Herding in the Voice of God
Herding in the Voice of God

Herding in the Voice of God

Our Blog - 04/02/2020

Until last week I understood neither the meaning nor the significance of these words!

After six months working as Marketing Manager for Primary (events & exhibitions agency) it was time for me to join the team at an event, to gain the real insight -  to play my part in putting into action the months of pre-planning and meticulous attention to detail.

Armed with a catalogue of a Working Document (the blueprint that’s both the agenda and the event timeline) this was my opportunity to see how it all hangs together. 

Usual theory applied. If I lived it then I’d understand what differentiates our service…

An Annual 3-Day Event

The team mission: to deliver a 420 PAX three-day EMEA channel partner conference at a venue in Riga, Latvia.  When you’ve only ever attended (rather than worked) an event like this, that sounds ridiculously easy. Until you find out how carefully it is choreographed.

Primary works differently. We develop close relationships with our clients to understand event and wider marketing objectives.  This helps us to use our experience and creativity to recommend options at all phases of project management. To us, knowing the purpose, the communications strategy and the delegate profile of the event is essential to allow us to bring together all the component parts, culminating with creation of the most engaging content (which is, after all, the reason for attending).

This was a full agenda of both plenary sessions and smaller breakout sessions. The complex schedule allowed for country specific sessions, awards ceremonies and for advice led sessions and case studies to support business development. It goes without saying that full corporate branding was required as standard (event app, in-venue signage and video content for keynote speakers).

Senior Execs- The Delegates

This annual event brings together both senior client Executives and heads of partner companies and facilitates communications for high level strategy for the year ahead.  Global board level delegates also fly in from the USA, so the stakes are high in terms of delivery. The delegates are also our clients – all 420 of them.

The Location and Venue

Riga, Latvia added interest as a new location this year. The venue ticked all the boxes for conference facilities: set and stage set up & production for main plenary, great food, plenty of exhibition space for sponsors, accommodation for the entire delegation and short transfers from the airport. 

Primary’s Role

Primary provided a full service and co-ordinated the entire event.   In addition to the main plenary sessions, the agenda was carefully thought through to ensure a mix of hard-hitting business strategy, celebrating awards successes and allowing networking at social events (including 13 different dine-arounds at different restaurants in and around Riga) and a gala dinner.

The Gala Dinner

I’ll never again attend a gala dinner without judging what’s happening around me.

We needed to inconspicuously (aided by the dimmed lighting) walk between the tables to ensure service was swift and timely, that glasses were being charged and diners were happy.  Services was halted in pre-determined time slots to allow speeches and entertainment. The team needed to know any unplanned changes to ensure the production desk were ready for any remedial action if the timings slipped.

My Insight: So how do Primary make a difference?

It’s all about the planning.  The Gold Standard expertise in Project Management will make or break an event.  The key is anticipating what can crop up and the skills to provide ‘think on your feet’ solutions.

Once the event is live, I now understand that it’s 100% about maintaining exceptional levels of customer service whilst being fully conversant with the agenda. It’s no mean feat when (for example) there are several different concurrent sessions and we needed to herd* delegates towards their correct sessions to ensure the schedule was kept (and yes, the Voice of God* helped massively to move them on….).

Even 13 ‘dinearound’ groups (despatching various sized groups of delegates to restaurants all around Riga) didn’t raise a single issue. To successfully test and liaise with venues to ensure success and all dietary requirements are catered for is pretty impressive.

My Experience

Too many to mention here.  Without doubt the best way to escalate knowledge and learn how the client achieves their objectives.

Treated like an exec for transfers, I was then geared up for long days and grabbing food on the go. In reality, our PM had it covered – we cleverly took time for a breather from the registration desk whilst delegates were also dining (& without any impact on our service levels).

The event app was invaluable to enable each delegate to know which session they had pre-selected at registration. Push notifications helped them to be in the right place at the right time.  Equally, WhatsApp ensured effective team communication/updates during the event.

It’s important to remain ‘visible’ and available at all times ~ this is key for on-site help from delegates, speakers and Execs.

Client Feedback

100% positive feedback so far on the success of the event.  We make it our business to collect and collate feedback.  That way we can review and constantly learn and improve or change where we feel we need to. We constantly challenge ourselves to provide unbeatable levels of service, and this one was no exception.

The Future

On to planning our next event – face-to-face events like this will continue to be an important part of marketing strategy, whatever the industry.  Interesting that a Bellwether Report** suggests that marketeers are predicting an upturn in events marketing budgets above other key marketing mix elements.

And my favourite delegate request of the week…?

“There’s no hand cream in the Gents toilets.” Yep, we had that one covered too….

 

 

Julie Townsend;

Marketing Manager - Primary

 

** [Marketing Week: 15 Jan 2020] ‘Events marketing is expected to be the strongest area with, 11.9% of marketers overall anticipating growth, followed by main media advertising (6.3%) and sales promotions (2%)’.

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