How to organise a business event

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From examples set by the experts, to observations from psychologists and marketers, these insights will have colleagues and contacts raising a glass to your next business event

1. Have more of them
Remote-working, working from home, telecommuting – whatever you want to call it, more and more people are spending less and less time in the office. In the US, some 43% of workers spent at least some time working remotely in 2017, up from 39% just one year earlier, according to research firm Gallup. What’s more, the number of people working remotely for four or five days a week jumped from 24% to 31% between 2012 and 2016.

But this trend also means a reduction in opportunities to meet face-to-face with colleagues and to network with industry contacts. That matters, because research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology shows that a request made in person is 34 times more likely to be successful. So, if you want to get stuff done, creating opportunities to meet in real life is key.

But quantity shouldn’t compromise quality: if you’re getting clients and colleagues together, it’s imperative that it’s an experience worth having. From the sense of anticipation created from an enticing invitation, to the super comfortable taxi service to the event, to the highly Instagrammable catering – every detail counts.

2. Keep it simple
The concept of ‘working memory’ was developed around 1960 by the American academics George A Miller, Eugene Galanter and Karl H. Pribram, but it still plays an important role in the modern understanding of how our minds work – and, consequently in the principles of UX (user experience) and design that govern websites, emails and, yes, event invitations (in whatever form they might take).

Miller thought that human beings have the capacity to process about seven ‘chunks’ of information at one time. And, today, psychologists and neuroscientists maintain that simplicity and beauty heavily influence ‘cognitive fluency’; our ability to process information and make decisions.

So, if you want people to understand what they stand to gain by attending your event, it pays to keep the description, invitation and sign-up or purchase process simple.

3. Stay in touch
The ‘Rule of Seven’ is a popular principle of marketing formulated by Dr. Jeffrey Lant. Lant’s theory states that in order to make a purchase or a significant positive decision, people tend to need to have experienced a minimum of seven positive points of contact with the brand or company in question within an 18-month period.

Extending this principle to events – where people must decide to give up their valuable time and/or money to attend – is logical. But the range of possible methods of contact – from emails, to social media, webinars, physical invitations, in-person interaction and much else besides – is more varied than ever before. So just make sure you deploy them wisely.

4. Think ‘phygital’
The neologism ‘phygital’ describes the merging of the physical and digital worlds.

In the context of events, one of the best examples of its efficacy is on show every year at Websummit, the largest technology conference in the world. In 2018, the event brought 70,000 people – including senior executives from companies such as Google and Amazon, the European commissioner for competition, the co-founder of dating app Tinder, former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg and Tony Blair – to a varied programme of talks and discussions in the city of Lisbon.

How? Part of Websummit’s success is down to the way that it seamlessly combines real-world events and conversations with the digital world. Attendees use an app to swap contact details, message, meet and keep up to date with the schedule. And, once the event is over, all the content from the talks and discussions spills into the online world, where it can be watched on YouTube and shared on social media. That ensures it continues to make ripples long after all the attendees have gone home.

5. Give as well as take
The founder of Secret Cinema, Fabien Riggall, has built a hugely successful events business by creating immersive worlds in which people can lose themselves. The attention to detail and sense of drama that define the company’s events are a great example of how to do things well, but when asked to offer his most important advice for staging events recently, Riggall focused on building relationships with partners.

‘Being confident and communicative with the people you’re negotiating with is very important,’ he told one interviewer. ‘They need to feel included and involved as stakeholders throughout event planning. Giving something back to established organisations or local institutions is key when you’re trying to put on events at scale.’

Doing this should also mean that next time you need to work with a partner to stage an event, your good reputation stands you in good stead.

And finally…

At the end of the night, it’s important to get guests back home swiftly and safely. The best way to do it is to pre-order with Gett. We offer an up to one month pre-ordering option with no extra charges – and, if these events of yours become a stellar success, it might make sense to open a business account to qualify for extra bonuses/advantages we provide. Find out more about Gett Business Solutions here.

Image credit: iStock