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On a Customer Journey

Knowledge of customer needs is elementary for successful events. That requires the collection and analysis of data. New tools put the focus on "user experience".

In the course of Silke Hoersch's presentation at the ibtm world 2017

in Barcelona, two ketchup bottles were projected to the screen. A glass bottle standing upright with the opening at the top and a plastic bottle standing on its head with the opening at the bottom. "Can you see the difference?", asked Hoersch, Executive Director Marketing and Business Development, EMEA of Ungerboeck Software. "Actually very simple: the glass bottle shifts the focus on the product and the brand, while the plastic bottle is centered on the buyer. It's because the ketchup is much easier to dispense from the latter bottle."

To put the focus on customers is the objective of the new Collaboration Portal her company has been developing in cooperation with a major international congress center. The portal is designed to improve collaboration and communication between event planners and event venues. "We've been working on the development and sophistication of the Collaboration Portal for more than a year", said Hoersch. "This tool is in its finishing stage ready to be officially launched in the near future. We very much look forward to providing our customers with a tool enabling them to engage in a new form of cooperation and communication with their respective partners and thus to contribute to a better Customer Journey."

The software developers embarked on a "Customer Journey" in designing this tool. Their basic approach: proceeding from the first encounter with a brand, the first contact to a company staffer over various encounters and utilized technology before, during and after an event, customers continuously expect good User Experience, transparency and personalization. There are countless points of contact between planners and respective sites starting with venue research over price and facility inquiries all the way to detailed planning and on-site organization.

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"In our era of intensifying competition and an ever-increasing rate of digitalization, personalization and self-service are no longer just nice-to-haves also in the event industry. Only those familiar with their customers' needs and requirements will be able to accommodate these", said Silke Hoersch. "The Customer Journey can be adapted to individual customers by way of definition of the diverse buyer personas, their requirements, motivations and stress factors. Features such as the Collaboration Portal can be configured to make sure they perfectly support a smooth Customer Journey."

With the Collaboration Portal, event centers enable the customers to review and revise all information on the event in real-time. The portal's most important functions are digital quotation and contract management, working on assignments and checklists, mutual exchange of documents on the event, event scheduling and booking services as well as a payment portal. "This is a significant innovation for our venue customers", said Manish Chandak, CEO Ungerboeck Software. "Our main objective is to generate added value for our customers and our customers' customers. We're not satisfied until the use of technology has made a lasting positive impact on these." The new tool will be officially launched in March 2018 and will be available to all customers in the course of this year.

Matthias Schultze is also well aware of how important good user experience has become: "Face-to-face encounters and emotional experiences are under increasing competitive pressure from digital media. As a consequence, user experience has become just as significant as interaction, networking and knowledge transfer", said the managing director of the German Convention Bureau (GCB). To generate a positive user experience, it is above all important to accurately identify participant needs and to customize matching event concepts. "It's essential to be familiar with attendee wishes and requirements and to address these", Schultze explained. He also pointed out that good user experience usually doesn't just happen. "It's the product of extensive analyses, because attendees may differ vastly from each other in terms of age, lifestyle, age and cultural background."

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„The Power of Live Events“ is a research report conducted by Cvent.

In the second phase of the Future Meeting Space project, the GCB and its research partners are focusing on attendee analysis. There's an on-going survey on types of delegate and on how particular methodic and technologic event elements impact on knowledge transfer, learning success, networking and quality of experience. The International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) has joined forces with the market research institution Ipsos to develop a program supporting its members in determining customer satisfaction and improvement of processes: the Client Satisfaction Survey Program. With this platform, Ipsos as independent partner establishes customer data and analyses it in real-time. Event venues may participate in this two-year program for a fee of US$2,000.

In their study titled "The Power of Live Events" initiated jointly with Event Marketer, the event management specialist Cvent stresses how important live data from events is for more detailed understanding of attendees' behavioral patterns and thus also for more intensive visitor experience. This report among other things establishes how data is collected and how it is used before, during and after an event. The report explains the significance of integration of data gained from physical and digital presence of attendees, it highlights the added-value gains of event-apps and it narrates how event experts seek to gain and exploit feedback from their attendees. More than 600 event organizers, meeting planners and marketing specialists were interviewed for this study in July and August 2017.

"The collection and analysis of data is currently one of the predominant trends in all business sectors worldwide. The event and meeting industry is undergoing a major transition from qualitative to more quantitative and data-focused business" said Cvent's Regional Manager Event Solutions Markus Laibacher. "As is illustrated by the data in this report, event professionals appreciate this transition and the opportunities provided by more sophisticated data acquisition and analysis, in particular in terms of attendee development, as an option to improve and refine the entire user experience." Laibacher pointed out that the problem lies in the gap between event experts' knowledge of tools required for data acquisition, integration and analysis on one side and the platforms actually available to them on the other, and as a consequence the insights they are really capable of gaining from their data. According to the study, 75% of the event experts have the feeling they're missing out on the integration of a wider bandwidth of data and information and thus the opportunity to expand and utilize more comprehensive attendee profiles. "Event professionals need just the right data platforms and qualification programs on using these properly and effectively", he added.

There are lots more interesting insights in this report: for example, 81% of the event professionals consider the integration of data from the participants' digital and physical presence to be very important, while 20% believe their companies acts very effectively in this integration process. 67% of the event experts saw added value in the integration of attendee data in their CRM-systems, followed by 66% of those questioned, who saw added value in the integration of event data with social media. Only 29% of the event professionals stated that their respective companies have efficient data-acquisition processes in place – as compared to the 23% who stated that they benefit from effective event-data analysis. And, very telling, only 38% of the event experts stated to have a very good insight into what their attendees are doing on-site.

"The study emphasizes that event planners as before are still missing great opportunities to acquire, analyze and use data to improve their events and all marketing activities. Even if they are aware of the significance of event data, event managers often do not have access to the proper tools and platforms to fully exploit the potential of live event data", is how David Chalmers, Cvent's Marketing Director Europe, interpreted the research report’s findings.

Cvent is currently working on a product designed to improve its customers' user experience. Following the successful launch of Cvent Express, a program enabling event-planners to produce a basic event website within a few minutes with the help of drag-and-drop-functions including registration options, Cvent Flex is now tackling more complex, multi-day events. "We had planners exactly explain their needs and requirements to us in order to develop Cvent Flex on the basis of that information. This is the most significant investment into technology we've ever made, and we intend to surpass customer expectations with the finished product", said Senior Product Management Director Brett Fitzgerald. Cvent is in fact well aware of how to learn about customer needs, and the topsy-turvy ketchup bottles will also be presented to event management specialists in the USA. CHRISTIAN FUNK

Nur 38% der Planer wissen genau, was ihre Teilnehmer vor Ort tun.