Liebster Award

LiebsterBlogAwardI was absolutely delighted to find out this blog had been nominated for a Liebster Award!  The fantastic Events Blogger Caitlin Kobrak nominated me (read all about it and check out her fantastic blog here > http://www.eventmanagementstudent.com).  Caitlin is a really talented and dedicated blogger and I absolutely love reading her posts.  She is also a well deserving finalist in two categories of the UK Blog Awards 2014!  Thank you so much Caitlin!

So what is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is for bloggers who have fewer than 200 (or according to some variations on the rules 1,000 or 3,000) followers.  Either way I have taken this to be email subscribers to our blog, rather than followers on social media as otherwise we would be ineligible!

Liebster Award – how it works:

  • thank the person that nominated you and link back to their blog
  • display the award “badge” on your blog
  • answer the 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you
  • list 11 random facts about yourself
  • nominate up to 11 bloggers and let them know you have nominated them
  • set 11 questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  • post a comment on the blog post of the person that nominated you so they can read the post

I found this post helpful when reading up on it: The Official Rules Of The Liebster Award.

Caitlins questions to me

1. Why did you start blogging?
The thought really appealed to me – any excuse to talk and write about the world of events! I kept hearing about the importance of blogging for business too and so Gemma from the UK Blog Awards helped me set up and start the blog in June 2011.

2. What is you favourite type of post to write & why?
I really enjoy taking a topic and relating it back to event management and also giving hints and tips to relate something to peoples own event projects.  For this reason I particularly enjoyed doing Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) and writing posts inspired by recent events such as What the Arctic Monkeys can teach you about event management and Event management lessons from the Apprentice.  I think it is healthy to take a subject area or hot topic and give it a twist or think about it differently.

3. If you had a super power what would it be?
Time travel would be good!

4. What do you feel has been your biggest achievement in life so far?
On a professional level my biggest achievement has been setting up Events Northern Ltd and celebrating 10 years in business in June of this year (the company was incorporated in 2004).

5. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would ban grumpy, miserable and rude people!  Life is short and there is simply no need for it!

6. If you could speak to your past self, what would you say?
Don’t waste time worrying; everything works out for the best in the long run.

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still running conferences and events but hopefully with more time for blogging, writing, consulting and speaking!

8. Who Inspires you the most?
I am lucky enough to have heard speeches from many inspirational individuals over the years such as Jamie Andrew OBE, Michelle Mone OBE and Phil Jones.
I look up to successful entrepreneurs such as Sir Alan Sugar, Sir Richard Branson, Karren Brady, Luisa Zizzman, etc.
Julius Solaris from the Event Manager Blog is really inspiring from a blogging and events perspective.

9. What is the one goal you are working towards?
One day I will write a conference management book!  It hasn’t yet progressed beyond the many ideas in my head but watch this space!

10. If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
Any of the inspirational figures I listed above!  Or Paul Heaton….. (of the Beautiful South/Housemartins fame).

11. Whats your top number one place you want to visit?
Without a doubt New Zealand is top of my list.

11 random facts about me

  • I love the colour red
  • I am proud of my Yorkshire roots
  • On a summer holiday as a child I managed to cycle into the swimming pool (something my family will never let me live down!)
  • I have only missed one V Festival in the last ten years
  • I haven’t eaten meat since the age of 8
  • I wanted my parents to call my sister Phillip Schofield?!
  • Caipirinhas are my favourite cocktail
  • I auditioned for the Royal Ballet School (needless to say I didn’t get in!)
  • During university I worked in the call centre for a betting company
  • I met my husband on a summer holiday in Magaluf when I was 21
  • My ultimate luxury is a hot bubble bath with my Kindle!

I nominate the following blogs/bloggers:

http://theeventsgirl.wordpress.com/ @theeventsgirl
http://eventsglos.wordpress.com/ @eventsglos
http://gemsinlondonblog.com/ @duport1982
http://theeventure.wordpress.com/ @zziwd Emily
http://www.gleanin.com/blog @gleanin
http://evvnt.com/category/tips-tricks/ @evvnt
http://event-wide.co.uk/category/blog/ @event_wide
http://joanna-isms.blogspot.co.uk/ @joanna_isms
http://mackskyevents.wordpress.com/ @eventcornwall
http://jemimagibbons.com/ @jemimag
http://www.digienable.co.uk/news @digienable

My questions to the nominated bloggers

  1. When and why did you start blogging?
  2. Describe your blog
  3. What is your favourite colour?
  4. What are your blogging aims for the future?
  5. How do you find inspiration?
  6. What is your ultimate indulgance?
  7. What is your ideal job?
  8. How much time do you spend blogging each week?
  9. What is your worst habit?
  10. Tell us about the best event you have ever been to?
  11. Where is your favourite place in the world?

