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.

Regular online events and new online initiatives 

In the past few weeks, we have fully focused on covering current topics on the #eventpofstalk Twitter chats every Monday (from 9–10 pm BST) and Friday (from 8–10 pm BST). Although these two slots focus on advanced education, we also recognised the need to offer a place where event planners can promote their best work done in recent months.

Together with Megan Strahle—a Tourism, Hospitality & Events master’s student at the University of Queensland—we launched the #eventprofstalk marketplace, a new Twitter chat slot on Friday from 1–2 pm BST. The aim of this chat is to provide event professionals with a platform to promote their best work among community members, ask for feedback and share recent or future projects that could be of interest. Another important reason is to network because when the pandemic is over, the industry will bounce back more strongly, and now is the time to strengthen relationships. We’ve already seen new connections form and new industry initiatives taking place—providing promising evidence for the future and reassuring us that the industry will come out more strongly from this crisis.

Another new initiative that we launched is the #eventprofstalk hackathon, which took place from 23–25 April this year, a collaborative project also with Megan Strahle. After reading and hearing the unfortunate news of event businesses needing to furlough employees or closing 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. That knowledge means that it will require adjusting and evolving the current business models of an event agency. 

The idea of the online hackathon was born. We put out the challenge to our community 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. Fifty event professionals from all around the world registered to take part in this inaugural project. Four groups collaborated for 48 hours on Slack across different time zones. 

The entries were of a particularly high quality, setting a very high bar for the first edition of the hackathon and exceeding all expectations. The group members thought out of the box, strategically and sustainably, creating a business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19 to give back to the industry that we love so much. The winning entry will be announced in May of this year and published across our channels. Seeing the concepts develop from a short brief to a detailed business plan really made the process somewhat emotional—that emotion that you have at live events and until now thought would not be able to be replicated in the online space. We were overwhelmed by the depth and creativity of ideas, and we’ll be planning a second hackathon in June, with details to be announced in the coming weeks. 

Event Planners Talk conference going ahead as planned

Today, we have begun to see the initial lifting of physical restrictions in Europe. That change makes us optimistic that our first international event will be able to take place from 27–30 August 2020 in Bern, Switzerland. We are constantly monitoring the situating and following the Swiss government’s guidance to ensure the full health and safety of all our attendees. We are working closely with Bern Meetings & Events and the Switzerland Convention & Incentive Bureau and monitoring the situation on a regular basis. If the situation remains unchanged, and/or restricted movement and international travel are still in place, a final decision to cancel this year’s event will be communicated on 26 June, two months prior to the event. All ticket holders will be refunded. 

Going ahead with the event will require several adjustments. The conference will be smaller than planned and capped at 25 participants. The good news is that all the educational sessions will be live-streamed and recorded for the global event community to participate and engage with the content online. 

Furthermore, the educational programme will change, and topic selection will include current issues that are on top of the event’s industry agenda: how to design digital event experiences, mental health and wellbeing, lessons learned from COVID-19 and what measures should be put in place to ensure that the industry will survive further potential global crises in the future. 

Through the regular Twitter chats, the hackathon and the live event, we are working on delivering a 365-day experience that is valuable, educational and can help event professionals grow their network and generate business results. At the event in Bern, attendees will also be introduced to a highly unique destination experience. We truly believe in live experiences and that they are irreplaceable. These events can enhance networking and education when they take place in the right setting, allowing attendees to discuss the content and develop it further, sharing opinions and networking in a particularly unique and inspiring environment where they can clear their head for new ideas. We look forward to welcoming you in Bern! 

Registration for the event is now open on our website. Sign up for the latest news and updates about the upcoming programme here. 

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.     

What online component does your current event business model include? 

We look at events from two perspectives. Our first aim is to help our clients go digital. We’ve had this approach for physical events. We strongly believe that live is an experience, and we see visual content as a teleporter; that is, taking this experience online. This is the first example of how we can use visual content to take the event digital; that can be, for example, a launch event, a conference or a series of conferences. What we are doing now is attempting to experiment in order to innovate, and this approach represents the creation of a new market. 

Visual content means photos, moving photos, videos, graphics. Now, such visual solutions are increasingly important. Video is top in terms of priority.

There is a perception that you need to meet ‘YouTube high-end expectations’, where we go and watch the high-end content on YouTube and movies, but it costs a significant amount of money. But you don’t need to do it. You have to be strategic, smart, creative and fast. If you had to be fast before, and we believe in live and live interaction and targeted content within minutes, now that’s significantly further in terms of speed—it’s nanoseconds now that your content needs to go live.

We are now initiating a webinar series and podcast interviews focused on experimentation and innovation during this time. We will also be launching a series about how to communicate better using visual content. For example, when having an online interview, both parties must have the same microphone/sound quality and the same lighting in order to have a good experience, and that is what we train people to do.   

Do you think that online events can be as profitable as live events? Yes/no? Please explain.

Yes, 100 percent. I don’t think that anyone who says differently understands what’s happening. At this point, if we just take the short future, we didn’t want to monetise online events, because the events industry is highly conservative. However, at this point, we’ve created a market where everyone is a broadcaster—you’ve done Instagram live, Twitter chats, podcasts—you’re a broadcaster by definition. Everyone who hasn’t done it yet must start tomorrow. There are going to be some negative experiences, but out of that, you’ll have a very healthy market. Even now, after how many years of holding events, we still have bad events, but there’s a tremendous number of nice events, and that’s where we are going. So, online events are going to become profitable and add significant value, even when we look at this period (which I think is going to be short) in terms of research and development for new revenue streams. Therefore, when we return to the hybrid model, we can add that value, and it will still represent a substantial asset for us. 

How can #eventprofs make their online events attractive for sponsors? What arguments/data/testimonials etc. are required to make a strong case study?

Sponsors will be delighted with online events regardless of whether or not they are hybrid. You need to have a community to build an event, and this happens online or physical. Online, you’re not restricted by the physical barrier of a venue, so you can go even broader. Doing so means that you need to go more into details in terms of creating the experience, but you have data—online means data. We perceive content as a huge barrel of data. We can study emotions, language, brands, understand images and brands in a video etc., and this data can be transformed into sponsorship assets.

Don’t think of content as what you see. Think how you use it and how you share it. This is also data and good for sponsors. I think it’s more valuable from a sponsor point of view to go to a digital event rather than a physical one.

Sponsorship placement can involve logo placements, links back to the articles, shout outs to sponsors—everything that has an image can be branded if you do it correctly. I personally view it as a value exchange. If I give you something of value as the audience, I associate this value with the image of a sponsor—that represents content that can be sponsored. 

Sponsorship revenues will become multiples of the content. Because you have the ‘live recording’ part of the content and then repackage that into something further, the lifetime value of that content can be sponsored ‘live’ by one brand and sponsor everything afterwards as well with other brands.  

Would you pay to participate in an online event? If no, why and if yes, what price would you be ready to pay for an online event?

In the past three weeks, I’ve primarily been involved in online events and webinars for several reasons. I love to do my research to understand what people are currently doing. I also wanted to experience from the other side how that feels and works because it differs to experiencing a piece of content at home when your kids are around rather than in a conference room. I also made it for education, one of the top three reasons for people attending events. I consider that there are many ways that we can get through this in the next few weeks and transform everything into digital events. 

Because I’ve been working remotely for several years now and managing teams from six different countries, I’m used to this—it’s natural. What struck me is how I react when I don’t like it, when something doesn’t meet my expectations. When the production value/sound is bad or something goes wrong, you can feel it, and you detach very quickly. You’re just one click away—you don’t need to take a bus to go somewhere else. 

How is it possible to overcome the challenge of content length and ensure that the audience stays on and maintains their engagement over one hour? 

I don’t think that there’s a magic wand, but this is linked to value exchange. How much do you pay for an event? We are very scared of the short attention spans that everybody has online.

The monetary value I will pay for an online event is approximately 100 GBP for a large-volume corporate production and about 30–35 GBP for individuals because it’s hard in this period, and we’ll learn more as we have more data. However, the more an individual will pay (it doesn’t matter how—it can be cash or their time), the more they will pay attention. 

Does it mean that online events should be more expensive than live events? 

I see the value proposition in terms of value exchange. If you give me something of value, I’ll give you something of mine, it can be attention or cash, give me something of value, and I’ll pay for it.

But now that everyone is doing it, how are we going to win an audience’s attention, and what’s the USP of an online event? 

There was an answer on the #eventprofstalk Twitter chat by Victoria Matey from Matey Events suggesting to ‘go big or go niche’ because that means bringing highly specific value. I think that everything in between will not go away but will become more hybrid. But being niche means you offer value and you are in the top 10 of the best, and your value proposition is there. 

