How Events Deliver Complex Messages in New Ways
Industry editor on how events deliver complex messages in new ways
Paul Colston, Managing Editor at industry publication Conference News discusses why events are so integral to the modern marketing mix, and shares his long and short-term predictions for the future of the industry.
Why are events so important to the overall marketing mix now?
The entry point for media for marketing is already technically very high and young consumers are likely to demand even slicker pitches and marketing methods from brands. Live events, however, continue to offer an opportunity to engage the soul as well as the mind – they plug the consumer and delegate in to the power grid of our lively world. Events provide an opportunity to test, inspire and stimulate, as well as demonstrate innovation and achievements.
While much advertising requires us to take it on trust, events are the real acid test and answer the question of ‘how did it make you feel?’ As companies and organisations open their internal opinion information sharing systems, events play an increasingly important role in looking at strategic questions from all angles to get the best answers and results.
Just as political campaigning moved from the old set-piece activity on stage to focus group events enabling us to dig deeper and take messages directly to groups, events are not only providing holistic and bespoke solutions to delivering complex commercial messages and seeking solutions, often with disruptive outcomes, they are testing our theories and products in a real, live environment.
UK Events Week is a great industry initiative. How else can event professionals get involved to further promote the value of our industry?
Event profs can get involved in one or more of the industry associations and the numerous networking opportunities. Campaigns such as Meetings Mean Business Stateside have proved how useful they are in reminding the government of our value and necessity, and could be replicated in the UK.
There are also plenty of industry chat forums and meet-ups. It is noticeable that active those who are active on social media tend to punch above their weight in the industry in general and are among those that get noticed, not least in the industry media.
What trends do you see emerging in the industry in 2017?
I think there will be increased pressure on duty of care to delegates and participants at large events, as the world becomes a more dangerous place and corporates take on board the likely repercussions of sending staff abroad to events, as well as ensuring safety at events in the UK.
As event tech evolves ever more quickly, those that neglect to invest in more efficient systems, from registration to checking and verifying ROI could be left behind.
More consolidation is likely in the venue provider market. Smaller, successful event tech start-ups are likely to find it easier to break through with crowdfunding opportunities, and some multinationals are likely to acquire some of the more successful products and incorporate them into their own portfolio suites. Evidence of consolidation has been seen with Cvent, Lanyon and etouches’ strategies of late, and more of that is likely.
What are your predictions for the state of the UK event industry in the next 20 years? Will its role in the marketing mix continue to increase?
The UK is rightly proud of its creative events achievements and level of professionalism, but shouldn’t rest on its laurels – there are many countries – such as in the Gulf, Singapore and China that are investing more in both infrastructure and talent.
The UK can keep its place among the elite of thought leaders in the events industry, pushing the sustainability issue to new heights and building on the success of initiatives such as the Global Sustainable Events Summit in London.
The industry will need to hone its lobbying act to put the case more forcibly for its value, including venues and their contribution to their local communities, not only in monetary and economic terms, but in terms of knowledge transfer and tapping into the rich subject matter of many of the conferences and events that come to our destinations.
Major events will, as a matter of course, extend over the 365-day cycle and not simply open and close and wait many months for a new campaign to begin. Smart event operators have already built their participating communities and are taking heed of their voices and demands, feeding back the input to improve their events.
With the amount of time people spend online likely to increase in 20 years, live events will come to be seen as creative oases that visitors and participants will be keen to be part of and stimulated by. However, no one will attend out of duty or old loyalty, which means events will need to evolve quickly and adapt in order to stay in the marketing fast lane.
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