Event Industry News Podcast
Podcast: James Huddleston, Certain, reveals top tips for revamping marketing strategies

Podcast: James Huddleston, Certain, reveals top tips for revamping marketing strategies

January 16, 2020

VP and head of marketing from Certain, James Huddleston, joined podcast host, James Dickson, for this week’s podcast. In the episode, Huddleston discussed how event marketers can revamp their event strategies for the new year.

Huddleston has been a senior figure at Certain for three years, first as the senior director of product marketing before becoming VP and head of marketing in September 2019.

Certain is a provider of end-to-end event automation software that helps organisers and planners deliver top results.

Huddleston stated that marketers have become more “data-driven” in recent years than ever before. He explained that marketers can now utilise an unprecedented amount of analytics, attendee information and event results to design marketing strategies. This hard evidence of data, therefore, helps justify marketing ideas.

Though data is essential, we may be at risk of suffering data-overload. Huddleston stated that events offer attendees the advantage of having that one-to-one contact with prospective clients and business partners to help cut through the data noise: “The pendulum is swinging back towards the power of face-to-face interaction. That’s why our customers see a lot of investment in events.

“Events are that channel that truly cuts through the noise.” 

Offering one-to-one meetings at events is a significant player in driving registration. Providing people with one strong prospective business contact compared to hundreds of generic businesses is more reliable in guaranteeing their attendance. “As an attendee myself, I’m always looking to open my network,” Huddleston said.

If you think you have a relevant topic of discussion for our podcast and would like to feature, please email molly@eventindustrynews.com

Digital marketing at ICC Belfast to drive revenue & exposure

Digital marketing at ICC Belfast to drive revenue & exposure

January 9, 2020

Joining our podcast host, James Dickson, on this week’s podcast was ICC Belfast’s head of digital, Charlie McCloskey. During his time with us, he discussed how the venue utilises digital marketing to drive revenue and increase exposure.

Charlie is the first head of digital at the ICC Belfast, having joined in April 2018. He designs and delivers the digital strategy for the venue, using its website and digital marketing channels (such as email marketing and social media) to accomplish his goals.

In the past 18 months, Charlie and the team reviewed all their “customer touchpoints” to work towards improving them, create a more targeted approach and enhancing the customer experience.

Some of the changes they made involved removing steps from their website’s booking forms, improved the seating map and added more information. Within a short space of time after doing this, Charlie found the basket abandonment rate dropped by 30%.

Not only did Charlie dive into the site’s analytics to learn how consumers were using the site, but he conducted surveys to learn customers’ opinions. “The data and the information we got from those responses were, in my mind, the real change in how we developed our website.”

The ICC Belfast has the Ulster Hall and the Waterfront Hall which, not too long ago, all had duel-branding and the same website. This created confusion among consumers who would search for the Ulster Hall and be subsequently presented with the Waterfront Hall logo and vice versa. Moreover, there was limited information on offer about which events were hosted in which hall.

Additionally, creating a brand specifically for the conference side of the business allowed the venue to attract the relevant attention. “It’s had a massive impact on conferencing because it’s made it very clear a) our capability and b) what we represent.” This also diminished any confusion caused by mixing the conference and entertainment aspects of the venue together.

If you would like to feature on an upcoming episode of our podcast, please email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Podcast: Universal Live offers insight into its creative design process

Podcast: Universal Live offers insight into its creative design process

December 19, 2019

Speaking from Universal Live’s Bradford base, our podcast host, James Dickson was welcomed by its commercial manager, Neil Clappison, and creative graphic designer, Gaby Watson.

On this episode, Neil and Gaby explained the creative design process the team at Universal Live undertakes with each project and how it may differ from client to client. They delved into the various tools, hardware and programmes they use as well as discussed how they generate ideas from brief to brief.

The Universal Live duo discussed the tools and programmes they use in the design process, stating that drawing their ideas is much more beneficial than trying to describe them over email or on paper. Having a visual representation of their ideas immediately allows clients to understand exactly what they are thinking, and discussions become a lot more fluid.

Additionally, Gaby explained that if her creative process was dependent on the tools she already had at her disposal, she would already be starting off on “the back foot”. Neil added: “You’re hindering yourself if you have to use just what’s in the warehouse. You’ve put walls up on your design.”

The team at Universal Live utilises virtual reality to help them demonstrate their designs to clients. “We can take the client to the venue, put the VR goggles on and our design is there, almost in the flesh,” Gaby explained, stating that using VR technology in this way allows them to walk their clients through the event design. 

“They can experience it from different angles, have the content playing on the screens.”

Neil and Gaby also described the hurdles that are often thrown their way during the design process – whether it be client expectations, the venue space or brief deadlines – and how they overcome them.

