All posts tagged: meetings

Making money from meetings at events

You want to add value for participants at your event. You understand that one-to-one meetings can do that. Ideally you would like the solution to add so much value that it becomes a source of additional revenue rather than a cost. If that’s the case, it’s important that you choose the right meeting solution for your event.

Here are three different implementations you might want to consider. There are others.

  1. Buyer-supplier wish-lists. This format is becoming increasingly popular for B2B events with between 20-100 suppliers and 30-300 buyers. Here, buyers and suppliers profile themselves separately. Buyers create wish-lists of, say, 20 suppliers they wish to meet and arrange their selections in order of preference, by dragging and dropping them up and down the list. Suppliers create a list of preferred buyers in a similar manner. Through a powerful administrative desk, the administrator can quickly instruct the system to arrange optimal itineraries for all attendees based on their stated preferences. Through the same desktop, the organizer can drag and drop buyers and suppliers, who were not scheduled to meet each other in one-to-one meetings, into other group activities or onto lunch and dinner tables. Clearly, if you have the right buyers in the room, suppliers will be willing to pay a premium for a full itinerary of meetings with people who have a strong desire to meet them.
     
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  1. One group of attendees – with upsell of extra meetings and dedicated meeting place to sponsors.  If there is a desire among delegates to meet other delegates as well as sponsors, then the organizer might want to enable everyone to request meetings with everyone else. The amount of requests can be capped by default, but adjusted case by case. The person receiving the request is able to confirm or decline (or ignore) it. On confirming a request, the user is presented with a list of mutually available times. One advantage of this implementation is that sponsors don’t immediately stand out as attendees who want to sell to others and may actually end up with more meetings. There are two ways to effectively monetize this solution. The first is to permit only a few requests per attendee at no cost, but then sell individual packages permitting more requests. The second is to sell sponsors a dedicated meeting place ­– a table or a room of their own where all their meetings will take place. While they stay put, others will need to move around from meeting to meeting.
  1. Two groups of attendees. This works well for conference/exhibition-style events where there are exhibitors with stands and the organizer is primarily interested in facilitating meetings for them with delegates. Attendees are separated into two groups, labelled as desired – delegates and sponsors, visitors and exhibitors, etc. Both can be profiled differently. For example, exhibitors may indicate products and services offered; delegates may indicate the size of their company, their purchasing budget and areas of interest. Delegates get to book appointments directly into the diaries of exhibitors or, alternatively depending on how the service is set up, request meetings which the exhibitor should confirm or decline. Shortly before the event, the organizer can extend the service so that exhibitors can invite delegates to meet them. If sponsors have multiple personnel on their stand they are able to schedule concurrent meetings and manage the diaries of each individual staff member. Optionally, the service can also be opened for delegate-delegate meetings close to the event. When the program is run well, exhibitors can end up with appointments with dozens of “power buyers” before the doors even open. That will bring them back, again and again.

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Lastly, there is a great sponsorship opportunity in all these solutions for a company that would like to have its name and logo on all communications send out through the meeting service.

If you are wondering what is the best way to add meetings to your events, we are always happy to offer advice.

Graham SimonMaking money from meetings at events
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The compelling logic of Hosted Buyer Programs

Hosted Buyer Programs are finally coming of age as a companion to B2B exhibitions and, for smaller gatherings where buyers and sellers come together, as events in their own right.

For exhibition organizers the logic is simple. You hold an exhibition with 300 exhibitors.  You bring 4,500 visitors. Of those, perhaps only one in ten might be considered a “power buyer” that many of your exhibitors would like to meet. Would it not therefore be highly desirable to set up quality appointments between your 300 exhibitors and those specific buyers? Certainly, most suppliers would willingly pay a premium for  15-20 guaranteed meetings with qualified corporate decision-makers.

While only a few exhibition organizers may be ready to replace their exhibitions with hosted buyers programmes, many are starting to run a hosted buyer programme alongside their traditional B2B exhibition. Until now, reticence in the events industry towards hosted buyer programmes has historically derived from two main concerns. First, a fear that any additional revenues or cost savings could be quickly consumed by the additional incentives needed to bring the appropriate buyers to the table; some organizers offer air travel, hotel accommodation and meals. Second, a concern that the work needed by event staff to arrange, schedule and consummate meetings is too burdensome.

