Written by Valentina Voronova
Marketing and Sales Manager at Data Prisma Oy
VP of Communications
MPI Finland Chapter
Two sunny days (May 11th and 12th) were spent in Tallinn, attending the first Baltic for Events Forum. The agenda included over 30 presentations, a cocktail party and active networking. The event was held in an amazing urban venue, Kultuurikatel (kultuurikatel.ee). It used to be a power station and now it is one of the most popular event venues in Tallinn.
During one of the sessions, a survey was made to find out what the participants find most important at events. There were 6 options to select from: good food, good music, fun, new information, nice people and speakers. 91 participants took part in the survey and learning new information was the winner with 58 %. It was followed by speakers (14 %), fun (11 %) and nice people (10%). Having these four elements in place can create a solid base for a successful event. Imagine an edutainment workshop with inspiring speakers and moderated networking – sounds like a good mix.
In the next chapters I would like to share my takeaways from four speakers, who are etched in my mind: Jens Mayer from Jack Morton Worldwide, Jarkko Kivikoski from Woltti Group, Jan Gemrich from Google and Kaia Valdmaa from Swedbank. I liked these speakers because of the knowledge and advice they have shared with the audience. I believe their speeches aimed to challenge the way event organizers think and act.
Jens Mayer (Jack Morton Worldwide) shared their brand experience principles. He presented customer cases and explained how their team plans marketing campaigns and events in compliance with the four following principles:
1. Be human. Remember the importance of face-to-face meetings. Be open to hearing stories and sharing experiences.
2. Invite participation. Create campaigns that motivate people to participate actively. Combine digital and real life aspects into the same campaign.
3. Be useful. Think of the "after" impact and how you can be useful and make a difference.
4. Build Community. Create campaigns with a long lasting effect that will bring people together and create a feeling of belonging.
Jarkko Kivikoski (Woltti Group) shared three steps of creating an ecosystem where partners can cooperate. These steps can also be useful in creating new businesses and in achieving clients’ needs.
1. Do your homework. You should know your customer's business very well. You can familiarize yourself with your customer by reading their annual report. Remember to pay attention to the strategy section. Company’s annual report will provide you enough of insights on the organizational structure, stakeholders and future plans. Collect all the data in the same place and keep it up to date.
2. Be open. Let people know who you are and what are your interests and hobbies. Will you trust more a person with a business card or a person with an interesting Instagram account? Being open also means that you decide on dos and don’ts, for example on what is a part of your strategy and what is not. Remember to tell others what you have decided.
3. Co-operate and share.
Jan Gemrich (Google, Canada) shared with us six traits of a perfect event agency. He talked about their cooperation with event agencies and mentioned what would scare him away and what would win his trust. According to Jan, most of event agencies are good at execution and bad at creativity. He also referred to template events and repetition of what has already been done. When a good idea is created, it is easy to replicate it over and over again. The downside here is that repetition takes the focus away from development and innovation.
Let’s have a closer look at the list of ideal traits of a perfect event agency:
1. Don't be an agency, be an advisor. An agency should share best practices, keep a track on what's new in the industry and think ahead.
2. Don't wait. Drive & initiate. When the task is done, what's the next step? An agency should be capable of independent thinking on the customer’s behalf.
3. Don't start with planning, set goals first. Define goals, measures and ROI.
4. Don't say yes, say no. Make sure you can keep your promises, don't promise too much.
5. Don't focus on the client, but on the audience. Participant’s satisfaction should be the goal.
6. Don't focus on the event, focus on everything. Take into account stakeholders, trends and other events. Think of what your customer did not think.
And one more rule: don't follow rules, make them. Especially when it is for the sake of the event and experience.
Kaia Valdmaa (Swedbank) started her speech with a saying “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. This thought should guide event organizers and planners. Kaia shared her secrets for success in event management:
1. Event industry is a people business, so find the people you match with. This will ensure great teamwork and better understanding.
2. Invest in a long term partnership. Deeper connection takes time to grow, but it is worth it.
3. Listen. Listen to the craziest ideas and feedback. As soon as you receive feedback, react!
4. Connect. Make you message clear, show that you are involved. Show your example of taking actions.
5. Don’t forget the fun. Include edutainment in your events. Remember that events have to matter. Be relevant and inspirational.
Two days went by fast, but lots of information was shared with the forum participants. At the end of the second day I was already pretty tired, but still attended the last session on networking by Austin Nicholas from Travel Out There. I believe that meeting new people is as important as gaining new knowledge during an event, so I could not miss this seminar. The program said “Five new contacts guaranteed” and the promise was kept. Five brave participants gathered together to learn more about networking. This made the session more personal and allowed us to play an introduction game. Austin showed us how to make an introduction and which information should be shared first. People are interested in other people and they can feel when someone is really excited about something. That is why it is good to tell first what you are passionate about. This will help to find out if there are any common interests or hobbies. Next you can tell whom do you help at work and with whom do you like to work the most.
As well as meeting new people, it is also nice to see people you already know. I was happy to meet up with our amazing MPI Finland team!
The purpose of the Baltic for Events Forum was to showcase event agencies from the Baltic region and to share the latest trends. Many speakers were talking about the importance of using all five senses to create unforgettable event experience. Kultuurikatel was a pleasure for our eyes, music kept us focused, coffee and its aroma energized and the food was just amazing! The Baltic for Events Forum is great initiative to bring event industry professionals together and I am looking forward for the next event!