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So, are you ready to get into the nitty-gritty of event strategy and consulting? That’s right, we’re introducing our final edition of the partnership with MPI. And we’re proud to bring you one of the most well-rounded sets of tips for out there. But if you want to compile the ultimate guidebook, complete with the best resources from Endless and MPI, make sure to check out all the previous editions. Now, back to the matter at hand!

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There is plenty of ground to cover when it comes to event strategy and consulting. And today we have some of the ultimate experts in the industry to give you the latest scoop. Our amazing host Will Curran sat down with Roel Frissen, Ciara Feely, Lynne Wellish, and Dennis Campbell. Each of them tackles a different and spectacular topic within event strategy and consulting. Whether you’re a planner or a supplier, be prepared to learn exactly how you can elevate your event. So, are you ready for this? Check out the amazing interviews below!

Event Strategy & Consulting: The Power Of Design

Our first guest is the incredible Roel Frissen. Roel is a co-founder of the Event Design Collective. And together with Ruud Janssen and Dennis Luijer, he wrote the Event Design Handbook. Roel had a lot to teach us about the role of design thinking within the realms of event strategy and consulting, so let’s hear him out!

Event Strategy And Consulting: The Event Canvas Program

When Roel, Ruud, and Dennis crafted their program, they proposed three levels. “This is how we built it – level one is one day, level two is two days, and level three is three days”, Roel explains. “It’s quite simple. And it’s not progressive, so you don’t need level one to come up to level three”. The Event Canvas they created is available online for free. “We teach people how to use the event canvas. We want as many people as possible to speak the language of event design, and talk about event design and events in a meaningful way”, he adds.

Each level teaches you something different. For instance, level one, the shortest, is all about “understanding the model, appreciating the model, and work with the model twice”. Also, it’s complete with a case study. Level two is an extended version of the first one, and level three “is an immersive, on-campus program” that allows you to feel like a student again. Plus, you get a six-month coaching period afterward!

A Little Taste From The Program

For those who were part of the program and achieved the certification of Event Designers, Roel has some news. “We discovered many of our certified event designers struggle with claiming event design time”, he says. “So we created a new program, which is level five. It gives that peek into the future, where you actually can become a trusted advisor in an organization. We enable people to get to that level where they become a trusted advisor, take that event design with them, and creating that picture for the rest of the organization. And then enable the rest of the organization to create events that matter”.

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Implementing Event Strategy

Roel refers to an ongoing joke when it comes to event strategy. “A lot of people talk about event strategy the way teenagers talk about sex. So, nobody really does it”, he says. “I think event strategy is not that difficult. What we actually do is we put that event design on a timeline. And see what we can achieve there and take baby-steps towards the major goal, so it becomes an incremental change. Because the exiting behavior of one event is the entry of the next one. You can change much better, and you can maintain the course as an events team and as an organization”.

So, how can you be a part of the event strategy and consulting revolution? “When talking about events with your event owner, your team, your organization, try to take it to a different level”, advises Roel. “Ask different questions, try to be there before the briefing comes in”.

And when it comes down to advocating for the implementation of a design strategy, it’s paramount that you speak up. “I like to be respectful of people attending these types of events and making sure they get the best experience and the best behavior change possible”, says Roel. “And I cannot assure that if we don’t spend time on designing them. If you buy a piece of land and want to build a house you’re not going to the construction company and say “build me a house!”. You want to go to an architect who’ll ask you tons of questions, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re enabling as many people as possible to be that architect”.

Driving The Point Home

Roel leaves us with some words of wisdom. “Many people are saying “yeah, just do it like last year”. Rinse and repeat, right? No, you should think about it a little bit better. Because the world is changing. People are changing. Why is your event not changing?”. So, make sure you too become a part of the strategy revolution! You can access all the best resources below.

Helping Suppliers Make More Sales

Our second guest is the phenomenal Ciara Feely. Ciara is a published author and the co-creator of the Steps to WIN™ Program. She’s a household name when it comes to vendor-buyer relationships, and she has quite a bit to teach us when it comes to event strategy and consulting. Keep reading, Ciara has the best tips for suppliers!

Making The Shift Happen

Right off the bat, Ciara has some very interesting and relevant opinions. “The first thing we need to do is get rid of the title of the supplier”, she says. “It’s really about elevating both the conversation and people’s mindset to be that partner. Because when we position ourselves as suppliers, the conversation tends to be all about the race. So we really need to get the conversation about race away from this industry. It’s all about the value you bring to the business. We’re an essential part of the conversation and of the business part of events. I’d love to see the mindset of how can we partner up and deliver value to the client”.

But how do we even begin? “A challenge is how we open conversations”, states Ciara. So “a way to do that is how we positioned ourselves and our sales tools, and do we have the right kind of sales tools. So the first one is about standing out and sounding different – figuring out what that means to your business and to the type of client your attracting. We want to make sure we’re not inundating our sales team with leads that are not relevant for our business”, she adds. “Planners want to have that conversation, they want to have that relationship, it’s really important. But they don’t have time, and so we need to train the teams to generate the conversations and to lead the conversation. Being able to match your sales process to how your ideal customer wants to buy”.

The Tools

“I understand the budget is important. But delivering value is even more important”, says Ciara. “Are we ready to have a conversation about return on investment? And what is the definition of return on investment for our particular client? And can our team show how it can help deliver that return?”. Ciara’s developed some amazing tools to drive sales processes forward through a list of “killer questions” that teams need to guide the conversation, such as “what is the end game of this event” and “what is going on in the business of the planner?”.

