How to Build a High Performing Event Team

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Last months tribe guide was all about dishing out the secrets when it comes to selecting the best event tech suppliers...we wanted this months guide to be a continuation of that. Great event tech is nothing if you don’t have a spectacular team to help you bring it all together - so this month we’re exploring the elements that make up a high performing event team.

You know better than anyone what that week before the event can be like….hectic, right?! A well-curated and managed event team will ensure things go smoothly, the inevitable speed bumps will cause minimal disturbance and possibly the most important factor of all: You won’t lose your mind during the process!

Over the years we’ve seen them all. The good, bad and the ugly when it comes to event teams...here’s our learnings and recommendations. Enjoy!

 

Hybrid teams are the best kind of teams

It’s all very well having an event team that’s comprised of your staff, but we think the best teams are made up of staff and suppliers. Having a key contact from each of your event tech suppliers integrated into your team means communication will be more fluid and less will fall through the cracks. After all, your suppliers are experts in their field - you might as well lean on their knowledge to ensure your event team is well rounded and efficient, right?

Your individual event tech suppliers should also be expected to work together - particularly those that are providing software that needs to integrate or play nicely with another tool in your event tech stack. That’s where the Tribe comes in! Our role in the high performing event team is to ensure that comms between your supplies (our partners) is happening behind the scenes in preparation for a seamless deployment on the day.

 

Start with a good kickoff

 
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Bringing your team together on day one for a meaningful kick off will set the tone for your team and how they’re expected to work together for the duration of your project. Create an agenda and share it ahead of time, expect to assign responsibilities, and create a clear action item list so that you can finish the kickoff feeling like things are being handled and moving forward.

Tribe partner, EventOPS specialize in creating planning and logistics software for events. In their recent webinar: 5 reasons to #ditchthebinder in 2018 they dished out their secret acronym to help you keep on track when designing your kickoff: DAY ONE

D decide on team organization and responsibilities

A Align goals and objectives for all stakeholders

Y Yield Actionable Items

O Open communication for questions comments and concerns

N Navigate any difficult items before they become distractions

E Excite the team

 

Make information accessible

Even the strongest of teams start to crumble if information is not easily accessible. Keeping important information, contacts, and plans inside your head or in a paper-based binder creates a bottleneck that's only going to slow the process down and frustrate your staff.

Using software here can help enormously. It’s secure, automatically organized and is accessible on any device, anywhere at anytime. As the overseer of the event, this tip also gives you the added bonus of being able to have a clear birds-eye-view of your wider team and all the activities that are happening at any given time.

 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

 
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Building your event team should be looked at as an investment for many events to come. All too often planners look at their team as a group that will dissipate at the end of your event when you should see them as an asset.

Over time your team will build experience, get to know one another (and you) and they’ll learn from mistakes and wins made in previous events. All of those good team vibes are difficult to recreate, only really establish themselves over time and will be the magic X factor that sets your team apart from the rest.

Still not convinced? Think of it this way: your favorite athlete has just joined a new team. The team is alright, but they don’t win finals in their first year together. Rather than clean the slate and join a new team they instead decide to stay together, double down and build on their experience in year 1 so that they can win in year 2. Now take that mentality and apply it to your events...hey presto, you’ve got a kickass event team!

 

Appoint leaders

You’ve probably heard the saying ‘too many chiefs, not enough Indians’ - Well that’s true for events as well. Flat teams where hierarchy doesn’t exist is great for morale, but there comes a time when it’s equally important to appoint leaders within your group to ensure the different pieces of the puzzle are looked after.

Onsite registration is one of those puzzle pieces where it can all too quickly become a nightmare. Perhaps the queues are too large for your reception staff to keep them moving through, your lanyards have gone missing, or the printers stopped working. Whatever it is, it’s a nightmare and you as the event manager deserves to have the peace of mind that you have your best guy or gal on it.

 

Balance

 
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Of course, those final few days leading up to your event are going to be huge and frantic - it’s just the nature of the job!  When deadlines are less stringent and you’ve got breathing room make sure you allow yourself, and your wider team to make the most of that time. Relaxing and taking the time to get some shut-eye will keep your staff sharp when it matters and will generally improve the overall mood of your high performing team.

