A pain point is defined as a problem, real or perceived. We all have them and we all experience them. Individuals pain points vary depending on their experiences. Hippo’s services are based around solutions to those key pain points, through our full Event Project Management and Global Venue Finding services.
Below we look at 5 common pain points of organising an event:
(1) Lead Time
Shortened lead times are a challenge of modern day event management. Many organisations and businesses often do not have sight of their meeting and event budgets either until the new financial year has begun or their recent fiscal results have been released. The largest trend the industry has seen in the previous ten years has been the dramatic reduction in lead times. Years have become months, months have become weeks and weeks are now days. This could be due to several influencing factors; increased competition and economic instabilities to name a few.
As a professional event manager you must work within your given timeframes. So, rather than dwell on it, embrace the challenge – test yourself and your skills. Anything is possible if you dedicate yourself, put in the work and do it with a smile you can turn that pain point in to a pleasure.
(2) Hidden Fees
So, you’ve signed the contract, added all items to your budget, received sign off and you’re pressing ahead with the planning. And then – wham! – you’re thrown a curveball…your supplier wasn’t quite a forthcoming as you’d like them to be about the breakdown of costs or any additional fees. Suddenly your budget has sky rocketed with these unforeseen additions. More so, where do you find the extra money?
Whether it’s rigging charges, cloakroom, staffing, furniture, accommodation, per diems, security, even electricity, these fees can rapidly add up. They are sometimes hidden deep in the terms and conditions, so Hippo would always recommend reading through the contract T&C’s as thoroughly as possible. We understand the small print can be annoying, but it could save your thousands in the future. In fact, speak with your suppliers and venue on the phone or face-to-face to ask about additional fees. Explain to them what you are looking to do in your event and ask them to send across quotations to match your requirements, prior to signing anything.
(3) Response times
In today’s world we are all guilty of wanting everything yesterday. The evolution of the internet and e-mails has made information accessible at the click of a button, and it’s safe to say that we now expect this from our suppliers. When organising an event, yours is the most important and always will be, hence why we need and want quick answers, however to a supplier, they may have multiple events on all at once, from which they must prioritise their responses.
Slow response times and chasing suppliers can be frustrating, especially when you have your own internal deadlines to meet. Think ahead as best possible, giving the supplier the maximum amount of time to draft a response. Detail when you need a response by, and if it is an extremely quick turnaround then consider if you’d be happy to accept basic information over a detailed response.
(4) Rogue delegates
Often working with hundreds (or thousands) of your invitees, all with different backgrounds, workloads, locations, mentalities etc. it can prove tricky to ensure they all follow the same steps and instructions. At times, it can feel like an uphill task.
Hands up if one of the following has happened to you… a delegate arrives on the event day itself providing an obscure dietary requirement that isn’t prepared for and wasn’t detailed in their registration…you are inundated with pre-event e-mails asking for detail already covered in the correspondence sent out…or….you’ve got either an incredible dip or spike in numbers on the event day itself due to no-shows or attendees turning up having not registered? Don’t worry, it’s happened to the best of us and is part and parcel of events. Depending on how you perceive these quirks, its best to see the humour in the situation. Concentrate on that, and always remember that if it isn’t for your delegates attending the event, there wouldn’t be an event at all.
Did you know that according Forbes event planning is considered the 5th most stressful job of 2017? If you are an event organiser yourself, you most probably could have guessed this! Stress comes hand in hand with managing events. The pressure both from external parties and internally can often be overwhelming. It is easy to get swept up in the endless e-mails and mountain of work to complete, but ensure you take a step back when you can. Reassess, prioritise, manage expectations and seek assistance where you can.
High levels of stress can often negatively affect performance but be mindful of the impact it is having on you and your health. Hippo offer a full Event Project Management and Global Venue Finding service. This means we can assist with as much or a little as you wish in your event planning, saving you the long hours, late nights, and endless e-mails!
Please don’t hesitate to contact us on email@example.com or 01372 460 100 – we’re here to help. Hippo.
The importance of a site visit cannot be underestimated. Experiencing a venue, the atmosphere, surroundings, travel time, service and finish can only go so far when presented with images.
Take a look at the second instalment of our ‘Top 10’ series as we establish the key elements to look for when conducting a site visit.
1. Ensure the right people attend
Ensure the right people are conducting the site visit. The organiser is a must, however consider taking the final decision maker if available. Bring your supplier(s) along with you if required and suitable. Be sure to tell the venue who they can expect to be present.