Nominated bloggers – don’t forget to leave a comment with a link to your blog post below so I can have a read!

Unbelievably I received a second Liebster Award very soon after receiving this first award, which was great as I got to nominate more blogs and spread the love!  Read about it here: Liebster Award 2

What the Arctic Monkeys Can Teach You About Event Management

http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/poll/2014/feb/20/alex-turner-brits-speech-what-did-you-think

Photograph: Yui Mok/PA Wire via The Guardian

One of the major talking points from the Brit Awards 2014 is the Arctic Monkeys acceptance speech for Best Album (their second award of the evening).  Alex Turner certainly divided opinion with his talk of sludge, swamps and rock ‘n’ roll.  People seemed to love or loathe it!  Watch the full clip at the end of this post or for comment see Alex Turner’s Brits speech – what did you think?).

At the end of his monologue Alex invites the Brits organisers to “invoice me for the microphone if you need to” and drops the mic to the ground.

As event organisers it struck me that this incident can remind us of few valuable lessons!  Here are the 5 things the Arctic Monkeys can teach us about event management:

1. Always have a plan B.  In this case it was a replacement mic!  Try to plan for the unexpected, including technical malfunction, whenever possible.

2. Be alert at all times during the live event and ready to react quickly.  In this case the sound technicians swiftly muted the microphone before it smashed to the floor.

3. People will always over or under run their allocated time.  However well you brief people, plan and rehearse timings, give cues, timing warnings, etc speakers and performers will inevitably always finish sooner or later than you have planned.  The key is dealing with it effectively to get the schedule back on track.

4. Never underestimate how unpredictable musicians/celebrities/creatives can be!  We have come across a fair few “divas” and egos in our time, particularly when working backstage at festivals and concerts.  People skills, diplomacy and patience are a must for Event Managers!

Another example of this from the Brits was Harry Styles from One Direction being at the toilet and arriving on stage half way through the rest of the group accepting an award!   

5. Controversy can be great for an event in terms of driving discussion, social media and press coverage.

Watch all of the action via this clip:

I truly think the Arctic Monkeys are lyrical geniuses and I am a big fan of their music; however if I am honest this act seemed completely unnecessary, forced and decidedly un-rock ‘n’ roll to me!  However it was certainly more entertaining and thought provoking than some of the other predictable acceptance speeches we heard on the evening!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below!  In your eyes is Alex Turner a legend or a loser for his speech and subsequent actions dropping the mic?  What else can we as event managers learn from this incident?

The Event Industry and Blogging: Are Event Managers Missing a Trick?

UKBlogAwardsLogoWe are really excited to be a collaborative partner in the National UK Blog Awards, which is the first cross industry blog awards to take place in the UK.  As a blogger myself and an avid reader of blogs on a largely daily basis we are really passionate about being involved in this exciting project.  I started blogging in June 2011 and I am enjoying continually learning and developing my skills and immersing myself in the blogging community.  I am finding it truly inspiring seeing so many fantastic blogs being entered into the Awards and wish I had more time to read them all!

One of the 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter is the Events Category and I have been surprised to find entries in this category lagging behind the other sectors slightly.  I never seem to have any shortage of event blog posts to read, however I realise of course that many of my favourite event bloggers are not from the UK, notably:

As the UK has such a strong and vibrant community of event professionals I believed that everyone like me would be beavering away on their blog as often as they could, knowing how important it is to post regularly in terms of improving SEO, visibility and showcasing knowledge of their niche sector.  Now don’t get me wrong – many UK event professionals ARE doing this, and some of which have already entered the awards!  I did some research and it was great to see so many established blogs with regular postings and a back catalogue of archived blog posts on interesting topics (going back several years in some cases).  HOWEVER for every great up to date blog I discovered there were numerous others with blogs which hadn’t been updated since circa 2010/2011.  This made me wonder are these companies still in business?  I wondered if it was actually more detrimental having a neglected blog on their site rather than having no blog at all?

