TIPS
How organizers sell their events: a look inside
"How do you visit an event without going bust?" is a question that defeats everyone: entrepreneurs, marketeers, PR experts and event organizers. In an attempt to find an answer, 2Meet decided to perform its own business survey.

In the era of the internet and social networks, you can advertise and find clients without leaving the office. The key value of going to events is now in the opportunities to meet face to face with potential partners, clients and investors; to set up long-term relationships, promote your brand and go home with a bunch of new target contacts that will eventually grow into profit and fruitful collaboration.

We had 57 events, 3 secret shoppers, several days on the phone and a symphony of evasive answers from salespeople on the other end of the line. The conditions for everyone were the same: we want to come to a conference, so tell us exactly why we should and how our company will benefit from attending.
After analyzing our research results, we came to the conclusion that large events, often international ones with a range of renowned speakers and representatives of authorities or big business, sell tickets on a 'take it or leave it' basis. They often explain this by saying that their event is iconic and requires no advertising, and seats sell out half a year in advance. Our research showed that these are events in large and quite closed-off industries, high-profile conferences in which there are few newcomers to the industry.

There is an emphasis on the fact that there are no other conferences like this in Russia, and they're right about that. This means that the sales team calculates the rate of return, and instead of selling tickets, they assess companies to figure out whether they'll be of interest to other attendees. There was no talk of networking, and if networking was available, then only as an extra option organized in an outdated way. Overall, it's a case of 'our way or the highway.'

Others sell events on a smaller scale; these identify needs and know what networking is. The problems start when you want to organize target meetings at conferences. Salespeople offer you run-of-the-mill coffee breaks where communication happens by accident, uncontrolled and even purposeless. Meeting rooms are also in favor, or even call center services for organizing meetings, in which trained people assess the requirements of one company or another in the meeting. There are also printed lists, email lists, and offers to stroll among the stands and cover 20 thousand square meters in four days without a specific plan for the walk.

Still others promote networking as the primary value of the event, actively work through concerns and show flexibility in selling sponsorship packages. They offer stalls at their events and talk about all the activities available and the afterparty. They respond evasively to questions about matchmaking (setting up a target meeting with specific people), sometimes asking for clarification on the term.
"There are events which count only on incoming traffic, whose organizers are lazy about addressing concerns and don't bother to learn the customer's requirements. Many even don't want to discuss it - they just send you information via email. Few fight for clients, and as my calls showed, the more advanced the theme of the event (IT, gaming industry, infosec), the harder their sales team works. Flexibility in the conditions of attending works similarly".

Olga Chernyshova
The marketing expert
"There's a certain pattern in all industries - conferences are generally not seen as work. People come just to walk through the stalls or just 'hang out.' The organizers, and often even the attendees, don't think about developing contacts and setting up meetings before the conference, and they have to be told about targeted networking."

Kseniya Yarkova
2Meet project manager
"I came to the conclusion that the majority of organizers have gotten complacent. Some industries grow so slowly that 1-2 conferences a year is enough for them, all the attendees already know each other and there just aren't any new people. The event organizers are comfortable with the number of attendees they already get, they're not looking for new solutions."

Kristina Kulyomina
business development manager
In the final analysis, there are two clear categories. The first one works based on classic standards; these are mostly raw-material industries (metallurgy, mineral resources, etc.) while the second involves more advanced industries (IT, design, games, etc.), which approach organizational challenges with modern methods and tools.

The first category approaches takes a standard, sometimes even casual approach to business, satisfied with what they already have. The second category actively sells events to sponsors and attendees, and the organizers seek out fresh and modern twists of both a technical and marketing nature to increase their sales.

Our research showed that the industry of organizing conferences, exhibitions and forums is growing on the whole. As a team whose main goal is to help organizers sell tickets and stalls and increase the number of useful contacts gained by attendees, it was nice for us to reach this conclusion.
In some industries, the organizers are inclined to seriously understand and satisfy their customers' requirements. They truly want to help the business not just to attend the event, but also to convert meetings into leads, useful acquaintanceships, increased brand recognizability and increased income as a result.

We hope that with each passing year, there will be more and more forward-thinking people who see their events not only from the point of view of profit and boring routine, but also from the point of view of convenience and advantage for their customers.

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