Recently I had the good fortune to interview Arita Economou, Event, Sponsorship and Roadshow Manager of International & Institutional Banking at ANZ. She is the key contact at ANZ responsible for managing conference & event planning so she has great insight into how to do it well and how to make it easy. I know you will learn lots from my interview with her.
What are the key things you look for in a venue?
When organizing an event, you are confronted by many decisions. However, choosing the right venue is the one decision that will have the largest impact on your event. Critical planning information, such as the date for the event, is dependent on the venue you select. The other key factors I take into consideration when choosing a venue are as follows: budget, the right ambiance, services, amenities, location, capacity, parking, floor plan, accessibility and acoustics. These are all important factors in choosing the right venue.
Arita Economou, Event, Sponsorship and Roadshow Manager of International & Institutional Banking at ANZ
What are your expectations when you are engaging with a hotel/venue representative? And, is face-to-face service important in your relationship with them?
A good strong working relationship starts from the ground roots with a casual face to face discussion. From here good working relationships can be formed, thus each member understands the rationale, strategy and purpose which can strongly assist you with event planning as expectations will be easily met.
What makes an event successful from your delegates and/or your perspective?
Every successful event has a primary purpose or mission, accompanied by goals and objectives, which are the measurements of success. The following attributes contribute to a successful event: Understanding the mission and the purpose of the event, having a thorough plan, selecting an appropriate venue, managing the flow of the event and creating a good take home moment.
What are the current trends do you see in our industry? e.g., budgets, internal and external stakeholder’s expectations
Each year the meeting and event industry changes, technology plays a large part in these events. Events are no longer a two or three-day projects, but create a community that starts before the event begins and continues indefinitely after. Planners must think about a much longer lifecycle of their events than ever before. More events are incorporating technology to extend the lifecycle of an event. A trend that started a few years ago keeps evolving and is now fully incorporated at most venues is food that is locally sourced, the farm to table style trend has become a mainstay. Event décor too has become more sustainable in which consumable foods and beverage are cleverly incorporated as décor into the event. In addition, Mobile event apps are becoming more popular. There are many vendors providing apps with more events implementing the apps. However, the challenge for planners is to ensure that attendees download the event app.
Planners must ensure that the event app meets the needs of the attendees, is easy to use and provides a measurable return on investments. With event apps, it is now expected that events and venues offer Wi-Fi throughout the event, in all meeting rooms. It will no longer be acceptable to not have Wi-Fi accessible at events. Hotels and venues are slowly catching up in providing Wi-Fi that can handle the needed bandwidth. Every coffee shop, restaurant, and many retail outlets offer free Wi-Fi to guests and shoppers, venues however have ways to go to fully implementing this.
What are the key challenges and changes do you see in the future of our industry?
In this modern age it is important to make events memorable and to make sure that guests of the event are remembering, and even talking about, the event days and weeks after it is over. Simple solutions like having photographers at the event can help people source out the events social networking accounts to find the photos and provide another opportunity to repeat the message of the event and be aware of additional events through the social network’s future news releases. Event planners need to provide their clients with creative solutions to combat shrinking budgets. While the economic downturn continues event managers are having to continually offer unique, inspirational events on tighter and tighter budgets. Shorter lead times have become prominent over the past twelve months. Event organisers have become accustomed to venues and suppliers offering clever and creative incentives and discounts to keep their spending down and must adapt to these continuing policies.
An increased sustainability and environmental focus is more essential in today’s corporate environment than ever before, many companies need to address their green initiatives in an open transparent manner, reduce their carbon footprint and engage in corporate social responsibility in a manner that will satisfy the communities effected. Keeping up-to-date with new developments, products and services through social media, newsletters, relevant marketing materials at exhibitions. In addition, implementing effective digital solutions can help to streamline administration, communication and other internal processes, whilst simultaneously acting as a key marketing tool, enhancing overall brand awareness.