In this quick investigation into UK event management blogs I searched for both Freelance Event Managers and Event Management Companies as it is proven that blogging is a great leveller in terms of inbound marketing returns, particularly for small businesses.  I was also however surprised at some of the biggest companies in the event industry not having a blog at all.  And others still that called something a blog when really it was just a series of news posts and self promotion.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate how hard successful event planners work in the industry and the long hours that they keep because I do the same too!  I am certainly not saying that I am perfect in any way – you will see that I have sometimes had months when I have not posted to this blog due to work pressure, maternity leave, etc (although hopefully not recently as this is something I am improving on and committed to).  I feel however that missing a post or three is entirely different to going AWOL from your blog for 6 months plus, particularly without any explanation.  It is one thing being busy and not having enough hours in the day but not finding the time to write a post in the space of half a year or more sends out the wrong messages I would say!

It also made me laugh to discover so many sites which proclaimed “this is my new website and blog, which will be updated regularly without fail” never to have any further posts!

Generic blog logo

Universal blog icon

The UK has world class events, venues, suppliers, technology, eventprofs and event management companies but in terms of my quick blogging research it seems that the UK as a whole could be falling behind the rest of the world in the events blogosphere.  Most event managers that I know have lots to say and if the prospect appeals I would encourage you to definitely think about starting a blog and giving it a go!  Perhaps then you will be entering the awards in 2015!

One thing that I have found really inspiring is the number of students and graduates blogging.  As an employer if someone with a well written blog applied for a job in this competitive market this would potentially set them apart from the other candidates as it shows self-motivation, passion, thought and dedication – all key attributes required by an event organiser.  This heartwarming article from the Guardian Professional gives a real life example: Blogging During Unemployment Helped My Career.  Despite the difficult economic climate blogging helped this Graduate into work after 2 years of unemployment and illustrates potentially the springboard that blogging could be if you so wish, whatever your profession.

Do you think the UK lags behind the rest of the world in terms of event management blogs?  What are your favourite UK event industry blogs?  

Are you an event manager?  Do you or your company blog?  How often do you try to post and what is the longest period you have gone without posting?  What were the reasons for any breaks?  

Do you think it is best to have a neglected blog or no blog at all?  I would love to hear your thoughts on these issues below!

In a forthcoming blog post I am going to discuss the importance in engaging with bloggers as part of your event marketing strategy, before, during and after a live event.

Individuals and organisations can enter their blog for FREE in the UK Blog Awards up until midnight on 15th December 2013 via the UK Blog Awards online entry form.  There are 14 categories for individual bloggers and businesses that blog to enter – 12 industry categories (including the Events Category) and 2 sub categories including ‘Most Innovative’ and ‘Young Persons Blog Award.’  We will look forward to reading your entry!

Are Event Management Degrees Worthwhile?

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumIn October 2013 Conference and Incentive Travel Magazine published this article: The Big Debate – Are Event Management Degrees a Waste of Time?  The Event Wide Blog then responded with this piece: A Response from an Event Student and Joanna, another event management student, blogged about it here: To a Degree of Relevance.  Event Management qualifications certainly seem to be a controversial subject!  As a graduate with an event management degree myself (graduating over 10 years ago with a 2:1 BA Hons Events Management from Leeds Metropolitan University) I also wanted to write a blog post and to add my thoughts into the mix!

In the C&IT article Simon Maier from the TFI Group suggests that the degrees are too wide-ranging. He says “The content is too broad. It mostly covers management and logistics – very little about delivery, measurement, ROI and the full gamut of event technology. I suspect that not all the lecturers who design the courses are practising events professionals and tend to come from the academic, hotel or travel side.”

Obviously I only have first hand detailed experience of the content of my own course which I imagine has changed and developed a lot in the last 10 years and so it is impossible to speak authoritatively for all event management degrees across the UK.  I would suggest though that it was largely a business degree with elements of planning, finance, marketing, HR, etc, alongside the event planning specific content.  However with many of the modules we were of course expected to put the learning into an event context.

The events industry is varied and although certain principals and planning elements apply to any event genre the specifics of organising a conference are very different to managing an outdoor festival for example.  My degree opened my eyes to the many opportunities in the industry and like many I started the course thinking I wanted to get involved in music festivals and came out realising that actually conferences and corporate event projects are my forte and passion.

