How green can your trade show go?

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Today’s post is from guest blogger Lew Hoff, President of Bartizan Connects.  In addition to these thoughts on recycling, Lew has also written about energy saving at trade shows which is worth a read.

There are many questions surrounding the organization and management of trade shows and similar events. These functions can be huge and operate at a frenzied pace for every minute the floor is open to attendees. This means organizers of such shows should be prepared with a unique set of skills tailored to the fact that all of their efforts will be rewarded or thwarted over that short time frame, which is unlike nearly any other business model.

What Can Be Recycled?
One of the consequences of only being open for a few days is that a huge amount of material may end up discarded once a show has run its course. The Associated Press recently focused on the huge Consumer Electronics Show. This year’s iteration recently wrapped up in Las Vegas, and the source noted that Freeman, the production company that staged the event, is actively interested in finding new homes for the physical infrastructure components instead of throwing them out.

According to the AP, this year’s total waste prevention was impressive. Instead of letting signs and banners end up in landfills, many of them were recycled – Freeman Communications and Strategic Relationship Senior Vice President Jeff Joseph put the number at 108,000 square feet. Many materials were also reused in other ways, such as construction components given to Habitat for Humanity and carpet stored up for next year’s show.

Green Trade Show Etiquette
It’s important to remember that there are many ways to go green, not just recycling. TSNN contributor Shane Shirley recently explained some priorities organizers should set in advance if they want their shows to have less damaging environmental impacts. She stated, for example, that it pays to begin with solid ideas of how much the show can accomplish. If organizers decide in advance what type of carbon and energy use is OK, they will be able to tune their performance to match those targets.

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Why events professionals use LinkedIn

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This month the Who’s who in events community has been running its annual survey and there has been a great response from every aspect of our vibrant industry.

One of the primary purposes of the survey was to discover more about our members to ensure that decisions taken about group management and other such matters are based on consensus.

Crucial to this latter point is understanding what event professionals use LinkedIn for in the first place.  Consequently a question was included in the study.  Respondents were asked to rank six activities in terms of their primary reason for using Who’s who in events on LinkedIn.

In first and second place were ‘Seeking information about the industry’ and ‘Networking’, illustrating the importance members place on being able to identify and connect with like-minded professionals.  In third and fourth place were ‘News’ and ‘Asking for advice/assistance’, though statistically these were not too far behind in terms of popularity.  In fifth and sixth places were ‘Looking for suppliers’ and ‘Job-hunting’.

You can draw a number of conclusions from these results, but primarily it illustrates the vital importance that is still placed on making individual connections upon which a relationship can be built.  It also shows that if you are active in your social networks you will attract fellow professionals and create links that could, in the long-term, be both beneficial and lucrative.

 

Social Media – just a way of killing time

Killing-timeA couple of years ago the following question was posted on the Who’s Who in Events LinkedIn group.

Is Social Media just used to kill time and find out what old colleagues are up to or does anyone, other than social media consultants, get business out of it?

While social media, and technology in general are now fully embedded in the event marketing mix, it is worth remembering that there are still a significant number of people who view it with a degree of scepticism. Following numerous stories (given much larger audiences thanks to online and social media) of data leakages and inappropriate sharing, many are much more cautious about what they put into the public domain.

Social media is a great enabler of the creation of a continuous dialogue between like-minded people which can be capitalised on to create really great live events that the attendees truly value. When many people think of social media they are just considering Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, but these are really just the juggernauts that are educating the masses in the capabilities of what social media can do.

Technology now exists that enables you to take the capabilities and structure of social media and use it to create your own network, drawing in your current attendees, other interested individuals and partner organisations. By providing them with an open and collaborative environment you can understand what it is that motivates and concerns them, and then you can deliver business services and events that match these needs.

The organisations that are currently doing this successfully are incredibly diverse: from Cancer Centers who want to know how their patients select care at their center and what they want to receive in return; to AFOLs (adult followers of Lego); and then on to large technology organisations who were creating an event for their users based on what they thought were the issues but when they stopped and listened they discovered that there were other more pressing topics that needed to be addressed.

Social media is no longer just a useful part of an event or business marketing campaign, it is the linchpin of an event or business marketing campaign. Organisers and organisations that stop shouting and interrupting (outbound marketing) and start listening and responding (inbound marketing) will be the winners in a world that has been transformed.

The answer, therefore, to our original sceptics question is:

If you are just an observer within Social Media then all you will ever be able to do is kill time and find out what old colleagues are up.  But if you use it effectively and professionally you will definitely get business out of it.

