How to improve your events. 7 tips for event professionals

“The only person you should be better than is the person you were yesterday”

This is the thought that gets me out of bed in those mornings when all I want is to turn off the alarm and get back to sleep – we all have this kind of mornings.

This quote applies to our work as well. And I had the pleasure of discovering that many of our event planners partners think the same. They aim, with every new event, to create a better experience for their attendees. To be better than last time. To make the smile on attendees’ faces slightly wider than last time. And talking to them about what they work on I have managed to extract some common points that can improve any event.

multicolor confetti at a concert

Start (planning and executing) early

‘“If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail”

We all know it, no matter if you are planning a one day conference or a multi-day festival, it takes months of preparation and work to make sure everything goes well. Start early and create a schedule for the whole process. If you leave things for last minute you whole event can be compromised by unexpected situations that may occur (and there will be quite a few of them).

Set early bird tickets

Early bird tickets are a way of repaying your most eager (and loyal) attendees, but also a great way of making sure you don’t have cash flow problems. Using an event management software that has a direct payments feature money will go straight into your account, so you will have a back up if needed. As Sir Richard Branson said, cash flow is extremely important for every business, and revenues from early bird tickets can be your safety net.

Choose an “arresting” venue

The human eye craves for beauty, and a beautiful building will always arouse admiration (the positive feedback that we have received for our Beautiful theaters article is a good proof of that). The venue where your event takes place will influence the overall experience of your attendees. Make sure that the building offers optimal conditions in matters of location, access (for people with disabilities), heating/cooling system, sound, and lights. Even though we can’t all just book the most impressive building in the city, make sure it offers you everything you need.

Well-balanced and diversified menu

People don’t attend events (just) for the great food that you offer, but this too will impact their experience. How do you act when you are hungry? Are you still able to focus? Are you still interested in what somebody else has to say? When it comes to food not all attendees have the same preferences, and although you can’t please them all you should at least have both normal and vegan menus.

Engage your attendees 

Let attendees feel as part of your event. As humans, we want to know that our words/opinions matter and asking for feedback is a great way of letting your attendees know that their do. Feedback will also let you know how your event looks from “outside” – no matter how critical you are to your own work, you should always try to see it from your attendees’ perspective. If possible, ask for feedback before, during and after the event.

Keep your attendees informed

From my own experience, I can say that attendees like to know as much as possible about the event that they are attending. Yes, a little mystery is always welcome, but don’t keep essential information from them. Questions like “where can I find the event app”, “where/when is lunch served”, “what time will Speaker X be on stage” will surely be asked, so verify that your team has the answers. People will also want to have access to the Schedule of your event, it would be nice to have it displayed in visible places (and also in the event app – if you use any).

Take advantage of event technology 

This is my favorite part because I have seen how technology in general (and Oveit in particular) can help event planners in their “pursuit of happiness”. I will point out just some of the most important aspects:

Online registration: In 2018, no matter what event you are hosting, you should offer your customers the possibility to purchase tickets online. Making it easier for them to register will increase the total number of attendees and will also offer you more information about them (though registration forms).

NFC technology: The tap-and-pay system is great because it makes it really easy for attendees to purchase the desired products. It can also be used for interaction purposes, transforming the old event wristband into an extremely powerful high-tech tool.

Smooth registration process: Undoubtedly, time is our most valuable resource, and we all cherish it. It’s clear that we don’t like to have our time wasted, so you should always use a smart tool that will ensure a fast and smooth check-in process.

It is hard to change all those mentioned above at once, but even the tiniest improvement can have spectacular long-term effects. And the story of Dave Brailsford and the British Cycling Team is a great example of how small things can bring unthinkable changes. Keep up the good work and never stop improving!

 

4 difficult clients every event professional will meet

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”.

What could be better than a job/career that makes you jump out of bed every morning? Finding meaning in what we do is what makes us one step closer to happiness. It is something that we all crave for. It’s the ideal of the modern era, one in which fulfillment is often more important than money.

people at a desk, taking notes

Event planners definitely are among those who find meaning in their careers. Bringing people together, helping them evolve and (why not?) making the world a better place makes us jump out of the bed each morning (ok, maybe not on rainy Mondays).  Although challenging, the event planning industry repays every drop of energy that we invest in.

How do you define a difficult client?

Event planners also have to deal with what most of us try to run away from: difficult clients. And when I say ‘difficult clients’ I don’t mean those who force you out of your comfort zone. Those bringing you projects so big that they keep you up at night. That want you to plan the perfect event for them. That inspire you to be better with each passing day. Those are the ones you will thank later.

