Browsing Tag


Leader spotlight – Pauline Kwasniak, Founder, TurnedSee

End of last year I e-met on Twitter Pauline Kwasniak, the Ireland based founder of TurnedSee and we naturally started chatting about the industry. Being active in the digital space myself, I immediately felt that Pauline also “gets it”, and perhaps that’s why quickly we found a common language. She is one of the leading industry vloggers, and vlogs weekly on Facebook. The first video that I saw and caught my attention was called “If you are not visible to your potential clients on SOCIAL MEDIA you are ultimately INVISIBLE”. Since then I enjoy following her entrepreneurial journey and delighted to share it also with you here. This boss lady walks the talk and puts out an enormous amount of B2B content, on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and interacts with her community on a daily basis. I want to give her a big applause for her hustle online and offline.

Let’s start from the beginning, how did you get into the events industry?

I have been involved in events, since I was a little girl. Back in Poland, I was involved in various charity and local events. When I moved over to Ireland at 16, I did the same in school and college. After my graduation, I started to work with various events and corporate clients, before launching my own venues sourcing and groups hosting agency However, having worked with many corporate clients, I found it problematic to research unique venues and quickly match them with the client’s needs. Together with my team I have developed TurnedSee – which using our proprietary software can match the right buyer, to the right venues at the right time.

What’s next for The MICE Blog

I came across an interesting report entitled “2018 Best Countries Rankings” conducted by the global marketing communications company Y&R’s brand strategy firm, BAV Group, and the Wharton School. The sub category “Best Countries for Entrepreneurship” placed Germany number one, before Japan (2), United States (3), United Kingdom (4) and Switzerland (5). The attributes that scored the highest for Germany making it an attractive country for entreprenurship in this study include a well-developed infrastructure, transparent business practices, educated population, skilled labour force, connectivity to the rest of the world, technological expertise and well-developed legal framework. The areas that scored lower include easy access to capital, entrepreneurial and innovative.

This study and its results were of a great interest to me because 1.5 years ago I moved to Germany from the UK and therefore had to also move my business to Germany. This was a good decision to make this transition. By moving my business to a new country my business expanded to a new and important market for the events industry. There are fundamental differences between the UK and Germany that offer great opportunities but also some challenges (especially for small businesses) so I wanted to share with you my experience and what’s next for my business.

I registered my business in the UK shortly after I started trading. I had to decide whether to work as a sole trader or register a Limited company so I chose the latter. In the UK it’s very fast, simple and inexpensive to register a company, making the barriers to entry very low. The reason I chose to trade as a company is my wish to grow the company and not being perceived as a “one-man band”.

Launching my event business

It is this time of year again, to look back and reflect on 2015. Setting my goals for this year I said that I want to organise monthly #EventPlannersTalk live events based on the weekly Twitter chat. That was the first year I embarked on my entrepreneurial career so want to share with you my ups and downs, as our job is not always as glamorous as it seems, but of course it is lots of fun!

Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to organise the events monthly as it turned our to be more challenging as expected! Looking for a venue, sponsors, speakers, choosing the topic and other admin stuff while running the Twitter chat weekly wasn’t easy and hopefully will be easier next year. On the other hand, the Twitter weekly chats got positive feedback and great engagement from the global event community and I am glad this target was met. The aim of the chat is to bring the online community into the physical space to keep the discussion going face-to-face, something to keep working on and developing next year.

On the other hand, it made me reconsider the initial idea – are monthly events really necessary? Do attendees want that much content and education, and most importantly, can I maintain high quality each and every month or is it better having less events but higher profile every couple of months? To be honest with you that is still a question I don’t have an answer for and I believe as an entrepreneur you need to constantly analyse the marketplace and rely on your data.

With so much still in planning, for now I share with you what I did learn this year from launching my event business, the #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event.

There will be no-shows, so overbook your event

Yes, unfortunately there will be last minute no-shows so don’t be afraid to overbook your event. I would say it depends on who your audience is and whether you charge for tickets and how much to determine by how much you will have to overbook.

Be aware of hidden costs

Starting out I wasn’t aware of hidden costs of a venue, such as a projector, and thought it will be always included. To my surprise it added extra £100 to my costs. Of course I can’t blame the venue for it, that was my responsibility to discuss it upfront and I didn’t do it, or didn’t know I have to. Many venues today have it included but many still don’t. My recommendation is to make sure you are aware of what is included and what is not in venue hire before you sign the contract.