We need to change how we examine ‘going big’ because our mindset is currently with the ‘physical event’. When you think of the Mobile World Congress, you picture that big event. It may be that the meaning of ‘going big’ will change over time; perhaps that will mean that the live event is there and then it expands to so many branches that it can go over for months after the ‘live’. Even at the World Mobile Congress, you can’t do everything in four days even if you want to. You go to these big events and eventually spend all your time in one hall; therefore, such live events require an online component to extend the discussion to those who are not able to be there physically.   

What revenue streams can be applied to online events?

I think that there will be substantial possibilities in terms of revenue streams. We look at anything from pay per view; so, instead of paying 1,000 EUR to go to a large finance conference to see two keynote speakers, I can pay for the keynotes only. It can be pay for connection instead of pay for square meter because the square meter is gone. You also have traditional ticketing. The way I see it and what fascinates me is that when I go to a large conference, you usually have a specialist from this domain speaking on stage—you can monetise that (e.g., TED Talks and YouTube, BBC, CNN—they are all monetised). It can be correctly done, recorded, shared and available to access. You can have access bundles—what do you want to see? Why do I have to pay to see everything when you say, ‘I spend all my time in one hall (at the exhibition) because that’s where my business is.’ Hence, this process involves understanding and making personalised packages and streams. You might not have 1000 people paying 1000 GBP for tickets, but you will have 100,000 paying 100 GBP for a ticket. 

Passive income will always be present; for example, charging for a recording because you’ve missed the live stream (e.g., if you mention a brand, it can be ‘sponsored by’ or ‘brought to you by.’) When you see your audience engaging with that content, then it’s easier to bring them something special because you understand behavioural patterns, and that way an affiliate link can be personalised and be more effective depending on what the audience is interested in.  

How do you justify paying for an event when people such as Gary Vaynerchuck and Tim Ferris put all their content out for free? ‘I don’t think that anything is free’—those high-end speakers make a significant amount of money because everybody watches them; that’s their value proposition. You give me your time, and whoever is paying me, my sponsor, my affiliate, pay because I have this audience; that’s the value exchange. If now we say we put up a free event and have thousands of subscribers, we go to a large sponsor and monetise it so much that you can add a 0 to it as opposed to a live event, and you’ll see your revenue increase.’

Looking past coronavirus, do you think that online events will replace some of the live events? Please explain. 

Yes and no. I think it will be a combination. There will likely be more online events appearing because we see the value of them—we had no choice but to experiment now—but I think hybrid events with people who know what they are doing will be substantially more valuable and more powerful. Then, everybody will adapt—we inadvertently created a new market. We are all broadcasters, and we therefore need to learn quickly to adapt, experiment and then go hybrid. Then, my child won’t ask me why we are flying so much, and can we save the planet? Our costs will then go down. Live is never going to disappear—we’ll need this connection, buzz and experience. But online is going to remain, short term at least. We’ll get through this, but perhaps in three weeks or eight weeks—we simply don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can guarantee that you can add 3–6 months of nothing in terms of travel afterwards. What are we going to do? Are we going to cancel everything? No—if you’re a speaker at my conference, I’ll send you a conference-branded microphone and will ensure that you’re going to be ‘live’ at my conference. 

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.’

Grab your fellow event industry professionals and join us from April 23 -25! We are looking for innovative and out of the box thinking ideas for developing a 12-month business plan for an event agency affected by COVID-19.

Ideas to include in the plan should involve:

  • How to maintain networking.
  • Selecting travel when businesses resumes.
  • Noted webinars to attend.
  • Keeping in contact with clients.
  • Developing alternative income streams.
  • Business goals.
  • Additional ideas.

Be as creative as you want in terms of presenting the business plan! The winning plan will be published on the Event Planners Talk website and shared with the global event community on the website and social media channels. 

How does it work?

We’re looking for innovative and applicable solutions for an events agency. After registering, you will be added to a Slack group with other 7-10 participants and you can start working on your solution straight away. We have provided initial guidelines for the business plan, and anything beyond is open to your imagination, creativity and problem solving skills.

The challenge will run for 48 hours, starting on April 23 at 8pm BST, and finishing on April 25 at 8pm BST.

This event is not just for participants from event agencies, this is a collective industry effort where all event stakeholders are welcome to participate: MICE destinations, DMCs, venues, hotels, AV providers, caterers, students, freelancers, associations – everyone is welcome! Team members from the same company are welcome but will be placed on different teams. 

How will participating benefit you?

  • You will actively contribute to supporting the global event industry by working on creative solutions.
  • You will expand your network by working in a small group with fellow event professionals and in the process will be able to build new business relationships.
  • The winning entry will be published on the Event Planners Talk and promoted on our social media channels.
  • You’ll be working in an innovative and fast paced environment and gain new learning skills that you will be able to apply to your event business.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch by responding to this email. 

We are so excited to see what you come up with! Places are limited, so make sure to sign up quickly HERE.

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. 

From what stage of the event planning do event planners start talking about event design

As mentioned in the introduction, ‘You cannot think about (event) design until you know what it is you are trying to do’, and all panellists agreed that event design can start only when event objectives are defined. According to Anja G., ‘Defining an event objective is the starting point that needs to be addressed consciously. An event format shouldn’t be forced at an event because it’s liked by the organiser, but it has to be the right format for the content and event objectives. For example, a classic theatre-style seating format is one of many and if the aim is to share knowledge, this could be an appropriate choice, and this is event design. Therefore, event design starts very early in the planning—first the event objective, and second the design that will help achieve these objectives.’ 

For Ursula, event design also begins at the beginning of the event-planning process—as soon as she knows what the event objective is and what should be the takeaways for event attendees when they return home. As a location, they want to be a good host, and a good host needs to give thoughts on how to help their guests achieve their objectives. They try to understand the needs of event planners prior to even approaching them, and when they understand their specific objective, they can co-create the event.

According to Anja S., from a perspective of a convention bureau (CVB), they can provide information up to the point when the planners choose the respective suppliers to continue the planning with. Anja S. suggests for the CVB to be able to put themselves in planners’ shoes and understand how it is to be in their situation and what information they would need. Don’t leave the planners to Google for hours regarding what the CVB might know off the top of their head. The information that can be found easily online, such as a venue search, should be available and easily found. Some CVBs have a dedicated venue search function already on their website that can filter the requirements.   

There is a need for more education about the role of the CVB

The CVBs function as neutral consultants and shouldn’t be perceived as if they want to sell something. They can support event planners to a significant extent as the local partners on the ground. CVBs are there as long as event planners need their support, regardless of the phase of the event planning, and the scope of support can range from a small hotel tip to more extensive support on event design. While venue searching is becoming commoditised on the Internet, CVBs have an opportunity to be seen as a trusted partner who can provide support with an event concept. The role of the CVB is evolving; it’s not enough anymore to be a contact person for the location or venue because event planners can obtain this information online. CVBs need to bring more value; this is the chance for the CVB for example to provide support for event design concepts.

CVBs can also be in the position to try something new if they haven’t done it before. A way to do so is to organise their own events, therefore putting them in the position to be able to recommend similar events to future customers. This is the case for the #GrenzenlosesEventdesign. This approach is highly beneficial for all of the local partners with respect to gaining this experience and to be on the same eye level with their clients in order to be taken seriously. 

Event planners should be open to consultations with the CVB

Event planners should have a certain level of readiness and trust to speak openly with the CVB. They should be ready to share what they have done before, and perhaps even be ready to change the way they have been doing things in the past and be ready to try new things. They ought to be open minded about being consulted. Hence, there should be mutual trust. This can be difficult in terms of to what extent and more importantly, how the CVB can ‘intervene’ to suggest their own ideas. In reality, until this conversation is about to take place, there must be more groundwork to be done about the role of the CVB and for the event planners to understand that they possess this competency. It was mentioned that it could take years to build this trust. 

It’s believed that in order to conduct a transaction in B2B, it’s necessary to have between 5–12 interactions, whether that be face to face or online. CVBs should look out for these opportunities to keep in touch with event planners. It was advised that when a request comes in, it’s ok to pick up the phone for a short chat or use FaceTime to break the ice. CVBs should ask questions (about the event) and demonstrate their competence, showcasing that they know all the local partners and suppliers at the destination. Open communication is key to offering where and how the CVB can help. The client can then decide how much they want the CVB involved in their project. 

Examples of event design 

Anja S. shared that they organise local events for their members. Thus, the members allow themselves to be consulted and trained by the CVB. The second reason for this event is to exchange knowledge and expertise among themselves. 

Ursula shared that venues should also organise their own events on their premises. For five years, the Kongresskultur Bregenz had their own VLOW Festival about communication, design and architecture; they initiated it to gain the experience and try different formats. The next phase of their own events will be launched this year and is called LandStadt 2020, where the venue is highly involved in the event design. Additionally, they have recently begun offering ‘Event Planning Sprints’, which on their website is described as ‘Your event concept will be further developed in a short space of time by a heterogeneous team using design-thinking methods. Through its close association with micelab:bodensee, Kongresskultur additionally can call on a wide network of creative and innovative professionals.’

