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Corporate events: more than just a party
ARTICLE – Amy Pieterse – 30 May 2018
Research into corporate events in Rotterdam.
During my education and placement, I got into contact with the corporate event industry. An industry which, in my opinion, is developing tremendously. Due to the required workstyle, structured and commercial with a personal touch, and the rapidly changing trends and developments my interest arose for this specific field of the leisure industry. A field where every single detail is of high importance, where the professionals need to be up-to-date on latest implements, solutions and information in order to do their job well. Therefore during the last steps of my education I have deepened myself into this market and its characteristics to stay on top of my game by means of a research into the needs and wants of companies in Rotterdam who organize corporate events. During the research and on network events I have noticed that there is still quite some confusion about events, and especially corporate events. In my opinion here in Holland events are still too often seen as a party, a festival where they have to buy a ticket for, but they cover so much more…
Firstly it is good to know the term which describes corporate events the best. Live communication, events, event marketing? Unfortunately, I discovered during my research and with conversations with other event managers and branch experts that there is still no exact answer for it. Even though some countries like Italy have a little preference for live communication, most of the time a combination will be used to make sure everything is covered. According to the Bea World, an initiative that promotes and recognises excellence in live communication and events, an event is: “An event is a live experience, planned in advance, in a limited period of time, with the objective of affecting the perception or behaviour of the audience, duly included in the marketing mix” (BeaWorld, 2017).
Communication trends for 2018.
Events as a strategic tool
These days’ corporate events are no longer just for bringing people together at a nice location with food and drinks to bring a message. They became methods for strategic tools and objectives, with clients as well as employees or other businesses. Since 2007, when the first smartphone came on the market and social media arise the online world changed tremendously. The world started to digitalize. Everywhere people are online and in contact with each other 24/7. They hear and see things about tools, apps and technological developments, but at the same time people are seeking for personal contact. The online world should be tangible and creating the ultimate experience. Therefore events are seen as an important ‘live’ communication tool, a strategic tool to reach the goals and objectives, whether this is a launch of new product, update the staff or create more customer engagement. This resulted in a high importance of the marketing communication around the events. You can organise the perfect event since everything you devise can be executed, but people should know about it to make it a success.
Due to the increased amount of events and event budgets, which showed a substantial share of the total marketing communication budget, challenges in knowledge of innovations, trends and compliance are expected (Alliance, 2017). All challenges can be related to the biggest trend of last years: personalization. The customer experience is the key driver of success and leveraging personalisation in order to improve this, is of high importance. A survey amongst 1100 digital professionals found that 94% believes that personalisation is a critical factor to success (Econsultancy, 2013). Therefore custom-mode marketing is getting more important, as especially the generations from the Millennials onwards are really seeking for personal contact and cocreation with companies (Sweeney, 2006). We expect from an event to be somehow tailored to us and therefore I think basic personalisation: using names, personal confirmation emails, etc., is a given now. People feel more involved and engaged when they are personally approached, what will result to another and better experience than when the guests feel no connection or bond at all. Personalization has an influence on almost every aspect of the process to an event: from the communication till the interaction with the speakers and from the registration till the staff. But where to start?
The technologies and tools available these days provide even more opportunities for personalization and providing an even more relevant experience. The event industry features of lots of complex data, big data. (Big) Data can help increasing the value of your event or product as you can refer to their interests, origin, values, etc. Especially the ticket registration could be an easy and user-friendly way of gather information, as Sheraz Kazmi, marketing manager Eventbrite Nederland, agreed upon (Kazmi, 2016). The modern ticketing platforms can be easily connected to other platforms, which make it easy to implement the outcomes within your marketing strategy or events for example. The more personal data can be collected, the better the events can be customized as well as future services and products.
Article about AVG and events.
Due to the increase of possibilities for collecting customer data, new regulations on privacy are needed. Risks are associated with collecting personal data, wherefore the European Union the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) approved from May onwards. Also known as the AVG within the Netherlands (Perugini, 2016). This regulation should provide people more insight into the way their personal information is gathered and used, for example for event planners it is important to document how the data is accessed, used and saved. Every event agency is somehow collecting personal data: via the website, guest lists, etc. and therefore we are all influenced by the new regulation. Not only the event agencies but more importantly also their suppliers.
Even though for privacy circumstances the regulation is of high importance, it brings some work with it for the event industry. Especially ‘special personal data’ is a level where event managers should pay attention to, since that is forbidden and as lawyer van Ploum also says: “We have to deal with special personal data more often than we actually realize” (Waterkamp, 2018). Nevertheless, when the person gives permission himself, it is necessary for the protection of vital interests or if they person made the data public himself, the special personal data is allowed to be processed. The rules and restrictions are stronger represented within the AVG and therefore organisations needs to distinguish normal and special personal data. Even though the law and its regulations are most of the time very complex, it is important for event agencies to get insight into developments and rules.
Overall events and live communication are playing a more important role in the marketing strategies of companies. Personal contact is highly valued, co-creation and interaction are wanted and events are seen a strategic tool to reach objectives. But in the meantime innovations and trends keep influencing our opinions, ideas and future plans. A personal approach is wanted on one hand, but we do want to protect our personal information on the other. We share all or personal information online, but we also want to see what is done with it. Therefore I believe that the AVG is a good regulation, which reflects all our needs and wants. With all the new regulations and developments set, there is only one thing left: resolve the misconceptions about the term ‘events’ and make companies aware of them as a strategic tool for reaching their goals and objectives.
A process with a challenge, but I am looking forward to accept it!