Charge for tickets

This year I published an article The Price of Free Events, discussing the trend in our industry to organise free events in exchange for data or marketing. There are some downsides to free events, such as being too salesy and giving your data to third parties. Additionally, from an attendee point of view, if you don’t pay for an event, you can’t really complain when it is poor quality. Personally, I will be ready to pay for an event and to have higher expectations. Another downside of free events is the high number of no-shows. Some organisers are ready to cope with it, but as someone starting out in the industry I knew that I can’t afford it so will charge for my events. Last but not least, I want to promise my attendees better value for their money, giving them the choice of choosing what they are ready to pay for.

Don’t be afraid to plan short-term

The last #EventPlannersTalk was planned within two weeks and I regard it as the most successful event so far. I admit that I had fear and uncertainty if I will be able to execute it successfully, but in the end it it exceeded all expectations. Sometime working under pressure it the best motivation!

Your hashtag will be spammed

During the live event we had active stream on social media and several companies and individuals decided to jump on the opportunity and promote their services with the hashtag #EventPlannersTalk. Using a Twitter wall TweetWall Pro and not being aware of it, it disrupted my analytics. For the next event I filtered these few accounts so they won’t be shown on final report and got more accurate data.

Employees or volunteers will cancel on the day

Someone who was supposed to help me with one of the events cancelled on the morning of the event. That was of course disappointing but be ready for that. Employees will fall sick or might have other personal priorities out of your control. You can do nothing about it, just work with people who you can really trust and someone who can help you last minute.

Speakers will cancel on the day

That can happen as well. Unfortunately I had two speakers who cancelled on the day of the event. That is unpleasant but nothing you can do about it, but have a plan B. Have your black book of contacts ready and find out who can save your event!

Attendees will rarely give feedback, rely on your intuition to improve your event

I realised it is very hard to get attendee’s feedback. If they are happy they will share on social media or don’t tell anything. If they are not they might not attend again. Best thing is to use your intuition and try to put yourself in their shoes.

Email marketing works

I am a big believer in Twitter and Instagram, therefore it took me long time to get convinced that email marketing works. When I say email I mean newsletters. I spend so much time on social media I tend to neglect the power of email marketing but it does work, when you do it right of course and grow your email list organically. I need to keep reminding myself that even though I spend so much time on social media, not all my audience does and some prefer email communication.

Organising own events is not easy and your attendees, sponsors and other stakeholders will be constantly watching you and your progress to decide whether they want to work with you in the future. If you are hard-working, reliable, responsive, professional, stand behind your promises you will see that you will attract the right people. And the more you do, the more experience you get you learn from it and get better – it is a never ending learning curve. Good luck to all event entrepreneurs out there!

Missed #EventPlannersTalk LIVE events? Read about past events: 

To to promote your events using social media

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

How to grow your event business with blogging

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

How to start an event planning business

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

How to start an event planning business, Q & A

What factors determine your pricing strategy? How to stand out in a highly competitive industry? How important is it to be a certified planner? These are just few of the questions we discussed during the second part of #EventPlanenrsTalk LIVE event last November “how to start an event planning business” with Kelly Brown, Founder of KC Events, specialising in events for the corporate sector and Jason Allan Scott who is a co-founder of VenueMe, the Uber for venue finding, mentor, digital influencer, speaker and author.

What is the best marketing channel to promote events?

According to Jason the strongest ROI is still on email while social media goes into niches. Pinterest for example is for weddings, Facebook is bigger in the US than in Europe etc. Twitter is a good way to start a conversation. These are all different streams that go into one big lake, which you need to feed with content. As a start-up you will need to do it yourself and therefore scheduling tools are recommended. He added that “liking” is not enough, the power of engagement on social media is very strong and you need to comment and share. Lastly he talked about LinkedIn and said that it depends what you use it for. A friend of him set up a group to start a discussion which he later monetized through live event. You can also blog on this platform or start a conversation with someone who looked at your profile.

Kelly sees Twitter as a great platform for building presence among your industry peers and sharing your knowledge to raise your profile but said that if you are a corporate planner, law or financial firms are not looking for you on Twitter.

What is the lead time to win a client?