For a little more on creating work-life balance, check out this helpful guide by our partners at Hubb - designed to help you keep stress at bay when it matters.

 

Make sure they’re firing when it matters

Just like any machine, there is going to be the chance of burn out if you push it to 100 continually. Making sure your event team are firing on all cylinders when it really matters will ensure you get the most bang for your buck, so to speak.

The lead up to your event can be intense, but so is the day of. Particularly for those of you that run events that go for several days or event weeks - giving your team some cool down time the day before your doors open might feel scary, but will ultimately keep your team performing at their best for longer and will be the difference between a good event, and an amazing one where your staff are commended for their excellent service and organization...we know which scenario we’d prefer!

The secret recipe to selecting the best event tech suppliers

 
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You’ve probably experienced a below average event tech supplier at least once...it sucks, right? It’s the unfortunate reality that as this industry continues to boom, more and more businesses will join the race - some will be amazing, some will just ‘tick the boxes’ and some will fail to hit the mark altogether.

As an event planner, options are great but too many is overwhelming...the last thing you want is to get a supplier that doesn’t deliver. So, to help make it a little bit easier to navigate, for this months Tribe guide we’re revealing our very own secret recipe to selecting the best event tech suppliers...yup, the one that we used when we created the Tribe!

Method to creating an event tech dream team

Add: Kickass people

It’s an interesting discussion, and one that we don’t think gets talked about enough. The reason we’re taking center stage is because this was one of the very reasons that inspired the creation of the Event Tech Tribe in the first place. Our founding partners collectively have years of experience as event planners themselves, and as managers running successful businesses that are each best-in-craft in their respective fields. Our people kickass, which by default means the events they touch also kickass.

When we recruit new Tribe members, our first criteria is the caliber of the leadership - and the acknowledgment by those leaders of the requirement to be truly collaborative, innovative and customer focused. We also expect our leaders to be ‘present’ - speaking at events, presenting webinars etc. When their reputation is on the line, we know they’ll be playing their A-game all the time. You should expect that of your partners too.

Add: Flexibility

Your event tech suppliers should know that no two events are the same. There’s no cookie-cutter approach to powering an event and any supplier that forces you into using tools that don’t work for you may not be the best partner for your events.

Like salt, this ingredient requires a fine balance. Too much flexibility and you’re event tech deployment will run away on you, not enough and your deployment will be plain and uninspired. You should be able to lean on your supplier for advice and guidance, but they should be able to spitball ideas and work with you to put your special flavor into it.

One thing that always gets our goat is event tech suppliers that lock their customers into multi-year contracts - how can they know how your events will evolve and be confident their tech will be the best fit? What if you have a terrible experience and you’re locked in?  Look for partners that put you first and give you the flexibility to choose.

Add: Experience

As we said earlier, our industry is continuing to grow, meaning more and more event tech suppliers are going to continue popping up. It’s a double-edged sword scenario: you get endless options when choosing your event tech, but the options may not always be all that good. The newcomers are often missing the all-important X-factor: Industry experience.

Our rule of thumb here is to look for experience when assessing vendors, in fact, it was one of the key elements we looked for when defining the best-in-craft philosophy and building the tribe. Experience can come in many shapes or forms: it could be longevity as a supplier in the industry, it could be experience as an event planner or in a field that is niche to your events. Whatever it is, do your research and use it to weigh up your options.

Looking for experience in a supplier will help you splice out the event tech cowboys. It’ll also mean you’re not only getting good tools, but you’re also getting access to a team with experience and industry knowledge who will be more primed to handle the sometimes unexpected hurdles that come with managing an event.

Getting a supplier that is run by people who genuinely know what it means to be an event planner is key - they understand the journey you’re on and know where to slot in to help make it a smoother ride. They know how to have fun along the way, and provide you with a calming presence when it’s the final hour and you’re about to lose your cool because a speaker just pulled out. They just get it. People that don’t get it are only going to get in the way of you delivering the very best event.

Add: Collaboration

Of course, any good event tech partnership needs to have this ingredient. For the Tribe, we believe that collaboration needs to happen between partners and directly with you. Many companies are pretty good when it comes to working and communicating, but unfortunately, we’ve seen all too often how siloed event tech suppliers can be. Sometimes it’s feature overlap that causes tension, or other times its development teams misaligned about just whose responsibility it is to complete that critical integration. Whatever it is, the lack of collaboration between partners is only going to hurt your events.

