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FacetuneThanks for such positive feedback from the first of our interview series of meeting & event industry experts.

We move from a focus on corporate event planners to PCO/Incentive/Event Producer, Ron Anderson from Unicorn Group.  I first met Ron & Leah about 6 years ago and found them incredibly creative and energetic how they engage our hotel & venues as key partners to the success of an event. With a new brand and logo called ‘Unicorn Group’, I hope you enjoy the read!

MJD: Hi Ron, thanks for taking part in Fusion’s 2nd, ‘Shine the Light’ Interview Series. How did you get your start in the meetings/events industry?
RA: I was asked to join an established agency in a GM role to implement some processes and disciplines from the more established advertising industry in which I had been in for many years.  From a marketing communications point of view, the ability to convey messages through immersive and sensory experiences was simply an opportunity too good to pass up.  Leah was working in the post production industry at the time and it didn’t take long for us to decide to open our own business with our own ideas and ideals – that was 10 years ago.

MJD: What do you enjoy the most about creating memorable conference, incentives and events?
RA: I love the reactions.  The oohs, aahs and the big smiles make the hard work worthwhile.  It’s pretty awesome being able to create that positive energy.  From a business sense though, collaborating with our clients – I love sitting down and nutting out strategic solutions to issues that are being faced.

MJD: What makes an event successful from your delegates and/or your perspective?
RA: Before we start, we need to ensure that the event has a strategic purpose.  The big smiles are lovely but if our clients’ business is not tangibly better at the completion of our event, then it’s been a dismal failure.  Events are a waste of money if they aren’t integrated into the strategic marketing plan.

MJD: What are the current trends do you see in our industry?  e.g., budgets, internal and external stakeholder’s expectations
RA: Like the rest of the world – digital.  Our industry is built on the value of face-to-face experiences but digital will expand the reach and value of our events.  With the prevalence of social media, it’s really hard to impress people at events as they are constantly looking at images of the the best, high-class events in the world.  I can’t believe I’m going to reference this but as an industry, we really are having to, literally, ‘keep up with the Kardashians’. (post script – I can’t believe Ron Anderson has referenced the KUWTKs either but very true!)

MJD: What are the key challenges and changes do you see in the future of our industry?
RA: The MICE industry is always first affected when there’s any economic downturn or uncertainty.  Our challenge as an industry is to become more professional, to qualify ourselves as integral contributors to our clients long-term strategic plans.  We need to collaborate with our clients and their other key suppliers rather than sit off to the side by ourselves.

MJD: You recently rebranded to Unicorn Group – tell us the story behind the brand?
RA: When we started Vigour 10 years ago, we assumed that we needed to have a corporate ID.  Our clients kept telling us how rare our combination of strategic planning and creative abilities were so we thought we should have a brand that better described the way in which we create magical experiences.  What’s more rare and magical than a Unicorn?

MJD: What is something about you that we may not necessarily know about you?
RA: We are so privileged to travel a lot, seeing the best, along with the worst of the world.  As global citizens I believe we have a responsibility to use our experience and knowledge to do our best to make the world better where we can.  We have formed a strong partnership with Cambodian Children’s Trust who are doing brilliant and really progressive work in eradicating poverty.  A huge focus right now is ethical travel – educating people (including our industry) that some of the traditional methods of helping in third world countries (most notably supporting orphanages and ‘voluntourism’) are actually doing more harm than good.

MJD: Thanks Ron for your time, Cambodian Children’s Trust is also our chosen charity and we are proud to support this amazing organisation set up by Sydney woman, Tara Winkler. 

Website: Unicorn Group