What do companies such as Cisco, SAP, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo, Microsoft and so many other Fortune 500 companies have in common? They all strategically make use of Meetings & Events!
An example: last May, SAP invited almost 50.000 clients and
staff to SapphireNow, their yearly event. Almost 5.500 guests
were in Frankfurt (with Richard Branson among others), and
over 10.000 in Orlando (with Al Gore). And almost 35.000
guests followed the conference and the 28 sessions in streaming
on the Net! The first results: delighted clients who have
found answers to their problems and sales, marketing and
communication departments who are now familiar with the company’s
strategy and who all work together. Who can do better? Thankfully,
you don’t need this kind of event nor such a large
budget to benefit from the impact of meetings.
A whole range of possibilities
Meetings clearly and directly influence the performance of companies and allow all kinds of organisations to meet their strategic objectives. They are also a catalyser for training, motivation and professional development. There is nothing more efficient than the face-to-face to transform content into behaviour. Companies seem to be rediscovering the fact that their intrinsic value is indeed the sum of all motivated talents within their company and meetings can significantly help to retain these talents.
The above demonstrates the wide range of possibilities that the Meetings & Events industry can offer companies who use these instruments. Robin Auld, Marketing Director at Domino’s Pizza PLC in the UK, is convinced: “Event marketing is vital for the interaction between our franchisees and it is essential in maintaining our brand culture. Meetings allow us to engage in a true dialogue between the management and the employees, to communicate where we are going with the brand, to talk about our vision for the future and to unite all energy and passion behind our brand.”
The progressive integration between sales, marketing, communication, production, Meetings & Events, and social media creates a new way of managing business and requires new competences. Masters in event management are but little known, or even non-existent, here in Belgium. They are however becoming more and more widespread in the entire world and make the sector more professional. Before, it was a bit like Obelix who accidentally ended up in the sector whereas today, it is a career we can deliberately choose and build upon throughout our entire lives.
An unknown trade
This new profession is indeed but little known in Belgium and Europe, notwithstanding its impact on the economy via the jobs it creates and the tax revenues it generates on a local level. The Meetings & Events industry has known this for years and is finally beginning to prove it. Recent research by organisations such as the US Travel Association or MPI (www.mpiweb.org) shows numbers that can measure the impact of the industry. The methodology exists and is used... over there. Now we need to find ways to do the same over here! Just to give a reference: in the States the sector represents over 131 billion dollars.
Companies using meetings can already measure the impact by evaluating the objectives defined at the beginning of the business cycle. The tools exist, now it’s a matter of using them. Tools that measure and increase the percentage of the marketing budget dedicated to Meetings & Events. Christian Stein, marketing director of Peugeot UK, declared a couple of months ago that his event budget for product placement was about to increase. According to him, this type of events is gaining ever more importance because it is an efficient way of touching potential consumers. Contrary to TV, radio or direct marketing, “an event allows consumers to reach a decision because they can touch and experiment with the products.”
Today, consumers are much more active in brand conversations. To get them positively involved, in an authentic and transparent manner, is an integrated part of new marketing strategies. This was also shown in a recent study published by Forbes Insights (The New Rules of Engagement: CMOs Rethink Their Marketing Mix).
Event marketing can have a positive impact on the involvement of consumers, the motivation, training and retention of teams, customer relationships or brand integrity. Today, it is an integral part of the marketing mix of the most performing companies.