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Mark Dodds of Roythornes Solicitors
When perks become bribes...
An interesting and astounding set of revelations in your blog Venue finding agencies - more bad than good? Which indicates that agency bookers are demanding free stays and upgrades as rewards for booking their events at hotels.
I’m not one to decline the odd perk as a ‘thank you’ but to demand sweeteners for placing business is in my simple view close to bribery and both the hotel and the agency may well be in breach of their anti-bribery policies (if they can find them!) if these incidents are not reported.
The problem is of course, is that it has probably become ‘accepted practice’ but that does not make it right and until someone, as you say, ‘names and shames’ it will sadly continue.
Grant Morgan, senior manager, Poken
You don’t listen to music on your Walkman, so why are you still using exhibitor badge scanners?
As a host of technologies make their way onto the exhibition space, we are seeing the experience shaped increasingly by the attendee. While many exhibitors are riding the wave of change, there are still the technophobic few resisting new technologies in place of outdated lead-generation badge scanners.
There’s nothing worse than walking through an exhibition and hearing the dreaded words, “May I scan your badge?” This one-dimensional transaction provides no value to the participant, whether or not they are interested in what’s on offer, and not much more to the exhibitor.
While not every interaction happens like this, we still see it far too often. Exhibitions should be about meeting people - trying to understand their objectives and values.
New technology, like NFC (near field communication) and RFID (radio frequency identification) smart badges, really push the nature of lead generation by allowing participants to determine what interests them through the collection of digital collateral with a single swipe. This action leaves the exhibitor a digital business card, generating higher quality leads and greater return on investment. The adoption of these technologies provides a highly valuable experience for participants, and therefore more valuable returns for exhibitors.
Attending an exhibition should no longer be a ‘voyeuristic’ experience, where people walk the aisles and exhibitors sport their wares. Let’s do away with the outmoded badge scanner!
Michael Watton of Farnborough International
VisitBritain fund is great for business
We welcome the announcement this week from VisitBritain on the launch of the Event Support Programme, designed to help attract more global business events to the UK.
It is a great time for the UK events sector to be targeting further international business - with the pound’s current weakness against the euro and dollar, we have real strength in our ‘value’ message.
Furthermore, with the increased investment in infrastructure we are seeing across the country with the planned airport expansions in the South East, the improvements in high speed rail links, and major venues developments including our own £30 million expansion to our existing event and venue business, it really is a great time for stimulating business outside of London. Britain is definitely open for business.
Stéphane Doutriaux of Founder & CEO of Poken
Why Pokemon Go won’t be the next big thing for your event
Flash in the pan or the next big thing? Even the events industry has got on the bandwagon, with some commentators suggesting that Pokemon Go should be added to the gamification mix to maximise attendee engagement.
While gamification can increase attendee engagement, it’s vital not to get carried away on this wave of excess. We must clearly define the objectives of an event to ensure that the chosen type of engagement is appropriate.
My recent experience with the Pokemon Go phenomenon is a lesson for event organisers. When sightseeing with my son in Milan, he had his face dug into his phone, barely noticing anything or anyone around him. Relating this to the events industry, you might then question whether Pokemon Go, or any other similar immersive, mobile-app-based gamification, will actually drive up the value of your event.
Many mobile apps (including ours, to be honest) are providing too many distracting features. When we consult with event organisers, we tend to steer them away from the distractions, helping them focus on the core benefits that digital technologies can provide.
The focus should be on meaningful interactions between participants, with their exhibitors, and with event content, of which light and calculated gamification may sometimes be the answer, but not the silver bullet.
Mark Dodds of Roythornes Solicitors
Mark Dodds of Roythornes Solicitors
A wake up call for the sector?
The news that the number of events is rising whilst the number of delegates is falling (‘Event spend falls by £2bn as delegate numbers slide’) shows how the market is reaching a level of unsustainability. I am constantly amazed by the number of ‘similar’ events that are staged and often wonder how they can all survive in the same space.
I guess it will only be a matter of time before the model breaks, but in the meantime let’s hope that the successful events thrive, as getting people together in person is one of the best ways to do business and long may it continue!
Dan Bardgett of XSEM
A good (or bad) DMC can make or break your event
We’ve increased the volume of overseas trips dramatically in recent years ("Don't dismiss our destination dexterity", M&IT January 2016). As the market for incentive-based travel has improved, our customers are now seeking unique experiences that only international destinations have the ability to provide.
A lengthy period in the events industry brings experience and understanding. You get to know and hear about a lot of good venues, both domestically and internationally. You get to hear about the bad ones too.
That knowledge and understanding is what clients pay for, but with the best will in the world, none of us in the industry can be expected to know about every untapped gem of a venue across the globe.
The role of a ground agent or destination marketing company (DMC), therefore, can make or break an overseas trip in this sense. Our partners on the ground have become a vital tool in making great trips unforgettable ones.
Over time, you get to spot a solution that is off the shelf. Neither we nor our clients wants a venue that feels like ‘its been done already’. A well-trodden path with little consideration for your actual needs can leave even the most exotic-looking trip feeling a little flat and undercooked.
Never was that trust in quality DMCs brought more sharply into focus than on a recent incentive trip for XSEM’s client, PPG. It bore all the hallmarks of a DMC, in this case Emotions DMC, completely in tune with what we were trying to achieve.
The trip to Mauritius, among other things, involved all 94 attendees taking to traditional Mauritian sail boats to arrive at a private island where the group enjoyed and afternoon BBQ and snorkelling. The trip was topped off with a remotely-located gala dinner in a former sugar processing factory.
It had an atmosphere and feel to it that you knew was unique; a one off. This was not a rehash of a tried and tested formula. It was stunning and, quite frankly, not something we could ever have known about ourselves without the help of our DMC.
When clients invest heavily and trust us with creating unforgettable trips, it’s so important to deliver something that creates a long-lasting wow factor for all of those on it. There’s a reason clients advocate trips like this and we, as event organisers, need to understand that the outcomes must provide the right returns.