Interviewer: What are the key elements of running a successful event?
DL: It’s all about planning – working out:
– What are people going to do when they come to the event?
– What are they going to get out of the event?
– What type of people do you want to come to that event in the first place?
– Who are you going to invite?
– Are people just going to book online?
– Are they going to book via the telephone?
– How are they going to communicate?
– How will you make sure that you get the right people in place?
So it is all about planning; planning is crucial.
It’s also about looking at how are you going to follow those customer up later on – how are you going to follow up the non-attendees etc. So having a clear, concise plan about the pre-event, running the event and post event follow up is all part of running a successful event
Interviewer: What are the benefits of implementing an integrated solution for both the event and also the delegate management?
DL: It’s about putting the customer in control of what’s going on but at the same time controlling what they do. Putting an online system is all well and good, but it has got to interface with back office systems. The whole customer experience is the complete package. It is about people being able to book online or being able to book over the telephone, it’s having their details recorded so you can follow them up – so you can find out what their dietary requirements are closer to the event. It’s about making sure people attend, if they don’t attend it’s about finding out why they didn’t attend. It’s about finding out what they thought about the event on the day, and perhaps finding out about what they thought of the impact of that event in six months time.
Quite often people will fill in the ‘happy sheet’ – we’ve all had happy sheets that end in an event, and generally people tick the happy boxes so they can get away as quickly as possible, but we find that if you follow up an event a week later or six months later, you get a far better view of what’s actually happened. That therefore means that you can target further events to that same customer or similar customers in a way that’s appropriate for them and gives them value. Delegates will come back if they get value; if they don’t get value they won’t come back. It’s all about integrating all those processes together, of which the event and delegate management system is a crucial part of, but it’s not the only part.
Interviewer: What sort of things do you need to consider when you’re choosing the right kind of system?
DL: The most important thing to do it to not look at the system at all. It’s to look at your business process. It’s to look at who does what and when in terms of the customer engagement. Look at what you do at the moment. Look at the plethora of spreadsheets you inevitably have, the bits of paper that fly around – where do they go? What does the customer get when he books onto an event, how does he find your event in the first place? Does he ring you up, go onto your website or send you an email? How does it work at the moment and how would you like it to work? What needs to interface into other parts of the business? An event manager will interface into many parts of the business and will have many hats on. They’ll be a sales person to get people to the event, they’ll be a sales person after the event to sell them on the benefits and to get them to register for the next event, they’ll be a marketing manager, they’ll be an IT manager in terms of getting the systems in place; there’s a wide plethora of things they do, so look at what you do at the moment, look at the ideal model.