by Marvin McTaw
I recently came across a pretty common event marketing question: how do you get attendees to register early?
Its probably too late. Selling out your event early should probably be the last thing on your mind, regardless of your role within the event. You see, selling out your event begins with one simple thing that’s hard to do…
This might sound a little weird but the best way to get people to buy your tickets early, is focus on executing an excellent event. There are tons of studies and evidence which show attendees don’t pay attention to events until they need to. Simply put, your audience of potential attendees are busy and at this moment in time, your event isn’t important enough to them.
Make your event a can’t miss gathering and you will have no problem selling out your event early. For example, C3 Presents which puts on Lollapalooza and ACL, routinely sells out their ticket inventory…before even announcing the lineup for their music festivals! Attendees have come to know and respect the quality of their festival experience which means they don’t need to know all the details in order for them to take early action.
If you focus on the quality of the event you are putting on now it will become easier every year to sell your tickets/registrations earlier. This means you won’t have to rely on discounting which rarely works and adversely impacts the events financial situation.
Finding the right venue, at the right price at the right time can be tough. MeetingsBooker.com makes it easy. I recently came across the site and was impressed by its ability to make the sometimes complex venue selection and booking process incredibly simple.
The site boasts almost 60,000 locations around the world and has particular strength in Europe. I loved the fact that while searching for venues I could find out exactly what they had available and explore alternatives I might not have considered.
MeetingsBooker.com is also free to search and has no booking fees. This means more money can go towards your event and it’s budget.
One of the other things MeetingsBooker has nailed it on is its simplified RFP process. You simply add your requirements and available venues get back to you by your deadline. It’s a pretty simple process and one most events would highly benefit from.
If you’re looking for a location for your next meeting, be sure to check out MeetingsBooker.com
by Marvin McTaw
Last week was huge for the business of social media with Facebook’s $100 billion IPO. The general excitement about the IPO was thrown a curveball when GM, the huge auto manufacturer, announced its decision to pull its entire $10 million Facebook Ads budget. GM’s decision was a result of what they deemed to be the low effectiveness of Facebook Ads for their business.
Many conferences and festivals feel they must be active on Facebook. They typically promote themselves in much the same way as GM: creating content and engaging Fans. The good part about a Facebook Fan page is that there is no upfront cost…but that doesn’t mean it is free. Although GM is pulling it’s $10 million advertising budget, they still spend $30 million a year generating content and maintaining their accounts. I imagine with most organizations it is the same.
Facebook Fan pages are by far and away the better choice if you’re looking to engage with attendees. Fan pages allow you to connect directly with your community and engage in conversations with them. You can also install Facebook Apps to your Fan page to engage your attendees even more.
I’ve increasingly seen conferences and festivals advertising on Facebook. While these ads may help in building awareness for events, GM’s decision throws into question the effectiveness of Facebook Ads.
While Facebook Ads can work, whether it is the best use of your limited marketing budget is an entirely different question. Ben Kunz of Businessweek Magazine summarizes it best:
Facebook can be a wonderful platform for both paid advertising and social communication. It is also extraordinarily difficult to fulfill its promise.
by Marvin McTaw
Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects. It is being used in new and exciting ways every day. One of the more interesting ways I’ve seen it being used in the event space is to fund entire conferences!
Andy Baio and Andy McMillan's are using Kickstarter to fund the XOXO festival in Portland, Oregon. One of the big benefits of using this funding platform is that it allows them to leverage the Kickstarter community to raise funds. The platform also helps to reduce their event management risks by providing a gauge for attendee demand.
Kickstarter could very well be the next big thing in finding resources to help put on your conference. It helps centralize funding and determine demand for your event. The one drawback: if you don’t meet your funding goal, you get nothing. This might cause some organizers to lose large deposits for venues and payments to speakers.
UPDATE: from Andy Baio, the festival founder
50 hours after launching, we’re sold out of conference tickets! Thank you! If you missed it, you can still grab the DIY Kit to experience some of XOXO at home. Or come out to the market, which will be open to the public on September 15-16.
We’ve talked about the importance of Twitter chats before—specifically what they are, and how to join them. In short, they’re a great way to stay connected to people in any industry, engage in great discussions on an array of topics, and hear what the smartest and most respected folks in a community have to say.
