in the Name of Fun”, declared that at $500+ US the Mass Entertainment Technology Conference was the most expensive conference of any nature ever held in London, but well worth it.

 

Today, almost every country in Europe hosts leisure conferences designed around the general format introduced by the Doultons.  Over the ensuing years, Romm has been a guest speaker at a number of these conferences.