Ursula shared the experience that ‘For a location, it’s also a challenge to get into the planning process early because it’s usually from the planner’s perspective not the first point of contact. After internal analysis, it became clear for us that this needs to be communicated. If you don’t say, no one knows. There must be more than just a “we-can-consult-you” approach, and the Event Planning Sprints concept was well understood by event planners. For example, our regular client who was interested in revamping their event uses this workshop to bring fresh air to the existent event format. In such cases, the client is involved from the very beginning, and we supported them in getting the local stakeholder into the planning process too, and for all to develop the new format together.’ 

Anja G. shared how they are embracing digitalisation. One year ago, the Convention Partner Vorarlberg developed and launched the Convention App Vorarlberg app. It offers events that take place in Vorarlberg with a customised package to the type of events (sport, culture, congress and exhibition). The Convention Partner Vorarlberg wants to help organisers initially test the app free of charge with respect to how it can support their events. But that process serves the purpose of rethinking the communication strategy of an event as well. Hence, it starts already pre event when the delegates can network via the app, presenting the sponsors, share ‘push notifications’ via the app, offer an internal chat function etc. This (digital) process is also part of event design. 

Is event design a question of budget?

For Anja S., event design is one of her job requirements. For a long time, it has been a deliberate aspect of her work as well as indirectly because there should be ‘leitmotif’ to an event. Yes, there is a point where the budget reaches its limit, but also with a smaller budget there are opportunities to produce an event that has a consistent central theme. 

According to Anja G., the art of event design is ‘What can be achieved with the given budget’.

Some ideas don’t have anything to do with the budget but involve creating emotional moments for people. The audience commented that ‘There are “gimmicks” that cost thousands of euros, but on the other hand, there are moments where delegates can converse and look at each other, and this don’t cost anything—these are the moments that stay in the memory. There is no correlation between money and touching people emotionally.’

Further, audience discussion touched on return on investment, ‘The stakeholders who are paying for the event are part of the event design, and they can decide how to spend the money. There is an area of conflict between innovation and simplicity because “The Bait Must Attract the Fish, Not the Fisherman.” For some, it might be enough to reach the people emotionally, but for corporations who want to be perceived as highly innovative, it is not enough, and expensive technology could be a solution. Touching people emotionally might be the end goal, but it’s not the intention of the corporate stakeholders at the moment.’

Another aspect that was suggested is that ‘It depends on the delegate personas. For someone who needs to see, taste and touch, there should be other elements at the event, such as pleasant-to-touch table cloths or furniture material, which can be simple but yet pleasant—this approach can also fulfil emotional needs.’ 

Further discussion was about to what extent tech products can create emotions. Apple was mentioned and the emotional impact it creates at its product launches and the product itself when individuals purchase it; from packaging to usage. Tech often involves pure emotions; therefore, it has to be integrated correctly in the event design. But eventually, it needs to be determined who the stakeholders are and how to reach them emotionally.  

It was also countered that the event should please the end consumer (the attendee) not the sponsors because if attendees don’t come anymore, there is no event. This is easily said than done because the decision-makers have the money.

One audience member suggested that events need to have a surprise element. For example, that could involve looking for locations that are not usually accessible to the general public or providing a unique storytelling element. Food can also be regional to add to the local flair. When people attend events internationally, they only rarely have the opportunity to explore the locality, so organisers can integrate the local elements and stories into the event. The WOW effect can come from different directions; the location can be a WOW effect, and the people can create a WOW factor. One example was shared that involved a corporate company training their engineers to become speakers (engineers frequently don’t have high-level presenter skills). They were trained professionally to polish their presentation skills, involving a reduction on their reliance on PowerPoint and shortening their speech. The WOW effect here was that their colleagues got to know them differently, not as engineers but as presenters. At first, the engineers could think that they would fail as presenters, but it gave them an opportunity to shine in a new area for them. People want to get to know other people; therefore, when there is also a trend towards digitalisation, we should be careful with categorising personalities. 

Event design requires time. How to approach this process when there is a short lead time towards an event? 

According to Anja S., ‘It’s through a relationship, to communicate to the client quickly that the CVB is a partner they can trust because the CVB has extensive knowledge of the region’. When a previous site visit is not possible, the trust should be established immediately via other channels.

According to Ursula, the venues need to be creative. That can be for example taking the client on a virtual site visit via FaceTime on a mobile. Audience discussion also mentioned virtual reality (VR), but it’s not suitable for everyone (cost attached to producing the material or the sickness effect created after wearing VR goggles); therefore, venues also need to be online on social media channels where planners can gather already initial information and get an idea of the location or destination through videos and photos. It was also suggested to show full rooms rather than empty spaces. 

How can agencies help the CVB?

The final discussion question was how agencies can help CVBs. It was suggested that agencies also need to understand each other in terms of how they work and further to respect the work that goes into collecting information for the planners. It was also advised to let the CVB get involved as soon as possible. Another idea was to host regular meet-ups for agencies, CVBs and their members and talk openly about the industry. 

The agencies shouldn’t see the CVB as a competitor but instead as a partner, take the advice seriously and work collaboratively. And lastly, familiarisation trips are a highly effective way to get to know the local stakeholders personally and to cover a large amount of information in a short period of time. It was summarised that trust is key in collaboration, and it can reduce complexity. 

How micro-moments are taking event personalisation to the next level: #eventprofstalk Twitter chat recap

An event experience comprises many micro-moments that consumers undertake on their customer journey as they interact with an event. Do event planners look at each customer interaction strategically, making it an ‘experience’? 

According to Google’s report from 2015 ‘Think with Google’, micro-moments ‘are critical touchpoints within today’s consumer journey, and when added together, they ultimately determine how that journey ends’. In 2019, ‘micro’ is having its moment again because event and travel professionals have begun to highlight the benefits of having bite-size experiences, using terms such as micro-experience, micro-travel, micro-learning and micro-influencers in their corporate communication.  

It is understood that micro-trends are all about more personalised experiences that help individuals save time, be more efficient and productive and obtain results. Therefore, we wanted to understand better what micro-moments have to do with changing attendee needs and expectations.

To find more about this growing trend in connection with the event industry, we hosted an #eventprofstalk Twitter chat on 7 October 2019 about micro-moments and below share with you the highlights from our community members.

Micro is defined as ‘extremely small’. How can event planners relate this growing trend to the events industry? 

According to Irina Graf, founder of The MICE Blog and Event Planners Talk, ‘Attendees are getting busier and have growing specific needs that can be met with highly customised experiences. Large events can be a platform for smaller experiences to take place, and smaller events can serve a very specific target audience, such as an industry vertical’. The Calgary TELUS Convention Centre added that ‘micro-experiences within larger events are totally possible and are a great way to engage attendees who are looking for “out of the box” moments.’

Johnny Martinez, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Shocklogic, highlighted that he loved the simplicity and at the same time brilliance of making a macro-experience out of many micro-experiences.  

Aleksandra Panyukhina, Head of Event Marketing at SEMrush, shared that she sees ‘micro’ as a growing trend, ‘I also talked to a few organisers this year who are changing their approach exactly to “micro making it macro” ’. Irina also found the concept of macro vs micro fascinating but suggested that she thought that it’s happening the other way around, making micro-moments from macro, meaning breaking the overall event experience into smaller pieces. Calgary TELUS Convention Centre commented that they ‘see more and more big events incorporating “micro” sessions or experiences within their main event. Boutique is a trend that is here to stay. Organisers can create “micro” sessions or experiences that are highly unique and niche, attracting a particularly small group of people who could be interested in that specific topic.’

Alexandra suggested that ‘micro’ has to do with personalisation, which ‘basically leads you towards micro-events and experiences. You can’t personalise an event for 20K people (and if organisers say they do, it’s quite a low level of personalisation actually)’. Therefore, she strongly believes that personalisation and micro-moments will lead the industry to a more boutique style, tailored to the target audience experiences. Johnny added that micro-experiences are all about the little details, such as a personalised brand experience.

Why has ‘micro’ become a trend in the past 1–2 years? We hear about micro-experience, micro-travel, micro-learning, micro-influencers and micro-moments. What does it have to do with changing attendee needs and expectations? 

According to Irina, ‘it is about changing attendee needs to get more done in a pleasant way and be efficient; for example, micro-learning on a mobile, micro-travel to have a short getaway without disrupting the daily schedule or routine. People want more for less and be efficient.’ 

According to Valerie Wagner, podcaster and blogger at Hotel O Motion, ‘I think it’s related to “back to the roots” and the digital transformation. Information and knowledge are everywhere. Minimalism is important in this day and age. We consume too much, and participants long for shorter and more intense experiences and no longer for mass, but quality.’ 

