Newsletter Issue 10 : December 2014


If you would like to be sent future editions then let us know. We would welcome input from readers on news, job changes and other stories. Please send us your news.

James Mayes, Commercial Director, Mind the ProductConference Summit 2014 Review

GCN's 4th Annual Conference Summit took place on Friday 5th December in the newly opened etc.venues,155 Bishopsgate, attracting 190 attendees. Many strategic discussions took place both in the main conference room and in breakout discussion rooms, covering a range of topics including Communities, LSEs, Visions for the Future, LinkedIn, Awards, Content-led exhibitions and an analysis of the events market on an international scale.

The day, chaired by Bansri Shah, MD of Greenpower Conferences, kicked off with a Keynote Address from MP Nick de Bois who also works on a steering committee (The Business Visits and Events Partnership - BVEP) to support the UK events industry. Nick, who once ran an events business of his own, talked about politics and policies that can have a direct effect on event businesses - such as tax, health & safety, employment legislation – and his frustration at how the events industry has been so successful but not really heard.

Next up was Denzil Rankine, Executive CEO of AMR International, who had done some fascinating research for us on the Growth Forecast of the Events Industry both in the UK and internationally. With large scale events seeing a growth forecast of 4% per annum, the biggest share of GDP in the industry is seen in Hong Kong events, and the largest event market by far is the US with still much opportunity for growth.  He talked us through remaining opportunities in emerging markets and pointed out that while Africa still has a high GDP, doing business there comes with political and economic risks; Latin America (Columbia, Argentina and Mexico) is less risky but comes with lower GDP and issues with venues; and ASEAN countries still provide opportunities but often local partnerships are needed before entering a market. He concluded however that there is still money to be made in emerging markets. There has been a big acquisition spree in the event sector, resulting in further growth; the introduction of digital has brought much more data into the sector and companies should see this as a very important asset to allow them to engage with their audiences. He asked the audience to think about “why do your delegates not sleep at night?” and pointed out that we have tools to get that information and can provide relevant content and matchmaking at our events. This question proved to be a theme throughout the rest of the day, and Denzil feels it is at the heart of the growth of our industry. Other opinions included that we are way behind the times on our price optimisation (and we need to ensure everyone gets value for money and pricing should be linked to using the data we have). The talk finished on a positive note from Denzil that “there is lots on the main agenda in the events sector and it has a great outlook”.

On our panel talking about Community Engagement, we heard from a range of conference models - membership-led, associations and commercial conference – through panellists from Procurement Leaders, the Environmental Industries Commission, Informa and The Economist. The group used the polling and question app to establish how far along the audience were in establishing communities around their events which showed just over half are either thinking about it or have just started doing so. General advice from the panel was that companies should take a leap of faith to invest in their said community; work on what you are trying to achieve first and plan beyond your first year by looking at the long term strategy. Once the investment is made it is essential to keep engaged with your community to make it worthwhile and other additional revenue may result in that investment, such as an increase in demand for Customer Research Reports.

The audience were then invited to break into smaller roundtable discussions which were being hosted in breakout rooms. The morning sessions on offer were to discuss Sales, Marketing and Content Creation (plus an additional visionary discussion for Directors and CEOs which was invitation only and Chatham House Rules.)  The main theme of the Sales session, held by Tim Mann of Solar Media was focusing on the customer and our ROI. We need to see better quality data and audience engagement, so therefore need to get to know our customers better and deliver what they want. The Marketing session led by Sharon Thomas of Gartner concluded that we all have different needs but similar challenges and again it is important to understand what our audience wants. We need to use the data derived from digital channels; everyone is reducing their print spend as it is a demand on budget; personalisation and segmentation is really important; content is king and we should embrace new technology. Email continues to dominate the marketing mix and we must test, test, test our market. The Content creation session led by Shannon Doubleday of Euromoney produced interesting discussions around editorial content being “news” that is not always commercially transformed into conference content. We need to focus on useful news and loyalty and use content for problem solving. We are seeing a changing expertise in the role of both conference producers and event marketeers, and the need for training in these new roles was flagged with high importance; we should use our sponsors for more content and problem solving and use YouTube for video conferencing as an additional content channel. The importance of delegate feedback from questionnaires and research was also discussed.

