Martin Fullard spoke to some top events agencies that are no strangers to bringing the ‘wow factor’ to events.
There’s no escaping the fact that some conferences can be a trifle dull. It’s all well and good booking a room and hiring a projector, but this runs the risk of losing a delegate’s attention. Without going overboard, it is possible to add a touch of creativity to your event that, if executed correctly, will keep your delegates engaged and willing to absorb your content. So what tips do some of the UK’s top agencies have for event professionals?
Jane Jones, director of project management, drp, insists that there is no single way to liven up an event, but whichever route you undertake it should follow a simple logic. She says: “There is no snap-quick solution to spicing up an event and, whichever spice you choose, it should be chosen with good reasoning, or seasoning.
“Understand your clients’ objectives for the event, and if they have run a similar event before, you also want to be marking up how the next one will be more exciting and effective than the last.”
Jones suggests creating an element on intrigue is a handy and inexpensive way of creating a wow factor at little extra cost. She says: “A great tactic, especially for a product launch, is to create sign-posts and hints surrounding the product, withholding the full reveal until the final moments of the event. For example, in launching a new car, delegates could discover the new tech behind it with AR, be immersed in a cinematic film screening of the car on the roads, before a slow uncovering of the car in another room.”
Ben Turner, managing director at WONDER London, says it’s important that adding a wow factor doesn’t have to be a bank-breaker. He says: “We always look at the event and budget as a whole and work out the essentials. We then see what is left and then list ancillaries with the client and together we decide what are best ways of enhancing the conference. It’s better to do more impactful things but fewer of them, rather than doing lots of fluff that lack impact.”
How, though, can an organiser know what will work at an event, is it just a case of ‘suck it and see?’ Turner suggests looking at past data. He adds: “If there is data from previous events then this is gold and good to use. If there isn’t, you can either conduct surveys. If this isn’t possible then looking at similar events within the industry of similar product type and seeing which events were successful or what was good about events. In the age of social media it’s a lot easier to see what has been good and bad as people are very vocal.”
On staying true to the content, Pip Fann, senior account director at FreemanXP EMEA says: “It’s all about research, research, research. This involves analysing the pre-event delegate questionnaire and reflecting on feedback from the previous year’s event to understand what worked and what didn’t work, and looking into key trends specific to that particular industry, to ensure the content on offer will be relevant, fresh and informative.”
Emma Cartmell, CEO at the CHS Group also points out that creativity must be integral, and says that speakers from outside your sector can sometimes do the job well. She says: “You can add spice by making sure that the energy levels at your event are kept high. We are in the middle of organising a large B2B conference and the sessions are designed to move at a fast pace, inspiring and to create a buzz. We have chosen speakers from outside of the industry to add a new dynamic.
“Don’t try to create an event and then add the ‘spice’ as an after thought. It needs to be considered right from the get-go; it needs to be integral, not a flimsy add on.”