Businesses can spend decades building, honing and promoting their brand. What they create can ultimately be their most valuable asset. They will go to great lengths to both define their brand through rigid guidelines, and aggressively protect it with legal expertise.
So why would a company take something so valuable and hand it over, in full or in part, to an external agency? In the sphere of events management, this is exactly what businesses do – and there are many compelling reasons why you should, too.
By handing your branding crown jewels to an events agency, you immediately benefit from creative project management, skilled content creation and technological expertise. And an agile events agency can rapidly gather and deploy these diverse skillsets, allowing you to benefit from experts in their field with years of experience.
While there is no set format for any given event – each is naturally a bespoke project – there are two key pillars that make up the delivery of our service – project management and the delegate journey.
This is a process honed over the last 20 years: a process that doesn’t feel like a process.
Here’s how it works in practice.
The project management of an event consists of three main areas; discovery, delivery and drive.
Discovery starts with a kick-off meeting and a recce of the venue, followed by meetings with the stakeholders to agree the event’s objectives and establish the expected ROI.
From here, it’s about working with you to develop the content. Content development ranges from the large – the overall theme and feel of the show – to the small – little touches and happenings that get people engaged.
Once the event content and design has been agreed, along with the final budget, the focus switches to delivery. First comes the pre-event work and management of third-party suppliers – catering, logistics or guest speakers. Alongside delegate communications, an agency will coordinate final event content and manage rehearsals, which extends to providing script management and coaching for the speakers if required.
The activities undertaken after the event are used to drive its success. As well as post-event cascade communications, mechanisms such as delegate feedback, we can use on-site ad metrics and apps to test and measure the success of the event. The results of this work feed into the post-event report, which is used to debrief those involved.
This provides a forum to discuss what went well and consider opportunities for continuous improvement at future events.
Good project management is vital to ensure a successful event, but the touch-points associated with the delegate journey can quickly overwhelm a business that chooses to manage their own events, particularly as the scale of the events increases.
The delegate journey begins with emails to the expected attendees; both save-the-date emails in advance of the event and the invitations themselves. For larger events, these emails are likely to number in the thousands, with the possibility that responses could be in a similar range.
As well as logging email responses and recording delegate registration, a great events agency should also run telephone hotlines dedicated to the event, both to register delegates and handle enquiries. The hotlines must be staffed by trained specialists who, like all the staff involved in an event, should be fully briefed on your brand and tone of voice, ensuring consistency across all aspects of the event.
After following up with invitees who have yet to register, the agency sends joining instructions and final event information to delegates ahead of the event. Once onsite, delegates are registered at the live event by members of the agency event team, who handle all aspects of hospitality and hosting.
With a recommended ratio of one host per fifty delegates, a one-thousand delegate event could easily require a team of twenty to thirty people; a considerable commitment for any company that chose to run their own event. Agency staff in this role should and act an extension of your company and brand, down to the clothes they wear.
The event team are on hand to assist with the logistics of moving large numbers of delegates from one session to the next. They also provide both technical and physical support to speaker sessions and other activities. As the event moves into evening socials and celebrations, the agency continues to manage hosting and dining. This all culminates in event closure and the subsequent departure of the delegates, but not before ensuring that they have completed the delegate feedback questionnaire.
Throughout the event, the hotline for delegate enquiries should remain in place, handling everything from changing elected sessions to making short-notice travel arrangements, should a delegate need to leave the event in an emergency.
When the scale of the work before, during and after an event is considered, along with the diverse and specialist skills required to deliver success, it is not surprising that most companies choose to outsource their events.
However, you need to ask a key question. To whom are you entrusting your brand? Do they have a track record of successful events? Do they have experience of the right sectors? Are they a full-service events agency, or are they going to handle one aspect of the event and hand the rest to a third party, further risking the reputation of the brand?
The ‘why’ is the easy bit: the bigger challenge is the ‘who’.
For further insight into Rapiergroup’s successes, take a look at few highlights of our work.