When I did my degree there were very few event management degree courses and Leeds was definitely the place to be!  We had less than 75 people in the year group and you could not progress unless you had completed a minimum of 48 weeks full time work placement in the industry.  This placement took place during your 2nd year and then you returned to university for years 3 and 4.  That first hand experience was essential and certainly made the rest of the university content more real, fusing together the academic with real life experience.  One thing that does worry me nowadays is the intake in each year group and therefore the amount of event management students studying each year.  In the current economic climate does the demand by students for work placements and jobs in the industry outstrip the actual requirement in the real world?

Another element that I really valued in my degree was the regular contributions from industry speakers.  This really brought to life the realities and scope of the world of events.
Glenn Bowdin was (and still is) the Head of UK Centre for Events Management, Leeds Metropolitan University.  He has written event management text books and is Chair of AEME (Association for Events Management Education).

I had some great lecturers and it was really apparent those that “knew their stuff” and had a lot of experience.  I particularly valued the knowledge of Nick Jordan and I was lucky enough to have Nick as my dissertation tutor (now a Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University).  Perhaps it was Nick that sparked my love of organising conferences too!  Of course not all of the lecturers encountered had the same level of experience and one in particular seemed to crack under questioning from inquisitive students and seemed to have only have organised a handful of events (they are no longer at Leeds Met I hasten to add!).  I agree that it is absolutely vital that anyone who teaches the event managers of tomorrow must have credibility and many years of experience running events.  A background in event management (not hotels, travel and tourism or academia) cannot be faked and so you will soon be discovered and lose the respect of the students otherwise.  Also to be able to direct research or advise students around their dissertation topic you surely need to have that deeper understanding?

We did plan, develop and execute some real events as part of our course although sometimes we had to undertake the planning for imaginary event projects too which was perhaps frustrating.  Looking back though I imagine it was very important as it gave us the opportunity to think big as if we were planning a really innovative event project with a complicated brief and a specific budget and is similar to putting forward ideas to a client and developing new opportunities in the real world.

I agree wholeheartedly with Simon Maier that delivery, measurement, ROI and event technology are vital elements to be studied.  The events industry is moving at such a fast pace I would hope that event management degrees are keeping abreast and tweaking their course content every single academic year.  Social media and health and safety are other vital components I would suggest should be given priority and whereas 10 years ago we learnt about video-conferencing, students today should be learning about hybrid events.  I know we had the opportunity to learn video editing for one module and skills such as this are obviously more important than ever for a well rounded event manager.  I hope also that all students at all universities nowadays (whatever the course) also have access to training in entrepreneurship, business planning and guidance on how to set up your own company.

One thing I think it is important to remember though is that University is not school or college.  It is about independent learning – research, critical thinking, study, reflection combined with work experience.  University is not about hand holding and telling people what to think and do – the student must come to their own conclusions and it is true somewhat that they get out what they put in (as with life in general!).

More recently I have had some links with the BA (Hons) Event Management Course at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).  I have had the pleasure of meeting the Course Leader and Senior Lecturers, I have presented to students about my career and experience of the events industry, I have participated in an industry focus group around course content and development, I have interviewed students for an events role, I have attended events organised by the students and I have worked first hand with several students who volunteered and came forward to work on a challenging event taking place within very short timescales.  I have to say I have been nothing less than impressed – the students have been really proactive and keen, the lecturers have a true background in events, the student intake each year is small and as part of the course they have to put on real events.

VolunteerWhen I graduated my industry work placement as well as the other voluntary and paid work experience I had gained were essential in helping me find a job.  Then in 2004 I set up my own company: Events Northern Ltd. (note I wrote an earlier blog post here about Starting an Event Management Company).  I know of at least 2 other graduates from my year group that did the same.  Others went on to top high flying jobs with some of the biggest companies in the events industry.  Inevitably though there were also many that didn’t go into the events industry and found jobs in human resources, marketing, retail and so forth.  I think it is a strength that our course was broad enough to allow this if people decided the events industry wasn’t for them.  The business elements of an event management degree and indeed the skills developed in terms of event planning are easily transferable, whereas someone without that event management background would not necessarily have the skills an event organiser needs.

I would suggest from an employers perspective if someone has a degree in Event Management this shows me that they are very focused on their career path (like I was – I couldn’t imagine studying anything else).  I agree that event experience would have the greater weighting if I had to choose between event management experience or having an event management degree but if recruiting I would largely favour someone with an events management degree rather than someone who had studied another subject.

I really do not envy current event management (or any students) today.  Not only do they have to pay high tuition fees (up to £9k per year) they also face a really difficult job market at the end of it.  Luckily the top students seem to realise that this is a competitive market and are raising their game and thinking ahead.