Unless you’re working with an all-in-one company chances are your suppliers will be somewhat disconnected from one another, leaving you to be the one that has to connect the dots, or architect the integrations - not ideal when you’ve got 101 other things to manage. That was why we started the Tribe! To turn the status quo on its head and get several different best-in-craft suppliers to join forces and ensure they were aligned at a technical level, and at the customer level, without forcing a one-solution-for-all on you.

Combine until it’s right for you.

So there you have it, our recipe for creating an event tech dream team...after all, we should know a thing or two, right?

Possibly the most surprising thing is that although the actual tech is important, we think the most special and hard-to-come-by ingredients involve people and their business style...it really is the difference between a good deployment and a fabulous partnership that will see you well for years to come. I don’t know about you, but we know which option we’d prefer!

A Tribe guide to Event Data Ownership

 
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It’s a topic that many of us hear about, but perhaps don’t know too much about. As event technology continues to explode, event planners and marketers are continuing to get bombarded with truckloads of data...enough to make your head spin! That’s why this month we’re summarizing the in’s and out’s of data ownership, outlining the legal stuff and giving you the low-down on how this will affect you and your events.

Your data is yours

This first point is simple but oh-so-important. Any data that is collected by a 3rd party tool is YOUR data. The only caveat to this is unless you’ve signed an agreement which states otherwise. Any tech company that holds your data hostage or makes you pay extra to access it may not be the right fit for you and your events going forward

So what does this mean? For the industry as a whole, access to data means we can integrate and innovate - movements like the Event Tech Tribe can be born and event planners can collect and amalgamate more meaningful insights than ever before. Heck yea!

You’re responsible for it

Because the data is yours, you’re essentially responsible for it. The onus is on you to ensure that any personally identifiable information is encrypted, not printed out or left on office desks for anyone to get hold of.

If you don’t need it, don’t collect it

Sensitive data like credit card information, addresses, and phone numbers carry an added weight of importance. You know just as well as anyone just how much could go wrong if that information gets into the wrong hands. So, as a rule of thumb if you DON’T need to collect and store sensitive data like credit card numbers we suggest you avoid doing so and instead let the information flow through during the collection phase.

GDPR - what is it and how does it affect you

From the 25th of May 2018 onwards, all event planners hosting a European attendee will be subject to the new privacy regulations installed by the European Union. Essentially, all European attendees will need to actively accept to having their personally identifiable information collected during your events. Furthermore, this acceptance of your terms and conditions needs to be clear and explicit.

Event tech companies are working to ensure that their tools are GDPR ready, but it’s always important for you to feel like you have a handle on what’s happening in the ecosystem. For a more comprehensive breakdown have a read of Glisser’s article on how it affects planners and marketers.

For more detail on all of this, replay our webinar ‘The Do’s and Don’ts of Data’

Print vs Digital: A guide to marketing your event better than your competitors

To print or to upload - it’s the question everyone’s asking. As event marketers, we’re currently in the midst of an interesting period...Digital marketing has secured itself firmly in the fabric of how we promote our events, but digitals older stepsister is refusing to disappear, with big businesses still spending millions per year on traditional print advertising.

When you’re dealing with a set budget and are responsible for deciding on your marketing strategy things can very quickly start to feel a little overwhelming. Where should you spend your marketing dollar? Should you double down on your online advertising or spread your reach out evenly across multiple different platforms? For this event tech tribe guide, we’re breaking down the difference between the different advertising platforms and share some tips and tricks that will help you navigate the busy world of event marketing.

Breaking it down

Unfortunately for you, the decision is not as simple as ‘print’ or ‘digital’. Underneath each of those categories are hundreds of different delivery mechanisms, each come with their own Pros, Cons and use cases.

 
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If it helps, think of print and digital as separate umbrellas. Underneath each of those umbrellas is an enormous tool box of platforms that you can pick and choose from when it comes time to plan your event marketing strategy...you really are spoilt for choice!

Print: a brief history

Certainly the more established of the two, print advertising has been around in some shape or form since the 1200’s, when political campaigns and posters advertising family businesses were carved into rocks and bronze plates.

