Archive for June, 2009

Event Trends for second half of 2009

Summer holidays are starting. Europe will go half dark for about 2 months. The more you live up North (Scandinavia) the earlier and the longer the holidays (is this a compensation for the dark winter period?), the more you live South, the later (August), not necessarily more.

Time to look what the event trends could/will be for the second half of 2009.

1. Continued push into virtual events

This trend is going on for a while now. No change. Companies are questioning their overall investment in events. In tough economic times, you can only win by gaining market share. Translated to events, this means “reaching more quality people” with a lower cost per head. Scalability!

Some events will get an online copy of the live event (not the right approach if you ask me), others will do a hybrid approach with different offerings offline and online, others will shift entirely to virtual. Lots of experimenting will happen. Watch and learn.

2. Event rationalization

Are we doing the right events for the right audiences? Don’t we do too many events? Or too random? Or audience overlap? Events will be more focussed and have a clearer message for each audience. Think before you act. Each event should stand out and have its right of existence.

3. Return on investment

What is the event vision, what is the goal, what are the objectives and how do we measure this? GOST (Goals -> Objectives -> Strategies -> Tactics) principle. Why are we doing this event? What is the return on investment? “Increasing brand awareness” is not enough as an answer. How do you measure this? Event managers who can will be more successful.

4. Use of social media

In the whole marketing and demand geneartion campaign of an event (whether live or online) more focus will be on the use of social media. Some for the right reasons in the right way, others because it is hot, fashion. In any case they will do it. We’ll see a ton of experimenting in this area.

5. Cost savings

Cost savings does not mean ” do more with less”. Event spend is typically one of the biggest spend of a company together with advertising. Events will get less budget.In this case, it really means less. Make sure you do the right things. This goes hand in hand with ROI and event rationalization.

 What are the core components of your event? Leave the “nice to haves” and really focus on the “must haves”. Some companies will cut too much and the attendee experience will be affected. Attendees probably won’t like it. They are the ones still paying to attend and potentially could get less. Messaging will be important.

6. Lower attendance numbers

Travel and Expenses continue to be under (huge) pressure in most organizations. In a tough economic climate training budgets are the first to disappear. People will spend their money wisely and only go to the best event that fits their needs.

Conclusion: it will be an interesting event season with much experimenting going on. For tens of years events have been a one way conversation (someone is lecturing many people). Gradually we evolved (are still evolving) into a two way street (interactivity between speakers and attendees, attendee involvement). What’s next?  The events business is shaping its own future. We all have been too long in our comfortzone. Brain power!!

Event Trends H2 2009

Event Trends H2 2009

The History of Information

Great article about the history of information. If you want to be serious about social media, if you want to understand social media, this is a “must-read” article.

The world is changing fast, so is the way we consume and share information. Online is omni-present.

History of Information

History of Information

The Future of Virtual Conferences (2)

I received quite some reactions on my first post about the Future of Virtual Conferences. And most people agree with the direction I was referring to. Also see this post of Steve Ellis.

Last week the Micosoft TechNet team (IT Professionals) from Microsoft UK had a successful virtual conference. Personally I have my doubt about a day long virtual conference. But hey they were succesful. And the reason is that they thought about what they wanted to achieve at the virtual event and post the event right from the start.

Good positioning (alternative to a roadshow), involvement of the target audience themselves, inviting them to participate in the pilot, ask for feedback all the way and help select the right content. Basically anything you should do for a live physical event as well.

As I refered to in my previous post, they integrated with Twitter to provide instant feedback, respond to questions etc. And further they had the interactivity with competitions and online chats. And they do the “office hours” concept I wrote about (post event at certain times the speakers will again be available for questions and online chats). The content will be available for another 3 months post event.

So far this is among the best I have seen so far, concept wise. The platform is only a means to an end.

There is no magic, only hard work and clever thinking.

Botellon Update

On the Facebook page of the Botellon (see post here) over 1.400 people subsribed. In the end about 500 people showed up. What the organizer didn’t know is that for such gatherings in Belgium you do need an approval by the City Council. So he needs to pay a penatyt as well as the cleaning costs of the square. And with this we were back in the offline space :-).

Social Media: Where Offline meets Online

Botellon is a perfect example where offline meets online and the power of social media. Botellon (Spanish for big bottle) originally started in the early nineties in Spain.

Today social networking sites as Twitter and Facebook ( as well as SMS and chat) are used to bring people together in a public place at a certain point in time and have a drink. Everyone brings his own booze and mostly these gatherings end in a party.

With the end of the school season we are seeing the first botellon in Belgium, more precisely in Ghent. It started as a little joke to bring together some friends but rather quickly 1.400 people subscribed via the Facebook page. I like it.

In this economic downturn and starters not earning much money anymore, this is a cheap alternative compared to a visit to the pub. Let’s hope the weather stays sunny and dry.

Social media play more and more an important role in these kind of events and gatherings.

The Future of Virtual Conferences

Lately I came across the “Future of Virtual Conferences” post from Judith Hurwitz. I can’t agree more with her. Virtual Conferences and online events still have a long way to go. From a technological and from a concept point of view.

I researched a few virtual event platforms (www.on24.com, www.unisfair.com, www.cramereventhub.com, www.jackmorton.com/virtual) and all consist out of 4 components:

  • Keynote – Breakout Sessions
  • Exhibition Hall
  • Resource Centre
  • Networking Lounge

This sounds as a copy of a physical event to me.  And I am not impressed. Don’t get me wrong, they can all be fancy and working well, though my opinion is that this is not the holy grail in virtual event conferences and online events. The platform is only a means to an end. But the end in this case is not an online copy of a live event. This is new wine in old barrels.

I don’t know exactly what the holy grail is (otherwise I wouldn’t be here probably). A few ideas for pure online events:

  • within 2 clicks I should be able to see a session in great quality format
  • sessions will need to be shorter, look at the huge TED success with sessions of max 18 minutes (that is doable online without distractions)
  • events should be shorter and more focussed online
  • are we thinking about one-way conversations (lectures) or two-way conversations?
  • interactivity, interactivity, interactivity
  • connection with existing social media platforms in order to allow quick exchange of profile information between “participants”
  • what if companies would use any of these platforms as a content library for anything they have on their website? Would be great!
  • new concept for sponsors and exhibitors to connect with the brand and show the partnership with the organizer (who looks at exhibitors online?)
  • “office hours” with company experts at certain times post event

In combination with a live phisical event, I am more a believer of hybrid solutions where the online component is an extension and complimentary to the live event. In sessions people can submit questions online via the virtual event component, behind the scene content, sessions on demand post event, “office hours” with experts on certain points in time post event etc.

An online event or virtual conference is not a replacement of a physical event. They can be complimentary when we talk about one conference and more importantly they are complementary in the overall (event) marketing mix of a company.

Oneliner #3

“THINK BEFORE YOU ACT”

Too many times I see groups, people go straight into execution before thinking and planning. They are unders stress and time pressures. Fair enough. Though nothing can compare with thinking and answering questions upfront before they arise. You’ll make up all the planning time during the execution phase.