I have been impressed by the event management students I have come into contact with in person and also via Twitter and #eventhour.  They have shown an inquisitive and intelligent perspective, are gaining valuable work experience whenever they can (both paid and unpaid) and it is great to see them networking with event professionals via the virtual world through Twitter chats and face to face opportunities as well as taking the time to blog.  For me as an employer this shows real commitment.

In conclusion I would wholeheartedly defend my event management degree.  The academic preparation and inspiration it provided, in conjunction with lots of work experience has prepared me for my career as a professional event and conference organiser.  I would love to hear more from Universities that offer event management degree courses and find out about their specific course content and how they respond to this debate.

Why I Love Organising Conferences

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumRecently I was talking to a fellow event manager who is tasked with organising various conferences and they were saying that they would much prefer to be organising a dinner or team building exercise, or indeed any other type of event rather than conferences. This is the complete opposite to myself – I love organising conferences in particular over any other type of event project.

They asked me why this is the case and suggested to me that perhaps it is because of the structure?  I disagreed and suggested that I am passionate about conferences for some of the following reasons.

Conferences Shouldn’t Be Boring
I firmly believe that conferences shouldn’t be boring.  A conference is a fantastic opportunity to bring together thought leaders and top speakers as well as people with a shared interest. If the content is boring and un-stimulating you will quickly lose the attention of your attendees.  A lot of planning, thought, briefing and support should go into the content.

A Conference Has Everything
A great conference can have everything; learning, interaction and participation, networking, catering and perhaps also additional elements such as exhibitors, dinners and supporting events.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Traditional
Who said that a conference has to involve long lectures in theatre style layout?  Perhaps cabaret or classroom layout would be better?  Or take the tables away completely and have clusters of seats to really surprise people!  Likewise presentations can be revitalised – speakers don’t have to use presentation slides such as PowerPoint at all – they could just directly speak to the audience. Or could they just use a picture presentation or Prezi instead.  Maybe you can have short TED style presentations?  Or even use PechaKucha?  Or would video or a panel discussion or questions from the audience be better use of the time?

I Like Surprising People
People often come along to a conference unsure what to expect and perhaps with pre-conceived ideas that it will be boring.  It is very rewarding to hear back from these people that although they were reluctant before they arrived they have actually got a lot out of it.

#-After the Event 033Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Audience
The ideas and connections that can be made by bringing together those with a shared job role or area of interest is nothing short of exciting. Make sure the programme gives the opportunity for conversations and brainstorming to happen if you can.

Where Relevant Incorporate Elements to Enhance the Conference
You can enhance the conference in many ways. This may include the use of social media, sound, light, technology, facilitators, voting, event apps, etc.  Always consider what is right for the event and what it will add.

Conferences are Good Value
Gathering together your staff or a network of relevant people to educate and inform is often the most cost effective way of disseminating information to large numbers.  It is also a great change from the norm and can be a great motivator and team building opportunity.

These are just some of the reasons why I really enjoy organising conferences. Events Northern Ltd are always happy to produce no obligation quotations if you would like to explore the potential or running a conference or any event project.

10 Facts About Events Northern Ltd

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumThe topic for #BEDN today is ‘Newsflash’ so I thought I would share a quick post with you before I finish my packing for EIBTM 2013 tomorrow.  Here are 10 facts you may not know about Events Northern Ltd.

  1. Events Northern Ltd was incorporated in 2004.
  2. The MD, Becki Cross (nee Train), wanted to establish a top event management company based in the North of England and hence the name.  However although we are often kept busy in the North of England we do enjoy working nationally!
  3. Becki has a degree in Events Management and worked in Manchester and Liverpool before setting up the company.
  4. The largest conference we have organised took place in London over 4 days and was attended by over 1,000 international delegates.  It also incorporated an opening ceremony, a conference dinner, exhibition and poster displays.
  5. Becki is a category winner of the handbag.com and Barclays Business Plan Awards and a finalist in the Everywoman Business Awards.
  6. We have developed our own barcode registration system.
  7. The most pressurized set up and turnaround for an event was a dinner at the Natural History Museum, London.  Visitors left at 6 pm and 1,000 guests arrived at 7.30 pm, during which time we had to build the bars, catering stations, stage, lighting, audio visual and everything in between!
  8. eventsnorthernlogonew1.jpgWe ran a conference in Germany in May this year, our first European event
  9. Our sister company, Advanced Event Solutions Ltd, has developed an event app and will soon launch a wedding app.
  10. Some of the personalities/celebrities we have had the pleasure of working with include Mr Motivator (one of our favourites!), Clint Boon (Inspiral Carpets), Susanna Reid (BBC Breakfast and Strictly), Diversity, John Craven (Countryfile), McFly, Katherine Jenkins, The Saturdays, Alesha Dixon, to name just a few.
    We won’t mention those that we didn’t enjoy the pleasure of working with!