After lunch we heard of Visions for the Future from three leaders from Optimus Education, IRN International and Euromoney. This session tested the audience with some polls, concluding that face-to-face is still important to most companies; many companies feel their events could be more innovative; and conference organisers will still exist in the future! Concerns raised amongst the panel were that delegates need to feel they are in control of content; Big Data is here and now and should be used to the maximum; vendor-led events are encroaching on our space; we need to keep a tight watch on our profit margins; companies would like to find new ways to deliver a unique experience and that having press at an event can be a hindrance as it takes away ownership of content formed from our events. The panel discussed good innovative format which have worked for them, including moving from classroom to cabaret layout in the conference room; invitation-only sessions; live audiences generated by conference twitter walls; encouraging your audience to stand up during the day and facilitating meetings between sponsors and attendees. Euromoney offer a drop-in speaker training session the day before events where they can run through their presentations and receive advice on delivery, as well as giving the team a chance to vet presentations for unwanted sales pitches.  Optimus Education provide video guides for speakers before an event.

Then followed a talk on How to Successfully Move an Event From Stage 1 to Large Scale Event. Panelists from UBM, i2i Events and (previously ITE) firstly defined what makes an LSE. The two dominant factors are big revenue and scalability, in addition to planning, and needing an industry that is going to last. It was pointed out that “you cannot launch an LSE you have to grow it”. Through a poll, the audience felt that the biggest factor to create an LSE was audience size followed by sponsorship potential. The panel were surprised that these two were not listed the other way round.  It was also discussed that having a big team is essential, as one person cannot control the overall success. During planning and research of your market, you should establish which geos you are you planning to break into, and what new partners are out there. The panel were asked what their biggest success factors when creating their own LSEs, to which they replied:  creating a successful analysis; looking at the growth over three years not just one; assessing the risk involved; and appointing the right government ministry to support your event.

Claire Wormsley then gave a brief breakdown of the results of the GCN Salary Survey. The responses came from a wide spread of titles in the events industry but predominantly from senior management, perhaps benchmarking their own salary but also ensuring they are paying their teams competitive rates. Some conclusions reached from the results were more marketing people are needed to cope with so many new channels now available; marketing roles have a higher basic with less scale for commission, with the opposite applying to producers. Sales roles have the highest packages, whereas operations roles see the lowest pay and smallest commission packages. In order to retain talent it seems more and more employers are offering benefits such as pensions, training, private health care, life insurance and childcare vouchers. To put some figures (OTE) on the findings, Conference Producers start on an average of £24k leading to £70k at Director level;  Marketing roles start at around £25k progressing to £80k; Sales start at £30k progressing to £100k; and Operations start at £20k and progressing to £60k. Other interesting figures on how long people stay in the industry, who burns out quickest, which job titles last longest and which sectors have received pay rises in the past year, all proved some very interesting findings.

The audience then broke into smaller groups again for afternoon Roundtable discussions – this time the choice of topics were LinkedIn; Awards; International Risk and Content-led exhibitions. The LinkedIn discussion was led by Chris Gilmour from Only LinkedIn, and discussions included concerns that employees build up a good network of industry contacts but if that person leaves the company, they take their personal contacts with them; joining groups is sometimes a good way to research but there is a danger that competition may get hold of your programme; and there is no escaping that while LinkedIn is a great tool for generating good leads it is very labour and resource intensive. LinkedIn should be used to engage with delegates after each event and building relationships and one delegate explained how their company encourages employees to control Groups so that the company still owns them - even when employees move on. Another pointed out that LinkedIn is good for cluster analysis. In the Awards session, Rory Ross Russell reported that companies continue to enter Awards even in hard times and it encourages people to be proud of their product and good staff morale. Having lunches and other meet ups with judges helps to provide loyalty towards your Awards event and judging techniques vary from online only scoring to Dragons Den style. Strategies for attracting sufficient entries were discussed as well as the on-the-night impact, including the importance of a good host. The Content-Led Exhibitions session hosted by Claire Tulloch of i2i Events, broke into two groups which discussed 1) Do we run for brand or revenue maximisation? And 2) the problem of marketing good content vs sales pitches. It discussed what the show floor should put on, apart from seminars and this included one-to-one meetings, workshops and show floor tours. The Risk session led by Martin Linfield of Hiscox Insurance, concluded that the events industry is a “very gung-ho lot!”  Martin revelled in comments such as the comfort to event organisers that there is a 5-star hotel in every unstable country. They discussed risk management and safety hurdles organisers should be putting into place such as infrastructure, building safety of venues, geo adapting, concerns over local legislation and employing good local people to help you with your risk management.

