Being brave with your brand: the shift in internal and external communication and the role of events. Interview with Dagmar Mackett, Global Development Director, DRPG

Current global issues such as diversity and inclusion, COVID-19 and presidential elections have triggered brands to take a stand. These crises have brought a democratisation of communication in how brands can involve their audience so that they also have a say. 

Global issues have placed the spotlight on brand value and brand purpose to break down barriers of uncomfortableness and communicate differently with their customers. This new focus applies both to external and internal communication. In this session at the Event Planners Talk e-conference in Bern on 30 August with Dagmar Mackett, Global Development Director DRPG, we discussed some recent examples of the trends shaping our society and how these trends translate to internal and external brand communication and events. We examined cases of ‘brave’ brands who are being vocal about communicating their values, purpose and showcasing authenticity.

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Second online #eventprofstalk hackathon: FULL BUSINESS PLAN

Our first online #eventprofstalk hackathon took place in April 2020 and was a huge success – a fantastic and inspiring collaboration of our worldwide event professionals community, at a time when the industry was first feeling the effects of the global pandemic.

Since April, we have seen multiple industries devastated by the commercial and social impacts of COVID-19, and none more so than that of meetings, incentives, conferences and events.  In classic gung-ho response, the summer saw the worldwide #WeMakeEvents movement gather stride in appealing to governments to provide financial support to our industry, and it is positive forces for change such as this that will see us survive beyond COVID-19.

With no support in sight, we will need to continue providing ourselves with the tools for resilience, agility, flexibility and success; and with this in mind the second online #eventprofstalk hackathon took place from 22-24 October. The challenge this time was to ‘Develop a 12-month sales and marketing plan for an event agency’, adjusting the current business offering of an event agency and their partners for the post COVID-19 world. This meant: rethink, reevaluate, redesign, readapt, reinvent and recreate all the existing sales and marketing processes. The group needed to work collaboratively with fellow #eventprofs to develop a concrete action plan for the next 12 months, with actionable outcomes.

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Introducing #eventprofstalk digital festival: to spark creativity, grow your network and set your skill set for social media mastery in the events industry

After concluding the successful #eventprofstalk hackathon there was suddenly a void. During the hackathon we had a steep learning curve and enhanced networking opportunities that we didn’t want to end. We immediately started to think about what’s next for the #eventprofstalk community and the events industry!  

We are constantly willing to try new things, experiment with new event formats and continually look for ways to add more value for you, providing a platform for personal growth by up-skilling and creating networking opportunities. 

The second #eventprofstalk online hackathon is already in the planning stages, and with our approaching live conference in Bern from 27-30 August, we want to shorten the wait and anticipation by providing you a further opportunity to master the pivot to digital. 

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First online #eventprofstalk hackathon: WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT + FULL BUSINESS PLAN

After reading and hearing the unfortunate news of event businesses having to furlough employees or close down, businesses losing income for multiple months and clients keeping contracts on hold, we had to do something about it.

There is no time to look backwards. Instead, we need to work collaboratively as an industry and think about solutions that will make our businesses more secure, robust and agile in the future. 

The way we work and communicate will evolve and take place increasingly online when businesses reopen and travel resumes. That knowledge means that it will require adjusting and evolving the current business models of the entire events industry. 

That’s how the idea of the online #eventprofstalk hackathon was born. 

From 23–25 April 2020, the first #eventprofstalk hackathon took place with the challenge to ‘develop a 12-month business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19.’ The ‘agency’ was a fictitious entity for this challenge, but when working on this, we suggested that participants also think about it as their business. 

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Event Planners Talk conference in Bern, Switzerland, is going ahead as planned, from 27–30 August 2020

When the events industry came to a halt in March because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, we had to stop our event promotion for the time being. Our weekly #eventprofstalk Twitter chat rapidly became a regular hub for knowledge exchange and business advice, helping event professionals navigate through this crisis. In recent weeks, we have focused on how we can add value remotely to our online community while following governmental guidance to stay at home. 

Following announcements regarding an easing of restrictions on public life and movement, with initial liftings on social distancing taking place around the world, we have been constantly assessing the situation. However, in the meantime, we also aim to communicate our action plan for the Event Planners Talk conference due to take place this year in Bern from 27–30 August. In the following paragraphs, we want to share with you a full update on our recent online activities and those leading to the conference in Bern.

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Business models of online events: Interview with Bogdan Maran, Founder at Visual Hive and AMMP

Over the past seven weeks, the event industry has experienced a rapid digital transformation. From working from home to shifting communication and meetings online and hosting virtual events.

Up until the COVID-19 outbreak, only a few event agencies were ready for online events. However, very quickly, everyone had to adapt because it was the only possible option. When businesses reopen, things will never return to where they were before, and online events will significantly increase.

We are not prepared for online. We know how to monetise live events, but the same rules don’t apply to the virtual environment. Online requires rethinking current business models and creating new revenue streams.