No, I mean those clients that are never happy, no matter how good you deliver. But at the same time, they can never articulate their unhappiness. That, day in day out, make things more complicated than you have ever imagined they could be. Than never help, but often obstruct you. That want you to execute their ideas but at the same time never take responsibility for anything. That hope that you can read their minds (but would hate it if you could).

Difficult clients in the event management industry

There are many types of difficult clients because there are so many ways in which people can be difficult to interact with. But based on the discussions that I had with our #eventproffs friends, there are 4 types of clients that you will (probably) meet in your career

The always angry/hostile client

It is always ready to argue over anything. He/she likes to intimidate those around. Every discussion is different, but all have one thing in common: a raised voice.  

How to deal with a hostile customer?

It’s crucial to not take it personally because it really isn’t. It’s also very important to keep calm, another choleric person won’t do any good. Be polite yet firm, letting your client know that you are always in control. Show that you take him/her serious, but don’t let yourself impressed by the aggressive attitude.

There are situations when we really are responsible for our customers’ anger (but not the way they manage it), so try to see if there anything that you could do better.

The hesitating client

“In any situation, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.” Theodore Roosevelt

There are people who just can’t make a decision. That think and overthink. That need hours to make up their minds (for any silly decision) and then just completely change it. That get cold feet in front of a decision. And, in our careers, we’ve all meet someone like this. When managing events, time is the one resource that’s always missing. And those who’ve seen how a venue looks just hours before an event know what I mean…

Listen to your client and see what makes the decision so difficult for him. Try looking from his point of view and let him know what your opinion is. Whenever you can help your client decide by providing relevant data/visual support.

The all-wise client

Have you ever met a person that knows everything there is to know? I am sure you have. The person that hires an expert and then tells him how to do his job. That doesn’t even need arguments to back-up his statements.

I don’t know about you, but for me, this is the client that’s most difficult to manage. First of all be sure that you are always well-prepared and that you have all the possible information. You will need a lot of statistics to support your ideas. You will also need a lot of tact in dealing with someone that “has all the right answers”. Don’t let your ego stand in your way, it will only make things worst.

 

The silent/apathetic client

It’s the client that shuts down communication, building a wall around him. He doesn’t like complicated situations (well, who really does?) and thinks that silence can make them go away. How to act?

First of all, “patience is a virtue”. To make your client talk you will need to ask the right questions and take the time to listen. Really listen. Encourage him to tell you what he thinks about the venue or caterer that you have selected. Praise every good idea that your client comes up with and ask for advice. Make him feel important and you will see a higher level of involvement from him. Communication is the only way to build a strong relationship with a ‘silent client’.

Difficult clients can be one’s worst nightmare, but they can also make us go the extra mile. Not every difficult client is, in fact, a difficult client. Because sometimes the problem is not with them, it’s with us.

Unfortunately, there will be times when you will just feel that things aren’t going to work for you and your client. If you ever feel that it would just be better to let your client go you should read this fabulous article first. 

young lady near a yellow wall and influencer marketing text

Use influencer marketing to promote your events

Internet access expanded our communication possibilities in ways that we have not imagined. It also changed the way we live, shop or work. The rise of social media platforms redesigned our daily behavior: daily, we spend almost 2 hours navigating social media platforms. Naturally, social media became the “place to be” for every business that wants to stay close to its (potential) customers. Marketing possibilities are countless and it’s easier than ever to reach customers, regardless of their current location. A large followers base can be the difference between failure and success.

But creating large followers base may take time and time is our most important and most limited resource. So, in order to gain access to already existing ones, brands use what is known as “influencer marketing”What is influencer marketing?

Wikipedia informs us that “Influencer marketing (also influence marketing) is a form of marketing in which focus is placed on influential people rather than the target market as a whole. It identifies the individuals that have influence over potential buyers, and orients marketing activities around these influencers.” Meaning a brand uses an influencer’s already created followers base to promote their services/products. This marketing method is not new, brands have always used influencers to promote their products. Known as “Celebrity endorsement”, it was used in the last 250 years. By the power of association, people transfer their feelings from the celebrity to the product, thus increasing the chances of purchasing it. There are more reasons “celebrity endorsement” works, an extremely useful study can be found here. 

But the rise of social media platforms created a new category of “celebrities”, known as micro-influencers. Micro-influencers are normal people that, in time, build large lists of followers. Unlike macro influencers (celebrities), micro-influencer have a tighter connection with their followers, and their social post generates a higher rate of engagement. This makes them the perfect choice for brands that want to promote their services, products or events.

 

Why should I use influencer marketing to promote my event?

Because every dollar invested in influencer marketings brings on average 6.85$, states a study conducted by Burst Media in 2014. Why can we expect such a great ROI? One of the reasons is that influencer marketing is closer to mouth to mouth marketing than it is to traditional marketing, so people trust it more. Users follow an influencer because they like and trust him/her, so they will transfer some of those feelings to the product/service. The same principle applies to events, people will want to attend an event where the influencer they follow is present.

