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Articles / practice / Corporate events: how to enhance benefits and avoid common mistakes
8 October 2010
Corporate events: how to enhance benefits and avoid common mistakes

Corporate events: how to enhance benefits and avoid common mistakes
Corporate event is a popular tool for establishing and developing contacts with partners. In case when an event is managed and carried out correctly, the results will be not long in coming - these are new contracts, purchase orders, sales growth, loyalty promotion, expansion of cooperation sphere. Valery Kureyko, CEO of Publicity Creating, tells about issues to be considered in event management for partners.

 

What objectives companies pursue while managing events for their partners?
 

Foremost, it is sales growth. If that is a conference for partners, for instance dealers, after such an event sales should increase without a doubt. However, if the end-users are invited to attend, the effectiveness can be assessed by an increase in orders. When companies, which can be potential partners or customers, are invited, the results are judged by the fact of the transition "from potential to real ". Now efficiency is evaluated in this way. Earlier, before the crisis, the activities were mainly fashion, reputational component: companies drove partners abroad, took to banquets in five-star hotels... In other words, shown that the organization is solid, if you like - "rich", and can afford it. Today, image is not enough. Front up, it is marketing goals. It is important to understand who to invite (whether members strong partners, existing or prospective clients). As you can see, the objectives of activities for partners have become more pragmatic.
 

Is it always possible to achieve such efficiency? What are the typical errors of the organizers of events?

Not everyone can achieve it and it is not always possible because the event management involves a range of important issues and there are no details. Now one of the most common mistakes is so-called "substitution of the audience". This is when people come to the event from the “right” companies, but not those. For example, not tops of the company, but mid-level managers, who do not address financial matters. It seems to be that the company attends, but in fact this person is not responsible for anything and most likely, his or her opinion does not have the desired weight for the decision of required questions. That means, that in target group there should not be just the “right” and interesting companies, but be sure in the presence of decision-makers. In different companies, depending on their scope, it may be different people by virtue of the position. For example, in medium-sized companies - top or mid-level manager, marketer or brand manager - in large ones.
There are other defects, which are highly salient to people who are at the event. For example, the algorithm of an event changes 3-4 times or significantly strays schedule. An algorithm, which is programmed, is to be fully implemented. And people, who are invited, should feel that at this event from the first minute to the last everything is thought out and well organized. It happens that the participants who came to spend a few days comfortably, for one reason or another can not reach the event in time – because of transfer. Or due to late arrival of main speaker, the whole event is shifted for an hour or two. All this imposes a negative impact and can erase all the good moments, leave negative impression. We are all human, so participants often pay attention not only to the subject, but mostly to their comfort during the conference or seminar. Subject is important in the stage of planning and invitations.
Another common mistake is inhomogenuity of the audience as it is very important to have single-level constitution of members. Inhomogenuity of the audience is always noticeable. Therefore, if it is declared that only directors are invited to visit the event, it has to be so. List of invitees can include director, financial director, advertising director, but a director anyway.

Moreover, peculiarities of events’ organization both for governing body and common employees are also differed. The higher members’ level is, the fewer persons have to be present. Conditionally speaking, if we can invite 300-500 sellers or technical experts, 20 directors can be enough. Firstly, it is difficult to gather 300 directors; on the other hand, they need increased attention. Conditionally speaking, during the banquet every such person has to be provided with its own waiter. All other questions need the same approach.
Choice and preliminary training of speaker are also important, especially if the audience is large. Not every person is able to hold attention of the hundreds of people during hour or hour and a half – it is too difficult and can be carried out by the trainers of extra-class. Speakers have to be of the same level – one cannot invite 3-4 famous speakers and a person who speaks in vague language. Each speaker has to work for declared time – not less and not more. It is affected by experience.
Handout materials have to be informative and to compensate for “gaps” for those who have gone out or have been late. Different types of noise, people who glance at and bang the door, groan of the door have to be “neutralized”. It seems to be the trifles, but the similar organizational moments play a part irrespective of the cope of event.
 