Here are just a few of our favorite weekly Twitter chats:
Do you join in any of the chats we mentioned? If not, what are some of your favorite Twitter chats? I’d love to join!
Check out this incredible infographic on music festival technology since Woodstock
by Mariela McIlwraith
What’s In This Article?
Background: Mariella McIlwraith, CMP, CMM, MBA, is the President of Meeting Change. She specializes in sustainability, pricing, and membership engagement for associations and events.
In the past couple of weeks, Marvin has written two great posts on my favourite topics: sustainability and budgets. The first was on the exuberance over green meetings, and, as one of the people working in the sustainable event space, it was refreshing to see someone voice an opposing view to the topic (more on this at the end of this post). The second was on 125 ways to save on meetings. I see a chance to link these two topics by showing how sustainability can save time and money for events.
To get things started, consider these easy, cost-saving tips that won’t add any more work to your event planning:
At its heart, sustainability is about being more efficient. My business partner, Elizabeth Henderson, likens it to a good operating system for a computer – it makes things run better and faster. A few ways to use, plan and waste less:
No need to reinvent everything. A few examples include:
Rely on the expertise of your partners, especially in food & beverage in making decisions about how to make your event more sustainable.
I’d also add a word of caution for all event planners looking to save money and to track their savings: don’t fall in to the subtractionality trap (I must admit I had hopes that I had invented this word, but after googling, found it in use already here.) What is subtractionality? I look at it as not counting savings for things you wouldn’t have bought in the first place. For example, I can’t claim to have saved $17,000,000 in transportation costs by not having bought a Learjet. Paper savings is one of these areas. I see lots of conferences claiming to save money on paper, but at some point we need to recognize that conferences today use less paper than they did 5 years ago, and not just for sustainability reasons. So when you’re tracking your sustainability savings, make sure that they are real.
Before I wrap up, I’d like to respond to some of Marvin’s comments on green meetings. Some of Marvin’s strongest points were:
Other points I didn’t agree with as much:
by Marvin McTaw
Steve Jobs was a transformational character. He brought back Apple from the brink of death and along the way, transformed entire industries. After his passing, his biographer highlighted 14 imperatives behind the Job’s approach. Here’s how those 14 points apply to the Events Industry.
Determine your event’s one main goal and aim everything you do to accomplishing that goal. You don’t need to cover every topic that’s even tangentially connected to your goal. It’s a waste of everyone’s time and resources. Know your goal and execute to achieve that one goal.
Feel like you’re doing too much? Then simplify your event. Stop over-scheduling attendees. Cut down the number of tracks, venues…and attendees! Your organization can not do everything. Once you’ve decided on your focus, then cut out everything else that is not helping you to achieve that goal. You may step on some toes or step on some sacred cows but to achieve excellence, you must simplify.
You must take responsibility for the entire experience before, during and after the event. This applies not only for your attendees but for everyone involved including volunteers, staff, sponsors and exhibitors. A/V, transportation, food, lodging, logistics, contracts, speakers, content, handouts, technology. Everything is important and influences the perception of your event. You can only take responsibility for these things once you’ve focused on your one true goal and simplified as much as possible.
Feeling pressure from your competitors? Stop trying to copy everything your competitors do. Re-think your entire event’s experience and out-execute by knowing and understanding what people really want from events like yours. You can achieve much of this by listening.
As an event organizer, your product is the event experience. If you focus on creating an incredible experience and marketing that experience, everything else will fall into place.
Focus groups in the context of events are usually attendee based surveys and anecdotal feedback. Most people do not know what they want in the first place and surveys are usually not the best way to get feedback. Instead of relying on focus group try to understand the real underlying issues
Regardless of whether its a training meeting or a music festival you should get people out of their day to day routine. To do this, you must bend reality to accomplish your goals. To help you accomplish this offer unexpected and unique experiences, not simply just the status quo.
Envision your end goal and then figure out what you need to do to accomplish it. Start with your focus and after you’ve simplified, you should be able to figure out how it comes together not only with the big picture but also the details.
Your event should be perfect for everyone involved: speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, in short, everyone! Focusing and simplifying will help you to realistically shoot for perfection in everything you do.