Another reason for which influencer marketing had a phenomenal increase is the ineffectiveness of traditional online advertising. The number of pop-ups and banners became annoying, so people started installing ad blockers. And over 30% of internet users have them installed. More than that, we also developed our own “natural ad blocker”, known as banner blindness: when navigating online we tend to ignore all the design elements that resemble ads and our eyes avoid the areas where banners are traditionally placed. And it seems to affect 80% of internet users.

What should I know before starting an influencer marketing campaign for my event(s)?

 

  • Define your audience: In marketing knowing your audience is the key to success. And Influencer marketing makes no exception. So start by identifying the specific characteristic of your “ideal” attendee. Are you planning a street running event? Then probably your attendees are sports enthusiasts. A conference where #AI is the main theme? Surely developers would be interested. For any type of event, there is a specific audience and you need to find yours.
  • Find the right influencer. After you have defined your audience you need to identify the influencer(s) that can grant you access to it. It’s much more important to work with someone that covers your niche than to work with someone that just has a greater number of followers. Using the above example, if you plan a street running event and a sports guru (influencer) will promote it using social media your event will become interesting for many of his followers. Another used tactic is to invite influencers to your events, just like brands do for their sponsored events. Their live videos will generate buzz around your event.
  • Trust is a must. Influencers have gathered a great number of followers because people like the content they create. It would be illogical to think that you can gain more from his/hers users with content generated by somebody else. So you must be prepared to give your new partner total control over the content used to promote your event. You won’t be able to do this if you don’t trust your associate. Otherwise, you won’t gain maximum out this partnership.
  • Measure the performance. Without measurement, marketing plans are just fancy projects that may (but probably not) worth the effort. Fortunately, modern technology offers the tools we need to measure our marketing results, tools that you should also use for your influencer marketing campaigns.  

Conclusion

Influencer marketing is the new rising star of marketing and every event planner can benefit from it. But remember that its power is the connection that exists between the influencer and the followers, and a connection should also exist between your brand and the influencer. Because otherwise your partnership it would just feel unnatural and this will compromise your whole campaign. Start with these 4 tips in mind when working with an influencer and your events will become more popular than ever.

Do you use email marketing to promote your events? Learn how to increase the open rates.

Remember our article about email marketing and how it can help you increase the number of attendees for your events? Hope you’ve read it. Today I want to talk to you about what you can do to increase the open rate of your emails (in the long-term). We all want to have as many opened email as possible but with over 2.5 million email being sent every second it’s obvious that is harder and harder to gain people’s attention. So, without any further introduction, here are some ideas that will help your emails perform better:

open envelope

Timing will influence the open rates

“…timing is an art”. And fortunately, with email marketing, you can become a real artist.  Email marketing services help you gather relevant information about your subscribers, information that will help you contact them at the right time. Find out their time zones (you can add this into the registration forms, so every subscriber will enter the preferred time zone) and send emails accordingly.  When speaking about open rates you will see that there are some days and some hours that perform slightly better, but I strongly recommend testing to see what works better.

 

So will do the subject line

Almost half of the email recipients decide if they will open an email or not based solely on its subject line; just like people decide to read articles based on their title.  If you want to increase the conversion rates of your email campaigns (clicks, goals etc), you will have to start with the open rates and to do this you will need to work on your subject lines. How? I gathered I list of the most common ideas:

p.s. The best way to see what works and what doesn’t is to use some A/B testing for subject lines, sending the same email with two different subject lines. Your subscribers will help you out.

 

Don’t use long subject lines as more than 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices, devices that will cut down the displayed length of the subject line. It’s fine to use shorter subject lines as they just need to provoke the interest of your subscribers. Don’t over-communicate within subject lines, just do your best to make people interested in what’s inside.

Sell the sizzle, not the feature. In other words, you must concentrate on your subscribers, not your products/services. What ‘s important for them and how will you help them achieve what they want? If you plan a conference tell your subscribers what they will learn if they attend (this is what really counts), not that you have a 20 years experience in the event planning industry.

p.s. for example when talking about a cashless payment system (based on NFC technology) we know that the benefits are: less time in queues, no more fraud, increased order value and more…so we don’t start talking to our partners about the communication protocols (until after they see how NFC can help them).

 

Add a personal touch. Generic email addresses tend to make us lose interest, so try to use your personal email to send information. Although technically speaking you send a newsletter, a no-reply email address will make things difficult for your subscribers that want to get in touch. Take this “risk” of using the email address of a real person and you will see an improvement in the engagement of your subscribers. We use this method here at Oveit and I can confirm that you will see an improvement in no time.