Print surged in the 19th century with newspaper advertising becoming the dominant form of marketing during the times. Fast forward to the 21st century and print advertising is still extremely popular, with industries built of print advertising such as the magazine industry remaining consistently strong with a cool $10+ billion revenue for the industry in the US alone.

The big problem with print is that its impact is extremely difficult to measure. If you dedicate your entire marketing budget to print advertising you’re going to have a tough time showing a return on that investment, and an even trickier time figuring out which of your print platforms was the most impactful.

Navigating the world of digital

Digital is young, fresh and exciting. Up until recently, it was the ‘novelty’ in advertising, but many businesses nowadays will tell you that the majority (if not all) of their marketing budget is spent on digital. It fills the gap that print simply can’t: it’s extremely measurable and targetable.

Digital can quickly turn into a beast that’s extremely difficult to wrangle, especially when you’ve got the looming deadline that is your event! Arguably the most important thing to nail is your point of sale - in your case, this is where your attendees will come to learn more about your event and ultimately purchase their tickets. A good event website is effectively your version of a shop window, so make sure you’re taking time when it comes to picking your supplier here (pro tip: If you don’t want to go through the rollercoaster of searching for good options only to be disappointed, check out Swoogo...you can thank us later)

What YOU should do

Although there is no ‘one solution to rule them all’, we do have a few tips and tricks up our sleeves, along with some advice that we think should help set you in the right direction when planning your next event:

1. Print should be supplementary

There is still a place for print advertising in many of your events, however, try to avoid putting all of your eggs into the print basket. Instead, try thinking of print as your supplementary marketing to your digital campaign. Your digital presence is going to be how you reach the bulk of people and provide them with the most information. Think of ways your print marketing can back up the information they’ve seen and keep your event branding top of mind.

2. Fish where the fish are

When navigating the world of digital marketing, it’s important to always keep in mind the segments that you are targeting. Which social media platforms are they more likely to be using? Do they prefer short snippets of information online, or are they more in-depth readers? Are there any celebrity or social media influencers that your target market responds well to? What time of day are they most likely to be browsing and open to receiving your content?

All of these questions are ones you should be asking yourself when it comes time to decide which digital platforms you’re going to focus on.

3. Take note of circulation

If you do decide to invest in print advertising inside a magazine, publication, or a digital mailer provided by another party other than yourself it’s important to take note of the circulation. Circulation is the number of people who receive the publication every time it’s sent - essentially you want to know the size of the database that is going to receive your advertisement.

To give yourself even more assurance we recommend finding out the ‘readership’ rates. It’s all very well having your advert in a E-mailer than goes out to 10,000 people, but if the mailers average open rate is only 0.3% it might be worth reconsidering just how impactful the investment will be...after all, you want to get as much bang for your buck as possible.

4. Be bold

On average we are exposed to over 5,000 advertisements every day, which means it’s especially important that you put extra thought into the impact your advertisement will have. Grabbing the attention of the right people is equally as important - so whether it’s a bold use of color or some smart wording, have a think about some creative ways your adverts can get noticed.

5. Get to know your space

Once you’ve decided which platforms you’re planning on using, spend some time exploring what’s currently happening in those spaces. It’s always a good idea to know who is currently dominating those platforms, how they’re doing it and then adjusting your campaign accordingly.

6. Subliminal advertising can work wonders

5,000 advertisements a day is obviously too much for one person to take in, which means as people we typically only take notice of the adverts that appeal to us above and beyond the rest. Subliminal marketing is marketing designed to pass below the normal limits of perception - essentially making your ads feel not like adverts at all. David Ogilvy once said, “A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself,” and that’s exactly the attitude we think you should harness when designing your marketing campaign.

Some creative ways to do this could involve partnering with other industry organizations to cross promote, or arranging for a key influencer to host a meet up at your event, meaning they’ll advertise the event on their social media platforms. Thinking outside the square is key here.

So that’s it for now, we hope these tips and tricks will put you in good stead to nail your next event.

Further reading:

Email marketing 101: How to get your emails into the inbox

How to effectively measure the ROI of your event marketing

20+ event marketing hacks to get more butts on seats