Sticking with it – Event branding

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We live in very visual times. Every day we are assaulted by colour, images, video and all manner of branding messages, subliminally raising our design expectations.

Events are part of this phenomenon, attention seekers in the extreme since we don’t just want someone to say ‘that’s nice’ we want them to like it sufficiently to want to take part.  We want to build communities and word of mouth advocacy.  Our branding needs to say ‘Hi.  I’m back. Remember me. Come to my party.’  Since our visual memory is far more acute than our auditory memory, it is very important to ensure that the messages we put out this year are directly related to those from last year if we want previous visitors to make a positive connection.

downloadWithin the events industry we aren’t particularly good at maintaining any kind of visual consistency.  Many organisers don’t undertake a comprehensive branding exercise in the first instance, primarily because in comparison with paying a freelance designer to come up with a couple of ideas it can feel extraordinarily expensive. Instead, each year the collateral for the event is completely redesigned often for no good reason.

Having recently undertaken a branding exercise with a leading London agency, it has been enlightening to have a group of very talented individuals giving hours of thought to the identity that will be public facing for the foreseeable future. While the fees wouldn’t sit happily into an individual event marketing budget, the artwork and guidelines will be used consistently for the next five years at least, and will result in significantly less spend overall on design in the long term.

LAF_2A number of organisers do manage their brand and image exceptionally well.  If you are anywhere near the Business Design Centre in Islington this week, you will have no difficulty in spotting the London Art Fair organised by the team at Upper Street Events.  Some years ago they undertook the first rebranding exercise, delivering an instantly recognisable logo which could be used across all their communications, whilst being adaptable to any environment.

London Art FairRecently this has been updated, but you would still be in little doubt that this is the same successful event.

Exhibition_Facebook_London_Art_FairWhere the team have been particularly clever, is in creating a brand which allows change but not destruction.  Regardless of the focus of a particular advert, email or other marketing message, be it Modern British Art or Photography, the event is ever present through its well designed identity.

As our audiences, whether they be festival-goers or manufacturers of medical devices, become more sophisticated visually and bombarded by imagery, it is increasingly important that we take the branding of our events more seriously and invest more wisely in creating engaging, long-lasting brands.

 

Event industry fuels technology boom

2011-12-21T164417Z_4_BTRE7BJ1BM700_RTROPTP_3_INDUSTRY-US-SOCIAL-MEDIA-ADVISERSA newly published report has forecast that the Event management software market will be worth US$7.78bn by 2019.  Which would go some way to explaining why as event managers we sometimes feel like we are deluged with new products and services every five minutes.

The report from MarketsandMarkets pinpoints the drivers of this grown as the proliferation of smart phones, an increase in meeting spending, social media user platforms, a greater integration of solutions and the introduction of cloud platforms.  With MICE organisers looking to increase their volumes the researchers identified an additional need to implement best of breed technology that can manage the whole event lifecycle.  Price pays an important role in the choice of technology, with ROI required as quickly as possible.

The marketplace for event technology is vast, covering implementation and deployment services, support services, and training and education services offered by event management software vendors.Add to this event management software solutions such as payment processing software, online registration software, venue management software, event marketing software, event analytics software and it is no surprise that so many different companies of all shapes and sizes are rushing to take advantage of a market valued at US$5.10bn in 2014.

What this shows for event managers is that it is doubly important to interrogate technology providers to test the robustness of their solution.

For more information on the MarketsandMarkets report, go to http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/event-management-software.asp

Differentiating your clients from your customers

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Over the Christmas break I downloaded a great little app from the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing‘s advent calendar.  Originally launched at the Digital Marketing Show in November 2014 the app is a short, interactive marketing course introducing the fundamental principles of direct and digital marketing.

Despite my status as a Fellow of the IDM, I thought I would give it a go, not least because I wanted to see how learning via an app could work, but also because you are never too long in the tooth to learn something new.  While much of the content was not new, one particular strand really stood out for me.

The segment in question dealt with the difference between customers and clients, a distinction which is sometimes missed when we are creating marketing campaigns.  It doesn’t matter if you are an event company selling to potential exhibitors and sponsors or an event supplier selling to an event company it is crucial that these two relationships are identified.  The way in which you market to them should be very different.  Critical to any event sales campaign is being able to fulfil 80% of the revenue/attendance expectations with 20% of the effort, and this in its turn is reliant on being able to maximise the return from clients  in addition to converting customers into clients.

