How long is the event lifecycle? Even if it is a one-time event, its life cycle is much longer than one would think. Beyond that, we are now able to recognize that it really is a circle. It might seem obvious or well-known to some, but on the other hand, it is one of those ideas that is only taken seriously when it is explained and repeated once again. To ourselves, too. So let’s talk about an Event’s Circle.
During the past few years, there have been some discussions about importance of interacting with returning attendees and prospective participants before and after the event. There have been sporadic and indirect confirmations of this in various recent reports (see Skift Report 2015 or UBM Tech research study 2014, for instance). We are all aware of a growing demand for better value from events, from clients. The increasing speed of life and rapid flow of information do not allow people to just visit an event on a particular day any longer; it does not have the same value. They want an extended and more efficient experience; this was the primary reason why forward-thinking event planners began focusing on about before and after events. In addition, with the development of more sophisticated concepts and great new technologies over recent years, the trend is evolving quickly.
In fact, when I conducted research on pre- and post-conference activities in 2011 for my thesis, I discovered standard activities and tools, such as email updates, newsletters, research into delegate needs, or post-conference surveys, were widely used, and there was no need to involve delegates in other ways since event planners felt these methods worked. Status-quo in action: why change anything if what is being used is just OK? As one of my interviewees put it, that was a ‘challenge of change’ for event organisers. I then suggested that while there is nothing wrong with following the traditional paths of organising events, it is important to consider that with the demand for better content from delegates and increased competition on the conference market, conference organisers will have to develop new ways of communicating and offering value at events.
Where are we now, four years on?
You may say there are many great examples of how eventprofs handle the before and after stages, so nothing to worry about. I agree – there are many great examples. What we are still missing in most cases, though, is how we perceive these three stages. Most of the time, they still don’t make up a circle. The three stages might be recognized and handled, but not taken together as a whole, strategically complementing each other. As with the challenge of change regarding what tools to use, there could be a variety of reasons – financial, social, organisational, etc. Perhaps we should not discuss pre- and post-event. We should discuss an event’s circle. By accepting the circle of event vision, we receive a lot of new challenges to deal with and a lot of additional issues to solve, such as measuring scales, researching delegate profiles, and so on.
The technological developments, social transformation, change of generations, and the changing consumer behavior all point to the need for the event planners to embrace this change. I’m sure you will agree that this is a three-fold win-win for all parties involved in any event.
This new vision comes with a whole lot of benefits, and, most important of all, only such a model of the event circle is able to generate endless possibilities.