Posts Tagged : conference

The importance of partnerships in event marketing

Event marketing is a constantly evolving ecosystem and no one knows this better than event planners and the design agencies they work with. In such a competitive market, either on-stand at a tradeshow or wrapped up in a conference, brands are striving to stand out with their event marketing in order to make a mark on the minds of their customers.

The battle to be different has just one common denominator: the importance of working with reliable cross-channel partners. From audio visual suppliers, through to digital agencies, caterers, staffing and the event venues and organisers themselves, the partners a brand chooses can often have a huge impact on success.

 

The pressures

With events becoming an omni-channel experience, catering to event attendees across digital, offline and face-to-face as well as through multi-devices and channels can be difficult. Event marketing has grown and evolved inline with other marketing practices and in an ‘always on’ world, event planners are under more pressure than ever to deliver. Events need to have an integrated online and offline experience, often taking into consideration platforms such as social media, email and blogging. Attendees also expect to be able to access event content through video, imagery, podcasts, written posts or whichever channel suits their personal preference. Learning each discipline in enough detail to be able to execute it successfully in the lead up to an event as well as within a live environment is a job for more than one person. But finding the right suppliers and ensuring that they can work together when the lines between digital and social media, design and content are so thin, can be an arduous task.

 

Integrated budgets

Integrated budgets is one of the approaches that event planners, and the wider industry, are now using in order to smooth the workload and make cross-channel partners work together more seamlessly. Event marketing now encompasses more than just email or registration software. Instead, it is a living, breathing organism which needs to retain fluidity so that it can adapt to insights and data that help it to evolve in line with its visitor’s needs. Having a single budget for content, another for communication and yet another for staffing can cause problems. Finding a content partner who can produce video, which then needs to be shared by a social media partner and broadcasted by an audio visual supplier, creates budget crossover in every area. Defining an ‘event marketing’ budget which can then be broken down into tens, or even hundreds, of supplier areas is often the way to ensure that the pragmatics don’t hold back success.

 

Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

As well as sharing budgets across disciplines, collaboration is essential to the success of cross-channel partnerships. With brands and event planners often employing more than one event supplier within the same area to contribute towards their event, smooth relationships and open communication is key to success. This is aided by a trend within events, where many suppliers are now becoming experts in one area rather than master of all. This doesn’t mean that they cannot branch out, after all an audio visual supplier will always be able to offer iPads and laptops alongside their more advanced visual screens and videowalls, but it does mean that some suppliers will highlight their expertise in a single area, over everything else. This type of approach will allow for more successful relationships between agencies, brands and suppliers as well as clearer expectations on the roles and responsibilities of each supplier contributing to overall event success.

 

Multi-event partnerships

As many agencies and brands will know, tendering to work on a brand’s event marketing can be longwinded and time consuming for all those involved. More importantly, by the time the tendering process is complete and an agency selected, the brand may have pivoted or changed direction completely, therefore rendering plans redundant. To avoid this, some brands are now working towards a multi-event partnership, where the same suppliers and agencies are employed for a rolling contract. The benefit of this is that the event marketing legacy lives on far beyond the event itself. Agencies and suppliers incentivised by a single year contract will often be working to fulfill that event’s aims and to make it the best possible experience. Those who are contracted to work on the event campaign for two, or even five, years are in a better position to look at the long-term strategy of a brand’s event marketing and ensure that every event is a cog in a long term plan for success.

 

The events world has always been an exciting place to be, but in the foreseeable future, event marketing is about to become even more poignant. Events which are more complex and more integrated require advanced skillsets and multiple suppliers, all willing to work towards a single goal. As long as suppliers and agencies can adapt accordingly and future-proof both skillsets and a flexible approach to multi-partner working, the impact on the event industry as a whole will be unparalleled.

Event predictions for 2016

The start of a new year is a great time to look at what trends, features and new technologies will shape the year ahead. After all, if you’d said at the end of 2014 that we’d be reading messages on our iWatches and creating brand messaging in emojis while listening to Justin Bieber we may not have believed you.

So in the true spirit of a fresh new year, here are some of the event trends we expect to see being seeded through the world of pop-ups, events, exhibitions and conferences during the year ahead.

 

Enhanced event experiences

Events and exhibitions in particular, have always been an incredible feat, where large and often intricate structures are put together for the sole purpose of a day or two. This makes their message often more impactful than a permanent structure can hope to be, but this year we see the two merging. Events and exhibitions, which so often take their cues from the fast-moving world of retail and pop-up displays have become more innovative and more dynamic, whereas temporary structures have begun to invest more heavily in experience over design. Temporary events and exhibitions are doing more to embrace digital and social aspects, spending more on experience and making the environment feel intuitive, in order to mimic the attendee’s everyday life. Advanced technology such as high-resolution 2.5mm LED displays were once only suitable for permanent structures where they could be kept away from customers and built into more durable casings. Now, these types of solutions are available within event and exhibition environments creating a new option for designers and brands wishing to showcase content. In return, pop-ups and permanent structures are bringing in more aspects that draw the customer and the brand together, encouraging social sharing for discounts, mobile payment devices that can be taken onto the shop floor and interactive screen technology displays.