2. Prepare prior to arrival
Bring with you all the details of the venue(s) you have received so far. This may include rates, floor plans, capacities and details on the proposed spaces. Be sure to arrive with a vision in your mind of how the event will flow and use this as a starting point. If you’re looking to get measurements bring a tape measure with you in case the venue doesn’t have one to hand.
Secondly, arrive with an agenda detailing out the various items and specifics you wish to see and experience. Prepare yourself a list of questions in advance. It’s easy to get swept up in the flow of the site visit as you gather more information on the venue, therefore forgetting to ask some of the vital questions you wished to establish.
3. Put yourself in the attendee’s shoes
It’s very easy to get swept up in the logistics and minute detail, so remember when viewing a venue to place yourself in the attendee’s shoes to give yourself the best vision of their forthcoming experience.
4. Analyse the location
You will inevitably take the easiest route to the venue for your based on your origin, but is your route the most likely directions the delegates will take? If not, endeavour to take the time to walk/drive their route to best place yourself in the delegates shoes. Ask the venue about all modes of transport – nearest (major) train stations, parking on site, restrictions on coaches pulling up etc.
5. Take time to view your surroundings
Look at who else is in the venue. Ask yourself, is it considered a business or social venue? Does this fit the vibe that you are looking for? The people within the venue are the ones who create the atmosphere so take time to analyse the wider personnel, rather than just your own.
6. View all areas and spaces
Even if you are not using all public spaces within the venue, take the time to view them. It may be that the agenda changes and you require these suddenly. This also provides the opportunity to experience the atmosphere and analyse the surroundings and venue as a whole.
Moreover, ask to view all the remaining meeting spaces. As above, if your requirements or numbers change you’ll be glad you saw alternate space and saves you that second site visit. This can also provide an opportunity to change your mind on your existing room proposed, should the space be free.
7. Analyse rooms / spaces
Max capacities – ask about capacity in various set ups, not just your desired layout. Venues have a tendency to quote max capacities, so ask what is a comfortable capacity without packing out the room(s).
Presentation area – how large is it / is there room for your AV when thinking about capacity?
Pillars – what is the line of sight like for all delegates? Stand or sit in various places around the room to test the visuals. If you feel comfortable, then chances are they will.
Natural Daylight – do they have any curtains or blinds to block out the daylight if required? How will the direction of the sunlight affect your delegates and your presentation on screen?
Ceiling heights – is the ceiling height large enough for your set? If the ceiling is lower in places detail down all ceiling heights and their locations.
Power sockets – where are they located? Is there enough for your AV / presenters / delegates? Detail this on your floor plan if it isn’t already, it’s detail easily forgotten.
Dividing walls – ask how soundproof they are. A very small percentage of dividing walls are fully soundproof. Consider your content when deciding what goes where.
Entrances – if you have valuables which will be kept in the room overnight, can the room be fully locked? Look at all access points, even through storage cupboards. Who will have keys or access to the room overnight? Does the venue have CCTV or security guards to oversee the space?
8. Ask to see the furniture
If possible, get sight of the chairs and tables that will be used with your event. Too often than not do we see aged conference chairs which immediately ruin a space. Do they cloth their trestle tables and if not, are they aesthetically pleasing? Ask if there is other furniture you can use, not just for conference elements but soft furnishings as well – it’s a lovely touch to a tea/coffee or lunch space.
9. Study the signage
Start from the very beginning and look for directional signage to the venue itself. Analyse how easy it is to see or find. Once arriving at the venue, place your delegate hat on and walk towards the meeting space. Is it obvious from first arrival? Look at all elements of signage – bedrooms, lifts, toilets, reception etc. Most importantly, query with the venue what signage you are allowed to put up yourself. Do they allow banners, and if so where and when can they be put up? Do the venue have bus stop signs you can use? If so, how many and what size are they? Try to get a visual of these so you know what to expect.
10. Take pictures
You will be taking in a lot of information and you’d be forgiven for not remembering every little detail. Pictures will jog the memory and provide you a refence when planning an event. Take pictures of every space, you never know when you will need them!
Other miscellaneous questions to remember:
When was their last renovation?
Are there any future renovations planned that may affect your event?
What other events are taking place at the same time as yours?
How will these other events affect yours – see if you can get their timings for lunch and breaks.
Do the venue have any suggestions themselves that they have seen on other events? This can relate to anything from signage to layout.
When will you have access to the spaces?
When do you need to be out the space by?
What are the local amenities i.e. pharmacy, local convenience shop etc.
