News

Frugl makes the move into Europe with German Acquisition

Posted in News on 17 September 2014
Frugl, the UK based start-up launched six months ago as an event discovery app for Londoners on a budget has acquired Tickethelden, the Munich-based last-minute ticketing solution. Tickethelden is one of a number of investments made by Sedo.com founder Tim Schumacher since his exit from Sedo in 2012. The year-old ticketing company has an active user base of roughly 100,000 mostly 20-30 year olds spread across Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich.
 
The purchase will enable Frugl to launch in Germany with an existing customer base as well as a large audience on Facebook.
 
Suzanne, founder and CEO of Frugl, says “We have been looking for the right opportunity to bring Frugl to the German market and this opportunity with Tickethelden was too great to resist and now gives us the perfect reason to launch in Germany quickly.”
 
“We are delighted that we have found a strong international partner in Frugl and Suzanne, whose expertise will drive the last-minute ticketing success-story in the future.” says Tobias, CEO of Tickethelden.
 
Final negotiations took place at last week’s European Pirate Summit in Cologne, and the deal was signed shortly thereafter.
 
 

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Turning Scotland Tartan: Events company lights up Scottish landscape

Posted in News on 17 September 2014
On the eve of Scotland’s historic moment, events company mclcreate has used state-of-the-art digital technology to bring new life to the most familiar of Scottish design motifs: the tartan.
 
A group of digital artists and photographers used the latest 3D projection mapping techniques to create the spectacular nocturnal light display, transforming the barns and log cabins of Leyden Farm in West Lothian.
 
Conceived and commissioned by mclcreate in Edinburgh, the project took months of design and preparation by street artists Ross Blair, Brian Mcfeely and Craig Robertson, known in artistic circles by the pseudonyms TrenchOne, Elph and Purshone.
 
Collaborating as the Art Collective Projector Club, the team also included film maker Mike Guest and musician Jennifer Austin.
 
The climax took place on a cold and rainy September night, when the artists and crew braved the elements to project and capture the final light designs on film.
 
Ross Blair, project art director and assistant general manager at mclcreate, shared the inspiration behind the work:
 
“The eyes of the world have really been on Scotland this year, and so we thought, ‘why not give them something special to look at?’ We’re used to using projection mapping for business events, but we wanted to push the boundaries a little bit.”
 
Hinting at the timing of the display, he added:
 
“This project stands for all that’s vibrant and fresh about today’s Scotland, while paying homage to the history that has made us who we are. We wanted it to say that whatever happens, Scotland has a rich past and a bright future ahead.”
 

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GES announces acquisition of Blitz Communications

Posted in News on 17 September 2014
Global Experience Specialists (GES) today announced the acquisition of international audio visual (AV) specialist Blitz Communications in a move that expands GES’ range of services and supports its strategy to become a full-service supplier to the live events, conference and congress and exhibitions markets.
 
Jason Popp, GES’ executive vice president international, said, “The acquisition of Blitz Communications combines AV services with our existing range of services, allowing GES to offer an increasingly comprehensive and convenient approach to service delivery for our event and congress organisers and the end-user clients across the EMEA region.”
 
Blitz has offices in London and Manchester and is the in-house AV service provider at five major UK conference and exhibition venues – ExCeL London, Earls Court, Olympia, Manchester Central, and the NEC, where Blitz was recently appointed as the in-house technical event staging partner. Blitz has considerable experience and expertise in the delivery of a wide range of creative AV services, including specialist divisions that will add value to GES’ offerings: digital media, lighting, theatre, set and stage, graphics, audio and video. The combination of services and locations provides GES with comprehensive coverage of the UK and allows GES also to use its international reach to deploy its services in Europe and the Middle East.
 
Paul Hutton, managing director of Blitz Communications, added, “Blitz has grown and developed since its formation in 1989 and during that time we have had a close working relationship with GES. Both companies share a similar business culture and ethos. We are thrilled to be part of GES’ dynamic and customer-focused organisation and we are looking forward to growing the overall business through the new opportunities the acquisition presents.”
 

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Are you breaking the cardinal rule of PR pitching?

Posted in Tips on 17 September 2014
Recently, a writer at Newsweek published a story recounting his weeklong experiment to read and reply to every PR pitch he received within 36 hours.
 
