Even if it is a one-off event, its life cycle is much longer than one could think. Moreover, we, event professionals, are now coming to a better understanding of that it is actually a cycle. I think to some it may sound obvious or well-known concept, but on the other hand, it is one of those ideas that is seriously taken into consideration only when repeated and explained once more. Even to ourselves.
Now, for a few recent years there has been a trend recognising the importance of interaction with returning event attendees and prospective participants on the before and after stages. You would find sporadic and indirect confirmations on this at various recent reports (see Skift Report 2015 or UBM Tech research study 2014, for instance). We all are well aware of a growing demand for better value from events, from clients. With all the speed of life and ongoing, massive and rapid flows of information it is no longer enough for them to just visit an event on a particular day – the value of that particular day is not that high any more. They want a prolonging and more efficient experience; this was one essential reason why event practitioners started to think over the before and after stages of their events. Plus, with more sophisticated concepts and great new technologies developed in recent years the trend is evolving quickly.
When I worked on my thesis about pre and post-conference activities back in 2011, I found out that standard and established activities and tools, such as email updates, newsletters, research on delegates’ needs or post-conference feedback survey were used predominantly, and no necessity in involving delegates in other ways was seen if what was currently employed, worked well. As one of my interviewee put it, that was ‘challenge of change’ for event organisers. I then suggested that ‘while there is no harm in following the traditional paths of organising events, it is necessary to note that taking into account increasing demand in better content from delegates and increased competition on the conference market, conference organisers would need to develop new ways they communicate and provide value of the events for their customers.’
Four years later and here we go. From what I can see, this challenge of change has almost vanished. I believe the boost hapenned due to that very complex of factors (we all have been discussing these): the technological developments, social transformations, change of generations and different consumer behaviour. And there was no other choice for the event planners other than embrace it to their advantage. And I am sure you agree it is three times win-win for all involved in an event process.
You may say there are many great examples of how eventprofs handle the before and after stages, so nothing to worry about. And I can not but agree – there are great examples indeed. But what we are still missing in most cases is the way we perceive these three stages. In most cases it is still not a cycle, not a circle. It’s three separate stages already recognised and handled but not taken as one whole, strategically complementing each other, elements. And as with challenge of change regarding variety of tools to use, there might be plenty of reasons for that – financial, social, organisational etc. Perhaps there should not be before and after, pre and post. There should be a circle of event. It is true though that by accepting the new vision of a circle of event we receive a whole bunch of new challenges to deal with, and a lot of further issues to solve, for instance measurement scales, delegate profile research and so on.
But by accepting this new vision we also receive a whole bunch of benefits, and I believe most important, only such model of a circle of event truly recognises the endless opportunities it can then offer.