Spice Magazine: 2013 Leaders Forum featuring Amy Merriman

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Originally published by Spice Magazine. Amy Merriman opinion piece.

The Australian event industry has undergone a dramatic consolidation in recent spice-magazine-leaders-forum-2013years. There are less agencies operating in our space, due to the less robust ones being able to survive the global financial crisis and its impact on the industry. For those who suffered, this was unfortunate and for those who are still standing, it has been an excellent catalyst for adaption to different business conditions. From Event Planet’s perspective we have been thankful that of our constant efforts to ensure a diversified client base, both by industry and brand, has helped us to continue to grow and expand throughout this challenging period. We have been forced to be lean and competitive and ultimately it has made us better at what we do in all aspects of our business including the ways we service and supply our clients.

One of the trends we are excited to be bringing to life for a lot of our clients is the way in which they activate their brands. A lot more consideration is being given to how potential and existing customers experience a brand. Emotional alignment is at the core of this new approach and companies are focussing on building meaningful, sensory connections with individuals. They are being invited to get involved more and more as this kind of active engagement is far more powerful influence model than what can be achieved with just an audience.

Messaging has evolved to become more efficient in terms of use of time as well. With so many demands being placed on peoples’ time, partially due to the technical developments of improved connectivity to emails, phones and the internet,events have trended to either being shorter when local or longer and out of town.

For localised events we are seeing a trend towards less formality and more of a drop in and drop out approach. Hosting an event for say a 3 hour window with a brief welcome speech with its time noted on the invitation gives people the option to come earlier or later but not miss out on the juicy part of the event. Convenience is important, especially in this modern age of multi-tasking. The ways people are invited to experience a brand or product are not as structured as they used to be. There is less talking at people. It has been replaced with more personal interaction, with a product for example, which doesn’t take as long and is high touch. The messages businesses are trying to communicate resonate much more loudly this way.

For board and senior level executives, we are noticing an increased demand for remote locations where there are limited distractions. Linear thinking is a rarity these days and companies have recognised that if they want to undivided attention of the biggest brains in their business they need to isolate them from the day to day rattle of work life. Corporate retreats can be incredibly productive if they are well structured and tightly managed so that there are clear “on” and “off” times for the participants. If people know when their phone needs to be completely off (not just on silent) and they have to focus they are generally comfortable with this, so long as there is a dedicated time for them to be able to deal with the never ending inflow of digital communications built into the event format as well. Nobody likes returning to the office to find a swamp to wade through in their inbox, so it is about creating an event that offers participants the ability to balance their day to day responsibilities with their here and now priorities. After all, no one is out their making more time! They are just working out smarter ways to use it.