The final, but by no means least, talk came from Katie Streten of Imagination who gave a very dynamic insight into how we can Innovate the Delegate Experience.  Katie began by compartmenting the delegate experience into four trends: cloud computing (enabling us to store more data, speed up payment process, and run webinars), the internet of things (enhancing networking and advertising opportunities), experience economy and Generation Z (our future audience who will never have known life without the internet and social networking and who have high expectations of connectivity). She showed some examples of new technology coming on to the market, one being iBeacon which stores data about individuals and tracks their whereabouts in order to be able to alert them of offers by retailers in their vicinity. When applied to the delegate experience this device has potential to be used in many ways – from printing your badge on arrival, giving directions to the conference venue, sending targeted exhibitor messages and providing a networking and information exchange without having to swap business cards!  Katie ran through some recent successful innovations such as smaller rooms and shorter talks and gamified networking and engagement.

The Conference Summit packed a huge amount of talks, discussion and smaller breakout groups into one day, hopefully providing good value to both the delegates present and the events industry as a whole.

We would like to very much thank our event sponsors: The Dubai Convention and Events Bureau, etc.venues, Hiscox, One World Events and Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong as well as the others sponsors and partners.

The 2015 Conference Summit is scheduled to take place on Friday 4th December. For more information see Follow @globalConfNet for updates or join us on LinkedIn.


Counter terror warning for organisers

Informa's growth strategy: Markets and users not platforms

Middle East: US$1.3 billion GCC MICE sector poised for further growth

Safety and security top of travel planners' agenda next year



For more information about GCN Talent see:

Senior Conference Producer – Creative/Marketing LSE – London - up to £35K base plus profit share

Senior Content Manager – Major Media Company – London - £41K plus benefits

Global Sponsorship Sales Manager – London – Up to £50K base plus commission plus excellent benefits

Sponsorship & Exhibition Sales Director – London – Up to £50K base - £90K-£100K OTE

Event Portfolio Manager – Auckland, New Zealand – up to £32K base plus bonus & relocation/benefits

Senior Conference Producer /1 year contract – Amsterdam - £35K plus profit share & relocation

If you’re a recruiter looking for help with a particular vacancy or recruitment campaign, please call us on +44 (0)20 8123 5805 or email and we’ll be delighted to discuss your requirements and how we can help.


The annual Conference Awards are now open for entries!

2015 will be the sixth year of the Conference Awards, which are the most prestigious and sought after awards in the conference and event industry. Just entering the awards creates many benefits; it can validate your business integrity, attract industry recognition, celebrate the achievements of your team and generate powerful publicity for your business.

Our top five reasons to enter this year: industry recognition; business credibility; celebrate team achievements; benchmark your business; attract top talent

With numerous awards to choose from we are positive you will find one that matches your particular strengths. You may even wish to enter more than one and increase your chances of being recognised as one of the conference and event industry’s elite.

Start your entry by December 30th and you will be entitled to the discounted entry fee of £145 + VAT. Enter now or complete the intention to enter form.

Don’t worry though; there is plenty of time to complete your full entry. Our new entry system lets you complete sections and return to the entry at anytime. We’ll also be offering hints and tips on perfecting your entry in due course.

We do hope that you choose to take part and look forward to receiving your entry soon.

Good luck!

New Year Drinks Reception for Operation and Events Professionals

Sponsored by

This invitation only drinks reception on 4th February 2015 is for operations professionals who want to network and share ideas. Taking place at etc.venues Monument - 8 Eastcheap, and kindly sponsored by Meetings and Exhibitions Hong Kong who will be sharing information about their forthcoming FAM trip to Hong Kong in June 2015.

If you wish to join the guest list please contact

Thank you!

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our speakers, sponsors and participants that have been involved with Global Conference Network this year. We launched various new initiatives throughout the year and are delighted with the positive results, which would not be possible without your continued support.

Our most notable new launches have been the Event Marketing Summit in October which attracted over 160 senior event marketing professionals, we have also launched a brand new Association Excellence Awards which will take place in February and has over 50 leading associations shortlisted for honours. We have also started a brand new recruitment arm called GCN Talent which is already placing at least 2-3 candidates per month. 

Together with our existing Conference Awards and Conference Summit both of which will return in 2015, we are slowly building a portfolio of events and a community which we plan to grow further through new initiatives and communications such as this monthly newsletter.  

We look forward to seeing you in the New Year!

Rory Ross Russell & Claire Wormsley