Capture5So what exactly is the difference?  As the diagram to the right (from the IDM Course) shows, a client is someone who has bought from you before.  These are the companies or individuals who you should be reaching out to with special/enhanced offers to make them feel real connection with your brand/property.  Since (hopefully) they have already had a good experience of working with you/the event that you have delivered, they should be in an excellent frame of mind to continue to collaborate with you and the better the offer you give them, the easier it is to shut out your competitors.

customer by contrast is someone who has attended your event/bought your services for the first time.  While not as valuable as a client you are in a key position to turn them into one.  Like your approach to your clients, it is imperative that you speak to these individuals as if you really know and value them.  Try to avoid including them in your generic marketing campaigns and really do think of things you can give them that first-time buyers can’t get.

In some markets, particularly one-off events like weddings, it isn’t really possible to turn your customers into clients.  However you do want to push them even further up the relationship royalty ladder by getting them to be advocates for your services.  This means that once the event is over you have some mechanism for keeping in touch over a long period of time so that when someone asks your client ‘do you know someone that could…’ you are front of mind.

Much of what we do as marketers is really aimed at the bottom end of the process, i.e. the suspects and prospects. The efforts required in identifying the masses of people who might become customers is often so overwhelming that we forget to differentiate our efforts to our most loyal and profitable clients.  If you haven’t done so already, it is time to ensure that you are maintaining a high quality, differentiated database which will ensure you can create individualised marketing campaigns that really deliver for your events and your business.

Managing crowds – London NYE fireworks

37ee98946bd5de65c6916f911b3ea0cbLike many people, I like to watch the now annual London New Year’s Eve fireworks in the warm with a glass of chilled champagne in my hand.  Large screen televisions, great sound and loud children are enough to make it a great atmosphere after a long evening partying.

Many however, prefer to take to the streets of our wonderful capital city to see the spectacle live and in all its glory, particularly from the Embankment opposite where the crackles and bangs are clearly audible and your nostrils are full of the smell of explosives.

This year, for the first time, the event was ticketed in the prime locations opposite the London Eye – the focal point for the display.   In his blog post on MayorWatch, Martin Hoscik examines the original documents which set out the ticketing policy not only for 2014 but also for 2015 and 2016.  As he points out “The document correctly predicted that introducing paid tickets would be unpopular and warned it could create the perception that the event had been commercialised”.

Capture3One of my own contacts posted on Facebook the following morning her own views on this particular policy, and she was not alone in her condemnation.  Mayoral candidate David Lammy was quick to tweet his views #thanksboris and many national newspapers had coverage of the decision.

While London was attempting to manage huge crowds in a city that still retains many of the narrow streets and alleyways built in the 18th century, when the population was 9x smaller than it is today, Shanghai was experiencing the tragedy that this unpopular policy was attempting to avoid.  36 people lost their lives as uncontrolled crowds surged into Chenyi Square.

I asked a number of the Who’s who in events group members who are health and safety/crowd management experts what, for them, would be their top three pieces of advice for managing crowds when it is impossible to know exactly how many people will turn up to view a particular spectacle:

Eddy Grant, Health & Safety Consultant at Capita Property & Infrastructure and Senior Lecturer in Event Safety at Derby University had these top tips:

  1. Know how many people can fit into your area – have an in-depth knowledge of your site
  2. Have barriers and systems in place to ensure you can limit access to these numbers – ensure these are robust and usually out of line of sight of the attraction
  3. Have plenty of good stewards and SIA – your crowd management team will need to coordinate across them all

Sonja Muller from Elle Projects and Events in Cape Town offered this advice: Catering for large public (especially FREE) events will always be challenging.  I always look at worst case scenarios and worik it back from there.  The Three main focus areas for me would be:

  1. Transport & Pedestrian Access / Escape Routes
  2. Security, Medical and Emergency Services
  3. Sufficient Ablution & Refreshments
Any of the above should be ‘expandable’ when it becomes clear that the event is growing beyond expectation, hence planning for worst case scenario.    Emergency services, for example, needn’t be on site but on high-alert standby.

Jim Fidler, an experienced security and crowd management professional from Sydney, explained that ticketing helps to manage crowds in the following ways:

  1. It is important to consider capacity… “not enough room at the inn”… in order to ensure that it is possible to fit all those who are likely to attend into a specific area.  There has to be some way of measuring how many people have entered an area.
  2. As more people attend an event it reduces the egress capability from a site, a key consideration is can we get everyone away from an incident safely in an emergency.
  3. Surrounding infrastructure: it is important that transport links and other facilities around an event can cope with the number of people expected within a certain area.

Tragically, it would appear that the experiences in Shanghai proved that the steps taken in London were sensible ones.  The bigger challenge for the Mayor’s office is how to communicate the benefits of the ticketing as a health and safety mechanism without it appearing to be  cover-up for commercial gain.