Why Event Services Aren’t a Commodity

Why Event Services Aren’t a Commodity

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Why Event Services Aren’t a Commodity

Events are far from neurosurgery so what we take from this analogy is not the condensed pressure of responsibility towards one patient’s life but the responsibility the event organizer has towards the entire audience (sometimes numbered in thousands) to bring value, to inspire and to make their attention and time worthwhile.

Events are far from neurosurgery so what we take from this analogy is not the condensed pressure of responsibility towards one patient’s life but the responsibility the event organizer has towards the entire audience (sometimes numbered in thousands) to bring value, to inspire and to make their attention and time worthwhile.

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Why Event Services Aren’t a Commodity

“Do No Harm” the bestseller by the world-famous British neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, brings home the humility towards the task in hand (open brain surgery sometimes under local anesthetic) and the confidence in one’s own ability needed in order to save lives. Events are far from neurosurgery so what we take from this analogy is not the condensed pressure of responsibility towards one patient’s life but the responsibility the event organizer has towards the entire audience (sometimes numbered in thousands) to bring value, to inspire and to make their attention and time worthwhile. It isn’t uncommon to spend 18 months in the planning of a business event. What event budgets don’t show is exactly the cost of this manpower which probably adds another 10-20% of the total event value. Add to this the cost of taking people out of business to attend an event an investment which needs to be recouped and which makes the onus to offer a truly seamless and inspiring experience all the greater.

So let’s dissect an event! It is made of people, the big idea (objective), the venue, the food and beverage, the logistics, the content (message and channels to deliver it), technology that works, the sponsorship and speaker management etc. It is hard not to feel events can be overwhelming when there is so much to cram in, usually in very little time. The expectation to get things right is only matched by the real possibility that so many things could go wrong. Still, partnering with the right event professionals, should save you from harm. Events are the biggest way in which an employer can give. They are the brand, the way to performance and the reward for getting things right. But let us talk from experience. Where do we start?

“Do No Harm” the bestseller by the world-famous British neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, brings home the humility towards the task in hand (open brain surgery sometimes under local anesthetic) and the confidence in one’s own ability needed in order to save lives. Events are far from neurosurgery so what we take from this analogy is not the condensed pressure of responsibility towards one patient’s life but the responsibility the event organizer has towards the entire audience (sometimes numbered in thousands) to bring value, to inspire and to make their attention and time worthwhile. It isn’t uncommon to spend 18 months in the planning of a business event. What event budgets don’t show is exactly the cost of this manpower which probably adds another 10-20% of the total event value. Add to this the cost of taking people out of business to attend an event an investment which needs to be recouped and which makes the onus to offer a truly seamless and inspiring experience all the greater.

So let’s dissect an event! It is made of people, the big idea (objective), the venue, the food and beverage, the logistics, the content (message and channels to deliver it), technology that works, the sponsorship and speaker management etc. It is hard not to feel events can be overwhelming when there is so much to cram in, usually in very little time. The expectation to get things right is only matched by the real possibility that so many things could go wrong. Still, partnering with the right event professionals, should save you from harm. Events are the biggest way in which an employer can give. They are the brand, the way to performance and the reward for getting things right. But let us talk from experience. Where do we start?

  1. Create the environment for change

 We are that serious when we say “Activate creates the environment for change”. To achieve a paradigm shift in behavior, you need to involve, engage and inspire every step of the way. We do this as a matter of course.

  1. Ensure compliance

This can be the ABPI code of conduct, health and safety evaluations of event sites or driver license checks (e.g. in the case of a ride & drive). We are looking at due diligence, ISO standards, your specific industry and corporate guidelines. We will check, advise, recommend. Sometimes we simply can’t fit a square peg in a round hole but we are very thorough at cross-checking and if required, bridging gaps.

  1. Be cost effective

There is a difference between cutting corners and having the expertise to recommend some quick wins. Usually, the better your agency, the sleeker your event design. The Activate people are some of the best in the industry. Highly educated and highly experienced in the global arena. Like a good financial adviser – if you think you can’t afford us, think again! We believe in the shortest way from A to B. The most bang for your buck. Share your brief and we’ll tell you how.

  1. Keep delegates safe

Gone are the days when chancing it by seeing the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe  when Mugabe seconded all commercial aircraft for military use thus stranding thousands of tourists in situ. The key to keeping safe is to keep moving and having a back-up plan. This is where the most robust of global contact networks helps. Being able to think on your feet and roll out a new plan has to be part of the Master Plan.

  1. Measure and analyse

Technology, we salute you! It gives us access to rich data analytics; no more ROI headaches! In fact, we can give you attendance rates, applause rates, popular sessions, displays, catch phrases, the most popular beverage and which item disappeared the fastest from the salad bar. Data is now pouring in – let’s measure discriminately.

  1. Deliver seamless logistics

This means no ques. No frowning. No panic. No shortages of any kind. No delays. No outbreaks. No mad rush. Everything in just the right amount, at just the right time, always with the right attitude. Knowing where to look for answers. Getting it right, from brief to on-site. Can you do this in-house?

  1. Manage change

A 10-minute delay doesn’t count on the same level as a cancelled connecting flight (and most anecdotes are in this area, which is outside the direct control of even of best event manager or the biggest event budget.)

We’ve seen it all. And dealt with it all. Fog, ash cloud, political unrest. When 180 automotive guests got stranded in Chicago while trying to get to San Francisco, what did we do? A sightseeing tour in comfortable coaches, champagne reception and an early dinner in the ballroom at Four Seasons (with the entertainment from a big band from the previous night’s wedding bash!). All paid back by travel insurance (but for the champagne!), which was a small but necessary decadence at the time.

