1/ Provide an ROI against KPI’s across the duration of the program:
When working with a PCO, they should be partnering you in every way, and unless they are entrenched in your business values and across your required outcomes, then there’s really no way they can be adding value to your bottom line.
Defining outcomes against strategy in the initial planning stages is pivotal to ensuring you deliver an exceptional result, whether that’s recommending the RIGHT speaker or MC or getting the AV spec perfect – it’s all about outcomes right?
Using effective templates with a $ value against an ROI in your project timeline with KPI’s measured weekly, monthly, etc, ensures you are not only tracking your ROI, but providing continuous improvement opportunities and nipping any potential issues in the bud.
If your PCO isn’t offering an effective template to measure and report on the project consistently during the program – then it’s unlikely you’ll get the result you need let alone exceed it.
2/ Provide a dynamic, interactive App tailored for your event that doesn’t cost you a kidney
The development of App’s for events has come a long way and we are now able to direct our comm’s specifically to a targeted audience. App’s that are designed by your PCO should allow you to direct sponsor’s messages to the most appropriate audience and advise attendees who have registered for a particular workshop/session on the latest developments or changes in the schedule.
Push notifications will welcome them to the registration desk advising opening times and have the intelligence to omit those who have already registered or who have cancelled, etc. There’s nothing more annoying than receiving reminders to an event that you have not registered for, or worse – have sent a decline. Apps will now push speakers’ presentations directly to those who were in attendance as soon as they leave the session as well as provide an interactive survey whist in the conference room - displaying the results on the main screen instantly!
Imagine being able to navigate your way around a large exhibition to find the stand you want via your App – rather than those expo maps which are generally designed by a geographical sadist.
3/ Disrupt your thinking
Whilst it’s convenient to have a reliable logistics manager – the job of a PCO should be to DISRUPT, CORRUPT and CHALLENGE your thinking. Unless you are able to engage your audience, then the message is lost, in spite of having a fantastic speaker. Engagement of the audience shouldn’t solely rely on the speaker – it’s about FLIPPING your delivery and using the 5 senses to engage an audience. Your PCO should be constantly making suggestions that take you outside the norm and make your event one to remember.
Sight: An incredibly effective use of the sense of sight is to provide a visual stimulus as soon as the delegates enter the room. This might be with some dynamic AV and production visuals and lighting effects depending on your budget. You don’t need to spend an absolute fortune to provide impactful visuals.
Sound: Playing engaging, mood enhancing music on entering the room and during presentations provides an excellent platform for learning. Not cliché theme songs that repeat throughout the conference where everyone ends up hating that song forever more… Make it relative to the message during that session and always upbeat.
Taste: Providing great healthy brain food that enables your delegates to RAVE about the food will separate your event from the norm. How often do you hear people talk positively about conference food? Not too often. Checking that the food matches the demographic, the sessions and the social program is more important than people generally think – and a good PCO will know what works and what doesn’t.
Touch: It’s as simple as textiles. Provide tactile experiences with the materials you provide them to work with as well as work spaces and tools. It’s not just about providing a tablet and thinking you’re now technologically savvy - your PCO should be suggesting ways in which you can obtain the best from your audience. Your audience should be participatory and contributing to the outcome of the event and utilising various materials to work with will enable this experience.
Smell: Simple and yet so very effective. A scented room evokes memories and imprints data on our brain like no other sense. Use it or lose it. Simple aromas tailored subtly around the workshops or conference room will help combine the overall experience. Energising scents such as bergamot and citrus oils are natural neurological stimulators.
Simply put – your PCO should not conform but should challenge your thinking and way of doing things to ensure you not only achieve your required outcomes, but exceed them.
CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING, SANE EVENT GROUP
Michelle Watts, a leading professional in event management for over 30 years, is a hands-on Director of Sane Event Group, who specialise in conferences, incentive programs, symposiums, congresses, product launches, exhibitions, corporate meetings and special events. Sane offers end to end business solutions, incorporating the latest technology and PR applications, with in-house facilities including web design, e-marketing, online registration, abstract submission portal, an exhibition specialist team and in-house sponsorship procurement staff, as well as an in-house travel manager with 25 years’ experience.