“Negotiation” – the term you either love or hate. Either way, it is a necessary evil when it comes to the world of business, and in particular, when organising an event. Negotiating for some can seem intimidating, however, once you learn how to negotiate effectively and successfully, you may find your opinion changes. Knowledge is power and experience cannot be taught.
Consider using the below hints and tips when you next have a contract in front of you. You may be surprised how much you can achieve.
(1) Take your time
Venues and suppliers commonly place unrealistic time frames on contract signatures. Be open about your internal processes and ask for a realistic deadline. Take your time over reading through the contract if you need it. When done quickly, often key elements are missed. Most people don’t enjoy negotiating and want to get it over with. This is completely understandable, however please don’t rush. The final product will be much better for it.
(2) Understand the supplier
Conducting some basic research and asking the right questions can give you an insight into how valuable your business is to the supplier. With increased desire for the business, your position of negotiation increases significantly. They may need the business to hit targets, so try and establish what else they have on the books.
There may be several areas of the contract you wish to change. Negotiations can collapse by one party taking an ‘all or nothing’ approach, which can create a roadblock and cause unwanted delays. Compartmentalise your sections and reach an agreement separately on each. It may be that you have more wiggle room in some sections than others. The mentality of ticking off smaller sections rather than fighting one big list will help keep a positive approach from both sides.
(4) Don’t demand
It’s human nature, let alone polite, to be asked to do something, rather than demanded. The latter only gets their back up and can cause friction. If you are experiencing issues by the other party’s hard-line approach, ask them “why”? What are their reasons behind this approach? Questions breed discussions, which in turn provide you more information to act on.
(5) Be reasonable
At the end of the day a contract has got to be mutually beneficial. Don’t lose sight of your end game, but also, try not to lose sight of theirs either. Be reasonable with your negotiations. However, to be reasonable, you need to know what is actually reasonable. Our suggestion would be to do your research…which bring us onto our next point…
(6) Ask for advice
Talk to industry experts. Ask what the norm is and about what you are looking to achieve. Is it realistic? A good, neutral, industry expert should see it from both sides and can provide you with good advice from years of experience. They will see it from both sides, and help you find a solution. Moreover, ask colleagues, legal experts, and anyone else you feel can assist.
(7) Your first contract is not your last
Chances are the initial contract will be reasonably different to the final one issued. The first contract is a starting point – remember this. From there, your negotiation begins. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on points and insert your own comments and feedback. The supplier will issue their ideal T&C’s and rates as a starting point, and come to expect questions as a result.
(8) Have a “bad cop”
You don’t want to dampen your relationship with the supplier prior to your event, and it can be uncomfortable for both parties if this occurs. This is especially so if you personally will be working on the event in the lead up. It can help to have a “bad cop”, for example, a stakeholder or more senior manager who plays the hard ball. Use this colleague to your advantage – “I’m sorry, this point does not work for my Managing Director”. Many companies employ this tactic, because it works!
(9) Pick up the phone
Written communication can only go so far in conveying emotion and context. We’ve all received emails that have come across awfully, which in turn has left us questioning about the sender’s true intentions. Have a phone call. Relay your thoughts and you can understand theirs better too. You could even bring your “bad cop” on the call with you. You’ll get a much better read on the situation.
(10) Consider the bigger picture
If your event is looking to repeat the following year, don’t forget to mention this. Ask the supplier to see the bigger picture and explain it to them. The larger the cluster of events, the better your stance for negotiation. Be intelligent though. If you wanted to also contract on a second year add in an “opt out” clause for Year 2. This would usually be ca. 10 days after the first event and have no financial repercussions.
An addendum is an additional document not included in the main part of the contract. It is an ad hoc item, usually compiled and executed after the main document, which contains additional terms, obligations or information. This then forms a “revision” to your contract. If the supplier requires signature soon, discuss with the venue a potential addendum to a contract once you have more information.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01372 460 100 – we’re here to help. Hippo.
A proactive nature is an attitude, not just a characteristic. Here at Hippo our company values prioritise a proactive nature, ensuring no stone is left unturned ahead of our clients’ events.
We identify questions and generate the answers before even being asked…we create back up plans for all potential outcomes…we cover all bases, even for improbable situations…the list goes on…
Below we take a deeper look into our approach that defines our service.
“Our approach to your event is… proactive, not reactive”
Before doing so, let’s take a quick look at the official meaning of both terms, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary:
Proactive: creating or controlling a situation rather than just responding to it after it has happened. Reactive: acting in response to a situation rather than creating or controlling it.
