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Katherine Simmons, deputy editor of CAT Publications 09/10/2007 [1]

How do you create 'learning' meetings?

The first instalment of M&IT’s Anatomy of a Meeting series has revealed that the average person’s concentration span is between 20-30 minutes. The “one way” method of a speaker presenting for 45 minutes to an hour employed by traditional conferences has also been dismissed by experts as it renders adult learners as passive. According to one educational theorist, talking at grown adults and not allowing them the opportunity to discuss and share opinions is enough to spark rebellion, which can result in people putting up a ‘brick wall’ to what’s being said. How are you shaping your conferences and content to maximise delegate learning and get the best return on investment for your organisation/client?

Peter Turnbull of Corperactive Event Business 29/03/2008

OK - Now imagine 5 - 8 similar presentations in an average day's agenda!
BMRB research (as far back as 1992) proved that only about 25% of the content delivered in a plenary (theatre style) presentation is ever remembered by the audience. That means that 75% of the money, time and effort is competely wasted. Adding guest speakers, lasers and/or flashy sets makes practically no difference.
The only effective way to increase message retention is to reduce the amount of passive listening (plenary presentations) and get the delegates actively involved in the proceedings (i.e doing).
Delegate participation dramatically increases how much of the message is taken away (in heads, not paper hand-outs).
The added bonus of particpation is that any remaing key plenary presenatations (i.e. CEO pep talk) are now more effective than before, because they stand out.
Peter Turnbull
Corperactive Event Business

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Susan Hill of Associated Conferences & Events Ltd 09/10/2007 [2]

Asking for a fee could cost agencies dear

In essence, I agree with Martin Lines’s suggestion that corporate clients should pay agencies for their time. (Buyer Bites Back, M&IT, September). In an ideal world agencies should have the right to charge a fee - the successful agency should perhaps offer to waive the fee if selected for the job. However, I believe that asking for a fee would deter potential clients from including those of us who charge. I do not think this is because the clients are not taking the request for quotation seriously, but that there will always be other agencies that will undercut and offer a free service, thus cutting out those who ask for fees.
The only way around it is to include an element of the time spent on the pitch in the event management fee in the hope of recouping the cost of the time spent if the pitch is won.

Susan E Hill
Associated Conferences & Events

Clive Parrish of Conference Coordinator Spain 12/11/2007

We must have had more debates about this subject than any other here at Conference Coordinator Spain. We started out as a small business and decided that to compete initially we would waive proposal fees. 90% of the successful companies in this location were charging several hundred euros minimum to suggest a proposal.

So we did it our way, no fee, and it has worked successfully for a number of years. As we have grown and being more 'noticeable' to the world markets, particularly with the growth of the internet we must recieve a dozen enquiries per week that wish us to put together a full proposal. Hotels, venues, restaurants, teambuilding, audio visual, the lot.. These are quite often for very large congresses and conventions s obviously we are very interested organising the event on their behalf. But to do it for free? Hmmm.

Okay, yes, some work and effort we do not mind, we genuinely try to make an event individual as oppose to sending the same 2 or 3 proposals to every single enquiry as we know is common practice (out here anyway).

Up until now I have been, well, one might say very 'stubborn' or others may say 'pig headed' but I have politely refused to put together a proposal for these type of enquiries for several reasons..

1. I wish companies to come to us because we have a good repuation and portfolio of clients.

There seems to be new 'event planners' popping up every week now it seems dont you think? Yet half of the enquiries we recieve come from a hotmail or yahoo email address. Looking closely at the enquiries they are obviously just copied and pasted to as many 'proper' event planners as possible. Getting 'us' to do all the actual work, phone calls, emails, fact finding, costings etc etc. Then they choose the best option and probably charge their clients 10% or something on top of the quote, plus half the time it seems, contact our venues, hotels etc to try and get the option held in their own names also! This is a monthly occurence here, we are very fortunate to have forward thinking and moralistic partners that we use that inform us of these practices and where appropriate keep things in our own names. Come to us because we are good, not because we are on your spam list.

2. The time and effort is not just our own.

Maybe it is a thing of morals again, I simply don't feel good about asking a particular venue to put together a proposal for me time and time again that has a small chance of getting the final event. Partnerships are very important and how we are percieved s very important. If I ask a hotel for a quote five times and don't even get a site visit out of it there are a lot of people having thier time wasted. Simply not on.

3. Actually I have got busy so won't continue with the list but you get the pitfalls.

So do we charge a fee for each of these enquiries/proposals? We get a dozen a week of these, that's a fortune of potential income!! Ha.. no. nothing changes. If we charge a fee then we put off genuine clients and also we still have the same problem of wasting all our partners times who we arent going to be giving a percentage of this fee to. Would we expect a hotel to charge us a fee to quote us for accommodation? That would be the same thing as I see it.

I am going to continue to be 'pig headed' and give 100% to each individual group that comes to us because they believe we will do the job right.

Peter Turnbull of Corperactive Event Business 26/02/2008

Charging a development fee is becoming more common. Sometimes it's the only way of telling if your potential client is serious or is just using you for your ideas.

