The problem with events today is that the focus is on event planners turning a profit- and not on driving ROI for each attendee.
With rules like no sponsorships until you exhibit or no social networking opportunities or even zero promotion of attending companies leading up to the event—it’s impossible as an investor in the event to determine the real value.
We need to look at attendees as investors. I come from the business world—I come from telecom—the industry that combines technology with the need for communications—and with this background, my team and I create events for my fellow telecom business professionals. Each of our attendees are investors—and the event is our company—it’s our brand—and we need our investors to get real value and that critical trust factor from our brand.
So how do we do it? We provide technology to let them network ahead of time—before they walk through the doors of the event. So they have a list of prospect or partner meetings – a timetable of business opportunities—before they even walk in the door.
What does that do for me, the event planner? By actually driving the success of your investors—you are driving the success of your brand. You are ensuring that they will walk away with fresh contacts- leads for them to nurture—which can ideally turn into deals and real revenue for them. If we consider our event as a multiple-leads generation tool that all our investors are committing to—then we have a successful event—one where folks will register early, will not swap out or cancel their ticket days before the event due to calendar conflicts—one that they will love from start to finish- and one they will easily sign up for again next year or quarter. It’s about creating an environment to grow business.
So there needs to be a real study on meeting management at events. It’s not about showing a list of company or sponsors names and saying – “you are all in the same room, find each other and see if by the time you actually hunt that person down, you have enough energy and time to actually talk business in a crowded room.” It’s about creating face-to-face meetings in an environment appropriate for business. This new message and pre-planning requires time and thought well ahead of the event dates.
So what technology drives pre-thought, this pre-planning for face-to-face, on-site meetings? As an event planner, I was looking for this technology back in 2003—before facebook, before myspace, heck, before widely-distributed blackberries. And I was looking in vain. There was no such technology. Even the financial guys on Wall Street were resorting to timely-planned emails to folks they already knew a few days before the show—but there was no way (unless events gave out their attendee emails out right, which caused a lot of unwanted spamming and overall irritation) to successfully network before an event. That’s when I met with my IT director at the time and sat down and created the first iteration of what is now known as DealCenter. DealCenter is a platform where we can keep all attendee contact details—safe and secure—where folks can log in, sort this list of other registrants, view their profiles, and if they have services and products in their particular area/region, contact them – via the DealCenter system—to plan a meeting at a particular time and location during the show. Since 2003, the DealCenter system has gone through many iterations, incorporating latest technologies and social media tools. Now, and new for 2012, our newest version combines ease-of-use with a powerful, fast machine, to offer the fastest—google-esque searching capabilities with facebook-esque participant profiles. Also new for 2012, we have a mobile site that takes face-to-face networking on the go for all our investors.
And it’s not just the brawn of the platform, it’s the brains of our team. DealCenter team members are available throughout the use of the platform to offer live and fast support. We are also on-site helping to foster these meetings in a dedicated area, often near the exhibit floor, where we direct meeting participants to their pre-assigned, numbered table. We help facilitate on-site impromptu meetings as well, for those attendees who would like to use a table for a period of time, to have a business meeting with someone they just met on the floor.
We have proudly deployed our new version at ITW and for the i3 Forum in May and Telecom Exchange in June. We will be at the A-Team Low Latency Summit 2012, MEMS in Motion Collaboration Summit and Telecom One-on-One events and more this fall. We are proud to be part of delivering that trust factor to the event industry—where events are valued for the real face-to-face networking opportunities they offer.
What are your thoughts on this? Please leave a comment; love to hear more.