Alexandra thinks that it’s just like in any other aspect of life—trends come and go. Trends such as “festivalisation” and “going big” have been huge for years. Now, everyone talks about intimate, low-scale but high-efficiency happenings.’ 

Johnny suggested that this trend is very much aligned with the concept of “think global, shop local” as well as the importance of connecting with individuals in meaningful ways. 

We’ve chosen to focus on the micro-experience, out of the many other ‘micro-trends’. What makes such experiences so unique and essential? 

Irina stated that ‘The micro-experiences are very simple and short, and they can occur at any stage of the customer journey; so, each attendee will have a different perception and experience at an event. But they still need to be created by the organisers.’ 

Johnny added that ‘there’s something highly unique about catering to people’s true needs and desires. Understanding people’s behaviour is at the heart of having a successful product.’ 

Is micro-experience attendee led or event organisers led: Who creates these moments—attendees by themselves or the organisers for attendees? 

According to Helen Brady, Senior Event Manager at Events Northern, these micro-experiences are ‘led by event planners, by creating the moments that attendees can then participate in. Then, the discussions, interactions and engagements between attendees that have been sparked by these moments can occur.’ 

Aleksandra added that she believes that to maximise the value of an event, mutual effort is required. However, organisers do a large portion of work by studying their audience, understanding what resonates with them, how to bring it to life and actually executing it. But unless attendees are open to the experience and are ready to interact, they won’t uncover all of it. Experience requires a person to live it—it can’t exist on its own.’

Johnny proposed that ‘many people seek these experiences, and there are many “micro-experience” providers in the chain. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Is the micro-industry coming?’ 

Irina offered that ‘It can be both because organisers can create the foundation for delegates to learn and network, but attendees can also create these experiences by themselves when they choose a specific event. I would say that it is 70% organiser and 30% attendee led.’ 

In what stage of the customer journey do the micro-experiences fit? Can organisers integrate them throughout the entire customer journey or only at the physical event? 

Valerie gave an example during our weekly #eventprofstalk Twitter chat ‘these are my micro-pulses every Monday. 😉 I became aware of the big picture (Eventplanners + Conference + Irina). Then came the first meeting, and next year I will be at the Event Planners Talk conference. Hence, I have become a reader, guest and podcast host through micro-impulses. Someone else may have attended a regional event in London and heard about the regular chats. And a third one regularly reads the blog and gets the impulses on Mondays. I think a micro-experience is possible in any status, but it should be left to the participants to decide when they want to record it.’

Johnny expressed that event planners can ‘really fine-tune the entire event life cycle to cater for personalised experiences that can be appreciated by diverse attendees. Artificial intelligence is the next horizon to achieve this. Bring on the next revolution!’ 

Alexandra stated that yes, and that also pre and post event, these moments should be cultivated, ‘if we speak of promotion and pre-event communication, that’s a must of modern marketing. If the event is a micro-experience, it means that your targeting and promotion will be quite similar for all attendees. But there is always a place for extra creativity :)’.

Irina agreed that it should be throughout the entire customer journey, from micro-content to customised seating arrangements, networking etc. The organisers should know their audience and aim to design each stage accordingly for them (which is not easy but possible).’ 

How can event professionals create a series of micro-experiences at their events? 

Irina suggested to ‘make each part of the event an exciting happening, excite people to be there, facilitate networking, audience engagement, try new formats and consider how a certain aspect of the event can serve multiple target groups (e.g. online and offline, entertainment and education— “edutainment”).’ 

Valerie presented that there are many nice new formats and that she has tested Pecha Kucha in internal communications and the feedback was great; she suggested doing something different. 

Helen recommended transforming ‘every stage of the process into an “experience”. Something on arrival, something when people need to queue, something when people eat, something when delegates leave, something when attendee share feedback, etc.’ She also recommended to break the entire event up into smaller chapters to deliver an overall story. 

Valerie concluded that delegates are in the position today to acquire knowledge independently, but the event organiser can give impulses and think more and more outside the box, network and connect. Irina added, ‘It’s important to give people a topic they can relate to and talk about also during and after the event. Knowledge, coupled with a short experience, will be more memorable and meaningful for attendees.’ 

How can collaboration lead to innovation: #eventprofstalk Twitter chat with Becky Dempsey, Account Manager at The Collaboration Company

Collaboration is particularly interesting for the events industry because event planners work so often with venues, suppliers, destination management companies (DMCs) and clients, yet it sometimes can seem that the various stakeholders do not truly collaborate, but actually cooperate or coordinate an event. Therefore, collaboration is the most misused and misunderstood word in business. 

Collaboration vs cooperation and coordination 

Have you come across phrases such as ‘We’re really good at collaboration, we have Skype, shared servers and online tools, so we can always collaborate?’. According to Becky Dempsey, Account Manager at The Collaboration Company and who will also speak at our annual conference next year, these examples are referring to ‘Sharing information and connection, not collaboration.’ 

Have you come across the phrase ‘All my team collaborate on an event because we have the client in mind and are making sure the event is right?’ Here Becky explained that ‘This is working to a shared goal, so maybe more cooperation than collaboration.’ A further example is when collaboration is confused with coordination, ‘We collaborate with all of our suppliers to ensure the best event.’ Here, Becky suggested that this is yet not fully related to collaboration, but rather suppliers are working in parallel on their own section of the event; therefore, it is more about coordination rather than collaboration.

Defining collaboration 

Collaboration is particularity important in the events industry because event planners often rush to the end goal. According to Becky, ‘If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you know the tips and tricks, have good contacts and people you trust and can deal with situations, but sometimes that knowledge can hold us back from innovating because we reach for the end goal all of the time—get that event organised and run it smoothly! Event professionals are so organised (most of the time!) that we rush to the how and ignore the possibilities.’

But it is here where collaboration can make a huge difference. Instead of reaching for the end goal straight away, Becky suggested, ‘What if we took the time to sit with our clients and explore, imagine and build together to really innovate! I accept that it’s tricky with clients, but we should put the time in with our teams, and certainly could with our suppliers/venues/DMC’s, or even with fellow industry colleagues! I often run workshops bringing together people from a range of different industries that have never met before, and when they are intentional and specific about collaboration, the results are always amazing. Collaboration is often thought of as a team thing, but if we truly collaborated with our partners, clients, suppliers and customers, rather than pushed information at them or got a like or a retweet every now and again, surely that can only strengthen those relationships, providing those involved with a sense of ownership and pride and therefore a greater sense of commitment to the end goal.’

That’s also what we hope to achieve after learning from Becky at our annual conference in Bern, takeaways that will help us advance personal careers and progress industry standards through collaboration between the most ambitious event planners. But until then, we wanted to explore the topic further and define the difference between collaboration, cooperation and coordination because collaboration when done right leads to innovation. We opened up the discussion to our community on the #eventprofstalk Twitter chat on 23rd September 2019, and below are the highlights!

How would you define collaboration? 

According to Becky, collaboration is ‘exploring, imagining and building together whilst trusting each other completely—Truly working together and making time for it to solve a complex challenge!’. According to Robert Kenward, Chief Talent Officer at YOU Search & Select, collaboration involves ‘listening to others, and taking other people’s opinions into account’, with Becky adding that listening constantly rates as the top thing that employees wish their leaders did more of!.

According to Irina Graf, founder of The MICE Blog and Event Planners Talk, ‘Collaboration is when multiple parties are working together to develop a new idea, concept or product and taking advantage of collaborative tools, such as digital but also using principles of event design, various meetings formats etc.’ 

LeAnna Toups-Bennett, project manager at the Louisiana Department of Education, shared that ‘Collaboration is taking out the me, mine and my. It is about focusing on the group’s objectives and goals in a manner not only productive but also conducive to thought sharing.’

Do you think collaboration is important? Please explain 

Becky noted that ‘Collaboration leads to innovation, but it’s not required all the time. When a challenge/brief is complex, it’s perfect, but it’s not required for everyday tasks!’. Robert discussed the challenges of collaboration as a self-employed event professional, ‘It’s tough when you work for yourself too because these can be the times when you feel most lonely and vulnerable due to the fact that your decisions mean so much more because you’re the brand/business not a corporate.’ Becky agreed that ‘It’s important to get multiple opinions and experience together to collaborate and develop the idea or event further. Take today’s chat, for example; there were so many interesting perspectives I hadn’t even thought of, it’s like collaborating on a content piece together.’ This is a great approach for small agencies who want to learn and solve complex challenges, for example, put them out on social media to the event community and develop the topic further!

LeAnna suggested that everything has a time and place and ‘not everything needs collaboration. However, much should be collaborated on. In group settings (formal and informal), everyone brings a different lens to the table. Each lens is a unique perspective that should be validated and respected.’ Becky agreed, ‘Definitely. We always say different perspectives are the point of collaboration, not the problem!’

TELUS Convention Centre added, ‘Absolutely. “Two heads are better than one”. We believe that to be successful, no matter the industry you are part of, you need to co-create, learn from others and be surrounded by organisations that can work with you towards the same goal.’