Can you give an advice how to prepare and to conduct efficient event?
 

We have noticed that in 2009 all events, conducted for client, were visited practically by 100% – people felt information vacuum at the beginning of the crisis, but they had more time and aspired after knowledge and contacts. But in 2010 situation changed slightly – a lot of people had already got accustomed to live in crisis and humbled with low sale level. Therefore, one has to work with target audience more strictly. Firstly, you have to determine target audience and to choose the topic interesting exactly for this group. You can preliminary work with people who are the target audience before the event having organized focus-group or conduct express survey to know the opinion of the future participants concerning the topic, form and the other questions. Moreover, in Ukraine, in contrast to Europe, we have our own mentality – each accredited person will visit the event in Europe. In Ukraine we have another situation – 30-40 % of those who have approved their presence will not come. This situation takes places at the all levels. That’s why you have to visit more people taking into consideration this fact at the planning stage. All the experienced organizers have an opportunity to regulate flexibly the number of handout materials, helpings at the fourchette etc.
Back form for feedback is compulsory. Sometimes it is advisable to provide survey both prior and after the event – the audience will be strictly worked over.
 

What are the advantages of 2-3-days events?
 

Firstly, such events are conducted in the determined “interesting” places – for example, in Crimea, Carpathians, abroad. People going there are devoted themselves to the present trademark and present topic for the following 2-3 days. At the loyalty level it is very good indicator. Besides, within 2-3-days trip and conference there is an opportunity to be in contact with these people more closely. Conditionally sealing, if the participants come 3 hours prior to the master-class, they listen to it and then they are in the corridor. Moreover, of people spend together 2-3 days, informal communication takes place and it is too important.
1-2 gala-dinner, fourchette or banquet are planned compulsory. It also has the positive effect on the general atmosphere owing to the range of the aspects art, music, awarding with diplomas.
Official part in the form of appearance of the specialists or governing body, products presentation etc during such 2-3-days events are, conditionally speaking, a one third of the whole time. In my opinion, official part is compulsory or the larger part of marketing and business content of event is lost. But at the same time, people plan to have a good time. That’s why the “entertaining part’ has to be thought over and prepared thoroughly.
Business needs a lot of energy and if there is an opportunity to visit, for example, Turkey or Egypt for three days people raise their hands and tell: yes, we want to leave! The result is extremely high attendance.
What is the program of 2-3-days event?
In management of such events an important role is played by transfers and accommodation, i.e. delivery of the participants and their resettlement on-site. Usually the next day is the business part: a conference or a forum with presentations, reports etc. It is followed by gala dinner and rest. The next day is devoted to the entertainment events. There can be two versions: either sports, or visiting of any historical landmarks. You may also use infrastructure of a hotel, if there is such, for instance, it can be a swimming pool, sauna, fitness center, scuba diving, etc. And finally, the last - is departure and transfer of participants back.
 

Probably, the longer the event will be of greater value to the company? How it is possible to optimize budget?

Customers always ask, is there any difference how many people to feed - 100 or 10? I always answer: invite as many as you can. It's one thing to bring 20 people, and another – 300, that represent your brand in all regions of Ukraine. In fact, additional 50 - 100 people are not superfluous. These are people who will sell, represent your brand, products and services. Of course, this is a reasonable money investment, taking into account future results, sales, which will be over the next year. And by the way, paying off of such an event is usually set within the next six months. All the companies, for which we have organized such events, mark the practical benefits and sales growth. Therefore, we see that the company, which has earlier invited 50 people to the event, now invites 100, and the next time –200 people.
During the crisis, not all the companies can afford such kind of investment, on the one hand, and on the other - companies that do it, "take away" the audience sellers, dealers, representatives from other competing structures, which do not manage such events. It is essential to work with human resource very seriously, because now a lot of trained personnel, such as plumbing, heating engineering, computer technologies, cars ... The company, which accumulates this audience around will get impressive results on sales during the nearest time – there is no need to wait 2-3 years. As soon as people consciously cluster around a brand, it immediately turns into sales.