Make sure you know your event’s overarching goal and that you are also intimately familiar with the details. You can only realistically do this if you follow the first two steps of focusing and simplifying what you do. Knowing both the big picture and details can also help you to achieve perfection by preventing problems in the first place and addressing them when they arrive.
Bring quality people to work with you, including volunteers. No member of your team should be the weakest link. If you have sub-par people in your system either remove them or give them the resources they need to be successful. It’s important to note that simply having A Players isn’t enough. You need to delegate authority to them and allow them to help you accomplish your goal.
This doesn’t mean just at the event. Engage with vendors, speakers and others face-to-face. This will help you to be more effective in executing your event.
Events are in the business of creating experience. While you should definitely be concerned with the numbers, you must be sure to bring more to the plate. Make sure you’re bringing more to the table than only numbers and sense.
This is critical to your event’s success. Don’t just keep doing the same thing because you’ve done it forever. Take risks, try new things and encourage an environment where you’re willing to fail and learn from it
by Marvin McTaw
It’s readily acknowledged that conference organizers have an incredibly difficult job. You have to wear many hats including project manager, baby sitter, real estate agent and marketing executive all in the name of doing a good job.
Traci Browne’s post on Unforgivable Meeting Blunders got me thinking about some of the core issues attendees face while at conferences, festivals and meetings. I have the benefit of being able to review a lot of event schedules over a variety of events. I’ve also attended my fair share of conferences, festivals and meetings. The biggest mistake I see is one that still blows my mind, even from veteran planning pros…
David Adler, CEO of BizBash once said, “…We are programmers of human interaction.” If you’re not scheduling in breaks and unstructured/networking time you’re forgetting the full purpose of your event. Attendees come to your conference not only to learn more about a particular topic matter but also to be surrounded by others who have the same interests. As event organizers, you should be invested in their success by feeding the whole person and not just the education component of their desires.
I have a strong disdain for events of any kind be they conferences, festivals or training meetings where everything is scheduled back-to-back. It becomes even worse when the consecutive events are scheduled for multiple days in a row. Not even a 15 minute break! Seriously folks, when do you expect your attendees to be able to use the bathroom or, I don’t know, talk to each other?
As an event organizer you have to do better because breaks not only help attendees but also help you to effectively execute your event. You see I’ll let you in on a little secret: things don’t always go according to plan. Speakers show up late. Attendees become engaged with a speaker and don’t let their session end “on time”. A/V equipment doesn’t always work right, even after you’ve tested it.
The prudent event organizer understands that building time cushions into your event schedule is good for everyone involved with your event. It allows for spontaneity, rest and provides a buffer to address logistical nightmares. If you really want to throw a great conference, remember it’s not about everything you can jam pack into your event schedule. It’s also about what you choose to leave out.
Take a look at what SXSW looked like from a bird’s-eye view, from the total number of events to info on the average SXSW attendee. My favorite: even if you completely gave up sleep, you’d only have 240 hours to experience over 10,000 hours worth of fun.
by Mitchell Beer
Background: As Chairman of the Green Meetings Industry Council’s Sustainable Meetings Foundation, Mitchell is a firm advocate of the sustainability movement taking place within the events industry. After reading our initial debate on the viability & economic rationale of green meetings, he asked us to post his opinion below. We were more than happy to provide a forum for his views.
The details on how sustainability cuts costs for meetings are just around the corner. Finally. It’s been a huge frustration that the details of the APEX/ASTM standards were confidential while they were being finalized.
But you saw Andrew Walker’s takeaway alert during the #eventtable chat—Level 1 of the standard consists entirely of sustainability measures that are either cost-neutral or save money. Unless you think our industry is 100% efficient, there are lots of places to save resources and money.
And if you consider that meetings produce the second-largest volume of waste of any industry, behind construction, it would take a lot of deliberate effort and persistence not to turn sustainability into a revenue generator.
Your argument about time, learning curves, and productivity is a slippery slope that risks bringing the industry back to the good old, bad old days of counting coffee cups and being treated like glorified party planners. You’re essentially saying no meeting professional should waste their valuable time on any potential innovation unless they can be certain the investment will pay back.
By that logic, the industry’s earliest pioneers in virtual meetings shouldn’t have made the effort, because nobody else had shown the way. We shouldn’t try to integrate social media, content capture services, mobile apps, or event scheduling systems with face-to-face events, unless we know for sure that each of those new frontiers will pay off.