Essentially, a key difference between the two approaches is initiative. A person with a ‘proactive’ nature uses their initiative early to assess a situation and react as necessary prior to any proceedings taking place, therefore maintaining control. A ‘reactive’ natured person may potentially use their initiative, but will use it at a much later date, a time when it is usually too late to control. They allow themselves to get caught up in the tide before finding a method to get back to shore, so to speak.
Relishing under stress, a ‘proactive’ person or business often excels when under pressure. Analysing the vision ahead, they can identify and think strategically about how to overcome potential or inevitable situations. To continue with the previous analogy, their forward-thinking nature would anticipate the waves and choppy waters ahead, and instead would embrace the water having knowingly taken the right ship to survive. The ‘reactive’ attitude would be shocked by each and every wave.
So, how does this apply to events? The ‘proactive’ approach see’s an entire event as one big picture rather than many individual elements e.g. Catering, Venue, Transport etc. Each inevitable (and improbable) challenge is part of a larger pattern, much like waves in the sea. Their approach has logic and continuity amongst their solutions and resulting actions. A sense of predictability is evident as they can adapt to each situation, or ‘wave’, anticipating what the future could be, reacting accordingly before it occurs.
Although both forms react to a situation, being 1 step ahead is the critical difference. ‘Proactivity’ ensures all situations are developed and strengthened ahead of time.
What if the coaches don’t turn up? We have multiple taxi numbers and alternative coach company’s numbers to hand. And if an evacuation at the venue occurs due to unexpected fire alarms? We have a plan to entertain your delegates and get your agenda back on track. But what happens if a hotel overbooks their accommodation? We have ensured we have agreements in place that your delegates get priority place at their venue, plus we already have these documents printed out prior to arriving on site.
Being proactive during the pre-event, on-site and post-event stages is key to running an successful event and to providing our clients with the best possible service.
We’re so confident of our proactive approach, it is quite literally written into our name.
Honest. Initiative. Personal. Proactive. On target.
If you’d like to get in touch regarding any of our services, please contact us here at Hippo.
We all want a positive relationship with our venue. Take a look at the below advice on how best to maximise your experience and work with your venue better.
Give them background on your event and ensure they are invested. Tell them a bit about your event, who will be there, why it is taking place. Instantly this will portray the importance of the event and they can share your passion for making it successful. It’s hard to give your all if you don’t know why you are putting effort into something.
Build and nurture a relationship. We are in a relationships business after all. Strong relationships flourish so take the time to build that relationship in a positive manner. Relationships grow organically if you give them time and invest in them. When it comes to negotiation and flexibility individuals are more likely to want to help if they have a strong rapport.
See the space. It’s extremely hard to convey space at a venue if you have not seen it first-hand. Visiting a venue and meeting your contact not only reinforces the point above, but will also answer plenty of questions you may have. You may also find that whilst walking around the venue your contact will provide further information you didn’t know was possible e.g. private check in desks, reserved parking, signage opportunities etc. It saves both you and them plenty of e-mails.
Be proactive. Here at Hippo our ethos is to be ‘proactive, not reactive’. Thinking ahead and answering questions before they are even asked is a key skill. Be proactive and place yourself in the position of the venue. Envision what requirements they will need; an agenda, what F&B you will require, if there any speeches during your dinner, what your signage need to read, where the signage should go, room layouts, dietary, what AV you’ll require, arrival times etc.
Set yourself up a document which contains all the information you can envision them needing. Send this through to them before they ask for it and give them a chance to come back with any missed information or queries. The more you help the venue, the more they will help you.
Templates. Often venues have their own templates with information they require, for example accommodation and dietary requirements. Generally, they prefer to receive information back using these documents as they are most familiar with the layout and details, however from an agency/client standpoint we tend to use our own. Ensure the templates you use include all the same information they have detailed in theirs – this way there’s minimal chance of missing details or unclear data, ensuring a smooth handover process.
Realistic response times. Start your planning early and allow for realistic response times. Venue staff have busy schedules with meetings, site visits and live events occurring on a daily basis. Often away from their desk setting a realistic response time for your queries aids them. Also, why not pick up the phone is it’s a quick query? You receive the information faster and lessens e-mail traffic, whilst also providing another opportunity to strengthen the relationship.
Use their Website and Brochures. Venues will always send through documents containing a whole load of relevant information. We are all guilty of not reading through these documents in great detail, but it’s certainly worth spending the extra minutes. Familiarise yourself with each document, know what it contains, as it may have the answers you’re looking for. Websites often have pictures and capacity charts whilst brochures may contain information of what’s already included in DDR’s and floor plans.