Given the volume of pitches that landed in his inbox, it was a noble effort. Some of the experiences he relayed made me chuckle, but a lot of his story also made me cringe as he enumerated the pitches that were completely irrelevant.
 
Every PR pro worth their salt knows that one of the basic tenets of PR is to appropriately target and personalize your pitch. Nothing will land your pitch in a journalist’s deleted mail folder faster than a pitch that is off base and irrelevant to their beat.
 
Yet why do PR pros continue to break this cardinal rule?
 
Most PR practitioners are exceptional professionals who strive to deliver outstanding results for the organizations they represent as efficiently and expediently as possible. However, it would not be too far-fetched to say that more than once in his/her career, a PR pro has sent a pitch that was off target.
 
Reflecting back on my own experience, there are a number of reasons why this might occur. One of the most notable reasons: Having press lists so large that having the bandwidth to do the homework required to develop a personalized pitch and send the individual email is nearly impossible.
 
Here’s a tip: Rather than going after, say, 100 publications, hone your list to the top 10-15 outlets that are the most relevant to your company/client and that will move the needle for their business.
 
Once you’ve identified those outlets, drill down and identify the appropriate writers, read their articles and follow them on social media. Get to know their beats and the topics they cover.
 
It may take a pitch or two to pique their interest, but being laser focused on the outlets that matter—and reaching out to journalists with news and story ideas that are relevant to them—will reap greater benefits. 
 

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15 Tips for Welcoming Unexpected Meeting and Corporate Event Guests

Posted in Tips on 17 September 2014
Unexpected arrivals usually fall into 2 categories:
 
Guests arriving at an unexpected time (early or late arrivals).
Flights get delayed, major thunderstorms of blizzards can wreak havoc with traffic, and at times there are even unexpected delays on subway systems.
Attendees who did not RSVP (including onsite registrations).
There are a number of reasons why guests don't RSVP. If their schedule suddenly clears up, they may decide to join the group at the last minute.
 
I recall one small corporate event for which there were 5 unexpected dinner guests. Attendees had so much fun the night before that  they decided to go home, change, and return for the evening event. A couple of them shared their experience with colleagues who also decided to join the event at the last minute. It was a bit of a scramble but everyone was seated and fed, Now an extra table is always part of the plan.
 
Today our focus is on unexpected arrivals for internal meetings and corporate events.
 
1. Select a function room with space to accommodate more guests.
 
2. Open the hospitality suite early to give early arrivals a place to relax until their rooms are ready.
 
3. Give participants someone to contact if they are running late.
 
This will help you prepare to accommodate their needs upon arrival.
 
4. Place reserved signs on some tables near door so that late arrivals can slip into the meeting or event discretely.
 
If late arrivals are seated near the rear door, it will be easier to accommodate their needs without disrupting the meeting.
 
You may experience some resistance to this as some attendees prefer to sit near the door. Always have at least one table near the door that is not reserved to accommodate the needs of these guests.
 
5. Set up an extra table and place a reserved sign on it to accommodate additional attendees and late arrivals without scrambling. (For large events, that should read extra tables.)
 
6. To free up more space near the door, ask the person giving welcome remarks to let people know that there are seats at the front and invite them to move forward. 
 
7. Ask the front desk to contact the designated member of the event team when they start to check in a guest arriving late.
 
8. Offer luggage transfer for late arrivals.
 
Arrange with the front desk to let late arrivals know where the meeting or event is taking place. Give them the option of having their baggage transferred directly to their rooms so that they can join the meeting or event immediately.
 
9. Greet late arrivals and quickly and quietly show the guests to their seats.
 
Respond graciously and ensure that attendees feel welcome.
 
FOR MEETINGS
 
10. Keep an extra set of handouts and name tags handy for unexpected guests and late arrivals.
 
11. Minimize disruptions by having a signal for the end of breaks and working lunches to encourage guests to return to the meeting on time (e.g. a gong, xylophone, train whistle, chimes, start or end of music).
 
Get creative. For some events my company has used lion dancers and capoeira dancers to lead participants back into the function space and taiko drummers to signal the resumption of the meeting.
 
12. Be proactive. 
 
At the beginning of the mid-afternoon break, let attendees know that you can still accommodate additional guests for dinner.  Ask participants to inform you right away if their plans have changed so that you can notify the chef.
 