Conference Care Package highlighted that collaboration can solve problems, ‘Collaboration is a great way to approach a problem because it brings together different perspectives. There are many ways to look at a problem, and the more heads, the better.’ 

How can collaboration help in the events industry? 

According to Irina, ‘The events industry needs more collaboration between the smaller or new players in the industry with the established ones, but also more collaboration with other industries. This will keep the industry more agile, innovative, and all actors can benefit from the larger network.’

Becky presented an example of collaboration vs coordination, ‘We so often answer briefs and request quotes quickly from suppliers that event responses are often based on past experiences…use the same entertainment, the same process etc because we know it works…but it’s not providing an opportunity for innovation and change!’ Irina explained that that’s why collaboration is so important, ‘Attendees evolve, and events should evolve at the same speed to constantly exceed expectations.’ When everyone completes the tasks leading to the event day, that means that everyone is doing their job to a common goal but in their own way in parallel. On event day that’s perfect, but in the lead-up, it would be great to share and build ideas to take the event to a new level!’

Robert highlighted, ‘There is no events industry without collaboration, and there are certain areas in events, such as recruitment, where industry professionals should collaborate with specialists.’ Further discussion highlighted the reasons for lack of collaboration: Competition, fear of failure and not making the time or other general excuses! It was mentioned that ‘The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting different results.’

LeAnna recommended to think broadly about collaboration, ‘I think we need to think about collaboration as not happening just before events. Collaboration also occurs during and after them, too. It is not just between planners and suppliers, but participants and hosts, hosts and planners, suppliers and participants.’ 

What are the barriers to collaboration? 

All chat participants agreed that barriers are linked to personal interests, negative past experiences, an ‘I-know-it-better’ approach, a corporate culture that prevents collaboration, egoism and some who refuse to work with others, competition, lack of time and discipline and lack of communication between stakeholders. 

Becky suggested avoiding the phrases ‘”No, we’ve tried that before”, “That won’t work because”, “No, I don’t like the idea of that”…it stops teams from wanting to collaborate for fear of our ideas being shot down!’ 

What’s your top tip for helping inspire collaborative working? 

Robert and Valerie Wagner, blogger and podcaster at Hotel O Motion, suggested to ‘Just do it’ and Valerie added not to be afraid to share an idea due to fear that someone is going to steal it, and furthermore ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously, work for the cause and always focus on the customer. Irina agreed, ‘There is so much between an idea and the execution, no one is going to steal your ideas.’

Becky highlighted the importance of the group structure, ‘Creative styles should also be considered. In a group, you need more than just innovators. You need detectors to pick out key points, adaptors to tweak it, refiners to make it happen and enthusiasts to keep it all on track! Much more than an idea to collaborate on. Be intentional and be specific! Bring together people from different areas and varying experience levels and even people who have no idea about your industry, and see where you can take it!’

LeAnna encouraged not to limit yourself by being afraid to try something new and embrace technology. 

Are there ways other than collaboration that could lead to innovation? 

Becky encouraged that ‘We can spark innovation with our own ideas, but it’s unlikely to become anything more than an idea without exploring, building and imagining what it might be with others!’

Irina also thinks that merely an idea isn’t worth much unless it’s further explored, ‘It’s important to exchange knowledge and the idea with others and bounce it around, listen and fine-tune it. An idea is highly abstract until it gets context, which can be achieved through collaboration.’ 

LeAnna concluded, ‘There is always trial and error. However, you get a faster result through productive collaboration. Valerie summed up that exchange is vital, ‘Talking to each other is always important in order to hear different perspectives and to develop further.’

‘Business etiquette on social media: authenticity vs professionalism’: #eventprofstalk Twitter chat recap

Authenticity is a widely used word in the business world. Companies strive to be perceived as authentic and human, but being authentic also means being ready to show vulnerability. In recent years, authenticity has become such an overused word that it diminishes its meaning in the business context; after all, do companies really need to be authentic? How can they be authentic? What does it actually mean for a company to be authentic? Do the companies need to be authentic or do the people working there make the company authentic? 

To set this topic strait and clarify these questions, we hosted an #eventprofstalk Twitter chat on 16 September discussing authenticity vs professionalism on social media and asked our community how they define authenticity and when authenticity crosses the line and stops being professional.

How do you define authenticity in the business context? Who should be authentic: the company, the experience or the person/team running the company/event?

According to Valerie Wagner, blogger and podcaster at Hotel O Motion, ‘The people can be genuine and authentic and not companies. But above all, the representatives of a company should be authentic. People buy from people.’ According to Irina Graf, founder of The MICE Blog and Event Planners Talk, ‘Both companies and employees can be authentic. From the company’s perspective, they can do good, contribute to societies, economic development etc.; for example in regard to social enterprise, sustainability and corporate social responsibly.’ 

Valerie added that ‘it’s always the people behind the accounts. They should also show their faces. Often you write to a company, but you can’t address anyone directly because you don’t know their name. The company needs a face, and that is (mostly) the social media team. Social media shouldn’t be used just as a sales channel, and instead, event planners should appear human—that means keeping the community in view rather than just wanting to sell.’

According to Sabrina Meyers, founder of the YouTube channel Hot Hospitality Exchange and Managing Director at Orchid Lily Events, ‘Everything you mention should be authentic because if you’re authentic in one area and not another then there’s no consistency, and then it will seem that you’re not really authentic.’ Katrin Lüthy, Founder and Green Event Specialist at Green Event Planner agency agreed, ‘Authenticity is key in marketing. If you want to get people excited about a product or an event, you have to tickle their emotions.’

Lisa Chuma, Founder of the Event Creators Academy, shared that it’s the company that sets the tone for authenticity, ‘Being able to openly communicate who you are, what you do, what you stand for and what makes you unique either as an individual or company is authenticity. The company needs to be authentic to attract and work with authentic people and teams. The company sets the tone.’

AirLST, an online management system for events, shared that ‘Authenticity in the business context means combining motivation and storytelling with transparency and pragmatism. If the people who make up the company, the management and the team act authentically, the experience will also be authentic.’

Irina commented that ‘It begins with a story—why you do this, the mission, purpose behind the business or the event. You should live and breathe it every day, making actions speak louder than words. For companies, their WHY is their DNA, and actions of employees should be aligned with a company’s purpose; then, both the company and the team come across as authentic. 

According to Johnny Martinez, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Shocklogic, ‘Authenticity is when you are true to your values. When you meet someone who is able to walk the walk and talk the talk, and it gives you the feeling that you can trust them.’ 

What do you think is the best approach for #eventprofs: post as a personal account, or post as a business from a corporate account, or both, and why? 

Katrin highlighted that having a good mix between both personal and professional accounts is a good strategy. That way, the person seems approachable while not oversharing.’ Lisa also highlighted the aspect of approachability and that ‘People do business with people. People want to connect with people. So if event planners can post as themselves using their personal account in a professional manner, they can cover both channels in an authentic and strategic way. It shows they are human and makes them approachable.’

According to Valerie, ‘If a person is a company’s ambassador, they can post from a personal account. Then, however, the rules that apply to all influencers apply in this context, meaning that the ambassador/ influencer should feel comfortable with that and stand 100% behind it. It brings nothing only to share content.’ 

Sabrina suggested that it depends on the objectives of the personal branding strategy. She keeps business and personal areas separate because the focus is on MICE, whereas personally, it could be unrelated and not relevant content. Calgary TELUS Convention Centre shared that they believe that it can be both because they think it’s very important to make companies more human, more approachable, and social media is a great tool for this. Valerie agreed that it’s a mixture; otherwise, social media makes no sense and added that companies not only should post but also share and like other posts. 

Becky Dempsey, Programme Account Manager at The Collaboration Company, added that she thinks it depends on what you are trying to achieve, ‘Generally, I think corporate accounts are more information led, whereas personal accounts can be more involved in deeper debate and discussion.’ Johnny also highlighted the importance of personal opinion and the role of influencers, who ‘are people, not companies. If your game is to create and drive influence, then definitely post as yourself (or at least your super persona).’

Irina said that it’s good to have both, but split and adapt the content to each channel, ‘Key company insights should be shared on the company account, and this channel can also offer customer support. Perhaps it is also good to say who’s behind the company account to make it more personal. On personal accounts, the person can share about attending events, speaking engagements etc.’ 

How can brands/ #eventprofs showcase their personality and be authentic while remaining professional? What is not appropriate to share as a business or a businessperson on social media? 

