Ahead of the upcoming #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event on 21st September in partnership with Atout France in London about the changing landscape of corporate networking, I interviewed one of the speakers, Pierre Oudine, Managing director / Co Founder at Raising Stones Events, a leading DMC in South of France with offices in Monte Carlo and Cannes. I first met Pierre when I was in Monaco in 2014 and was fascinated by the events he organises and his experience.
What are the current trends in incentive travel?
The main shift started happening two years ago, and what organisers used to call teambuilding, has now evolved to engagement and includes strategy, operations and ROI in the planning process. It’s a major shift that not everyone is still aware of because the lack of statistics.
Another shift is happening with procurement, where procurement takes a greater role in the MICE industry and the associated costs. Now that procurement is becoming smarter, the focus is shifting from cost to quality and these quality standards must be met.
Third shift is in the role of a DMC, which is becoming not only based on creativity but more and more on offering tools to evaluate the event and provide marketing solutions.
In addition, there is an evolution in geographic segmentation, for example, more events take place on a national or international level, e.g. – Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regional events. Also, the quality of Request For Proposal (RFP) is improving and the quality of regional events is higher. As the companies become more global, attendee profile is segmented by region and that allows better event delivery.
Another big trend is the shift from direct selling to cross selling. For example, a car company won’t invite decision makers from the car industry to their events, but influencers from other industries who have access to decision makers within their communities. One of the luxury car companies invited editors from a design magazine to a presentation about design, and drove them by the luxury car between venues.
How organisers can convince corporates to try new things?
It depends on the industry. IT industry, for example, is open to new ideas and concepts, and actually requires you to be very creative! One of the top IT companies, for example, organised a large dinner (for over 1,800) and in order to get the highest number of decision makers at the dinner they had to think very creatively. So they distributed ice cream vouchers on a hot sunny day, and when delegated got their ice cream they also got a dinner invitation. This happened during a major event where there were many competing evening events so they had to think creatively how to get the most of decision makers through the door. This activation was to communicate the message – if the invitation is creative, you must attend the event for more.
Another tech company wanted to let passers-by try a new tech product, so they contacted the DMC to get an authorisation to do it in on the street.
Other industries, such is finance are more conservative.
How can organisers increase networking opportunities?
Organisers must understand the culture of their delegates in order to be able to facilitate best networking opportunities for them. The incentive travel is coming back, and in the US where there is fewer holidays than in Europe, such incentives must be of a business casual and relaxed nature. So companies will choose attractive destinations, good weather, where people can relax, have ease of access, great value for money and feel secure. Putting people at ease, in a relaxed atmosphere, offering a mix between smart corporate business but casual, will increase networking opportunities.
This discussion is to be continued on Wednesday, 21st September. If you are in London you can still join us, we have few tickets remaining, but if not you can follow the discussion on Twitter between 8-10am using the hashtag #EventPlannersTalk.