Newsletter Issue 27: July 2016


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Conference Golf Cup
22nd September 2016
New Zealand GC, Surrey
Operations Directors Roundtable
27th September 2016
etc.venues, Fenchurch St
Event Directors Dinner
28th September 2016
30 Euston Square
Event Marketing Summit
7th October 2016
Chelsea FC
London Venue Awards
14th October 2016
The Emirates Stadium
The Conference Summit
9th December 2016
99 City Road


This month we interviewed Greg Hackett, who has a wealth of industry experience from his time at informa as well as more recently Clarion Events.

Why old producer habits die hard and how to beat them

It seems we know what happened.

We understand that it's now ultimately about markets not topics. We get that the Internet has degraded the value of content at events and raised the value of networking and branding. We know people have less time and money so are more likely to choose only key industry events, and in many of the big trad markets we have accepted the erosion of delegate revenue, and pushed the problem on to sponsors with the promise of guested audiences and client-packed speaker line-ups.

In simple terms, the best (biggest) events are the ones where sponsorship-driven transactional activity rather than content-driven education are front and centre. Programmes and speakers are still important of course, because a skim-read through the agenda is still the most reliable guide to the event's profile. But does that stuff make it into the headline sponsor's marketing director post-show board report? Unlikely. Prospects? Sales? Data capture? Er, yep. The end user has become the bait and not the fish.

The loyalty of the established revenue-providing ecosystem is the key to an event company's growth and resilience. So that has to inform two things. Firstly, how events hang together and what they need to look like - this I believe most firms have mostly figured out. But secondly, what is the most cost-efficient structure to support the LSE-delivering business? This I think is less understood.

But the LSE-modelled events business is easy, isn't it? You pump up the sponsorship resource, give production a bit more breathing space, fiddle about with telesales, turn down the list rental, turn up the social media, use actual designers and decent websites, fuss about show flow and onsite experience, start the whole process 14 months out and ops keep the customers happy and still trouser the supplier gifts at Christmas. Job done.

Except the job is only half-done because this is activity not structure. Intellectually, we get it but practically, or to be more accurate, structurally, many places just haven't fully moved on.

Marketing has more or less traded off investment in resource with lower direct spend in large part thanks to social media and online. Campaigns are more complicated and intricate with greater ongoing analysis, creativity and reactive tactics. Telesales teams are generally lighter with greater emphasis on warmer lead conversion and relationship building. Increasingly there is a trend for events marketers to easily move to other industries which hasn't always been the case. In other words, marketing has grown up.

An MD friend of mine said to me a few years ago, 'Have you noticed ops is suddenly strategic?'. I thought about this a good deal afterwards and had to agree with a certain amount of guilt that this was true but I hadn't particularly noticed it. A bit like ignoring your kid's progress at school and then being struck dumb when they suddenly start ordering all the food and fluently asking directions on your foreign holiday. Of course they have so much more to contribute where the sponsorship stream has eclipsed delegates. But are they more expensive? No not really. Mainly because bigger events means greater buying power and more opportunities to save and make money. When its decision time in the planning meeting, an outspoken and confident ops person will often ask the killer questions these days.

So it comes down to sales and production. And so it should if the shift in events is from delegate revenue to sponsorship revenue. The big elephant in the room question for a lot of businesses is 'Can we cut back on production to pay for sales resource?'

So why is this such a squeaky question? Here's a few theories:

1. Many of the people responsible for structure have themselves come up on the content side and to challenge the role of content in the event formula is to challenge one's self. Not easy.
2. The sponsorship people want the content support. If you hear your sales people saying their clients are waiting to see the programme then I reckon your structure is flawed.
3. The content people are very convincing. In your team they may be the ones that give you hope that you have any actual intellectual investment or presence in your market. Should you cut back your nose to spite your face?

The answer to that last question is no. But I think you can achieve more with less. The trend it seems to me is a shift towards publishing models where the publishers run the show and the editors make sure the show is worth running. Publishers in events are commercial directors and MDs, and your editorial team are your content people. The editorial team in a publication are glamorous to the market, but behind the scenes the publishers lead the business. This is a very bitter pill for some people who came through the ranks believing something else.

Would this mean that pursuing a conference production or content career is a bad idea? No, but it will lead to a different place. Don't expect to make MD by staying on that one path. If you reach a senior content position in a progressive events business then your role will be much more like an editor's and therefore better transferable to other platforms, industries and roles.

However, if you are a producer who can sell then why not take the leap? Producers who transfer to sales and succeed are gold dust. You might have to risk some income at first because if you're somewhere that's still clinging to the old model then you are probably on a better basic than a starter-level sales person.

There are plenty of examples in our industry of leaders who have worked in more than one discipline and increasingly this should be a key career objective for people in events. The simple reason is that as events become fewer and bigger so product teams work closer together rather than being sat with their functional teams and the lines between roles will blur. And another trend we are seeing that supports this is events companies incubating people who are launching events, and these people tend to operate cross-functionally.

The challenge to you is to see how broadly you can drive an events business - not only in your starting role, but across the product team. The challenge for event owners is how to find those people who can be both Jack and master of all trades. And they must put sales at the centre of their business and have all roads, even content, lead there.


The 7th annual Conference Awards were held at Tobacco Dock on Friday 1st July at Tobacco Dock.

Over 600 event professionals were entertained at a long friday afternoon lunch by co-hosts Stephen K Amos and Pippa Evans who announced the winners of these coveted awards.

We would like to thank the sponsors who made the event possible and the judges for their hard work and dedication in deciding the winners. See highlights video.

Event Marketing Summit 2016 - book today and save £100

On October 7th the Event Marketing Summit 2016 will take place in London. Last year the summit was attended by more than 140 marketing professionals. The day is packed with expert speakers, case study presentations of event marketing campaigns – with real results, and lively discussions. See the website for the full details

Don't miss this chance to register for the early booking rate of just £595 + VAT, discounted rate ends this week. Book online here

Download the brochure here:


UBM Results

Euromoney new price targets

i2i Events Group Waste Management initiative

London Venue Awards finalists announced


If you’d like to discuss a recruitment campaign – or your next career move - Kevin can be reached on 07958 704261 Katharine on 07803 078236 

For more information about GCN Talent see:

Commercial Director – Clean Energy Brands – up to 45K base 80K OTE, London

Portfolio Manager – Conference Company – up to 40K plus profit share, London

Delegate Sales Manager –Australia (relocation assisted), c 35K base 50K OTE, Sydney

Marketing & Communications Manager, Publishing & Events London

Portfolio Manager – Global Event Organiser/Publisher – 42K plus profit share, London

Conference Producer – Middle East – 32K plus profit share, Dubai

Event Manager (with Expo experience) – up to 55K plus bonus, London

International Sponsorship Sales Manager – lots of travel – 45K base, 85K OTE, London

Sponsorship Sales Manager – Digital Marketing Events, 30K base, 50K OTE, London