If you would like to feature on the Event Industry News podcast, please email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Podcast: Aaron Kaufman, president, Fifth Element Group on business in events

Podcast: Aaron Kaufman, president, Fifth Element Group on business in events

December 12, 2019

Fifth Element Group is an award-winning live experience company that is recognised throughout the world for creating large-scale galas, events, fundraisers, conferences and activations. On today’s podcast, president, Aaron Kaufman, spoke to our host, James Dickson, on how to keep events “real”.

Speaking from the head offices in Canada, Aaron stated that Fifth Element Group was born from him discovering a “gap in the industry” 16 years ago when clients’ expectations were not being met properly. Aaron wanted to merge the management and design of an event into one firm.

Transparency between event planners and clients regarding fees is critical for a successful relationship. Aaron explained the planner should break down each rental/purchase to the client who then, in turn, appreciates where their money is going. Hiding costs suggests the planner is not confident they are providing good value for money. 

Aaron also claimed that healthy competition is ideal within the industry. “Going after” your competitors and their clients is something that should be practised to stir up business for companies. However, he stressed that this needn’t result in bitterness between event professionals. 

“We’re in business to do business.”

He also stated that he uses business practices to obtain his objectives. As an event organiser, he needs to create memorable experiences for his clients, therefore, if “any solution” gives him the opportunity to do that, he will absolutely do it: “That’s business ownership.” 

Overall, Aaron believes that organisers should follow solutions that will help them continue to conduct business. Though the event industry is fuelled by creativity, it is fundamentally a business.

If you would like to feature on an episode of the Event Industry News podcast, please email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Podcast: Vivacity Consulting founder on getting the most from your speakers

Podcast: Vivacity Consulting founder on getting the most from your speakers

December 5, 2019

Joining the Event Industry News podcast this week was Deborah Henley, the founder of Vivacity Consulting. Deborah is a professional speaker and former event booker with training in psychology. Though her education in psychology may not be event-related, she stated that it has given her a deeper understanding of audiences, languages and how to engage people.

Deborah used her time on the podcast to discuss how best to choose a speaker for your event and describe her top practices to get the best out of them.

Deborah lives by what she calls the ‘KFDs’. Before speaking, she asks herself, what does she want her audience to know by the end of her presentation; what does she want them to feel and what does she want them to do.

Additionally, she claimed that if your speaker can describe in simple, concise terms what their subject is about and the key points they wish the audience will take away, you, as an organiser, can feel reassured that they will transfer this concise description to their presentation.

“If [your speaker] can’t tell you in one paragraph what their talk is about, then they might ramble in the actual talk itself,” Deborah said.

She also suggested that allowing speakers access to the area in which they will be presenting prior to their session is beneficial. It allows them to “own the stage” and do their own “mental rehearsal” to better prepare themselves.

Lastly, Deborah explained her “seven Cs” to which she refers when choosing a speaker where she questions their:

  • Ability to connect
  • Credibility
  • Ability to put their thoughts into context
  • Conviction
  • Ability to collaborate or build a sense of collaboration in the room
  • Ability to cause action and inspire people
  • Ability to create a community

If you would like to feature on an upcoming podcast, email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Podcast: Conference Compass’ Jelmer van Ast discusses apps for conferences

Podcast: Conference Compass’ Jelmer van Ast discusses apps for conferences

November 29, 2019

For this week’s episode, podcast host, James Dickson, spoke to CEO and founder of Conference Compass, Jelmer van Ast. Founded in 2010, Conference Compass is an event app provider for the conference sector.

Speaking during the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) Congress, Jelmer explained the benefits of designing and developing an app for one specific sector. 

Due to the event industry being so broad, the technology that supports it has to be adaptable. Though both are live events, a band concert in a park and a multi-strand conference are two very different occasions, therefore, they require different products, services and technology. This is also the same for the event app.

Focusing on creating apps for the conference sector allows the team at Conference Compass to develop sector-specific solutions for organisers.

“Pick one thing and do it well,” James agreed, stating that an app that is suitable for different events would offer a “diluted” offering as opposed to something that is specifically designed for one type of event.

Conference Compass set out to replace the printed programme with a digital version before developing the technology to create more interaction with attendees.

Other technological advancements such as new mobile devices, WiFi and internet speeds help guide Conference Compass’ developments. Jelmer explained that he develops apps that do not solely rely on external technology such as WiFi and data – if the external technology is faulty, it makes the app look faulty. 

If you would like to feature on one of our weekly podcasts, please email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Podcast: Holly Moore, MD, reveals tactics behind Make Events

Podcast: Holly Moore, MD, reveals tactics behind Make Events

November 21, 2019

Founder and MD, Holly Moore, from Make Events joined our podcast host, James Dickson, on this week’s episode to discuss the role of women in the event industry as well as her personal journey. 

Make Events is a corporate event agency based in Cheshire that revolves around creating the “ultimate experience” for top brands including Garmin, Myprotein and Twitter.

Last February, Holly ran an event for her staff. She believes that the best way to drive a message home is through a live event and so she put this into practice for her own team which served as the delegates to the two-day conference. 

