My favourite marketer has another great post this week and I think this line should be writ large on the wall of every event manager…
“How do you get these ideas? Question everything.”
To my mind every event is either marketing or tourism, or both. So if you want your event to be a success you need great ideas, and great ideas are found when you – question everything.
So why are most events related to tourism and/or marketing and what questions should be asked?
Let’s start with Business Events. Expos are all about marketing products and services, conferences are about marketing ideas. Awards events allow finalists and winners to market their business, service or talent. And people travel to these events – so, marketing and tourism.
Take Private Events. Weddings are an opportunity for couples to market their union and for family and friends to travel to the wedding location.
Pretty much every Public Event has tourism at its core as the event endeavours to draw visitors from far and wide, and many have sponsorship deals – especially sporting, music, arts and more. The core business of Agricultural Shows is to award prizes, for animals in particular, which the owners use for marketing. Cooking and crafts may not be as marketable, but they could be. Country Shows draw not only locals but visitors from throughout the district.
Mega Events are awash with sponsorships – just look at the Olympic Games.
These are a just a few examples taken at random.
In such a completive market how do you come up with ideas that will inspire delegates and visitors to attend your event? Question everything! And the make it unique.
Destination NSW posed the question – How do we get more visitors to Sydney during winter? They came up with Vivid. It was not a new idea; it was actually based on a concept already in place overseas and projections onto buildings in Sydney was not new. DNSW just took the concept and developed it into a festival that has certainly achieved its objective.
Truly successful events are unique – the Broken Heel Festival, Deni Ute Muster, Parkes Elvis Festival, Australian Festival of Chamber Music, Birdsville Cup, Mona Foma – some are local government inspired while others are created by inspired locals.
These events then inspire copycats, rarely however do they make the idea better and so it remains a local event.
So the key question they need to start with is – who is this event for? And if it is just for the local community then that is fine. If they are looking for tourism then they need to ask a lot more questions.
I recall Michael Gerber saying at a seminar “If you can’t come up with a great idea of your own, steal someone else’s and do it better.”
Back to Business Events.
Conferences are a great place to start when it comes to question everything about business events. Now that COVID restrictions have ended there is bound to be a tendency for committees to want to go back to “the way we always did it”. For example – most conference have their awards dinner on the last night. Ask why and the answer is usually “because everyone is too hungover the next day to pay attention to the conference”. So ask a different question – if the awards were held on the first night would that give the winners a greater networking opportunity because other delegates now know who they are? How about a panel discussion with some of the winners to learn what makes them a winner?
However once change is agreed to then it requires commitment.
I remember the MEA conference in Kuala Lumpur when a presenter piled all the chairs into the middle of the room and challenged the delegates to create various hubs. Lots of energy in that session. When we returned after lunch the chairs had been reordered by the venue staff – back into nice neat rows. Predictably, attention was not focussed and some delegates nodded off.
Then there is the question of hybrid events. Think of the questions that can be asked about how conferences are going to be delivered from now on.
If we offer online access to sessions during the conference will that encourage people to opt out of attending in person (and the subsequent loss of revenue)?
So maybe ask a different question…
Can we leverage the conference content by recording the sessions and making them available online post event? There are plenty of platforms available for Video on Demand that enable (for example) free access for full paying registrants and pay per view for those who did not attend.
If we make the content available via VoD will the income cover the cost of recording? Or should we get a sponsor?
Do we need to work with the presenters to make their presentation and supporting content more attractive for an online audience?
If we make people register to watch online can we now market the next conference to them?
These are just a couple examples – now go think up your own questions.
And who is my favourite marketer and where is the blog post?