[Karen Ashwin] In reviewing the past few years from an events perspective, I'm tempted to ask: "Where did all the fun go?" As both the South African and the international events industries have grown, developed, matured and become increasingly competitive - all within the context of the global economic crisis - I might be forgiven for thinking that the game plan has changed.
[Karen Ashwin] Thanks to our preference for face-to-face interpersonal communications, meetings, events and marketing activations enjoy pride of place as fabulous marketing tools. However, we also know that great events cost. The heat is on to ensure that events deliver serious marketing and financial results - and that clients are assured of their incomparable experiential value, especially when paired with the latest trends and technology!
[Karen Ashwin] I'm a firm believer that, due to the dynamics of global economic shift we've experienced, the way we live, work and run our businesses has changed irrevocably - life will truly never be the same again! This holds true for the South African meetings and events industry in 2010.
[Karen Ashwin] The current decline in the global economic system is now filtering through to all industry sectors, including marketing and event management. Marketing budgets have been cut back substantially for 2009 and though the number of events will not decrease, the budget spend per event will lessen. This will be a challenge for all event managers and an opportunity for the most skilled to demonstrate their enhanced creativity.
[Karen Ashwin] In today's competitive environment rife with customer disloyalty, companies are beginning to realise that an effective marketing and communications strategy is no longer sufficient to achieve or retain a premium position in the marketplace. More and more, your company and brand is judged by an increasingly sophisticated consumer on their personal interaction with your employees.
[Karen Ashwin] It used to be that you went to events to collect leads. Nowadays it's not about leads and exchanging as many business cards as possible; it is rather about relationship building and experiential marketing, whereby a consumer is immersed directly in a brand experience.
[Karen Ashwin] Event marketing is today recognised and highly regarded in the marketing mix and full-year plans of major companies. As expectations have risen for what events can deliver, measurement has become more crucial as marketers demand to know from event planners what they're getting for their money.
[Karen Ashwin] Working across borders is always a challenge. There are cultural, language and climate differences to overcome. Dealing in more than one financial currency adds to the complexities - but is doable - but more challenging on a fundamental level is being faced with a society that values and places emphasis on things that you may not. And then there is organising an event in Africa.
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