Ask their advice. No-one knows the venue better than the people that work there. If you have a logistical challenge or are looking for inspiring ideas, chances are the venue have an answer. Don’t forget, they run events in the same spaces day in, day out – they know what the spaces are capable of.
Thank them. A first impression is just as important as a last. Following your event, take the time to write and thank them for their efforts throughout both the pre-planning and on-site elements of the event. A small touch goes a long way – they’re more likely to remember if you don’t say thank you than if you do, so keep relations positive, it’s only to your advantage should you ever use the venue again.
Here are Hippo we value our long established relationships with our suppliers.
So, you’ve worked hard on all the preparations, you’re all set for the ‘big day’ and you’re ready for the event you’ve thought about every day for months prior.
You may be experiencing a slight element of nerves or pressure to ensure the event is a huge success; all those long hours and countless e-mails amount to being on-site. Nonetheless, it’s easy to overlook your potential challenges you may face while running the event live. Take a read through of the below hints and tips to assist in minimising some of the most common challenges you may face.
1. Your Time. As the main organiser of an event, your time is precious. This means your time management is crucial to the success of carrying out your role effectively. Arrive early to your venue. Leave yourself ample time and have the mindset of ‘that will be enough time’ rather than ‘that should be enough time’. We all know that when arriving on-site, unforeseen issues arrive. Creating the time to solve these by arriving generously early it will minimise the pressure on you.
Moreover, don’t underestimate how long tasks may take to complete. Be realistic. Packing delegate bags takes a substantial amount more time than most think for example. Take a second to think logically. For tasks that will take time, start early. There’s no need to work until 2am before a 6am start if you don’t have to.
When running the event, you will get pushed and pulled in every direction. You cannot manage every task and do it efficiently, so ensure you have a trusted team to support you. Don’t be afraid to delegate. It’s quicker for you to delegate a role and then provide your approval upon inspection than it is to carry out every role yourself. This frees up your time to manage all your other tasks you need to do yourself. It’s better to have a team to large than a team too small. Again, think ‘this will be enough people’ not ‘this should be enough’.
2. Working with the venue. In conjunction with arriving early, ensure you have set a pre-event meeting organised with the relevant staff from the venue / supplier(s). Meet on your set up day, or the day prior. This meeting allows you to vocalise all elements of the event. Use the opportunity to emphasise the key areas and any concerns you have plus ask the relevant questions. Define your expectations from an early stage.
You can also ask the questions with regards to the challenges we commonly face on site. Have you found that finding staff during the event is an issue previously? Ask for a phone and direct dial. Locate their offices and kitchen. Get the food out quicker? Ask for it to be out 15 minutes before and get them to change the times in front of you. Worried about short-staffing? Ask about numbers and how your team can assist in any way. Room temperatures an issue? Ask what measures are in place, for example is their maintenance man on-site? Establish if they have any spare fans or cooling systems. Ask us here at Hippo for any advice you may wish to seek.
Try your best to predict potential challenges. Use your experiences from previous events to put a place in place there and then with the Operations Manager sat in front of you. If you are running over or under on the agenda, communicate this to the venue as soon as you know. The stronger and more regular the communication the better for both parties.
3. Supervising delegates. We all know asking a large quantity of delegates to follow the same instructions can be tricky at times. Smoking, toilet breaks, e-mails, phone calls, private conversations etc. all change the directions of delegates. Before we know it, they’re all over the place. Whilst a common challenge on-site, this is all about pre-planning.
Research your venue prior to know all areas. Have a means of communication in place; a PA system, potentially in numerous locations. PA systems allow endless announcements that communicate to everyone – a human voice usually works better than a message on a screen and is certainly quicker than your event team asking each cluster of delegates to ‘move through to the next session’. Saying that, if that’s what it requires, ensure your team is large enough to cope.
Think about signage. Define and clearly mark the areas the delegates can go. Statistically there will be smokers – designate where they must go. For a business event, chances are there will be phone calls and e-mails – provide a designated area for this. Minimise the risk of the delegates spreading by planning your space(s) carefully.
If there is a particular problem you are encountering or need to vocalise something to all delegates, see if you can do this at the end of one session. This can be done in an extremely professional and polite way, for example, stating how long the lunch break is and the importance of keeping to time or if the coffee break is only a ‘grab and go’.
Hippo offer an Event Project Management service, which includes our presence on-site, so we can manage these elements on your behalf.