Valerie suggested that very private things should not be shared online, ‘Holiday pictures on LinkedIn are inappropriate, and the community on LinkedIn is also often vocal about it. Content must fit the target audience and channel. Companies and individuals should always ask the question “How do I want to be perceived?” That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t even share personality, but not (example!!) new-born photos during the first steps. Nobody is interested in this in a business context.’ ‘LinkedIn became much personal in the last couple of years’, suggested Katrin, ‘in a way that there‘s now a facebook-y tone to a lot of posts, which is a bit weird.’ Irina thinks that LinkedIn became more personal in a way that people post more things related to the causes they support and to raise money for charity, but also sharing stories such as getting married or getting kids to promote parental leave or equality. ‘It’s very tricky how these things will be perceived by colleagues and clients.’

Katrin continued, content aside, ‘I think frequency is key. I‘m following marketing professionals who use their business accounts to post “Time for coffee“ or “In dire need of a cookie“ five times a day… it‘s a.) not interesting and b.) pretty annoying. There is no value added for the audience. People follow professional accounts because they want to learn or discover new things for their business.’ 

Irina commented that ‘in order to let the personality shine, both people and companies need to be approachable because that’s what social media is about! Like, comment, interact with fellow event planners. I think that both business accounts and personal accounts should respect the time of their professional audience and share relevant information to the industry and the business context’. 

For Sabrina, it has to be relevant and content related to her focus, which is showcasing her experiences as an event planner on venues, hotels, shows, destinations and suppliers. And how she delivers that content with effect, humour and personality makes it authentic.

Calgary TELUS Convention Centre listed the following aspects that are important to showcase your personality as a business. First, be human! Show the personality and the faces behind your brand, the people that make your company great. Second, apply a conversational approach because it’s a great way to showcase personality and to be authentic. And lastly, form real connections, know your audience and interact with them.

When does authentic stop being professional? 

According to Irina, authentic stops being professional when ‘It misses the context of the hashtag or discussion, when it goes for the “sale” instead of trying to engage in a meaningful discussion and when the online persona doesn’t correspond to the offline persona.’ Sabrina suggested not to use offensive language, try to be diplomatic and open minded to see topics from both sides and don’t blatantly copy others.’ Becky added to this that it is important to ‘not to try too hard to be funny/topical/ and on “trend”, then it stops being authentic.’ 

It’s clear that what came from this discussion is that trends are a favourite ‘playground’ for brands to use to express their voice and shine the spotlight on their authenticity. But that should also be used with caution. Valerie said, ‘Being trendy is a good keyword! Sustainability, for example: it feels like all the companies in the world are suddenly sustainable. Why? Because the hashtag is just climbing well or because they are really doing something about it?’ The key to authenticity is to use the hashtag and talk regularly about sustainability, but not because it’s trending at a certain moment. 

Authenticity is associated with storytelling, knowing your ‘why’, having a clear vision and leadership style and being true to yourself. How can #eventprofs maintain and strengthen these values when their business grows, their needs change and the industry evolves? 

Robert Kenward, Chief Talent Officer & Co-founder at YOU search & select commented that the ‘Problem here is that most agencies don’t really know what they stand for themselves. Marketing push out some culture/value buzzwords, maybe a bit of training, but they don’t really live and breathe it, so why would their teams?’ 

Authenticity can be regarded as a buzz word in the business world that is used in presentations and marketing material. So, as Robert suggested, in order to make it real, brands really need to live and breathe it. Robert continued, ‘Authenticity is really just being truthful and honest about who you are, what you stand for and what you’re trying to achieve. It’s the brands that try to please everyone that fail miserably.’ Irina added, ‘Actions speak louder than words. Show what you do and how you evolve as a brand/company. With growth comes going out of your comfort zone, so show how you adapt to new environments or situations and the transition you go through. Change is an opportunity to stand out.’ 

Katrin shared that from a personal branding point of view, it’s recommended to ‘pick 2–3 topics you‘re passionate about and run with them. If you want to stay authentic, you can‘t share everything under the sun and expect your followers to get you. Hence, my focus on sustainability.’ Sabrina added that ‘If you stick to your personal brand values and message, then despite the changes, you’ll adapt and react accordingly. Social media is a platform and one that is constantly changing, so it’s really about educating yourself constantly on how to continue to deliver the content.’

Valerie highlighted the importance of being open to other opinions and not just your own, ‘Showing attitude on the net is difficult for many, also because one must always count on the fact that others also write their opinion and perhaps do not like it. You have to be open to other perspectives and show a want to enter into dialogue, not to convince but to talk to each other. Agree to disagree.’

Do you think that being too professional stops #eventprofs from being authentic? How can event planners find the right balance? 

Irina commented that ‘having an opinion is very important, such as being in the position to make a recommendation and take a quick decision. That will be both professional and authentic because it’s based on personal recommendation and experience.’

Both Robert and Sabrina agreed that ‘you can never be too professional—the only downside is that you can come across as boring rather than unprofessional.’ Sabrina added that ‘The most important thing is finding the balance between delivering what you know (content) and who you are (personality) professionally.’ 

Katrina and Sabrina empathised the importance of personality, ‘You can only have an engaged audience if your content is authentic and relevant to them. They need to get it and get you, otherwise they are not who you want following you in the first place. It’s important to know the person behind your live marketing vision (the event planner). What decoration does the event planner like? It‘s not like we‘re selling insurance—a personal touch is important in the event business, and here’s where the personality comes across.’ 

Strategies for finding the right balance between generating PR and profit for events: #eventprofstalk Twitter chat recap

Events cost a considerable amount of time and money to produce. Therefore, it’s necessary to define clear objectives and how to achieve them. Very often, events have two main objectives: generating either PR or profit. If the event can achieve both, it’s a phenomenal success and means that the event has the right strategy in place, committed partners and sponsors, a strong community, engaging content and an effective speaker programme. These factors will help create a long-term PR strategy that can generate profit in a sustainable manner. 

It is not easy to find the right balance straight away, and before generating profit, a strong PR strategy should be in place. To clarify this area and receive more input on the overall approach regarding whether events are designed to generate PR or profit and how to balance both, we put out the question to our community during the weekly #eventprofstalk Twitter chat on 9 September 2019, insights of which we want to share with you in this article below. 

Do you think that events are generators of PR or profit and why?  

According to Valerie Wagner, founder of Hotel O Motion, ‘Events should have the goal of enabling networking and meeting the goals of the participants. As a visitor to a trade fair, I want to see what’s new; as an exhibitor, I want to present myself, what I’m doing and how my products and services are perceived by interested parties. Profit can be a goal, but in my opinion only in the 2nd step. Before someone purchases, there are many touchpoints; therefore, events should combine PR and profit in a pleasant way, but have their own goal: to bring together a group of people with common interests.’

According to LeAnna Toups-Bennett, project manager at the Louisiana Department of Education, ‘Any profit generated from an event is secondary. A planner/company must first consider the overall goal of the event. Ultimately, in most cases, I don’t think that is to generate one-time profit. The goal is to create lasting touchpoints that generate revenue over time.’

Irina Graf, founder of The MICE Blog and Event Planners Talk, suggested that events can be both! Ideally, events generate PR and profit at the same time. They should begin with the purpose and the ‘why’ the event is needed in the first place. When the goal is clear, it will be easier to achieve the set objectives and get all stakeholders on board. Calgary TELUS Convention Centre added that ‘A well planned and executed event can generate both PR opportunities and profit. What is important is to define clear goals and expectations for the entire team involved. Strategic planning is key!’ Johnny Martinez, Head of Marketing and Business Development at Shocklogic, also recommended looking into 3- or 5-year legacy plans.

According to Event Marketing Stars, a B2B events marketing agency with a focus on monetisation, events should generate profit, ‘All events should aim to make a profit, even if it means tracking Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) for leads joining it. Events have associated costs, so in order to assess ROI, you need to aim to make them profitable for the company.’

What forms of PR can #eventprofs use to promote an event? (e.g. press releases, influencer marketing)

According to Valerie, it’s necessary to, ‘Talk about it everywhere, use influencers, blogger relations, cooperations, press releases, social media, own reports in print media, podcasts, videos, Facebook and Instagram Lives, comments. And also encourage the audience to be the ambassadors and advocates. Testimonials on the event landing-page are also essential.’ Irina also added the possibility to share testimonials on Instagram Stories and capture screenshots of comments and engagement with the event. Because they disappear after 24h on Instagram Stories, it’s recommended to save them in the ‘Highlight’ section on Instagram. Valerie added that organisers should determine where they want to direct the traffic from all PR activities and always add the link. Valerie also recommended Google My Business, where it’s possible to share events and get and show ratings. 

LeAnna shared that she will add social media posts, which can be guided and focused using challenges and specific hashtags. Free PR is the best! She also asks her speakers to plug the event on their social media and webpages. This approach places the event on the radar of other speakers for future opportunities. Calgary TELUS Convention Centre added to the above that ‘Video is a key format for any of these PR efforts.’, and Irina emphasised the importance of content marketing and influencer marketing as the key activity, ‘Content should be produced daily for key social media channels, combining both traditional PR such as press releases and email marketing, with all the new methods, such as influencer marketing.’ 

