American Express Meetings & Events has released a report on how meeting planners can maximise the event experience with similar or lesser resources/budgets and still meet the objectives of meeting/marketing owners. The report explores:
- Leveraging ‘ad hoc’ meetings as opportunities to drive impact through more intimate engagement, and saving new ideas for consistent event programmes with more lead time and steady budget
- Creating a ‘meeting template’ for smaller events and replicate for different audiences and attendee personas
- Managing attendance uncertainty, creating back-up plans with venues and considering putting more resources into pre-event engagement with attendees to drive attendance.
The report’s results come from 15 in-depth interviews carried out with marketing event owners in the US and Europe.
The report finds marketers are often running two ‘streams’ of events, which are distinct in scope and management, and pose different opportunities for innovation.
The first event stream is programmatic; these are meetings operated with regularity, comprising the foundational events for the organisation. For example, a business may exhibit in the same convention each year, or operate a large user conference annually. These events are the mainstays of the organisation’s effort to maintain a strong brand presence.
Programmatic meetings are often much larger and operate with an eye to incremental improvements, with budgets that are generally in line with spend from prior years.
The second event stream consists of ad hoc meetings and events planned and executed ‘on demand’ to meet the immediate needs of the business. These ad hoc events are often smaller, involve quick turn-arounds, and offer some opportunity for creativity and experimentation.
Marketers often report there is no set budget for ad hoc events; when the internal stakeholder makes the request, marketing will recommend an event design and associated budget to be approved. Timing can be the hardest challenge to overcome with ad hoc events.
One US marketing executive interviewed for the report gave this feedback: “The product team will come to me and want to do an event to launch a new feature set, for example. We’ll be 10 weeks out from the launch date, so even though they’ll want to be splashy and creative, and may even have a little leeway in terms of budget, by the time we get the basics of the event in place, there’s not a lot of time to be really innovative.”
One tip offered by the report authors is: “Since ad hoc meetings are often on very tighttimelines and frequently have a significant number of details to manage, adding new ideasmay feel overwhelming or risky to the event owner. Consider identifying a few smaller events and using those to test ideas on a small scale to see what works, then roll out the winning ideas to larger events.”
The report also offers tips on boosting event attendance; insights on event objectives and setting.
There is advice on purposeful measurement points, including a tip for using pre/post event survey methodology to help measure behaviour change against key goals.
For example, if the goal is to educate on a new product, the report recommends asking attendees to indicate their level of knowledge before and after the event to see if there was a shift. Event mobile apps, or emerging tools like facial recognition, can be used to capture real-time feedback during the event.
A final piece of summary advice from the organiser feedback is to take time upfront to map out your vision for the event based on your brand, your desired outcomes, and the story you want to tell.
“Whatever your story, deliver it consistently throughout the event so the experience reinforces the message”
For more information on the report, visit: www.amexglobalbusinesstravel.com/meetings-and-events