We know that’s the wrong conclusion to reach for IT innovations. So why is it automatically the right answer for sustainability?
I agree—actually, I feel very strongly—that sustainability programs should be held to the same standard as any other innovation in the industry. They have to be based on solid research and planning, and companies should only adopt them if the balance of probabilities points to success.
The sustainability leaders in meetings and events have done their due diligence, and now they’re doubling down on their commitment. That’s how a couple of hundred industry volunteers ended up playing a crucial role in bringing the APEX/ASTM standards to life.
I think you’re right that we have to be careful about unintended consequences—with sustainable meeting programs, and with any other innovation.
It makes me crazy when chains, destinations, and other industry organizations announce grand, sweeping sustainability programs that turn out to be run out of the PR office, rather than the engineering department. The result is often greenwashing—whether the organizations actually intend it that way or not.
But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. On the contrary, it underscores the need for a standard that will give the industry a clear, consistent idea of how to introduce a sustainability program that really works.
I’ve gone on long enough, but I’ll just note how curious it is that you used ‘irrational exuberance’ as the headline for your post.
The phrase apparently goes back to a talk by Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan about 15 years ago, in a warning about rampant excess in financial markets: he was concerned that investors might not know “when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values,” leaving the economy vulnerable to sudden shocks like the dot.com bust.
By that definition, I don’t see anything rampant or irrational in the science or practice of sustainability—ecologists and engineers are among the most careful, methodical people you’ll ever meet. But when meetings and events, or any other industry, continue consuming energy and water, producing waste, and emitting carbon at a faster rate than the earth can sustain? That’s what I’d call irrational exuberance.
by Dane Cross
Background: Dane Cross writes on behalf of Marler Haley, a UK based provider of pop up banners and other display products.
Marketing Your Conference Through Products
Promotional products have been a key marketing tool for many years, yet many businesses seem to struggle with finding the right one, whether it be for trade show purposes or as a general marketing tool.
A sure fire way of building on and expanding an events’ brand awareness is by distributing promotional items; even relatively small and inexpensive ones such as mugs, pens, t-shirts and key rings, which are all practical and thus will get a lot of use. An item brandished with an event’s name or logo can be a useful investment and can gain a lot of exposure, especially when they are readily attainable and easy to distribute. Whenever a current or potential attendee puts one of these products to use, they will be fondly reminded of the event or business who gave it to them.
Appreciation & Value
If an existing attendee is given a promotional item, it could be interpreted as recognition for their loyalty, whilst serving as a deterrent for them to take their business elsewhere. When used properly, they’ll feel appreciated and valued by the business.
An important factor to consider when using promotional items as a marketing tool is visual appeal. To attract the most attention and thus be as effective as possible, the item should feature an attractive, bold and professional looking logo. Items that are easy on the eye and attention-grabbing can really benefit businesses when distributed to a large audience.
Regular and concise distribution of promotional items can effectively boost a business’ brand image, often resulting in higher company sales. People in general will choose to bring their business to businesses that are considered generous and worthy of their trust, and they can also learn a lot about the products and services that are offered.
The Power Of Promotional Items
This infographic aims to shed some light on the power of promotional items, looking at the most popular items for both customer and business.
You might have heard of flash mobs, but have you heard of cash mobs? Cash mobs are the latest thing in the “going local” craze. As the founders explain it…
The general idea is to encourage people to go into small, local businesses and spend their money, en masse, to give the business owner a little bit of economic stimulus.
Like flash mobs, cash mobs are usually organized on social media (e.g. Facebook & Twitter) and descend upon businesses with little notice. After the mob, participants usually go to a local bar or pub to celebrate.
Regardless of your event’s purpose, it is a business and has value especially because it can have a material impact on the local economy. Your event is likely already providing an economic stimulus to small businesses. For example, if you’re printing programs, you’re probably using a local printing shop. The work you provide them is especially important because 40% of small businesses say declines in customer spending are one of the three most significant challenges to their survival (National Small Business Association)
Even though your event provides this stimulus, your attendees would never know it. This is because they generally have no influence on your vendor selection or purchasing decisions. Adding a cash mob to your schedule of events is an easy way to
Would you add a cash mob to your event? Why or Why Not?