 

Purpose driven events

The big focus on the consumer cohort, ‘the Millennials’ which seemed to take over in 2015 will be set to continue in 2016 and as this group enters the industry and positions of buying power, we’ll see this affect the entire conception of events. As industry professionals, they’ll bring in new advancements, an enhanced knowledge of event technology and a heavy focus on purpose-driven events. What do we mean by this? Events that were once solely focused to sell, sell, sell will now swing back to more ‘people’ focused experiences. This means creating positive legacies from events, where the brand is able to ‘give back’ or create repercussions from their activity on the show floor. This may be as simple as partnering with a Not For Profit or worthwhile cause or giving up an event presence in order to spend on an experience or social project.

 

True engagement

Gone are the days where an event can be quantified by the number of attendees who sign up for a ticket. The progression in technology and big data means that brands and consumers now demand a higher level of data to prove return on interest. In 2016, when eyeballs and attention will be even more stretched across the on and offline worlds, creating true engagement and a way to measure it will be more important than ever. For audio visual suppliers, this means enhancing the technology that is able to provide data capture as well as monitoring number of views or time that the audience is engaged. For designers and partners, this means measuring everything from the number of tweets, through to conversations held on the stand, touchpoint check-ins and data viewed post-event. For brands, it means finding comprehensive ways to take the data captured, digest this and use it to improve the offering event-by-event.

 

Back to basics

In 2015 events seemed to be a platform for brands to show that they were bigger, better and more expressive than those next to them. In 2016, we predict a return to basics, where events simplify the connection between audience and brand in order to really communicate their most innate of brand values. Stripped back design, more intuitive technology and simple ways to communicate and create real face-to-face value will all help brands to embrace the event platform in the year ahead and make it their own.

 

The rise of event technology

If there’s one trend we have noticed over the past 12 months it’s the rise of event technology as a real contender to ensuring event success. Event planners are becoming more tech-savvy than ever and audio visual suppliers are going all out to provide event technology masterclasses and other learning opportunities, designed to enable planners to make the most of what’s on offer. The benefit of sophisticated event technology becoming more mainstream, is that the solutions become more affordable and better developed by the manufacturers who provide them. Over the years this has led to solutions such as bespoke content, which once stacked up into the tens of thousands, now becoming available for only a few hundred pounds. Not only does this rise in technology give the brands a continual vehicle through which to innovate their offering, but it also allows the customers using them to touch, test and takeaway the true message the brand is offering.

 

What event trends do you see becoming more important throughout the year ahead? Tweet us at @incredible_pg to let us know

An event marketer’s guide to Virtual Reality

The events world is exploring the virtual and as a result, mixed reality technology has become a highly requested tool both within events and the wider world, to bring a virtual experience into a physical space. So what do you need to know about virtual reality in order to successfully embrace it at your next event?

What is ‘virtual reality’?

Virtual reality is the manifestation of a computer-generated simulation by specialist electronic equipment. For example, a visitor at a travel event may adopt a headset on a stand, in order to take them to a hotel room in Dubai to have a look around. Alternatively, they might put on a headset, or pair of googles and take a ‘train ride’ through a City. The difference between this and older methods of visualisation is that with VR, the visitor is fully immersed in an environment through the sense of sight. Remember those visual stimulator rides where you would get in to a big black box and watch a screen as if you were on a speedboat? While they were effective up to a point, virtual reality takes this to another level, where the only scene you can see is the one being portrayed to you, with no other visual to detract from the illusion.

The history of VR

The term ‘virtual reality’ first began to spike interest around the 1990s, when there were books and films that depicted signs of VR, as well as virtual reality games in arcades and shopping centers. Shoot forward to the early 2010s, when Oculus Rift began their Kickstarter campaign and it was clear that this was a technology that wasn’t going to go away. Further proved by Mark Zuckerburg’s announcement of a $2bn investment in Oculus Rift, which putvirtual reality firmly on the list for emerging technologies that others, such as Samsung and Apple, must soon explore.

Virtual reality and events

VR is certainly a big buzzword in events, but one that is yet to reach full potential. The difficultly in the past has been creating content that is able to show-off the technology in the best possible way. The VR experience needs to be high quality, or risk being rendered useless. The entire concept revolves around making a person feel that they are in a specific environment and more importantly, for the brain to register the scene as a reality. If there is a time-lag when you turn your head, or a stuck scene, the reality is broken. This means that without enough budget to create a properly tried, tested and well-designed piece of software, you might as well not bother. In live event environments especially, nothing is forgiven. Saying that, it is now much more affordable to create a VR experience – with most bespoke pieces of content creation starting at around £4K or £5K and moving upwards depending on length, complexity and resolution.

Modern headsets are becoming more sophisticated than original versions, with many able to react to human movement at lightening speed, adapting the view accordingly. The screens themselves also offer a high-quality image that could be mistaken for a real-life scene

When choosing which form of technology to employ it’s important to think about it’s use within your event environment – rather than a testing one. For example, VR devices such as the Samsung Gear are powered by a phone which in an event environment may be difficult to keep charged.

Lastly, virtual reality should always be considered in light of your wider strategy and brand aims. Technology for technologies sake will not enhance your visitor’s experience, but a well-thought out piece of technology that creates a memorable experience will. Focus on the brief and message and employ the technology to facilitate that. And if VR is the right vehicle, then well your visitors are in for a treat.