To learn more about business models of online events, we interviewed Bogdan Maran, Founder at Visual Hive, about what event planners can do now to adjust their business models to online. Bodgan is an experienced international photographer and videographer who, after working with Splento, has now founded Visual Hive. His passion has always been how to maximise the value of visual content. In addition to creating visual content, the company focuses on collecting and analysing data around it. It looks at artificial intelligence, the blockchain and how to measure live spending. They are building a sponsorship engine that matches brand and event audiences, such as at mass-participation sports, and how to maximise revenue and interaction in terms of creating a bespoke online experience. The second company where Bogdan is a co-founder, AMMP, is a production company that examines strategy, production, delivery and analytics. They also (due to event cancellations related to COVID-19) pivoted to online event production and broadcasting, but were already well prepared for this and very quickly hit the ground running, helping their existing customers to pivot to online events.     

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Let’s develop a business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19

The world for all of us has changed overnight. The defining moment for us as event professionals was on 28 February when the ITB Berlin was cancelled, followed by IMEX Frankfurt cancellation on 11 March. Two big European trade shows that were significant for us, but also for numerous international event agencies and suppliers involved directly or indirectly.  

In the current situation each day feels like a month, and the news is not becoming more promising for the event industry as we know it. It might take months before the business gets to (the new) normal, and it is clear that certain things will need to change in our business strategy to adapt to the new reality.

We’ve been reading the unfortunate news of event businesses needing to furlough employees or closing down, it breaks our hearts. As much as it might be hard now, success comes often when we’re faced with adverse situations. The only thing we can do now is to come together as an industry and think about solutions that make our businesses more secure in the future.

The way we work and communicate will also evolve and take place increasingly online when the businesses reopen. That knowledge means it will require adjusting and evolving the current business models of an event agency.

We don’t have the solution now, but collectively we can find it. We are excited to host our first online #eventprofstalk hackathon about ‘creating and developing a 12-month business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19.’

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Working from home and what it means for productivity, trust, leadership and communication: Interview with Caleb Parker, Founder of Bold

The world has changed overnight. With the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the current lockdown in Europe and in other parts of the world, entire industries require their staff to work from home. The new reality will transform entire industries and post coronavirus, a new business world will emerge. 

Events will not be the same again. The way we work and communicate will evolve and take place increasingly online. Although there are opportunities in such adverse situations, it’s also important to acknowledge the anxiety that people feel about it right now, working from home and being isolated. 

During this challenging time, we continue to host our regular #eventprofstalk Twitter chats and seek additional expert advice via Instagram Live interviews on some of the subjects we cover on the Twitter chat. This time, we want to focus on new work and working from home. We interviewed Caleb Parker, an American London-based entrepreneur who’s the founder of Bold, a small meetings and flexible workspace brand in the UK. Caleb has been heavily involved in the events industry and with the Hotel Booking Agents Association (HBAA), and we’ve also worked on multiple events together over the past five years. 

For some event professionals, working from home is a new environment, whereas others have been doing it already for years. Caleb believes that although there’s a lot of talk about being productive while working from home, it’s also a very stressful time for people; however, it’s also a time when we need to realise that governments around the world are doing all they can do to ensure that from both health and economic perspectives, most of us will survive, and he is highly optimistic about that.

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From online to offline: digital experiences at live events that keep delegates constantly connected: #eventprofstalk Twitter chat recap

In the events industry, we often talk about how to engage the online community with live events and vice versa. BUT, there is one thing that is often missing in this discussion—how to engage our audience online while they attend the live event. Perhaps controversial, because the focus of the live events is face-to-face interaction, but the fact is that social media and technology are not going anywhere, and it’s better to use it to engage and enhance the attendee experience at our events rather than leaving it to chance. 

There are many digital experiences at live events that keep the delegates connected to their mobile devices, including registration, social media, hashtag usage, photo walls, online polling and apps. Which tools are the most effective? To explore this area further, we hosted a Twitter chat to ask our global event community about digital experiences at live events—‘From online to offline: Digital experiences at live events that keep delegates constantly connected’—and gained valuable knowledge on the subject! You can read about it in the following sections and add your views in the comments below. 

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Trust reduces complexity: tips for successful collaboration between event agencies, convention bureaus and venues

Event design is a highly current topic in the events industry. We asked our community on Twitter how they define event design, and the various definitions highlighted how complex the definition and the process is and how it can mean various things to different stakeholders. 

One definition that gave a good introduction to our live session in Rorschach, Switzerland was offered by Robert Bagust, Worldwide Congress Manager at Bristol Myers Squibb, who shared that ‘It’s starting with “purpose”. You cannot think about (event) design until you know what it is you are trying to do. Perhaps you are attempting to solve a business challenge; an event is just one option to consider…nail this clearly, then comes design. For the event design phase, it’s about putting into place all the required elements to help you achieve the objectives you’ve set out… the design is then “everything”…’

After covering the topic of event design extensively online on our weekly #eventprofstalk Twitter chat, we hosted a small regional event on the 8th of November 2019 at Würth Haus Rorschach in Rorschach, Switzerland. This session took place as part of the #GrenzenlosesEventdesign educational trip organised by the Destinations Circle networking group and the Convention Bureaus Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau, Convention Partner Vorarlberg and German Convention Bureau. 

The focus of the discussion this time was how local stakeholders can support event planners to design more impactful events. Our panel included Anja Sachse, co-manager at the St. Gallen-Bodensee Tourism, Anja Gunz, responsible for Sales & Marketing at Convention Partner Vorarlberg and Ursula Kaufmann, responsible for sales at Kongresskultur Bregenz. This session was moderated by Irina Graf, founder of The MICE Blog Event Planners Talk. 

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