One of the common problems with country house hotels is that they are often in places with poor mobile phone signals. In the early days many promoted this as an advantage; if people can't get a phone signal and can't use their phones then maybe they will concentrate on the conference.
Now, as our phones have become more and more important, it's hard for many to accept that not having a signal is acceptable. Digital hasn't delivered on the promises made when we switched from analogue. Crystal clear, no loss of signal ... it just hasn't worked out and 3G hasn't been much better. We all have those critically important conversations where we either sound like Daleks shouting angrily under water or worst still lose signal completely.
Technology in events is also in very early stages and it's not particularly reliable. Even in city centres tablets running treasure hunt software lose their signal leaving teams stranded and wondering what to do next. Many event managers actually refuse to use tablets because of the stress of constant phone calls from angry stranded teams.
Is the experience worth the hassle? Let's face it, tablets aren't exactly a novelty. Most of us have one of our own. What might be a novelty, ironically, is a day away from technology. Now, I sense your panic. Am I really suggesting that it might be enjoyable, relaxing even, not to be accessing your smartphone every five minutes? Well, yes I am.
Various studies, including one by Coventry University, have found that accessing smartphones, or the feeling that you need to regularly, significantly increases stress. A Gallup poll of workers found a link between stress and smartphone reliance. As early as 2010 an investigation by McGill University in Montreal found that over-reliance on GPS reduced activity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain which tells us how to get from A to B. Another study by Columbia University in New York came up with evidence for a 'Google Effect'; people substitute use of search for their own memory. This is bad news; technology is making us more stupid.
So, take a break. We can help you to locate venues where mobile signals are such that people can't use their devices, no matter how hard they try. However, don't panic. If the world really does end then someone from the hotel can take the call from the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse, or your manager, and relay it to you wherever you are. Just think of how relaxing that would be.
(If you really can't bear this idea we can also recommend venues where this nightmare scenario won't cause you a problem).