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Virtual (Event) Engagement

Last week I had an interesting conversation with Joerg Rathenberg from Unisfair. Unisfair is one of the leading providers of a digital event platform.

The one thing that I really liked is that they don’t position themselves as a “Virtual Event Provider” but as a “Virtual Engagement Company”. This makes more as sense as I am a believer that virtual events are part of an events strategy and events are part of the overall marketing mix, not standalone tactics.

Idem for a virtual event; one of the most successful strategies will be that the virtual event platforms will become virtual engagement platforms where from time to time a virtual event will take place for a certain target audience. And all this in combination with live events. That strategy will be a winner.

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Internet bubble, now a Dubai bubble?

I am doing an event in Dubai in March, www.teched.ae. Today, exactly the day of Eid holiday in Dubai and Thanksgiving in the US, the European stock exchanges colored deep red on the announcement that the state-owned holding Dubai World has asked for a six-month delay to the creditors.

I have visited Dubai two times the last couple of months and still going 4 times between now and March. And I must admit it is an “interesting” region and society. More than once my eyes opened widely. Everything needs to be the biggest, the most expensive, the coolest, the best, the most luxurious and you wonder where all the money is coming from. It is amazing that they built almost an entirely new and modern city in a couple of decennia. Truly amazing.

Also society has very interesting aspects; no taxes but you have service charges. Can’t we consider this the same? About 90% of the inhabitants of Dubai are foreigners. You rarely see people that are retired. The demographic constitution is one of mostly people that are working. People without a job or income can’t really afford to stay. Drug policy, alcohol, traffic rules. Never seen a country where so many people make U-turns.

Doing business is another culture. One tip, the concept of “We” is a pitfall. You and me works better! And I was introduced to the concept of “Insalah” (manana in Spanish :-)).

Fascinating area. Let’s hope everything comes fine and the situation is not as bad as the press is writing.

Go with the Flow

In the grand scheme of things, more people than normal are looking out for a new job, a new challenge while less jobs are available. So, if an interesting job becomes open, tons of people are interested. But before you apply always answer the following simple questions. This is relevant in any situation or state of mind.

Impact of Economy on Corporations

What I have seen over the last 12 months is that corporations are adapting to the economic climate. This typically means downsizing and reducing budgets.

The other things that I noticed and that people not always get is that employees still are expected to do at least the same amount of work with less resources and less budgets. Less resources would mean corporations would outsource more, but there is no money for that. Because of less resources and less budgets, employees are faster asking for manager approval and escalate easier. This adds to the workload as people are creating more work wihile there are less resources and less budgets. Which lead to the fact that the irritation level of employees get reached more easily. Bottom line, not an ideal position to be in.

Companies should think aout this and create again a positive environment but focussing on the right things, quality over quantity. Pick your battles and be creative. And allow people to take risks!

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.


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