I’m not an event organizer and therefore not qualified to contest the first concern. But my gut instinct is that buyers meet suppliers anyway and the opportunity to meet a lot of them in one place in a short period of time is very advantageous. If buyers are planning to come to an exhibition, then most would also participate in a well-organized hosted buyer programme without much prompting. Meanwhile some senior buyers who may not otherwise choose to attend an exhibition might actually be attracted by the opportunity to pre-schedule a full day of qualified appointments with suppliers. For the remainder, it’s a cost-benefit judgement the organizer has to make on a case-by-case basis.

As a technology provider whose company has been providing sophisticated one-to-one meeting services to the event industry for over seven years , I do feel qualified to respond to the second concern. Let’s start by noting that, with or without third-party technology, such companies as Marcus Evans, Richmond Events, the World Trade Group, Forum2Events and others have being generating healthy profits from exactly this format of event for many years now. Several  years ago, the CEO of one of these companies is alleged to have expressed surprise that he did not have more competitors. This is now changing.

Today, there are a lot of slick software solutions on the market that make it easy for event organizers to provide hosted buyer programmes at their events without a huge commitment of resources. Many software companies offer diary-based meeting solutions. One or two – Delegate Select being probably the first in 2008 – also offer wish list-based solutions to event organizers.

Diary Based Solutions

With the diary-based solutions, buyers and suppliers (exhibitors) profile themselves, telling each other what they are seeking or offering. Buyers arrange meetings with suppliers, choosing a mutually available time. If permitted by the organizer, suppliers send personalized invitations by email or SMS to buyers; the recipient confirms, declines or ignores the invitation.

Not all diary-based solutions are equal. It is worth checking whether the software provider’s solution is able to:

  • Permit an exhibitor to hold multiple concurrent meetings and assign individual meetings to other members  of his/her team.
  • Permit a buyer with a confirmed meeting to invite a colleague who is also attending the event to join the meeting.
  • Provide all participants with a bespoke itinerary of their meetings.
  • Update buyers and exhibitors itineraries on their mobile device, i-pad or tablet in real time, should changes occur or new meetings be arranged at the event itself.

Some diary-based software solutions promise to arrange meetings using just the profiles of the two parties. While this may sound convenient, it is not recommended. There are many reasons why buyers and suppliers might not wish to meet.  History, personal relationships, or even the fact that two companies are already doing business may all come into play. Experience suggests that meetings arranged by software systems without direct or even indirect consent of both parties will likely result in a high number of unfulfilled meetings.

Wish-list Solution

With the wish-list solution, buyers and suppliers create online wish lists of who they would like to meet and, if permitted by the organiser, a handful of companies they wish to avoid. Participants arrange their wish lists in order of preference online. Following a cut-off date, the event organiser, at the touch of few buttons, can quickly confirm and schedule hundreds of meetings between the two parties. The organiser has the ability to over-ride or manually supplement the selections made by the system. Attendees end up with personalised itineraries that, to the greatest extent possible, reflect the preferences of both meeting partners.

Regardless of whether a diary or wish-list solution is used, organisers should be sure to check that the solution has been designed responsively and that all functionality is accessible on desk-top and mobile devices alike, without users having to download an app… because many will simply not bother.

Five years ago, the first time one of our wish-list solution clients ran the scheduling for her event, she called me up in tears. “I’ve just scheduled 800 meetings in less than five minutes. You’ve saved me three days of my life”, she cried. We’d like to think that this is only a fraction of the time that has been saved cumulatively since then by bringing buyers and suppliers together in meetings they were both keen to attend.

Graham SimonThe compelling logic of Hosted Buyer Programs
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Inspiration from the departure lounge?

TV

LCD screen showing newly scheduled appointments on a rotating loop

A TV screen in an airport departure lounge makes pretty dull reading. Unless of course, you are waiting for information about your flight and then you can’t take your eyes off it.

Perhaps this was a source of inspiration to Elite, a UK-based international careers firm, who organize career fairs with a difference.

How different? First, their career fairs generally take place in distant lands and their event web-sites and communications with participants are in a foreign language. Second, at many of their events, pre-screened candidates engage in face-to-face interviews with hiring companies and contractual arrangements for employment can take place there and then. Third, they use technology brilliantly.

Elite’s whole process can be summed up in one word. Smooth.

The technology behind their process is supplied by us, Delegate Select. If you want to do things differently at your events and are looking for a supplier that can make this happen, drop us a message!

Graham SimonInspiration from the departure lounge?
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