We hope you enjoyed these 10 facts about Events Northern Ltd and we hope to see you in Barcelona if you are attending #EIBTM13.

Ensuring Your Attendees Stay Relaxed and Happy During Your Event

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumFollowing on from yesterdays post ‘Ensuring Your Event Attendees Arrive Relaxed and Happy‘ I wanted to continue the theme with some basics for keeping your attendees relaxed and happy throughout your conference or event.

1. Have a good Chair who keeps people informed and gives clear instructions.
Key information the Chair will cover at the start of the event are likely to be evacuation procedure, who are the key staff to speak to in case of any queries, if the presentations will be available post event (and if so from where and when will they be available), Twitter hashtag, wifi log in details, introductions of speakers, where attendees should go next and when they should return.
Guidance from the Chair on points such as waiting for the microphone to reach them before they ask a question and giving their name and organisation first of all are helpful in laying down the ground rules.
A good Chair is also invaluable in terms of summarising the key points, asking probing questions and making seamless links and connections between content and speakers.
Top Tip: We always create Chair Briefing Notes detailing the housekeeping important information listed in chronological order against the programme so that hopefully no key information is omitted.

2. Ensure the environment is comfortable.
Ensure the surroundings including the ambient temperature, room layout and set up is conducive to the purpose of the event.  For example if you want attendees to concentrate on the speakers and presentations ensure that everyone has a clear view and sight-lines to the stage/lectern and don’t make the room too warm so it makes everyone become sleepy.  If you are running a workshop and want to facilitate group work then don’t have a theatre style layout, consider more inventive and interactive options.
Top Tip: Don’t pack too many people into the room, having space to move around the event room is important!

3. Provide relevant information within the delegate folders/conference brochure (or event app!)
Some basics should be provided to delegates via the delegate folders or brochure or via the event app if you prefer!  This includes the detailed event programme, venue wifi log in details, event hashtag and speaker biographies.  Attendees also really appreciate a list of attendees and key information and learning to be announced/shared through the event.
Top Tip: Event apps are a fantastic way to ensure delegates have the key event information at their fingertips but at the same time reduce printing and plastic folders, which is great from an environmental perspective.  Our sister company Advanced Event Solutions Ltd has a fantastic event app (basic app £1,000) 

business4. Encourage networking and interaction
Networking doesn’t come easily to everyone so we always try to assist in providing opportunities without putting anyone outside of their comfort zone.  We always have clear, easy to read badges and generally provide a ‘sharing table.’  Without putting anyone on the spot we also like to give attendees a low key opportunity to introduce themselves to the people around them and make them feel confortable at the start of the event and perhaps to discuss a key question at relevant points throughout the day.
Top Tip: A skilled facilitator will put everyone at ease and get the audience to connect and share effectively.

5. Signage and staff
However skilled you are as an Event Manager you cannot be everywhere at once and so having signage and support staff in place to guide delegates around the venue is important.  Conference venues can be huge and so you don’t want attendees to find themselves lost and frustrated!
Top Tip: Think about the flow of the event during the planning stages.  If the lunch and refreshments can be served in the same place throughout the event it helps attendees to feel comfortable and navigate their way around the venue effectively.

6. Keep the audiences attention and interest
Ensure that the presentation times are not too long (20 minutes is generally sufficient!) and that there are plenty of opportunities for movement, networking and changes of scenery throughout the day.
Top Tip: Request presentations in advance from speakers if at all possible so you can check and save and familiarise yourself with the length and content of the presentation.  A speaker will generally need at least a minute per slide if it is content based.

7. Keep as close to time as possible
Nothing is more frustrating than to see an event timetable spiraling out of control.  Try to keep the speakers and event to time and always make an effort to pull back time if you do get slightly behind (for instance by shortening the coffee/lunch break or cutting down on time for questions).
Top Tip: Agree a speaker warning system to help them keep to time.

