Karl Edmunds is a recognized business leader with more than 30 years of executive leadership. His current role is V.P. of Global Financial Services for Educational Measures, an internationally recognized provider of live meeting engagement services and technology. His focus is to bring innovative thought leadership coupled with the best engagement technology to drive more effective corporate events worldwide. firstname.lastname@example.org
The digital age has left no industry untouched, and the world of live meetings and events is not an exception. Still, there are many who haven’t adopted the conveniences of the ever-changing technology landscape. If meeting planners aren’t constantly re-evaluating their events and making improvements, their meetings will easily be outshined and even replaced by others. Organizations cannot continue to spend tens of thousands of dollars on events that yield no measurable return. So, how can you tell if your tried-and-true methods are no longer sustainable?
Here are the four signs that your live events are growing stale.
If meetings and events are strategically important to your firm and you still operate without a technology budget, your firm will likely be left behind. Event leaders who still operate without any meeting technology for participant engagement are like the leadership of Blockbuster who failed to see the threat of Netflix until it was too late.
Unfortunately, too many event planners pass over new technology solely based on cost. Of course, you have a budget, and you need to stick to it, but consider where you are spending and what you are getting in return. Are your meetings delivering results? Do participants understand your message? How well can you measure and track that understanding? If your meeting is for new prospective customers, can you calculate how many leads and customers are needed to make the investment in new technology worthwhile? Yes, technology can have a large upfront investment, but astute managers are beginning to see that the right technology can deliver exponentially more value than what is currently in place.
If you are a meeting and event planner who has taken the first step with technology and feel good about automated registration, expense management, revenue tracking and electronic agendas but still open the meeting with a three-ring binder on the table for your participants, you are behind the curve. Interactive technologies are not only “cool” to look at, but they also are a much more reliable method of keeping individuals engaged.
In today’s market, the most advanced events allow every participant to save slides, take notes on specific slides, draw stylus notes for future reference and post questions to speakers and moderators, and then they can have all this activity delivered to them in a secure PDF file at the conclusion of the event. No more searching for those specific slides through a book of papers and details scattered throughout an event.
If your measure of success for a completed live event is a simple paper survey ranking between 1 and 10, you are missing a multitude of opportunities. Post-meeting reporting has the latitude to evaluate how engaged the audience was, what topics resonated most, which speakers provided the best information, and when individuals were interested or uninterested throughout the event.
Before you even start the detailed planning for an event, at least be clear about the basic measures of success. Will the meeting be measured by the number of new leads it generates for the sales department? If so, what is the targeted cost per lead? How is it tracked? Or is the meeting designed to enhance brand awareness? If so what are the measures and timelines to be used in measuring brand awareness?
Leading event planners are beginning to compile data derived from multiple events, which allows deeper insight than ever before and may include personality profiles, demographics, corporate position and geographic considerations. These meeting analytics will be the fuel that drives dramatic changes in how meetings are conducted today.
If you are making future technology decisions based on what you are comfortable with, you are behind. The role of technology will continue to evolve and change so be prepared to adapt and adopt when appropriate. For example, virtual reality platforms will begin to show up and deepen the engagement opportunities in live events. Three-dimensional printers may very well become the go-to for creating event structures, sets or signage. The IOT (Internet of Things) has the opportunity to open the door for tracking activities of participants beyond anything that is currently used or has been in the past. And analytics tools will dramatically enhance the strategic value and consequently the ROI of live events. Executive management from leading companies will begin to expect high quality data from live meetings to analyze in their own strategies for overall corporate growth.
Innovative meeting planners will be actively utilizing engagement technology to increase the impact of their events and improve the quality of data that is derived from them. While the evolution to new and emerging event technologies may seem a bit overwhelming initially, the best event and meeting planners know that to survive in this ever-changing industry, you must adapt. Take a look at your strategies; do they need an overhaul? A simple change? Or are you right on target?
If you feel behind, don’t ignore the signs. Take an honest assessment of your events and make changes to keep your attendees engaged and enhance your ability to drive measurable results.
In summary, successful event management is no longer simply a “how” function but must be first tasked with a “why.” By knowing the why of the meeting through strategic marketing decisions, the how factors will be put into place by the events team to achieve company goals, rather than just doing what has always been done. The outcome will be a dramatic leap in quality based on real data and metrics and not just completion based on soft, worn out assumptions.
To avoid having your meetings grow stale, the role of the event department must move from one of basic logistics to a critical element of the executive marketing leadership team. Meetings should no longer be viewed solely as a social function with good food. Good meeting planners must have the responsibility, the technology and the budget to deliver post-meeting data and analytics that begin to show and track a true ROI for that meeting investment. C&IT