All of your customers are important to the success of your business, but your top customers are even more important. Of course, the goal is to ‘wow’ every customer, but elevate the ‘wow’ and personal service to an even higher level for the VIPs.
They come in all forms; on one hand it may be an existing client who spend the most over a given time, on the flipside it may be a potential customer one is trying to impress. Alternatively, journalists, local or national press may attend, and we’d all want to provide them with the red carpet experience.
The VIP experience has become commonplace in today’s society. We all receive VIP offers from high-street loyalty cards, ensuring we feel a ‘cut above the rest’ and receive ‘first refusal’ on goods or offers. As a culture we have grown used to being rewarded, either through loyalty, spend or having an element of influence over other. With that brings an increased expectation from customers, demanding consistently high standards as the new norm. In the modern world, this is also reflected in business, thus making it harder to provide an exceptional VIP experience.
Below we explore 5 simple-yet-effective ways of ensuring you deliver on such an important element.
1. Create more convenience
Immediately on arrival the VIP experience can begin. Dedicated parking spaces closest to the entrance, perhaps even personalised with the attendee’s name is a wonderful touch. The need for queueing can be negated by a dedicated VIP check in area with clear signage and an extra special greeting from your businesses key personnel, instantly creating a buzz among their arrival. Why not then move this desk to the VIP area, creating a dedicated help desk and point of reference for any queries. Also, bring the VIPs their bedroom keys rather than having to check in themselves.
2. Set up a VIP area
We all love it when we walk past the red velvet rope. It cannot be underrated the importance of providing a dedicated environment and area for the VIPs to comfortably check e-mails, make phone calls and relax, slightly away from the hustle and bustle of conference delegates. The key phrase being ‘slightly away’. Don’t separate your VIPs away from everyone else, you don’t want them to feel segregated. The visual of the VIP area may also create a sense of envy and competition among your other attendees, driving sales and performance, and hopefully resulting in a slightly larger area the following year!
3. Indulge them
Think about adding a dedicated host to the VIPs, who’s responsibility it is to ensure they are looked after. It also provides them with that familiar face they can speak too if they have any queries. Meeting with VIPs from the business holding the event holds a prestige associated with it and adds that feeling of being valued. Front row seats in plenary sessions, complimentary upgraded bedrooms with a bottle of wine and personalised letter are cost-effective ways of maximising their experience.
4. Surprise them
This doesn’t have to be a large formal gesture, nor should it be something insignificant. Surprising VIPs is the additional touch that heightens their experience. The surprise should be directly related to your event and/or to your business. Something to take away from the event or a bonus activity that wasn’t advertised are some ideas. Think outside the box and leave them with an experience that will have them telling the story for years to come.
5. Follow up
Most attendees will receive a generic e-mail stating ‘thank you for attending, please provide your feedback’ or something similar. Once departing the event their experience is effectively over, however a VIP shouldn’t just be a VIP for the event days. A personalised phone call or face-to-face meeting post-event adds a personal touch. Asking for their opinion and feedback on the event allows them to feel their feedback is valued. Elongate their experience.
Receiving post-event feedback is a hugely important element to any event planner or organiser. The importance of gathering such data cannot be under estimated. ‘Why?’ I hear you ask? Because feedback provides the detail on what worked and what could be improved during the event.
Below we look at several ways you can creatively gather feedback, without using the conventional survey method we are all too familiar with, but first, some useful tips:
Make it short
Did you know that approximately 20% of respondents who start a survey do not complete it, with most stating that it is because the survey is ‘too long’? Everyone’s time is precious, so try and comply towards this. Only ask questions where you actually intend on using the data received. Qualitative data takes longer for a responder to complete. Ask yourself if you truly need this.
Let’s not kid ourselves, we all love winning prizes! Research has shown that if offered an incentive for taking part in a survey, it more than doubles the likelihood of the recipient completing it. The prize must be attractive and appeal to the mass attendee base – technology is always a winner; iPads, TVs for example.
Make it anonymous
If you decide against the above idea, try to keep your survey anonymous, unless you really require that data. Negative (or ‘constructive’) feedback is more likely to be provided if the persons are less likely to be challenged or approached about it.
So, the big question is what are some original ways to capture that all-important feedback in a new and innovative manner? Have a read of the below, and see if any of these could work for your events…
Voting Keypads. As a delegate we all come to expect some form of feedback survey post-event. Most of us fully intend on completing this when departing an event, however when push comes to shove, work takes over. Consider making their lives easier and giving them the opportunity to provide feedback instantly through voting keypads, either at the end of the conference or each session. A couple of questions could be asked, which would provide instant feedback and data, saving valuable time for both attendees and organisers.