How to find the right balance between PR and profit without compromising the content of the event, so it doesn’t become too salesy?

For Valerie, authenticity is important. It is to be understood that a company or individual doesn’t just do the event for no reason‚ but that everyone needs income to live. Therefore, it is important that the company or individual doesn’t lose sight of their why they are involved in the event and their goal, ‘Stay true to yourself and your brand, your message and focus on your target group.’ According to LeAnna, price transparency is key, ‘Set ticket prices and stick to them. There is nothing salesy about a published price list.’ 

Calgary TELUS Convention Centre added the importance of storytelling and experience design for the right balance, ‘Giving great and authentic reasons to engage through storytelling and event experience design.’ According to Irina, ‘It’s important to communicate and stick to event objectives, so everyone knows why they are attending the event. Educational content and sales should be clearly separated because each has its place during the event.’ 

Pauline Kwasniak, digital marketer, writer, speaker and event planner at TurnedSee and Mbooked emphasised the importance of having the right partners, ‘That is challenging but having sponsors that reflect your event ethos and vision is key. If the sponsors genuinely fit with the event, it won’t become too salesy.’

According to Johnny, ‘Organisers have to be true to their resources. Sponsorship or in-kind partnerships are often useful, while it serves everyone’s interests. Content shouldn’t be a function of ticket and stand sales. Be bold and be transparent.’

How can #eventprofs maximise PR opportunities before, during and after an event?

According to Valerie, newsletters are the most important because they go directly into the mailbox. Therefore, subscribers should receive the latest information first! Additional opportunities include, ‘Addressing the right people, activating the network, doing live reports from the event, promoting interaction, establishing a hashtag, and making ‘talking about it’ as a kind of rule. This could be encouraged, for example through ‘Twitter walls’, where (almost) everyone wants to be seen. Also, you can do live streams of presentations during the event on social media and have a photo box on site. When the event is over, you can do more press work.’  

According to the Calgary TELUS Convention Centre, before the event, it’s necessary to take time in building the community and creating content that makes the audience care and engage. Organisers should be able to answer the following questions: ‘Who are your activators? Who’s in your tribe?’ During the event, it’s necessary to create those AHA moments that will make people engage and share. Have interactive sessions, create a hashtag, engage in the conversation live.’ After the event, ‘Give attendees a reason to stay connected. Create value content pieces around the experience, create Facebook albums, send a post-event email, post your pictures on social media and encourage sharing and tagging. Anything is possible in our digital world!’ 

Pauline highlighted the online channels to maximise PR opportunity, ‘Online, online, online. Make sure you also have activation campaigns during the event (various photo booths, cool gadgets, interactive walls) because that will give YOU LOADS of content to later maximise PR. Pauline also mentioned having a long term approach ready by offering loyalty schemes.

Irina sets the focus on community engagement and content marketing, ‘The content should be visual, and when possible use photos or videos from previous events. During the event also lots of visual material combined with text, sharing micro content from main sessions etc.; encourage the attendees to use the hashtag and share their experience online. It’s recommended to run a ‘challenge’ and guide attendees regarding what to post. And lastly, combine both short and long forms of content, with the post-event period focusing on long form, such as a full session recording or a blog article, and repurposing it regularly as shorter pieces across social media channels.’ 

How can #eventprofs generate higher profits from running an event?

According to Valerie, it’s about setting ticket prices and calculations in advance, including early bird tickets and increasing prices as the event approaches. Early birds get the best rates. The closer to the event date, the higher the ticket price. An additional revenue stream is from sponsors. Something that is not used often in events but that is also an option is affiliate links, when people purchase a ticket through a link, and the seller receives a commission. Irina added that presenting a strong brand and having scarcity can allow organisers to charge premium prices.  

LeAnne also mentioned the importance of offsetting costs that as a result, can also lead to higher profits, ‘I also think finding partners whose brand aligns with the events helps to offset costs. Find a partner to sponsor technology, or a meal, etc.’ And don’t forget to add experiences to offer attendees more value, ‘Participants will almost always pay more when an experience is included in the ticket price. Do something local and unique to the area the event is in.’

The fundamentals of event design that will guide #eventprofs to deliver more impactful events: #eventprofstalk Twitter chat recap

Event design is a hot topic this year. It’s good to see that more and more event planners and clients are recognising the importance of event design and approaching their events from this perspective. An event entails more than the logistical part of booking the infrastructure. It’s important to define ‘why’ an event is needed in the first place as well as its purpose. To get to the depth of the subject, we hosted an #eventprofstalk Twitter chat on 2 September 2019, and in the following post, I want to share with you what our wonderful community has to say on the topic of event design. 

Let’s start from the basics: What is event design? 

According to Irina Graf, founder of The MICE Blog and Event Planners Talk, ‘Event design is looking at each individual aspect of an event to visualise how attendees will interact with the event and their journey. It’s carefully choosing the elements that will complement each other to design a seamless experience for attendees.’ 

Becky Dempsey, Programme Account Manager at The Collaboration Company, shared that she ‘always seen event design as the venue, content, format, layout and atmosphere that all goes into communicating your message in the best possible way.’ 

For Pauline Kwasniak, digital marketer, writer, speaker and event planner at TurnedSee and Mbooked, event design is ‘a visual strategy of an outlook, schedule and the whole concept of an event. It includes everything from marketing, plan, policy, speakers, objectives, wishes to suppliers. For me, event design is a strategy to deliver that event with all aspects.’ 

Valerie Wagner, founder of the Hotel O Motion blog and podcast, shared that for her, it’s ‘the interaction of all actors with a focus on the goal/result of the event. How can I design an event? How can I convey the message? When participants are asked after the event what that event was about, what should they say? Around these aspects, the event will be “designed”, using all means of communication at one’s disposal.’ 

LeAnna Toups-Bennett, project manager at Louisiana Department of Education, shared that ‘Event design is all factors of an event that, when combined, portray the event’s brand, purpose and mission.’ 

Robert Bagust, Worldwide Congress Manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb, emphasised the importance of having a purpose, ‘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 trying 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”…’

Robert Dunsmore, Freelance/independent Creative Director, added that one of the important attributes of event design is culture ‘The culture, idea platform, voice and personality of your event—everything else is just infrastructure.’

Event experience design is all about your audience: What do you know about them? Where’s the research? Where are the data? How do you build evidence-led concepts?

According to Becky, most of her information comes from feedback from previous events and sometimes focus groups in the planning stages to take what is necessary to build the next event. She has found event apps to be really useful to track ‘on-the-day’ views and tweak concepts in the moment. 

Pauline shared an article where she discussed this topic in detail, explaining how to create customer personas. She notes that when creating customer personas, it’s necessary to consider more than customer demographics. This approach includes behavioural patterns, causes customers care about and places they like to visit. Most importantly, however, from the event marketing point of view, the organisers need insight into their spending patterns and free-time hobbies. To create a complete customer persona, the organisers need to collect data on many various areas, including age, gender, material status, religion, nationality, city, language, job function and description, social media use and much more. To see the full list and learn more about the topic, you can read the full article here.

LeAnna also places high emphasis on data, and shared that ‘we collect data, such as detailed demographics, on the frontend of events. On the backend, we analyse the demographics data in comparison to session attendance numbers and look for trends.’ 

Irina shared that she is able to collect data from what her audience shares online, combined with what they post about online from live events. Further, she follows other discussions from industry associations and collects direct feedback, which she then uses to develop event concepts that are most suitable to the audience and their needs.

But is it good to rely on past data? What if some of that data has a ‘sell-by date’? In other words: Is there a specific trend that is no longer considered desirable or effective? In certain industries, the change is not particularly fast, and certain concepts need to be demonstrated to be viable over a couple of months, and even years. Not all stakeholders will be ready to implement the latest trend immediately because it’s considered ‘in’. Robert D. commented that ‘Event planners should be more ambitious at the design stage by using a workshop format or “discovery” format at the beginning to scope out the event—issues, ideas and deliverables.’  

In times when live and digital merge, how can #eventprofs transfer a live experience into the digital space using the principles of event design? 

Pauline recommended incorporating a lot of user-generated content into events by designing Twitter walls, photo booths, selfie-stations, Twitter competitions during the event etc. This approach will lead to generating a substantial amount of content from attendees. Valerie added to this and emphasised the importance of videos and/or sound bites from the audience, in podcasts or blog posts, which should convey more feelings and authenticity rather than only ‘marketing talk.’

Robert D. commented that this aspect comes back to ‘know the audience’, to elaborate event design for those having a live experience and those having an online experience— this is all part of the design. Irina recommended ensuring that the content is more visual—through photos, videos and creating visual storytelling that will take the customer on a journey. In this process, it’s also important to place emphasis on pre- and post-event communication and community building. 

In order of priority 1–5, what aspects do you consider the most important when it comes to event design? 