During the ash cloud drama, cancellation of the 3000-delegate symposium for a pharmaceutical client was not an option so what do we do? We jumped in a rock-band touring coach (not by choice!) and headed to Madrid from London to keep the planning ticking, ready for event kick-off should the situation improve. In the end attrition rates were limited to 18% of total attendee numbers and careful management of all contracts and proactive stakeholder communication minimized losses to a negligible amount.

  1. Give delegates a voice

Event co-creation is a big trend now. Managing the event in real time with digital signage, delegate interaction, canvassing opinion, voting, testing knowledge, Q&A sessions where the event agenda is shaped in real time, all this is possible and even expected. Talk to us for content design.

  1. Make it memorable

 Feeling involved makes an event memorable. “I did not attend to be talked at for two hours. I was there to take part. I’ll always remember how it made me feel.” And when that happens, we say “mission accomplished”.

  1. Learn and improve

 The feeling of elation following the success of an event doesn’t last long. It is soon replaced by the desire to ‘bottle up’ the successful formula and replicate it on other events.

We’re also doing the ‘post mortem’. What were the pressure points? Why did they happen? How can we avoid them in the future? This is how we learn and you become more certain that we won’t fail you.

So yes, events are far from brain surgery.  Still, you’ll probably agree, who can afford to get it wrong?

Best wishes,

The team at Activate Events

***

To learn more about how we can activate your business through events, please contact Ken, Client Services Director, at:

ken@activateevents.com and +44 (0) 7894684213.

P.S. If you liked this piece, please share it with your friends and business network. #activateevents

  1. Create the environment for change

 We are that serious when we say “Activate creates the environment for change”. To achieve a paradigm shift in behavior, you need to involve, engage and inspire every step of the way. We do this as a matter of course.

  1. Ensure compliance

This can be the ABPI code of conduct, health and safety evaluations of event sites or driver license checks (e.g. in the case of a ride & drive). We are looking at due diligence, ISO standards, your specific industry and corporate guidelines. We will check, advise, recommend. Sometimes we simply can’t fit a square peg in a round hole but we are very thorough at cross-checking and if required, bridging gaps.

  1. Be cost effective

There is a difference between cutting corners and having the expertise to recommend some quick wins. Usually, the better your agency, the sleeker your event design. The Activate people are some of the best in the industry. Highly educated and highly experienced in the global arena. Like a good financial adviser – if you think you can’t afford us, think again! We believe in the shortest way from A to B. The most bang for your buck. Share your brief and we’ll tell you how.

  1. Keep delegates safe

Gone are the days when chancing it by seeing the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe  when Mugabe seconded all commercial aircraft for military use thus stranding thousands of tourists in situ. The key to keeping safe is to keep moving and having a back-up plan. This is where the most robust of global contact networks helps. Being able to think on your feet and roll out a new plan has to be part of the Master Plan.

  1. Measure and analyse

Technology, we salute you! It gives us access to rich data analytics; no more ROI headaches! In fact, we can give you attendance rates, applause rates, popular sessions, displays, catch phrases, the most popular beverage and which item disappeared the fastest from the salad bar. Data is now pouring in – let’s measure discriminately.

  1. Deliver seamless logistics

This means no ques. No frowning. No panic. No shortages of any kind. No delays. No outbreaks. No mad rush. Everything in just the right amount, at just the right time, always with the right attitude. Knowing where to look for answers. Getting it right, from brief to on-site. Can you do this in-house?

  1. Manage change

A 10-minute delay doesn’t count on the same level as a cancelled connecting flight (and most anecdotes are in this area, which is outside the direct control of even of best event manager or the biggest event budget.)

We’ve seen it all. And dealt with it all. Fog, ash cloud, political unrest. When 180 automotive guests got stranded in Chicago while trying to get to San Francisco, what did we do? A sightseeing tour in comfortable coaches, champagne reception and an early dinner in the ballroom at Four Seasons (with the entertainment from a big band from the previous night’s wedding bash!). All paid back by travel insurance (but for the champagne!), which was a small but necessary decadence at the time.

During the ash cloud drama, cancellation of the 3000-delegate symposium for a pharmaceutical client was not an option so what do we do? We jumped in a rock-band touring coach (not by choice!) and headed to Madrid from London to keep the planning ticking, ready for event kick-off should the situation improve. In the end attrition rates were limited to 18% of total attendee numbers and careful management of all contracts and proactive stakeholder communication minimized losses to a negligible amount.

  1. Give delegates a voice

Event co-creation is a big trend now. Managing the event in real time with digital signage, delegate interaction, canvassing opinion, voting, testing knowledge, Q&A sessions where the event agenda is shaped in real time, all this is possible and even expected. Talk to us for content design.

  1. Make it memorable

 Feeling involved makes an event memorable. “I did not attend to be talked at for two hours. I was there to take part. I’ll always remember how it made me feel.” And when that happens, we say “mission accomplished”.

  1. Learn and improve

 The feeling of elation following the success of an event doesn’t last long. It is soon replaced by the desire to ‘bottle up’ the successful formula and replicate it on other events.

We’re also doing the ‘post mortem’. What were the pressure points? Why did they happen? How can we avoid them in the future? This is how we learn and you become more certain that we won’t fail you.

So yes, events are far from brain surgery.  Still, you’ll probably agree, who can afford to get it wrong?

Best wishes,

The team at Activate Events

***

To learn more about how we can activate your business through events, please contact Ken, Client Services Director, at:

ken@activateevents.com and +44 (0) 7894684213.

P.S. If you liked this piece, please share it with your friends and business network. #activateevents

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