Speaker insights from IBTM World

One of the main bits of feedback I heard time and again about the content offer from IBTM World in Barcelona this year was that the topics discussed across the stages truly resonated and it felt like the industry was engaged in some important, ‘grown-up’ conversations.

With that in mind, and in case you missed anything from the 2023 conference streams, read on for a look back at some of the key insights provided by IBTM World speakers when they were interviewed before taking to the stage. 

First up, we have Maria Teixidor, a former Board Director at Barcelona FC, who shared her insights on culture and change.

Is there a secret recipe for creating a successful culture?

‘For me, passion is the secret - to firmly believe in the importance of culture as a nurturing environment for talent, ideas, and social, corporate, and personal progress. Getting the right (and passionate) leaders in the relevant positions is key to creating a successful culture.’

What are the key steps to changing an event’s culture?

‘Listen, understand, and always dare to try new things! Culture changes with vision. Vision means thinking ahead, deciding what matters, setting relevant goals, deciding on how they need to be addressed and putting effort into showing the way towards that end. Events need to address people’s current needs. So, take your time in connecting with those needs and design events from that point, always look for relevant voices, new trends and activities that provide significant value.’ 

Sustainability, neuro inclusion and AI are key influences on event planners and marketers. How can they embrace these challenges and make the most of the opportunities?

‘Take these issues seriously and understand what each of these elements is and means, and how they influence work and human activities. Some of those are going to involve limits or conditions for action, others will be useful tools that can provide answers. Do not fear them. Learn how to make them work for you. And add passion to your discoveries so that you can then turn them into allies of what you deliver.’ 

Event planners and marketers always seek fans/loyal customers. What is the one thing they need to do to attract such loyalty?

‘I think fans and customers worldwide are looking for messages of purpose around shared values that contribute to improving our lives. At this moment in our history, several crises are showing us how fragile everything can be. So, we are all trying to figure out what needs to be done, seeking clues to understand a fast-changing world.

For that purpose, we need relevant voices spreading good practices of purpose-driven organisations and meaningful insights that can show ways to achieve better results. Event planners and marketers who are sensitive to this reality and provide valuable content for their clients will get loyalty in return.’ 

Next up, Cvent’s Marketing Director, Europe, Felicia Asiedu discussed attendee engagement.

How important is keeping attendees engaged in this age of shortened attention spans?

‘The shortened attention span is worse than people may think. I once said that you can stage an online event for the length of a movie but that’s only true if your content is as enthralling and captivating as a movie script. If not, you need to think in TikTok time, which is seconds. 

TikTok time means you need to provide the breadcrumbs that will keep your audience invested in what comes next on their attendee journey through your event. That can be the convenience of having all your content in one place or it can be interactions, such as push notifications and reminders that move your attendees from one activity or session to the next.’

Does technology benefit or disrupt engagement? If audiences are staring at their phones, they’re not engaged, are they?

‘Technology benefits engagement. You need to use the technology that your audience is already using. If they’re on their phones then push notifications will help you the planner to interrupt that email or call and re-engage them in what you want them to do next. If they’ve found your event through social media then you need to be active on those channels to ensure their interest develops into registration and they then turn up on the day.’

What are some of the tools that enhance audience engagement?

‘Having a mobile app is vital for attendees to navigate the venue, plan their schedules and engage with your speakers and content. Use polls, surveys, gamification and other features to better understand your audience and keep them invested in the success of your event. Automatic badge scanning via strategically placed beacons, plus ‘tap and go’ stations, also helps attendees to move seamlessly from session to session without being interrupted by people wanting to scan their badge.’

Keeping audiences engaged delivers data that planners can use to enhance their events. But how do you keep the value exchange favoured towards the attendee?

‘Communication is important. If someone knows you’re collecting their data to improve the overall experience and to offer them a more personalised attendee journey, then they will buy into it. If you tell people you’re asking them at the point of registration where they’re travelling from so you can provide transport updates and measure the carbon footprint of your event, they’re only too happy to tell you.’

Surely planners need to engage audiences beyond their events year-round. Is it now more about community building?

‘You have to engage people during your event to inspire them to check back in with you post-event and interact with your year-round content. Do the onsite engagement brilliantly and then don’t leave it too long before you send attendees something compelling. Then, offer them a webinar to keep them engaged, followed by continued content, social events, more content and then a serious thought-leadership event.’ 

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