 

Don’t get spammy. If you search information about ways to improve open rate of your email you will find many great bits of advice from countless professionals. As you probably already know people react to scarcity (it’s one of the six big principles of persuasion from doctor’s Cialdini famous book) and you will find many articles encouraging you to use the ideas of urgency and scarcity to convince people to take action. But be aware that is a very thin line between a great subject line that involves urgency/scarcity and a spammy one. And if you use it (in some cases you must apply it) don’t go “the tabloid way”: LIMITED TIME! OFFER EXPIRES IN X HOURS doesn’t sound like a professional way to announce that your early bird offer will expire, especially if we talk about a premium business conference (and also can trigger some spam filters – read more here).

 

Offer useful information

Although your subject line is very important because it influences your open rate is what you communicate to your subscribers that will determine their next action: will they respond to your CTA or will they unsubscribe from your marketing list? If you deliver what you promised (and offer useful information about your next events and one-time deals) people will have a reason to open your email (and give you some of their time). If you use spammy or misleading subject lines your subscribers will soon lose interest (not to mention that, in some countries, misleading subject lines are against the law).

Newsletters are a great way to stay close to those interested in your events and convince them to attend. You can share information, promote special offers or ask for feedback. As said before, you are the sole “owner” of your subscribers’ list and this makes it extremely valuable for every event planning organization, no matter its size or budget.

7 tips for the fresh event entrepreneur

Fresh starts can be fun, but challenging. Somehow, as we get older, we tend to lose some of the power that always kept us exploring as children. But changes may occur in life and passions must be followed. And if you find yourself in front of a fresh new start as an event planner here are some tips we gathered from our #eventprofs friends.

lady in front of a laptop

Love what you do

I know that this sounds ideal (maybe almost utopic) but this should be a universal rule. In life, you should always take the path that makes you happy because, as you will discover, the path itself is more important than the destination. This rule is even more important for event planners: your job is to create meaningful events that bring joy and is hard to do this if you hate your job. There will be many weekends away from your loved ones and many long days (and short nights). It will be almost impossible to succeed in this field if you don’t really love what you do.

Market research is important

Enthusiasm is essential, but it’s not enough. If you want to make it (in the long term) you should always be informed; like my grandpa used to say…you shouldn’t be the smartest person in the room, but the most informed one. This piece of advice seems to suit the event management scene, one where a misplanned action can have extreme effects on fresh professionals. Research to see when is the best time to schedule your event (maybe there already are some famed events in the period you first selected, so you should reschedule it) or maybe there is a lot of interest for a subject but no conferences in your city on that subject; keep your eyes (and mind) open and you will see both the opportunities and the threats that can affect your business.

Don’t stay behind

In the event management scene, the attendee’s experience is the only thing that really counts. If you don’t create blissful moments your event management business won’t last. See what guests tend to appreciate, but also what ruins their mood. Innovate. One thing that we all hate, and I’m sure that you will agree with me, is queueing; so use a cashless payment system. Use NFC for interactive screens and access credentials. We all like tech innovations: involve your sponsors and use AR for brand activations.

Cash flow counts (a lot!)

Money: a delicate yet crucial subject. I wrote a while ago an article about how a smart access management tool can help you with your cash flow. Besides using a tool that doesn’t block your cash until after the event it’s also incredibly important to save money for “darker days”; or unexpected opportunities.

Promote your business

I think that we all have heard that “if you are good enough clients will come”. But let’s face it, bills come much faster. And although marketing is not your first priority it shouldn’t be ignored as it can make or break your business. The good news is that you don’t need to invest o fortune in your marketing strategy. We’ve written about Twitter, Long Tail Keywords, Snapchat vs Instagram, Email marketing. Read our articles and learn how to promote your business with a decent investment.

Take baby steps

Most of us want to grow our businesses into giants that will change the world, but unnatural growth can sabotage us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aim for more, but you must be honest with yourself. If you just planned you first one day conference, coordinating a small crew, maybe a 5-day music festival is a little big for your next assignment. Take it step by step and one day you will be able to organize any kind of event.

Learn from others

There are experienced event planners out there eager to teach you the “do’s and don’ts”. And although it’s hard to learn from anything else but your own mistakes, it’s always good to have someone you can ask what to do when things get rough. Having a mentor is a great way to start a business because you can add some experience right from the start.

Use your curiosity and try to learn from the best, see what they are doing. Go to their events, feel what every attendee feels, and use that information to create unforgettable experiences at your own events.

It’s not easy to be an event professional, that’s obvious. Planning and setting up an event will force you to challenge tasks that seem almost Sisyphean. But the end result is so uplifting, full of emotion, and will make you realize that bringing joy into people’s lives in priceless.