FOR DINNER EVENTS
 
13. Ask the member of the event team greeting late arrivals who are checking in at the hotel to determine if they will be joining the group for dinner.
 
14. Arrange a back-up plan for food and beverage service for attendees who are too tired to join the group.
 
Arrange for their dinner to be delivered to the rooms.
 
15. Hold back some hors d'oeuvres for late arrivals.
 
Late arrivals are likely to be hungry and hot after rushing to an event. Offer a cool beverage and hors d'oeuvres.
 

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10 Tips for Managing Your Own Facebook Group

Posted in Tips on 17 September 2014
As many of us have probably experienced, social media marketing can be a very powerful tool in building our business. Although some say the popularity of Facebook is declining, it is still one of the most popular social media sites and, if used effectively, can do a lot for your business.
 
One beneficial feature of Facebook you can use to build your business is the ability to create your own Facebook networking group.
 
To create your own group, simply go to your homepage and look to the left for the Groups section. Then click the Create Group button and a window will appear for you to name your group, add members and choose your privacy settings. Once you have done that, click Create.
 
Once your group is created, you will be taken to your group. To set everything up, click the little flower icon at the top right and then Edit Group Settings. There you will put in your group description, tags, group e-mail, images, etc. And you’re done.
 
So now what?
 
What do you do once you have your group? Below are some tips to help you manage your group effectively.
 
1. Naming Your Group – The name of your group is very important, so be sure to spend some time on this decision. Use relevant keywords and be sure to make it clear what the group is about. For example: if you are starting a group for home business owners to learn how to build their business do not call the group something like Kathy’s Home Group or Networking with Kathy. Give it a targeted name with power such as Home Business Success Group or Network of Home Business Owners.
 
2. Fill All Fields Correctly – You do not want your group to appear as if you just threw it together in a few minutes. Be sure to fill out everything in the group’s profile and be sure not to have any grammatical or spelling errors.
 
3. Relevant Keywords – Be sure to use relevant keywords in your group description. What words would people use to search for your group or for information pertaining to your group?
 
4. Daily Interaction – Be sure to interact with your members every day. Do not be an absentee leader. I have been in groups where the leader was nowhere to be found and there was no participation at all from any of the members. Provide the opportunity for your members to interact with different ways for each day.
For example:
Monday – Share your business info day.
Tuesday — Post a tip day.
Wednesday – Like a page day.
Thursday – Your favorite quote day.
Friday – Social networking day.
 
These are basic ideas which can be expanded on, but offer an example of how many different ways a group can interact and network.
 
5. Enforce the Rules – If you have specific rules about posting, spamming and advertising, be sure to enforce these rules. These rules could be the reason many people have joined. If people break the rules, be sure to do something about it.
 
6. Ask Member Advice – Let your members participate in the structure of the group. Let them know you would be interested in their ideas and what they have to offer to the group.
 
7. Hold Events – Encourage participation in the group by holding contests, games or other similar events that would arouse interest in your members. Offer prizes and free gifts for these events.  Just because your group may be business-oriented doesn’t mean you cannot add some fun.
 
8. Maintain Professionalism – Even though you have fun in your group and encourage interaction, you must maintain a level of professionalism at all times. This does not mean being overly formal or a “stuffed shirt,” it means to be in control of your personal feelings, emotions and beliefs. Do not allow insults, fighting, or other unprofessional activities.
 
9. Fresh Content – Be sure to post fresh content regularly, every day if possible. This will keep your group fresh in your members minds at all times and help encourage them to post and participate as well.
 
10. Just Be There – Do not neglect your group. Make sure you can put in the time and effort your group and members will need before creating the group. A group will need constant attention, nurturing and encouragement if it is going to grow into a powerful marketing tool for your business.
 
I am a member of a great Facebook group called Women’s Success Network. This group is active and helpful with a friendly relaxed feel to it. It seems to have every ingredient for success.
 
The leader of this group, Denice Duszynski offers some advice for success. “The one piece of advice for managing a group would be to connect with each one as you add them in and get to know them on a personal level.”
 
So get going and start that Facebook group to help you make your business a success while helping others become successful.
 

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The future of PR: 5 lessons for pros

Posted in Tips on 16 September 2014
Predictions are easy, and the PR business is no exception.
 