In MPI’s Venue Sales Certificate Program you can learn even more about these tools. And there have been some amazing success stories!  “Brian from Calgary Convention Center won business worth $5 million. And he was only the second week into it, we were just talking about how to lead a high converting conversation with a client”, Ciara recalls. “And this is a conversation that is of interest to the client. People do not want to listen to a sales pitch anymore, and it’s up to you to really carve that conversation to get the buyer to tell you what’s of interest to them”.

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Customization, Customization, Customization

Will picks up on the topic of tailoring the speech to each individual client or potential client. And Ciara has something to say about the power of customization. “It’s personalizing the experience from day one. How much research have you done in advance? Have you tuned in to what’s the language of that client? A lot of the conversations are what are the dates, what are the rates, and what are the requirements. And we have to stop those dates, rates, and space conversations”, she explains.

Bring In The Sales!

When asked what the best way to make more sales on big trade-shows like IMEX, Ciara highlights the importance of preparation. “It’s no longer enough to just rely on a database. How well have you really put in the time? And when I say time, I mean starting two months out. It’s too late to start three weeks out. So there are key areas you can focus on”, she says. “Number one is getting that message right. So, how you stand out and sound different. Show a little bit of personality, be a bit quirky if you are quirky”.

“Even if you don’t have appointments, don’t be on your phone at the stands”, she adds. “Look like you want to have a conversation with somebody. If someone’s on their phone with their head down, I’m not going to come up to them even if I’m interested in that country. And wear something that pops out, make it easy for people to want to start a conversation with you. A lot of people in our industry are shy, so you need to make it easy for people to come up and say hello to you”.

Adding Education To The Sales Process

“I think a key part of it is getting involved, getting involved in your organization. Volunteer for committees so that you can see on another level across the industry”, advises Ciara. Harness education, and turn it into a tool to optimize your sales process. Ciara’s program in partnership with MPI is a sure way to get you one step closer to victory!

Bringing Business In For Second & Third-Tier Destinations

Last but certainly not least are Lynne Wellish and Dennis Campbell. The two of them have been working together to develop a program that aims to bring more business into second and third-tier destinations. This amazing duo has more than enough knowledge and experience to share with us, so let’s get this train moving!

Why These Particular Destinations?

Lynne and Dennis collaborated on what they considered the nine most important pillars of bidding effectively for convention business – MICE businesses, as it’s called, standing for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Expositions. According to Dennis, “we want to make sure we’re providing enough education and material to essentially move the needle on their closing ratios to actually be more effective against their competitors”.

Lynne believes that “a second or third-tier city receives a lot of economic impact from a meeting, event, convention, or exhibition. And I think if the meeting planner or professional is aware of the value and the unique things about that destination, they might open their eyes and realize there’s a lot more to be gained by being a second or third-tier city”.

Am I Good Enough Of A Location?

“We start by discussing the value proposition of a destination, then tips and tricks on the bid process, and also walk them through the presentation of the bid”, explains Dennis. “A lot of the cities might have a good idea about the metrics of the economic impact. But are they really translating it into the bid process, acknowledging that to the prospective client?”.

Lynne adds that when bidding and selling your destination, “it could be something as simple as playing on a strength you might not even realize is a strength”. And Dennis picks up on that idea by adding that “your main value proposition is not your riverwalk, it’s not your arch. Those are iconic attractions. So you really should be talking to former satisfied meeting professionals and ask them why they decided on you, and what was your unique value proposition”.

A Flawless Site Visit

As a planner, you’ve probably been there before. “You landed in a city, and you’ve been picked up in a limousine, and there’s a bottle of champagne”, says Lynne. “But at what point have you had the experience of that destination? So we think you need to step back and approach it in a different manner”.

“Anyone can have a limousine pick-up a meeting professional. That’s nothing unique”, adds Dennis. Lynne further explains this, adding “that personal touch to show that you care really elevates your ability to make that sale. And when you’re a second or third-tier city you can do it, because you have a hometown feel”.

Dennis has a great tip for you when it comes to a site visit. “Within the first 24 hours, if you can get them to the highest point in your city, that you can get at least 180, 270, 360-degree view, you make a relationship there”, he explains. “You provide the meeting professional with an entire, panoramic view of the city. And now they’re starting to get a little more visual and geographic orientation which they absolutely, positively love”.

Closing That Deal

What are some of the top tips for closing the deal? Dennis says that “once you have a site visit that is happening, you are headed to the shortlist, and maybe to the top of that shortlist. But if you mess it up, you’re out, he says. “So, the flawlessness of that has to be the choreography, the itinerary, some of these cool nuances that make it memorable”.

Lynne speaks of the importance of looking at the RFP. “Take the time to really analyze what the planner is looking for. And another important tool is in your presentation”, she says. “Tie that RFP up and you do your proposal. Go ahead and contact the administrative professional to the person that’s doing the site, and find out how they want that presentation to be”. Plus, “it’s all about the interactive experience that your participant is having. And you want to create that excitement when you’re giving your presentation”, she concludes.

That’s A Wrap On Event Strategy And Consulting!

We’ve officially reached the end of this blog on event strategy and consulting. Plus, we’ve reached the end of our prolific partnership interviews with MPI, which brought us so much amazing content! Make sure to check out all the other editions we have one on sustainability in events, leadership and event safety! And of course head over to the respective courses, in our resources section below. Your event game is about to be taken to a whole new level!


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Mariana Fernandes

Author Mariana Fernandes

More posts by Mariana Fernandes
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