All posts tagged: one-to-one

Match-making – A new twist on an old idea

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The term “match-making” has become quite fashionable within the event industry of late, but is both misleading and a little disingenuous.

The suggestion is that somehow a third party, such as a “concierge” service or even some clever algorithm, can match attendees at an event with the “right” people. If you have ever attended an event where such a process or technology was used, you may have experienced mixed results.

At a recent industry event focused on event technology, the award-winning “matchmaking” service we were given to use identified all our competitors as our best matches! We were, needless to say, less than impressed.

But even when the software is accurately matching those seeking products, services or information with those supplying them, there are many reasons why people may not particularly want to meet at an event and no amount of intelligent software will ever be able to take these considerations into account – e.g. bad history, already doing business, met last week, friends or relatives ….

Ultimately, providing they are given the right information, people themselves know best who they want to meet and how they want to plan their day. Present this in a simple, intuitive interface and they are off and running. So the key to an effective meeting service at a business event is profiling your visitors and exhibitors (or buyers and suppliers) in a manner that quickly lets visitors identify exhibitors who are offering what they want and exhibitors identify visitors who want what they are offering. Once you do that, you can simply permit each party to filter the list of counter-parties by checking a box that says “Show me everyone who matches my profile” or by selecting a specific set of criteria, such as “Companies over a certain size that sell product A in markets B, C and D”.

That, incidentally is what our software has been doing since its inception, over ten years ago.

Graham SimonMatch-making – A new twist on an old idea
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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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Getting the most out of one-to-one networking

meetings1Invariably the primary or secondary reason that people will give for attending a business event is networking. The other main reason – and this varies from event to event – will be the educational content.

Delegate Select considers itself a world leader at facilitating networking at events. Over the past eight years, we have witnessed many very successful and some less successful implementations by our customers of our one-to-one networking solutions. If I had to distil our accumulated learning into six simple lessons, they would be these:

Make sure your service is visible and easy to access. Having a meeting service but not having easy access to it on your main event website generally means you are relying on people to find the link to the service in emails or text messages they may (or may not) have to hand. This is very wasteful.

Profile your people correctly. Sometimes called demographics, profiling refers to the information you collect from registrants. You don’t need to ask registrants lots of questions, but you do need to get them to classify themselves in such a manner that they appear in the right result set when people make qualified searches for potential meeting partners. The best way to design your profiling categories is simply to put yourself in the position of another attendee and ask what you would really like to know about your fellow attendees. If you are running a two-group event – e.g. solution providers/delegates or exhibitors/visitors – then you should probably be profiling each group differently. You can collect profiling information for your own benefit too. This information does not have be searchable by other registrants. But I’d suggest you keep this to a minimum, such as one question like “How did you hear of the event?”

In general, the longer lead time you can give people the more confirmed meetings you are likely to generate. However, there is a balance between lead time and having enough registrants on the system when the meeting service is opened to convey to users a sense that the event is going to be well attended. We have run our service at events where the one-to-one networking has actually fueled the desire to register, attend and arrange meetings – even to the extent that the ultimate constraint on the total number of meetings was the physical lack of meeting tables and time slots. This is not set in stone. We have also seen events where a good number of meetings were confirmed, even though the meeting service was opened only a few days before the event.

Send follow-up communications to boost the number of confirmed meetings. This does not need to be a burden to you. Nor do you want to bombard your attendees with emails. Our administrative desktop, like some others on the market, allows you to easily segment your target audience and send personalized emails to them. You therefore might want to prepare brief template emails for the following groups of people in advance:

  • People who have received meeting requests, but have not yet gone to the system. Remind them to respond.
  • People who received the introductory email but not yet engaged with the system (and have not yet been invited to meetings). Just remind them that the system is there and give them an idea of the sort of companies and people with whom they could be meeting. Perhaps let them know how well some of their colleagues/competitors are doing in this regard!
  • You might also consider a third email to be sent to all registrants three or four days before the event, reminding them that the event is approaching and they should hurry up and make as many confirmed meetings as possible before then.

If attendees do not have their own dedicated meeting place, have a meeting area with tables or booths that can be automatically allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. With two groups of attendees, it is likely that your solution providers or sponsors or exhibitors will have their own stand, pod or room. Their meetings should take place there. If your event permits peer-to-peer meetings among delegates, consider having an area called the “Meeting Zone” (or something similar) with numbered tables. Your meeting software should automatically take care of the allocation of tables and should not permit meetings to take place in a timeslot where there is no remaining meeting place (or vice-versa). Such a solution requires minimal or zero staffing prior to and during the event, because each attendee’s itinerary tells them, “You are meeting such and such a person, at such and such a time, at such and such a place.” An alternative is to let people meet at various meeting points during your event, but this is much less effective.

Brand your solution to give it some exclusivity. Consider branding the networking solution and, if you run more than one event, using that brand across all of them. Without giving away any secrets, one of our customers chose a brand that generated a real sense of exclusivity. When used in their marketing communications it has generated an enormous amount of participation, year after year.

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Delegate Select’s one-to-one networking solutions empower event producers with excellent opportunities to generate additional income along with valuable information about their registrants. We’re always happy to discuss these benefits with you and offer advice and suggestions about adding networking to your event.

Graham SimonGetting the most out of one-to-one networking
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