This event allowed Holly to communicate the agency’s strategy for 2019 as well as remind the team of Make Events’ core values.

“The event was two-pronged: to drive the message of Make Events forward for the financial year and to give them [her team] the experience of an event that they loved so that they could sell it to clients,” Holly said.

She stressed that the devil is in the detail when it comes to planning. During her event, delegates (her team members) were presented with their favourite beverages and snacks while their favourite quotes were written on their bedroom mirrors. 

Holly also wove research into the event and ensured all sessions were no more than 22 minutes. This has been proven to be the length of time an audience’s attention is captivated, so any content beyond this point of time is more likely to be wasted.

“Everyone’s attention span is so much shorter than what it used to be. If you leave more time for Q&A, the sessions become much more authentic.”

If you would like to feature on a podcast episode, please email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Podcast: Dan Thurlow on Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus

Podcast: Dan Thurlow on Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus

November 14, 2019

This week on the Event Industry News podcast, our host, James Dickson, welcomed the director of exhibition sales at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC), Dan Thurlow. 

The SEC is a meeting and event venue in Glasgow composed of three buildings: the SEC Centre (five interconnected exhibition and meeting spaces), the SEC Armadillo (3,000-capacity) and The SSE Hydro (a 13,000-capacity concert, sporting and special event arena).

Originally the SECC (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre), the venue rebranded to the SEC to offer more clarity on its venues and services.

It offers event spaces suitable for conferences, exhibitions, sporting events, concerts and corporate events. It can be accessed via train, taxi or plane; the SEC shares a city with Glasgow Airport and has a dedicated Metro station on the campus.

Dan described the in-house team’s approach as hands-on, helping with concepts and discussing with clients about their objectives and requirements. “We want to make shows as strong as possible – we don’t want unsuccessful launches.”

Praising the venue’s location, Dan stated that visitors have a broad choice of hotels, restaurants, bars etc., from which to choose should they want to take a break from exhibiting or their meetings. He said: “We encourage them to travel into Glasgow and see the best of what the city has to offer. Exhibitors are sometimes here three, four nights at a time.

“There’s lots to do in the immediate vicinity but two stops on the train and you’re in the city.”

If you would like to feature on one of our weekly podcasts, please email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Podcast: AV malpractice with Will Curran & Brandt Krueger

Podcast: AV malpractice with Will Curran & Brandt Krueger

November 7, 2019

Joining our podcast host, James Dickson, on this week’s episode of the Event Industry News podcast was Will Curran and Brandt Krueger.

Brandt is a technical producer, educator, speaker and consultant for the meeting and events industry who describes himself as a “geek dad and husband”. He is the founder of Event Technology Consulting and is based in Minnesota, USA.

Will Curran is the founder of Endless Events, an AV production company that has been running for 12 years. 

Both guests are hosts for a weekly podcast dedicated to event technology.

Explaining that he believes there is a “time and a place” for all models of AV production, Brandt stated that the occasion dictates whether it is best to use in-house AV, a third party or to buy/hire in your own AV equipment.

Over the course of the podcast, Will and Brandt described some of their worst experiences in the AV sector, drawing on these examples to demonstrate where certain situations went wrong.

Overpricing proved to be a common “malpractice” in the world of AV, with some venues inflating their starting bids for organisers to use their in-house AV production. Additionally, organisers can then feel trapped if they are contractually bound to use the in-house supplier.

Will and Brandt explored the different practices that organisers can undertake to avoid losing money or time on AV.

If you would like to feature on an episode of the Event Industry News podcast, email molly@eventindustrynews.com.

Reimagining ROI for events with Neil Mortimer of Wonder & newly launched Future Live Today

Reimagining ROI for events with Neil Mortimer of Wonder & newly launched Future Live Today

October 31, 2019

Digital Innovation Director and Co-Founder, Neil Mortimer, joined our podcast host, James Dickson, on this week’s episode to talk about how events can increase value for organisers, clients and sponsors.

Wonder is a creative events agency composed of experienced event specialists. It works with companies such as Google, BT, VISA and Deliveroo to design and create events across the B2B, B2C and B2E sectors.

Yesterday, it launched Future Live Today – a new agency to fulfil the evolving requirements to build more technology into events’ ecosystems so they increase in value.

Stating that event technology and marketing technology are complex facets in the world of events, he believes that clients, event organisers and even event agencies need additional support to make efficient decisions.

“Decisions that seem straight forward at the time aren’t always the best decisions financially or effectively,” he said, stating that Future Live aims to educate and inform professionals to make better decisions.

“I think we’ve seen a new era of event technology companies coming through.”

Neil also offered his professional opinions on the use of technology for both organisers and consumers, stating that events can be driven from both the professional and user perspective.

“If you are building anything that human beings are going to be interacting with, you have to have something that augments an experience.”

If you would like to feature on an episode of our weekly podcast, email molly@eventindustrynews.com.