8. Avoid lunch and refreshment break rage!
Unless you are running a really small event don’t let the venue persuade you to make do with only one catering serving station under any circumstances!  It is vital to have multiple identical servings stations for refreshments and lunch to avoid long queues and frustration.
Top Tip: Ask the venue/caterers to label the food clearly so that people can select their lunch confidently rather than trying to identify the different items.  And insist that vegetarian and meat and fish items are plated up completely separately.  You should have discussed with the venue/caterers in advance what arrangements will be made for those with special dietary requirements such as gluten free, vegan, etc (often they will create a special plated meal for those with special requests).

9. Give advance warning if you need attendees to do something
For example if you would like delegates to complete a feedback form before leaving give them a heads up at the start of the last session so they can complete the form in good time.  If you only ask attendees to complete their form as they leave the event you risk having a low return rate.
Top Tip: Is a paper feedback form the best way to get feedback from your event?  Consider an online survey with an incentive to respond or gather feedback through your event app instead.  You should also monitor social media channels too.

Volunteer10. Finish on time
It is vital to finish your event on time or even ideally perhaps a few minutes early!  If you overrun you risk people getting antsy as they think about the train they need to run for or the childminder they need to get back to.  Us Brits are polite human beings but many will start to depart and leave a speaker mid flow if the event finish time is nigh or has passed.
Top Tip: Ensure everyone is ready for everyone to exit the event as smoothly as they arrived.  Have staff ready to collect feedback form and badges, hold open doors, retrieve coats from the cloakroom quickly, etc.

We hope you have enjoyed these basics for ensuring your attendees are happy and relaxed throughout your event.  We would love to hear your top tips to make delegates feel comfortable and ensure they get the most out of the event as a result.  When you attend events what elements make the difference in terms of your personal enjoyment and comfort?

EIBTM

EIBTM2013Next week I am attending EIBTM for the first time (see www.eibtm.com).  I believe EIBTM stands for European Incentive and Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition.  EIBTM is the global expo for the meetings and events industry, taking place 19th-21st November in Fira Gran Via, Barcelona.  There will be 3,100 exhibitors present, representing over 150 countries and 15,000 meetings industry professionals are expected to attend.  I am lucky enough to be attending as a hosted buyer.

I understand from EIBTM veteran Paul Cook of Planet Planit that it can easily take 20 minutes to navigate from one end to the other of the vast exhibition hall.  Paul sagely advised that comfortable shoes are a must!  I think my high heels will definitely be left behind in the UK.  It is worth noting that Paul Cook will be found in the Hybrid Event Genius Zone at the show this year (19th November, 1 – 3pm) – a must attend if you have any questions about hybrid events.

I am particularly looking forward to visiting the Innovation Zone which is new to the exhibition this year and I have some great appointments scheduled in throughout the show.

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumAccording to Julius Solaris of the Event Managers Blog EIBTM is a powerful networking event if you are in tech and like to do events differently, so it sounds like I will be in event heaven and come away feeling really inspired.  (Julius has posted his 10 Reasons to Attend EIBTM).

There are lots of interesting speakers and topics as part of the Education and Knowledge Programme.  I hope I will get some time for these presentations somehow within my busy schedule of meetings!

I will be sure to report back about the show in a future blog post.

Are you attending EIBTM 2013?  Have you attended the exhibition in the past?  What are your top tips for me to get the most out of the show?

Event Management – a Stressful Career Choice?

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumWelcome to day six of Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN).  The topic today is National Stress Awareness Day.

A recent article by the Telegraph has revealed that almost half of Britons consider themselves stressed.  Stress is one of the most common conditions experienced by people in the UK today. It can contribute to serious physical illnesses, and be a cause for obesity. People going to work whilst suffering stress contribute to poor performance of businesses and services, and can be a contributor to poor care, errors, and disasters caused by lack of concentration. The financial cost to the UK has been estimated at £60 billion or about £1000 per man, woman and child (source: ISMA Press Release).

National Stress Awareness Day got us thinking about how well we cope with stress and whether a little bit of stress is actually a good thing in terms of encouraging peak performance at work?