Beacons. Technology that knows where someone is! Beacons can be used to push a survey to the attendee as they leave an area or session, requesting instant feedback. The message can be matched according to which beacon they have passed, requesting specific feedback on that area.
Prompts. Moving away from the traditional quantitative rating scales, this is all about short bits of qualitive data. Qualitive data is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. Start the sentences for them; ‘The most memorable aspect was…’, ‘I learnt….’, ‘I met…’, ‘I would better the event by…’. Cover the key aspects you want to find out about and analyse the data captured to identify trends.
Post-it notes. Ask yourself if you firstly require, and secondly are going to use, feedback on specific data captured. Generally, feedback is to capture an overall feel for the event. If this is the case, ask delegates to write a sentence about the event overall and pin it on a board as they leave the event. A creative, original way of gathering an overall feel.
Make it current. Are you bored of the usual number rating system? Chances are the attendees are too. Why not bring it into the 21st century and use emoji’s to convey thoughts and feelings? We all do it via text as it is! Rather than have a 1-5 scale, modernise this and use an emoji’s to convey the scale.
Alternatively, what about the Facebook ‘like’ and much debated ‘dislike’ button. Why not have an iPad outside each session, or on departure, where people can give the ‘thumbs up’ or ‘thumbs down’. Is there much difference between a 3.7 (out of 5) average or a 74% ‘like’? Nope, they are the same figure as a percentage of the rating value.
Use visual aids. Generally, people react more positively to images than a block of text. Why not provide a series of images to select from, rather than words? You could even ask for these to be selected in order as well; this helps attendees interact with the survey.
Mobile Apps. Try sending a push notification asking delegates to complete the survey on the App. As this will be done on a portable device, think how you can make this interesting and interactive – sliding scale bars rather than selecting numbered options for example. Attendees also don’t need to wait to give feedback, they can do it immediately whilst still at the event or on departure – the time where they are most likely to complete the survey.
Gamification. This is the process of integrating game mechanics into your app, website or marketing, and can be utilised while the event is live. Respondents could play the games, which could integrate some form of feedback, or ask a feedback question after each round completed. This increases enjoyment, interaction and interest at the same time.
Fundamentally, people measure success in various different ways and on many different levels. It is important that we identify what success means, not only to ourselves but also our clients, so that when success is achieved we know it.
As the famous hotelier Conrad Hilton once said, “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”
Successful people conduct their research in such a way that they have a full understanding of the details they require before commencing the project. From an event perspective it involves researching your client’s business, qualifying the brief to the greatest extent possible, which in turn can allow you to find, gauge and seize potential opportunities. These opportunities can come in any form, however having the background information is crucial to opening up possibilities, rather than maintaining a rather myopic viewpoint, thus resulting in lack of creativity and knowledge.
The power of positive thinking cannot be underestimated. Here at Hippo our ethos is “the answers yes, what’s the question?”. Let’s face it, we don’t enjoy being around negative people, and negativity can easily reflect onto your clients who may start to lose faith in your abilities and judgement. A positive mental attitude breeds solutions, where others might see problems. Events will always throw up challengers, and a successful Event Manager will see these as an opportunity to learn, gain experience and show what they are made of.
This links closely to our next trait; successful event professionals are solutions driven. There is always a solution if you look hard enough and have the confidence to do so. We’ve all come across times where a venue, supplier or client throw a curveball, which perhaps scuppers a plan that was in place. They don’t panic and instead start to look at an alternative way to achieve the same result whilst keeping a level head.
We all know running an event can be extremely stressful, the long hours, endless emails can at times be limitless. No one person can shoulder responsibility for all elements of a large event and thus, delegation is a key factor. Trust in colleagues and suppliers is vital to success. Delegation can be intimidating for some, however having trust in others and offloading elements of work, whilst maintaining a managerial approach allows successful event managers the time to focus and understand the end objectives rather than being bogged down by too much work. When this occurs, it is easy for the end-result to be forgotten or misinterpreted. Allowing themselves the extra breathing space to ensure their eye is kept on the final result will only breed positive results and assist in achieving the objectives set out by the client. Having full clarify and focus on the desired results throughout ensures they do not deviate from the purpose of the event.
