MediaGrowth Blog

Design and Marketing Profitable In-Person Events

Kevin Gray, Vice President, Technology, Media & Telecom

Kevin oversees the sales, operations, P&L, and programming for more than 25 Questex in-person and virtual events across the Telecom, Technology and Entertainment industries.  Part One of this two-part series offers highlights from his advice to B2B media in-person event producers. Part Two will cover some of his thinking on virtual events.

Part One: In-Person Events

In-person event numbers are definitely improving. Markets vary, but Kevin foresees revenue reaching 80% to 90% of 2019 levels in 2023 and 100% by 2024.  He reported that two of Questex’s major in-person shows have done better this year than in 2019.

And the way events are being designed and marketed is definitely changing.  Promoting famous keynote speakers and leaning on content alone to attract attendees is no longer working, so Questex is now really focusing on everything else — VIP dinners, qualified buyer experiences, specific networking opportunities, relevant demos and meetings, buyer/seller matchings, partnerships and cool activations.

The most significant trend in marketing that Kevin sees today is personalization.  Content and activities are built around audience segments and particular job functions rather than the entire industry.  Questex’s TMT team (Technology, Media, and Telecom) generally focuses on 3 key segments (specific to job functions) for each event and tailors its attendee marketing to those segments.  Targeted attendees are told about the companies and people with whom they will be able to network — people relevant to their roles.  Kevin says that people will travel for quality connections and information that will drive their businesses forward.  FOMO becomes a motivator.

Encouraging early registration is a significant challenge, but Kevin believes that people like to plan ahead, and that their hesitation to register early will decrease.  He also believes they are motivated by saving their companies money. One-hundred-dollar early bird discounts are not enough, though.  A three- or even four-hundred-dollar saving will motivate.

Another trend Kevin sees is event planners getting away from both the gold, silver, platinum tiers model and from the 40-page menu of sponsorship opportunities. He works with sponsors to create cool activations that promote their brand identity and give them thought-leadership status. Personalizing unique, surprising, fun activities for sponsors to be associated with is key. He also offers contact information sponsors value in order to make and prepare for appointments at the event.

Price setting varies with markets.  Inflation justifies some increases in most people’s minds, but demand is what has been allowing Questex to significantly increase both registration and sponsorship fees for a number of its events.

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