We don’t yet have the flying cars that were predicted when I was in grammar school, but I’ve never stopped prognosticating. Our team looked into the not-too-distant future to scope trends that all PR practitioners need to be aware of and embrace. 
 
Engagement is an art, not necessarily a science. Skilled communicators can gain a great deal by understanding the sociology of peer groups and the psychology of identified audiences. We already know that it isn’t enough to talk at a consumer by broadcasting a new product message. Success is achieved through a personalized approach that takes into account intangibles like emotions, values, or lifestyle. Only then can the monologue evolve into a true dialogue.
 
Embrace the (media) disruption. Begin with the premise that non-traditional media/content producers like bloggers, citizen journalists and influencers need to be treated as partners. Start a relationship by approaching these third-party disruptors with no agenda other than sending facts and news. Allow them to disseminate as they see fit. Marketers don’t own your brand anymore; your customers do.
 
Metrics are not optional. Slowly, we’re moving toward acceptable measurement practices that will help ensure the future of our industry. PR outcomes are still not easily measured, but the days of “vanity metrics” like impressions and Advertising Value Equivalents (AVEs) are dying away. Aligning the PR strategy, and the budget, with business goals is now the first step in program development.
 
Big data is smart data. Someone once said they went into PR because they were lousy with numbers. Well, many of the most successful PR stories incorporate numbers such as statistics, percentages, analytics, and formulas in a creative package to make news for a client. This happens particularly when the client is between “real” news stories. Another plus? These stories can be told visually in very engaging ways that work with the way we consume media now and even more in the future.
 
Customize your next “dream team.” With specialization and niche marketing creating a greater need for PR people with diverse skill sets, “core” teams are going to need flexibility to meet the demands of introducing new and different products and services. As great as it is to have a giant pool of PR resources at your fingertips, the “smart money” is betting that we’ll be bringing in key players on a per-project basis, creating a smart strategic and financial model for sound PR servicing.
 

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Apple Pay: Does it spell the death of the event RFID wristband?

Posted in Tips on 16 September 2014
On September 9th Apple launched a raft of new technology including the iPhone 6, iPhone 6L and the iWatch. What interested me most was the addition of Apple Pay. With a number of the leading payment providers backing the solution out of the gate, this was an aggressive move to be a leader in the market.
 
Furthermore, I’m interested to see how this may affect events in the future.
 
Will it make cashless events more viable? In my mind the answer is ‘absolutely’.
 
But does it spell the death of RFID wristbands being used as a payment solution?
 
I asked this question to Serge Grimaux, CEO at leading provider of cashless solutions Intelitix.
 
“We have had more than 1million users of our RFID technology this year alone, and the announcement of Apple Pay is yet another fantastic demonstration of what we’ve been accomplishing already: that the future is paying with the tap of your wrist!
 
There is no doubt that mobile phone based systems like Apple Pay will eventually become the norm, but it will take a long time until we see the impact in either stores or at events. Retailers currently don’t have the hardware to accept the NFC technology, nor the incentive to change.
 
When it comes to events, there is fundamental difference in what we do and what these other ‘electronic payment methods’ offer. We are providing a Closed Loop environment while they operate in an Open Loop environment. With Closed Loop, not only we do not depend on connectivity, we also provide the event organiser with the ultimate power to control all money and all transactions, as well as with access to analyze amazingly rich data. Furthermore, we give the event organiser the possibility to have a direct relationship of the optimum quality with their fans.
 
Because of this, although Apple Pay is an exciting development in the ‘cashless’ world, it isn’t so much for the event world. It still needs to be coupled with a banking instrument, and it hasn’t addressed the fundamental issues of using mobile phones at  events: lack of signal and charging facilities, especially for multi-day applications like festivals.
 
We still believe that RFID presents the easiest, most secure and most user-friendly way of integrating cashless payments into festivals and events. However, at Intellitix, being the innovation company we are, although RFID is the main technology at the moment, we know that this will inevitably change at some point, perhaps to other means of NFC including Bluetooth 4.0.
 
We’ll continue developing our products and offerings alongside these growing technologies and be ready to support platforms like Apple Pay. We also very much believe in vertical integration, from access control, to personalisation via social media, to cashless, and soon to other spheres of activities. Any technology we use will work across all of these areas.”
 