Jason suggested that big corporations are “seduced” on a daily basis so there is a protocol one should follow. Shortest lead time for Kelly was four weeks, others can get up to a year – the company needs to know you better, due diligence can take long and agencies are required to go through long process to become a preferred supplier (e.g. – ISO, delivery schedule etc.). She even got one client after nine years!

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

How to build a client base while you are still in a full time employment?

From Kelly’s experience, “people will remember if you are loyal, if you are discrete, if you are good at what you do – that is a great client base and advocates to have that will follow-up with you after you leave”. She added that you can ask them to recommend you to others or if you can add them to your database/ email list so you can keep in touch. Jason added that it is all about relationships, connections, personality and personal brand.

What about the “boring stuff” – registering the company, filing accounts etc.?

Kelly said that she does her own finances and uses an online cashflow software and her account does the VAT and submits annual accounts to Companies House for her.

Jason’s advice is to open a business only when you need to, after you have first customers. Don’t open the business and wait for customers to come. As an entrepreneur, you can’t invest all at once in a website, business cards, logo, company set-up, accountants etc. Test your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test your concept or idea into the public before putting your money and time (My tip: if you want more information about MVP I highly recommend reading the book Lean Start-Up which covers extensively this subject).

How important is it to be a certified planner or a member of an association?

Kelly sees the benefit of being a member of MPI or ISES because both are transatlantic, and while ISES is more on the creativity side MPI is more corporate therefore sees the benefit in being an MPI member. On the other hand, all have joining fees, so when you are a small company you can’t join every association. MPI for example is more important in North America than in Europe and that can help win business. Because she has clients in North America she sees the benefit of getting CMP certification, but also for personal development.

Jason also sees the benefits of joining an association and suggested that if you are to join you should join the board and be part of shaping association’s strategy and “making things happen”. Comment that came from the audience suggested to also, as a member, engage on social media with other members to leverage your membership, otherwise what’s the point of being a member?

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

How can you make your business stand out in a highly competitive market place?

According to Jason knowing your niche and finding a way to stand out – the more niche you become the easier it will be for others to find you. Kelly added that it is about business strategy, business objectives, transparency and integrity.

What factors determine your pricing and billing (location, industry, experience etc.)?

As mentioned in the first article, Kelly charges management fee and Jason has consultancy fee and risk partnership fee. Risk partnership fee is when he guarantees profit and takes percentage from it, otherwise the venue don’t pay. Jason continued and said that negotiation is important “find the pain point, emphasize the pain point, exceed it to the point it is unbearable, provide a solution and monetize it”. Best is asking the client to come up with the price first or what their budget is. For Kelly her pricing is based on the size of the programme, the longevity and the geographic location.

There are different streams of making money in this industry: management fee, introduction fee, commission based on supply chain, consultancy and annual listing fee. While some of the biggest agencies charge for pitching as well, start-ups can’t afford it and need to “pitch to play”.

How about charging your fee, all in advance or in the end? You can charge all in advance, especially if the event is planned and booked within three months, or 50% upon signing the contract and two instalments of 25%, leading to the event.

We all know, when starting out it is not easy to determine the price and might accept lower offers. But both suggested that you shouldn’t go below your pain point, and if the client thinks he can find the same service cheaper elsewhere, then it is better for him to do so. Don’t be afraid to pass it over because that is about making the right decisions for yourself.

What is the best strategy to market yourself to potential clients (Social media, mailing, networking events)?

From Kelly’s experience best is to know your clients, your target market, who you appeal to and from there expanding to new markets comes organically. Big brands are now interested in speaking to smaller, more personalised agencies, but it is still necessary to pass their procurement requirements. Jason added that it is all about sales – if you cannot sell your product or idea get someone who can! Research – know who you are selling to. Everyone gets many emails today so think what will differentiate you and bring your message across to potential clients. When you do get hold of them, have your research ready. And last but not least, because of social media you can get to everyone today.

Big thanks goes again to Late Night LondonEvoleroTweetwall Pro and our fantastic speakers who sponsored and supported this event! Photos by Sandeep Rai.

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

© The MICE Blog - event management blog

New to #EventPlannersTalk? #EventPlannersTalk is an online community on Twitter for global event professionals and every Monday we host a Twitter Chat about current industry topics. #EventPlannersTalk LIVE event aims bringing the online community into the physical space to continue share ideas, best practice and network face-to-face, extending event life-cycle and making it a 365 days event!