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Lesley Maltman of MCI Belfast 09/10/2007 [0]

No grouse with the Scouse

I read your Mystery Shopper verdict (M&IT, September) with interest. Of the venues detailed in the survey our most recent experience was a positive one – with Liverpool ACC.
Contact details were taken, a brochure was sent out and then a week later we received a follow-up call.
This was a generic enquiry rather than for a specific event and I would have to say that our gripes with centres in the past have been response time regarding costing.

Lesley Maltman
MCI Belfast

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Bob Lawson of Presentations Ltd 09/10/2007 [2]

Don't use agencies as ideas factories

Further to Martin Lines comments (Buyer Bites Back, M&IT, September) I would like to make the point that we are a service industry and I want us to serve the client and achieve their declared and often undeclared objectives. I want repeat business, I want to become a valued member of the client's team, and to that end we have to put ‘something in the shop window’; that costs money. We all have to do it . However it isn't for free. We, like any other business, have to recover our costs through what we sell. No pitch is for free - somebody pays in the end. However, I do get very tired of feeling we are on the pitch list to make up the buyer's quota, and subsequently hearing that our ideas (or occasionally seeing them) turn up on the clients brief to the successful pitcher. I get the feeling that often when you pitch, particularly to less experienced buyers, you are being used as a no cost ideas factory.
Having said that, is there another way? I am not sure you have to display your wares, especially for complex events, in detail.
In this industry we are ‘meetings architects’ in the first instance. Would you go to four conventional architects and ask them to design a building down to the almost the final drawing, and ask to cost it, all for free?
Bob Lawson
Effective Presentations

John Gallery of Great Potential Limited 12/10/2007

New concepts are transforming, often providing inspiration, vitality, a new direction, and the advantage of differentiation. So of course they should not be free to clients (M&IT, October, Letter of the Month).

The answer lies with the procurement sector, collectively and individually. Using other people's ideas (without remuneration or permission) is intellectual theft, and usually the hallmark of people with brains that specialise in detail (convergent minds), but lack powers of imagination (divergent minds).

This is not a criticism, because each strength is valuable, but that is no excuse for stealing as a response to a specific weakness.

M&IT would be doing the industry a favour if it introduced a 'name and shame' column where such executive immaturity and corporate disdain were demonstrated. Why should it be a source of pride to pretend to your company that you are an original thinker when you're not?

Chris Martins

Chris Martins can be contacted at 01423 360230.

Peter Turnbull of Corperactive Event Business 27/03/2008

Well Chris, if such a 'name and shame' list were to become reality, you would need an entire magazine to fill it.

Yes - using other people's ideas for free is intellectual theft, but not illegal unforntunately. As a result there are very few genuinely new ideas in circulation (just old fomats re-hashed using the latest TV show or second hand ideas stolen from unsuccesful pitches). This means that companies like ourselves, (who only produce new ideas) have to be extremely careful about the information we share and with whom. If buyers want something genuinely original, increasingly (and perhaps regretably) they will have to pay for it.

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Victoria Webb of Horseshoe Wood 05/10/2007 [0]

Time for technology

When it comes to booking venues, an emerging concern within the Events Industry is the hidden costs associated with poor lighting/AV provision. With a key objective being to communicate efficiently with their audience, it seems some venues are loosing sight of what their customers are really after.

Customers seek transparent pricing by venues, yet can be mislead by what room hire packages are offering in terms of lighting/AV provisions. Time and time again I hear of disappointed clients who feel that the additional costs of lighting and AV are far too high, and that the standards of technology are not compatible with their event requirements.

At Alton Towers, we believe it’s our responsibility to deliver customers the standard of technology they require at a price they can afford. We offer integrated packages that include top of the range lighting, lectern, stage and technicians. Lack of good technology is now a thing of the past, solving the problem of hidden costs.

A proactive approach to technology is a must in order to meet the needs and expectations of the Events Industry and I’m a firm believer that companies should always go the extra mile in order to ensure the best results.
Victoria Webb, Alton Towers

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Ben Gray of Crickleaze House 03/10/2007 [0]

Web Metrics Key to Measuring Marketing Success

In this incredible and fast moving age of technology, I am amazed that time and again I come across people in the events industry who remain suspicious of the web and fail to grasp or exploit its potential to the full. They fail to realise that, pound-per-pound, the web remains one of the most cost-effective ways to acquire new business.

However, having the right technology to deliver much sought after new leads to then be converted into new business is an ever changing beast. It can be hard to stay at the top of the game and move with the times whilst staying truly accountable for web based marketing initiatives. This is something very close to my heart at and Having optimised searching on Google and Yahoo is just one important aspect. I have come across many portals and agencies which are not only expensive, and seemingly offer the world but in reality the clients receive little in return in terms of valuable enquiries. Yet promises are made to deliver more marketing in return for more fees! Funny that!

There needs to be a way of measuring success and allowing clients to see exactly how their e-marketing efforts have been received and indeed the outcome. Measuring success online using metrics such as number of visitors to a websites, cost-per-click all tell their own story and are a guaranteed way to measure marketing success, and allows clients to stay in touch with their campaigns. They are never fobbed off with more marketing speak.

So it’s time for us web marketers to stand up and be counted. If you really are adding value to your clients, then don’t hide behind fluffy, qualitative terminology… of course it still may be valid but what clients really want to know is how much it actually costs them to acquire each new client. If you’re delivering great service, then web metrics can only serve to further underline success.
Ben Gray &

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