The answers presented an interesting mix of ideas and priorities. There is no one correct answer, and as previously mentioned, it goes back to knowing your audience.

Here are the aspects in their order of priority: 

LeAnne: 1. Purpose 2. Audience 3. Content 4. Application 5. Branding.

Valerie: 1. Audience: I do it for them 2. Venue: Does it fit my goal/target group? 3. Format: How can I reach my target group AND post my message? 4. Content: How do I communicate 1–3? 5. Feedback, KPI, Improvement.  

Becky: 1. Content 2. Audience understanding 3. Format 4. Venue 5. Communication.   

Pauline: 1. Your target customer preferences  (online and offline) 2. VENUE /destination: the story it tells 3. Sustainability+corporate responsibility 4. Communication: before+ during your EVENT. Design WISE, in promotion, and easy schedule of sessions. 5. Accessibility.

Irina: 1. Storytelling, the WHY 2. Destination, infrastructure, accessibility 3. Venues 4. Content & communication (online & offline, pre & post events as well) 5. Sustainability, CSR, social enterprise. 

What do you do when your client doesn’t know their audience, or what they want, or how to write a brief?

According to Becky, it’s ‘Research research research. Get under their brand how you would your own and advise where you can.’ Irina added to this that it’s also important to research and understand the industry, and that could be achieved by attending industry events. This is a long process that can take up to 2–3 years until one becomes a ‘go-to’ person who knows and understands the audience and how to write a brief that gets results.’ 

Pauline shared that she does her own research based on the event name-topic-theme. This research includes what potential attendees might like or do as being crucial. The persona. She shared her experience, ‘I usually don’t even start working on an event until the client or I have the persona for the event worked out.’

Where do you go to learn new stuff? What events do you attend, what books/ trade press do you read etc.?

Becky shared that she looks outside of the immediate industry as much as she can, ‘We sometimes close ourselves off by relying on people who think like us and using our past experience. It’s so worth it! Even just looking at how your phone/electricity company send emails and promo or how the queuing process works at a gig.. all have their own good and bad points to learn from.’

Robert D. conducts meetings in museums, galleries and bookshops.. surrounded by knowledge, all representing fantastic alternatives to corporate locations.  

Pauline attends major international events and business festivals specific to tech and marketing and digital marketing, such as the Web Summit, but also the MICE industry, such as IMEX, but also recommends watching videos about social media constantly. 

Irina concluded that she uses Twitter for the discovery phase, but her international work and travel with MICE destinations also inspires her to learn about sustainability, urban development, architecture, design, art and specific knowledge clusters; for example, technology, science and media, ‘Inspiration is everywhere if we just look out for it.’ 

How an online event became an offline conference: interview with Event Planners Talk founder on Hotel O Motion podcast

It’s just under one year to go, and we are very excited and ready for our most thought-provoking and business-driven MICE conference, which will take place next year from 27–30 August in Bern, Switzerland. A couple of weeks ago, our founder Irina Graf was interviewed on Valerie Wagner’s podcast—Hotel O Motion—about the journey of designing this event from when it all began in 2014 as a weekly Twitter chat and will next year take place as a multi-day international conference. You can listen to the full podcast on the Hotel O Motion website and major podcast platforms, with a summary of this interview being available in this blog article. 

The discussion began with a short introduction regarding how Irina initiated The MICE Blog, which is a corporate event planning blog dedicated to those working in the MICE sector and who wish to stay on top of industry news, learn about new destinations, venues and the latest trends. Irina stated, ‘I began the blog in 2011 as a hobby while doing an internship at an event agency in Munich. Not long after that, I moved to London to undertake a 3.5 year BA in international events management. Maintaining the blog alongside the studies allowed me to build my knowledge and network of the MICE sector in the dynamic city of London and be part of this community. Upon graduating at the end of 2014, in 2015 I turned it into a full-time business. In August 2014, I began a Twitter chat called #eventprofstalk (initially, the hashtag was #EventPlannersTalk but was shortened later to #eventprofstalk) to discuss various industry topics. From 2015, it became a weekly chat, and I slowly started building a community specifically around this Twitter chat. The online audience was invited to participate in the discussion on Twitter and answer six questions around a specific industry topic. The community grew organically as people started engaging with the topics and, most importantly with each other, to forge business relationships; I have personally got to know many of my business contacts through this channel.’

‘The online presence led to launching the first live event in February 2015 in London, and 17 events later, from 2015–2019, in 2020 we’ll host our first international event in Bern, Switzerland.’ 

Why did you decide to make an offline event out of an online chat?

‘When it began in 2014, as a monthly Twitter chat and later in 2015 as a weekly chat and developed to a live event in 2015, it grew organically. As the community manager, I noticed that it forged strong business relationships among my audience, and I felt that there was a need to take it to the ‘next level’—that would mean hosting an offline event. Being in the events industry myself, I understand the importance of face-to-face meetings and events. Live events are important because when you meet people face to face, you develop a level of trust that is not possible to build online to such an extent. Furthermore, you can’t cover all the topics online, so there is a ‘necessity to meet in person’. 

Irina attributes the success of this concept to being based in London at that time, ‘The Twitter chat is international, attracting participants from all around the world, but a significant number of participants were from the UK and specifically from London. The event community is particularly strong in London, and while I was living there, it was easy to make an event out of it. I recognised this opportunity and decided to combine the online and offline event experience.’ 

What challenges did you have? 

According to Irina, one challenge in particular has arisen since the beginning and that is still present today—narrowing the gap between online and offline communities, ‘I have a highly strong online community that is happy to share thoughts and opinions online openly, and the live events attract the broader event community who don’t necessarily use social media and don’t like the “spotlight”. The challenge is to get speakers who are not familiar with this concept but who have significant know-how and expertise that I want the audience to engage with. There are people who don’t like to share information, don’t like to be quoted and don’t want the online visibility, so narrowing the gap between online and offline communities is something that we’ll continue to work on.’ 

Why did you decide to announce the event with an over a year to go lead time to that event?

According to Irina, a lot has been going on behind the scenes before the public announcement, ‘The event was already 2.5 years in the planning, so it’s much longer than a year for me as the organiser with all what’s been going on behind the scenes before making it public. The first reason is that we know our audience particularly well, and these are busy corporate event planners who have a full agenda of their own events as well as industry events that they attend, so it was very important for us to get into their diaries. The second reason is that I see it as an opportunity having such a long lead time because we do a lot online. The discussion that we’ll have next year in August in Bern, already started now, is because we’re in the process of selecting the topics, getting in touch with the speakers and making the community part of this collaborative approach we take towards designing the educational agenda.’ 

The focus of this event is advanced education, ‘When the topics are discussed in Bern next year, it will be only in a 1-hour instalment, and this will be the result of all previous discussions we’ll conduct prior to that online, to fine-tune and narrow down what will be discussed at the live event. We aim to be highly specific and business focused instead of broad. All the broad and general topics can be covered on a Twitter chat, blog post or podcast. We want to focus on what you can’t do online; hence, a live event is also required. The event has already ‘started’, and our audience can engage with us and other community members every Monday on Twitter from 9–10 pm UK time. This is the online phase of the event, with the live event taking place next year, and of course, we’ll have the post-event phase where there will be extensive social media coverage to ‘keep the discussion going.’

Why is Bern the right fit for the event

This will be our first international event. So far, we have had 17 smaller events, which took place in London, Frankfurt and Berlin, and we always wanted to grow and become an international platform for event professionals for advanced learning and networking. Bern is the right fit because it’s international, multilingual and is the Swiss capital city with top infrastructure and ease of accessibility by all means of transport. At the same time, the city is small and compact, perfect for our audience size, which will remain small for this first edition. It will be highly convenient for the delegates to arrive and move around there. I have travelled to the city many times for site visits, and I can say that the delegates will have a ‘door-to-door experience’ the moment they get out of the train station in Bern—all our venues are within walking distance. You arrive, and you are in the centre of everything. It’s a city where you can walk and use your time efficiently.

What can participants expect from the topics? 

Delegates can expect highly interactive and engaging discussions. I know that the delegates are very busy people, and when I go to industry events myself, I appreciated it when speakers get to the point immediately, and I don’t want to hear something that I’ve already heard elsewhere; hence, we also set a focus on innovative, business-driven and thought-provoking content. Therefore, delegates can expect a particularly high level of advanced education, from experienced industry professionals. Delegates who attend next year can expect that they will be able to take their personal and professional career to the next level thanks to the participative event format and networking opportunities they will gain at the conference. 

Another aspect that we wanted to offer this time is so-called ‘bleisure’—not to fully overload the programme with many sessions and activities, but rather leave the evenings free for delegates to design their own leisure time and leave space for informal networking alongside the business as of this event. Personally, I often find that the spontaneous discussions and encounters between the sessions and social events can ultimately become the most successful ones in terms of meeting the next business partner or client.