A Survival Checklist for Organizers

by Denzil Rankine

Every day I speak to event organizers about what they need to do to grow and evolve and how they can achieve measurable returns on their investments.

So, I put together a white paper, How to Structure the Events Organizer of the Future.

Essentially, it’s a survival checklist that I believe all organizers should follow.

Why? Because, right now, the business of organizing events is being tested; exhibitors and attendees are asking for more; the digital revolution is encroaching on events; and competition is intensifying.

Making structural changes—even those that challenge the status quo—within the organization will enable event organizers to thrive in an era of massive change.

If organizers can adopt these seven points, they will thrive:

  1. Innovation—Repeating the same floor plan and programming year after year can repel attendees and open the door to competitors. One way to avoid repetition is to build a culture of market intimacy, i.e., respond to the trends and innovation in the markets served with a blend of talent, incentives and structural rewiring. Another is to incentivize ideation through internal entrepreneurialism or a launch culture.
  2. Strategy—Show strategy is brand strategy. It reflects market developments, ever-changing participant needs and the competition. Thus, in addition to managing the margin, the event director must also lead the vision, objective, strategy and development of the event brand and be measured by brand-centric KPIs. He or she can only do so by handing event execution off to a well-oiled internal services team.
  3. In/outsourcing—Shifting the role of the event director from a multitasking, jack-of-all-trades, mini-CEO to a brand strategist requires that organizations give him or her a broad set of capabilities. Areas where the event director adds less valueareas such debtor management or areas where he or she cannot be expected to have cutting-edge expertise, such as e-marketing, data, and pricingshould be outsourced or conducted by internal centers of excellence that are shared across the organization.
  4. Marketing—One way for an organization to show its commitment to attendees as the drivers of exhibitor and sponsorship participation is to prioritize marketing. But because the marketing function has evolved, with data and analytic skills surpassing creativity, organizations must centralize or divisionalize marketing, at least until the skill sets and new approaches are embedded across event teams. Marketing remains accountable to the event director.
  5. Data—Organizers are on the verge of being able to leverage data from registration, marketing automation, CRM, web traffic, attendee behavior and show surveys more effectively. However, to bring data to life, organizers must manage the data function from the C-suite (with oversight from the CEO or CMO), and embed it in the strategy and business planning processes.
  6. Measurement—Too often, organizers use only the blunt instruments of revenue and sales pacing to monitor business performance, when key performance indicators are the true harbingers of health. Organizers should develop and monitor KPIs in line with future performance and show strategy. As the event evolves, the KPIs should be nuanced to reflect forward movement.
  7. Standardization—The practice of standardizing systems and processes across event organizations is increasing, often in the face of internal resistance. Each organization must find clarity on its event delivery process, sometimes nuanced by event type and audience. Systems then support business activity, based on a common vision that facilitates a smooth interplay between departments.

Overall, revamping organizational structures requires consistent and focused effort, which is also crucial for coping with evolving customer needs.

While the events industry is undergoing unprecedented change, it’s also a highly profitable and exciting industry to be a part of. I strongly believe if organizers follow these principles, they will be one of the winners.

Denzil Rankine is Executive Chairman of AMR International, a global strategy consultancy. Opinions are his own. He can be reached at denzil.rankine@amrinternational.com.

 

 

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