Moving the planner beyond logistics

Expert Opinion
Moving the planner beyond logistics

Stephanie Harris, director of global marketing and event strategy, American Express Meetings & Events, explains how branding principles can guide your event design.


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It has been an exciting year for the meetings and events industry with a prosperous meetings market in 2018.

Annually, our global team manages and executes thousands of meetings for our clients.

We are constantly looking to provide our clients and teams in the industry with the latest research to transform meetings and events into engaging, effective programmes that provide value for our clients and event guests.

In October 2017 we released the 2018 Global Meetings Forecast. The study demonstrated that if given higher budgets, meeting planners around the world would choose production and content as preferred areas of investment. Additionally, when asked why they would use mobile apps, the main reason cited by respondents was attendee engagement. This survey demonstrated the growing significance of attendee engagement and experience.

My team and I saw an opportunity to enhance the traditional logistical ethos and approach of meetings strategy with the best practices that brand marketers apply to evoke brand experiences. Our recent White Paper – “Focus on the Why: How Branding Principles Can Guide Your Event Design” discusses the opportunity that lies in shifting focus from logistics only to the experience that you would like meeting attendees to experience pre-, during and post-event.

It is not difficult for planners to become too consumed with the ‘What’ of the event – managing seamless transportation, selecting the most delicious menu, coordinating speaker sessions. These steps are crucial; however, it is just as essential to understand how to connect with the attendees emotionally. This White Paper sets out a three-step approach which meeting managers can use to design an unforgettable event.

It is crucial to put yourself in the attendee’s shoes and consider what stood out to you most in the last meeting and/or event that you attended relative to your goals for attending that event. While the invitation, food, venue and speakers may have captured your attention, it is what resonated with you a while afterwards that is important. Perhaps a talk that reminded you of a passion you have, or you had a conversation with someone in a perfectly curated environment which inspired you in a way your office could not.

While the below steps to uncover the ‘Why’ of an event seem apparent, they are often overlooked and can have a significant impact on the attendee experience. However, if you make small adjustments over time, you can build processes that will generate remarkable results.

Ultimately, ensure all stakeholders are aligned around the ‘Why’ of your event will create a better experience for your attendees and help you achieve your business goals.

  • Step 1: Identify the desired outcomes – why are you having this event?
  • Step 2: Get to know your participants – how do you want to feel?
  • Step 3: Choose the functional attribute – what will bring the experience to life?

The attendee experience continues to grow as a focus area, moving the role of the planner beyond meeting logistics to leveraging technology innovations and providing exciting and engaging experiences.

The focus is to produce a quality experience for attendees by having stakeholder conversations, diving into the creative and emotional elements and incorporating functional aspects that bring it all together and exceed expectations.

Stuart Wood is a news reporter across the Mash Media editorial portfolio. He writes for CMW alongside sister publications Conference News, Exhibition News, Access All Areas and Exhibition World.

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