We read with interest this blog post: the 10 most and least stressful jobs in 2013.  In the study to determine this they looked at 11 job requirements that contribute to stress including:

  • the amount of travel required
  • growth potential
  • deadlines
  • working in the public eye
  • competitiveness
  • physical demands
  • environment conditions
  • hazards encountered
  • risk to life
  • risk to other’s lives
  • and need to meet the public

The role of an Event Manager can be stressful at times in terms, particularly in terms of immoveable and numerous deadlines (the event dates and milestones within each event project), working with the public (members of the public can be trying on occasions!) and perhaps even physical demands (on conference and event days I walk for miles, plus unloading, lifting, etc).  Likewise depending on the project and the event there can be a lot of travelling required (we ran a conference in Germany in May) and the environmental conditions can be harsh (outdoor events and the English weather – need I say more?!).

Overall based on the stress indicators they have suggested it seems that Event Management is certainly not a job for the faint-hearted.  Plus of course, however well you plan for every eventuality it is inevitable that the unexpected sometimes happens, leaving you to make immediate decisions about the best course of action to take, often in a very public arena and then to communicate that to the attendees.

Furthermore I would also say that running your own business can be stressful at times, whatever the industry.

Don’t get me wrong I adore my job and running a SME and I couldn’t imagine doing anything different, however with this in mind I was wondering perhaps if Event Manager or MD of an Event Management Company might actually make the list!  Alas it wasn’t listed, although I feel that in some ways an Event Management role could be more stressful than a Public Relations Executive which comes in in 5th place.  The full list of the most stressful jobs is below.

Most Stressful Jobs of 2013:

  1. Enlisted military (stress score 84.72)
  2. Military General (stress score 65.54)
  3. Firefighter (stress score 60.45)
  4. Commercial airline pilot (stress score 60.28)
  5. Public relations executive (stress score 48.52)
  6. Senior corporate executive (stress score 47.46)
  7. Photojournalist (stress score 47.12)
  8. Newspaper reporter (stress score 46.75)
  9. Taxi driver (stress score 46.18)
  10. Police officer (stress score 45.60)

Are you surprised by the list at all?  Do you think a little bit of stress can be good for your work performance?  After a hard day what do you do to switch off?  We would welcome your thoughts below!

Event Catering

Blog-Every-Day-in-November-with-RosaliliumDay four of Blog Every Day in November and the topic today is ‘Food Glorious Food.’  Relating this back to my own blog I wanted to specifically focus on event catering, specifically for conferences, workshops and seminars.

Catering is important.  When attendees come to an event I often pick up the feeling that they are doing something different to their everyday working lives and therefore almost expect to be pampered and to indulge.  They are certainly very well catered for by the many top class chefs and catering teams at venues across the UK.

CIMG1531By the same token many of our NHS and health sector clients understandably need to ensure the catering they provide is delicious but also nutritious for their delegates.  Healthy doesn’t have to mean boring but educating some Chefs about what counts as healthy and how they can prepare/cook things differently for a positive effect on health has been somewhat of a mission at times.

CIMG1534I have learnt a lot myself working with fantastic dietitians, caterers and various specialists to instill the ethos from the North West Healthy Catering Guidelines over the last 10 years.  I have learnt even more still working with the European Healthy Stadia Network in encouraging stadiums to offer healthier options alongside their traditional matchday fare, whilst still maintaining  a commercial outlook in terms of revenue and profits.

182A more recent trend from some clients has been a back to basic approach to menus with hot foods being replaced by simple “no frills” cold buffets.  This has not only been a cost saving exercise but has also been a case of ensuring they are “not seen as being too extravagant.”

I also have a client who decided to offer a fully vegetarian menu and cut out meat entirely to reduce the carbon footprint.

Top tip: Don’t forget to check the dietary requirements of all guests including delegates, staff, speakers, exhibitors and so forth so that you can advise the venue at least seven days before the event date and cater properly for your guests.  We recommend asking questions about dietary requirements and also any disability or access requirements at the point of registration e.g. via the online registration form.

Whatever the clients approach and thoughts on the menu this is something your event management company will be able to advise you on.  They will be able to suggest appropriate menus to suit your IMG_4040available budget and also to match the event timings and venue layout.  They will also be able to suggest the final catering numbers which should be confirmed based on the likely numbers of apologies and last minute registrations/registrations on site.

How do you feel about catering when you are attending an event? 

Do you expect to indulge?  Are you happy with a healthy menu?  Maybe you have been pleasantly surprised when faced with a healthy balanced lunch?  Would you be satisfied by a no frills buffet or a wholly vegetarian offering? HealthTrainerEvents 030

What about if you have any special dietary requirements?  Have these always been met adequately?

I will look forward to reading your comments below!