Archive for the 'Events Business & Marketing' Category

Update

It has been a long time. I have done a lot of thinking and had some other priorities. 

In the meantime I have changed jobs and decided to leave Microsoft. My vision about the events business setup was and is not necessarily matching with the way Microsoft is heading in this particular area. Each approach has its merits, pros and cons and each approach needs to have the right people for the job.

On July 1st I am officially joining Cisco and will be responsible and accountable for Cisco Live Europe Program and Strategy. “Cisco Live” consists of several components including the company’s flagship European event. The very well known “Cisco Networkers” is a part of this event, actually the main one. And further we are bringing together a few other target audiences and event programs under the overall “Cisco Live” umbrella brand. And not to forget all the virtual event components that are part of Cisco Live. Interesting and amazing times ahead of us as I expect a ton of innovation coming our way in the offline and online communication aspects of our lives.

In order to focus on my new role, I will be silent on this blog. One thing is sure, I will continue to be part of the events industry on the client side as well as pushing innovation in this area. Admit, it is a wonderful place to be acting in.

 So long,

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Registration Trend in Dubai

When we decided to do Microsoft Tech Ed Middle East, this meant it was the first fee paying event we would do in the region for a technical audience (developers and IT professionals).

Normally the registration trend for this type of events is slow in the beginning, takes a spike with compelling offers that expire at a given point in time (early bird, super early bird) to then keep steady until the end.

In Dubai we experienced a different trending. Registration was also slow (let’s say very slow) in the beginning but it continued like that until two weeks before the event. This made it very challeging for planning and budgeting. I was worried but I must admit that the local team was confident that towards the end many people would register. And that happened. After the slow start we have seen an exponential curve towards the end of registration. Just AMAZING. Quite a few people even registered and paid on site (flying in from different countries).

The Middle East was/is surely a last minute sign up “paradise”.

Registration Trends

I have been on the road for 9 out of the last 13 weeks. I attended events, prepared events and delivered events … from business decision makers to software developers (all in the IT Industry).

One trend I have seen is that people register later and later, independently of the price. Where an event’s registration 3 weeks before opening was seriously lagging compared to previous years, completely catched up in the last weeks. This was the case for most of the events I was involved in or events I was specifically following.

The bad thing is that this makes planning, budgetting and decision making very difficult. The good thing is that people still attending events en masse. Or was it the right strategy, listening to attendee needs, clever marketing? Who knows?

Love and Hate of PR Programs

  • Do you love PR programs at live events? Or do you hate them?
  • Do they create an awful amount of email traffic in relation to the 1% of the attendees they represent?
  • Is it normal that many people and companies are involved in PR Programs? From the organizing company, the logistics company, the media agency, another media agency to the journalists themselves
  • Do they wake-up just before the event? Or are they well organized and in the loop from the start?
  • Do journalists all want this pampering? Or did we just make them used to it?
  • Is it worth the investment? Shouldn’t we look to reach out via other channels?
  • Is it normal that their dropout rate is higher than any other attendee category?

Positive News and Observations

It has been rather quiet on my blog for the last 2 weeks. There is a very simple reason. I am managing our Convergence 2009 Europe Series events and it has been extremely busy. Tomorrow we kick off the series in London. While I am also working on a new event in Dubai in March.

First the very positive news: despite the challenging event times (scrutinized budgets and lower attendance in general) we have been able to sell all expo spaces at all 4 locations (London, Vienna, Frankfurt ad Rotterdam) even before our event attendance registration site went live. And all 4 locations are close to a complete attendance sell out as well. London and Rotterdam are already (with many people on the waitlist) and Frankfurt and Vienna will be very soon. People are still attending events if they see the value and if companies are able to sell the value. And now we should live up to the expectations. 🙂

And for the people that can’t get in anymore, we are recording all sessions and will make them available to the attendees and people on the waitlist post the series on our Virtual Event Platform.

The observation though is “Why do people only wake up and try to get everything sorted last minute?”. And are these the people responsible for long term vision and strategy of companies? I always wonder. Maybe it comes to some proper time and project management. They could get way more if they would put some skin in the game earlier.

But hé, we are going to enjoy it. It is lovely to manage sold out events. This is luxury in the current climate.

The New Efficiency

I just have been exploring the Microsoft New Efficiency Launch on the Virtual Event Platform. Each new event on the platform is adding features and functionality.

  • In this release I especially like the 2 screens for watching the presentations; you now see the presenter and the slide deck in the configuartion you want (big, small, side by side etc). Whatever you say, I prefer to see the presenter. It keeps me more focussed and more eager to stay and listen.
  • The Notice Board with special announcements and ready to click items. Faster access to critical items.
  • The evolvement of the social media integration, especially Twitter and the sharing functionalities.

What you also see here is the way Microsoft is scaling the content of the small live event in SanFrancisco. Not only via the Virtual Event Platform event but also via the New Effciency Launch website. Both digital channels are just a means to an end and the content is consumed in a media player. 

The expo is there, all breakout sessions are here. The positive thing is that it takes less clicks than before to actually see a session and with the 2 screens … A really neat improvement.

Nice!

Cisco Live Networkers: Analysis of the Virtual Event

In an earlier post I commented on the virtual events key learnings of Cisco Live Networkers. Earlier this month Cisco provided an overall analysis of their virtual event. A must read if your are into the virtual events business.

Two things caught my attention:

  • One third of the online attendees where from the executive/senior management and management groups. This is promising and proves the fact that virtual events are not only for technical savy audiences. While you would think that executive level people like events for the networking and face to face contacts, Cisco proves that they see value in a virtual event as well and attend!
  • 34% of the virtual attendees indicated they were extremely/very likely to attend the in person event next year. This is prove that an online event is not captilalizing on the in person event attendance, on the contrary, in the long run it is helping in demand generation. Only of course if you have the right strategy in mind and have a clear value proposistion for both the in person as the virtual event.