Whilst managing the inevitable challengers, successful personnel cover all bases when planning an event. There is no point in having a single plan in place with no backup. If issues were to arise then finding, creating and implementing a backup can prove to be a time-consuming action with potential repercussions. Always having a back up plan to any element of an event allows you to minimise any potential negative impacts. What is a fire alarm were to go off? What is a speaker didn’t arrive on time? A successful event manager will take time to consider all possibilities and have a plan in place should the worst happen. Escalation plans, nearest hospitals or taxi firms are all things considered.
Finally, they reflect on all elements, constantly looking for ways to improve themselves and their events. Reflecting can come in two forms. The first is the event itself – what can be done better? How can we improve next time around? Did our idea(s) work? Taking notes and walking away with learning points can not only improve the same event next time around, but also improve future events that the Event Manager might work on. The second is from a personal standpoint. What did I learn? Is there anything I could have done better? What were my positives? Feedback is the best form of learning and provides the ideal opportunity to progress and develop.
It may be an obvious statement, however the very first question to ask yourself is “where are my attendees travelling from?”. For a local event, a location near their place of work or homes is the norm, however if you have attendees travelling for far afield it is important to consider how they are travelling. Train and air transport means additional travel upon arrival to the destination, unless a venue is convenient walking distance. Consider the total travel time. When traveling from across the UK concentrate on locations with good train links – Birmingham and Manchester are good examples.
Important to consider, and often overlooked, is the size of the room(s) you are looking at using. First off, look at your expected numbers – is it likely they will increase or even decrease? A room needs to have flexibility for change. The last thing you want is to be in a room that holds 300 pax for a meeting of 75, unless your presentation requires the additional space. Venues will also note their internal H&S restrictions, so conversely a room too small for the number of people might just be breaking their safety guides.
3. Layout / floor plan
It’s always recommended looking into the floor plan beforehand or preferably visiting the venue. From arrival your delegates gather in a communal area ready to head into the meeting room(s). Is this area shared with other events? How will the venue control the separation? When breakout rooms are required, the ideal would be to have them conveniently located close to your main plenary space; no one wants lost delegates. Consider also the flow of delegates and how the layout of your tea/coffee and registration areas may affect this.
4. Offsite options
If you’re looking at conducting off site activities or dinners then it’s important to note nearby locations and venues which can provide this. Speak with the hotel sales department for suggestions if you haven’t had any success in your own research, often they’re a source of local knowledge. For off-site activities (or dinners), we wouldn’t suggest much more than a 30 – 40 minute transfer.
5. Service from the off
Here at Hippo we prioritise customer service levels, and therefore expect the same from our venues. The initial contact with the venue is a good indication of their standard of service. If struggling early on to receive clarity on questions or you find yourself constantly chasing the venue you can only image what the service levels will be like on the day. Strong communication and a proactive positive nature gives confidence to the client that everything will be seamless on the event day itself.
6. Desire for your business
Linked with the above point, during the sales stage if a venue shows flexibility and a ‘can do’ attitude, it brings a positive mentality to the customer. Finding solutions, offering suggestions and negotiating on rates shows a venue is willing to go the extra mile to win your business, rather than making you feel like you are another cog in the wheel. It’s a good indication of how the venue see your event from within.
A venues décor can have a large impact of the atmosphere and ambience inside. Matching a venue to the identity of your event is crucial. A traditional venue wouldn’t reflect a forward thinking innovative IT company, for example. The atmosphere within a venue is dictated by the staff, surroundings and other guests within the hotel. This highlights the importance of a site visit; you get a ‘feeling’ about the place, something which pictures cannot convey.
8. Delegate Welcome area
First impressions mean everything. Is there clear signage? Can you place signage in the lobby and will there be staff on hand to direct? Is your registration desk hidden around a corner? If you get lost on your site visit, chances are your attendees will do too – not the upmost first impressions upon arrival.
9. AV capabilities
AV requirements vary dramatically depending on what is needed. Most events tend to require a Projector / Screen and Flipchart. Usually included in a Day Delegate Rate, it is important to check with the venue, and to see if they can offer any additional elements such as Lectern, Microphone, PA systems and Stage Blocks to name a few. The more they can include in their hire, the more it keeps costs down. For any set builds, don’t forget about ceiling heights.
Negotiating on costs can be tricky at times, however at Hippo we believe that if ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’. Using an agency for your venue find can prove extremely beneficial, given the experience and relationships we uphold, often with key personnel and final decision makers. Always ask a venue for a list of any additional costs – they are often hidden in rates such as Security, Cloakroom, Fire Marshals, Furniture hire etc.
These are just some of the areas we consider when creating your venue proposal here at Hippo.