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Beacons - what are they really good for when being used at events?

Posted in Tips on 16 September 2014
Now that the hype has settled somewhat on beacon technology, it’s a good time to evaluate where they can really add value to the events industry. Having worked with a number of clients to integrate beacon technology into our solutions based on their real-world requirements, we believe that there are – for now at least – four main uses in meetings and events.
 
1/ Wi-Fi log-in
 
Where there is a high need for attendees to log onto the venue Wi-Fi (this is typically at Corporate events – we all know the ongoing issues of network coverage at many expo and conference venues), this can be greatly facilitated by beacons. When an attendee enters a conference venue, their BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy)-enabled device detects the presence of a beacon: with iOS, this triggers a message containing the WiFi log-in details which the attendee uses to connect to the network; with Android devices, we can pre-configure the native app to carry out the Wi-Fi login without any user intervention.
 
2/ Registration
 
This again occurs when an attendee first enters an event venue. Their device detects the beacon signal, triggering the auto-printing of their conference badge. Attendees then get a message instructing them to collect their badge from the printer and proceed to the fast-track entry location. This has the potential to dramatically improve the registration experience for attendees – and greatly reduce the human resources required to implement the registration process.
 
3/ Opening session content or audience response features
 
If, during a session, the presenter wishes the audience to open a document within the app or to activate an audience response feature (e.g. a survey question), this can be done automatically via a beacon. Although not a particularly complex task, this eliminates the need for users to locate the relevant part of the app and helps maintain the flow of the session.
 
4/ Gamification
 
The role of gamification in an event setting is to encourage desired behaviours among attendees; and beacons can play a very useful role here. If an event organiser wants to incentivise attendees to visit a particular section of their event, beacons in different parts of the venue will recognise that an attendee has entered a designated location (a sponsor’s stand, for example) and award them a certain number of points for doing so.
 
These initial use cases are by no means stretching the boundaries of what beacons are capable of delivering; but these straightforward applications allow event organisers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the technology in real-world situations.
 
Other actions that might be triggered in ways similar to those described above might include: firing up an event Twitter stream to encourage attendee engagement; or activating directions to an off-site reception when an attendee leaves the main venue. Once event organisers become comfortable with using beacons, I’m sure we’re likely to see more adventurous implementations over the course of the year.
 
 

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Live Group Names Andrew Willson As Group Managing Director

Posted in News on 16 September 2014
The Live Group has appointed Andrew Willson as Group Managing Director in a restructure that also sees former MD, Toby Lewis, take on the role of Chief Executive.
 
“Andrew brings with him a wealth of experience working on development and financing strategies for businesses and has been appointed to oversee the acceleration and management of growth within the Live Group” comments Toby Lewis.
 
The news follows the highly successful launch and roll out of the Live Group’s revolutionary Locator Function, as well as its continued expansion from event management specialist to digital events solution provider.
 
“For the last few years we’ve evolved our business to produce great digital technology products for the events industry,” adds Toby Lewis. “We’ve placed innovation at the heart of what we do and are now developing new products that are now changing the way people look at events.”
 
“The success of these products has presented us with an amazing opportunity to substantially accelerate our business growth. To do this we need to be strategically, operationally and financially prepared; Andrew has the perfect mix of experience and ambition to see us through this crucial period of development.”
 
Willson is not new to the Live Group, having worked with Toby in an advisory capacity over the last two years – helping the Group reshape its business and prepare a platform from which to launch its focused growth strategy. This resulted in the Group securing external investment to enable it to pursue new, exciting business opportunities.
 
Prior to joining the Live Group, Willson has held roles as Chief Executive, Group Finance Director and Group Strategy and Finance Director of multi million pound businesses including the Condor/Commodore Groups and Wightlink Limited. He trained as a Chartered Accountant with Coopers & Lybrand, specialising in Corporate Finance and Strategic Development.
 
“The Live Group has a great opportunity, built on a heritage of event management and, more recently, a wave of innovation and product development,” comments Willson.
 
“We’re looking to develop partnerships and relationships that will enable us to grow in our digital event zone but also to expand into new sectors, where our digital expertise can be exploited – thereby becoming one of the leading ‘DigiTech’ businesses in the country.”
 
 

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