The latest Meetings & Events Support Association (MESA) Founder Forum took place virtually on Tuesday 12th September. MESA’s aim is to provide a close unit for suppliers in the meetings and events industry to network, support and learn from each other. The community meets regularly for personal and professional development for teams/leaders, and to increase knowledge, innovation, and success.
Our CEO & Founder John Martinez moderated this discussion with two brilliant speakers, Linda Pereira, CEO of CPL Events and Patrick Delaney, Managing Partner of SoolNua. The topic discussed was: “What clients want? The client’s perspective”. Below you will find some of our takeaways.
Times are changing
So, what do clients really want in our current times? Linda Pereira started off the discussion by mentioning that we’ve all experienced the P’s: Panic, Paralysis and Pivot. This means that even though clients have been more worried than us because of the pandemic, we had a push and landed in the future. We are at 64% of 2019’s attendance, so now in person events have to be new, interactive and appealing. Clients are looking to leave a legacy or an impact in the events we’re organising and this needs to become part of the conversation. We need to learn how to measure not only ROI, but also the ROE: Return On Emotion.
Don’t forget the fun!
- Destinations and the social part are really important.
- We don’t want to forget about attendee experience: think interactive structured networking, food, fun tours, and engaging them both online and offline.
- Attendees want a variety of content available, they want to engage both online and offline. This is the core to enhance their experience.
- Our industry is a mix of generations: a generation of digital natives who are very comfortable using their phones, and a generation who prefers to meet in person. So, that’s where technology plays an important part – making sure that we bring value to everyone. For example, if the in-person attendees are having a wine tasting session, this should also be streamed, so the online attendees can feel the value and education behind it.
Clients are ultimately looking for a solution
A very interesting point raised by Patrick Delaney was: “I’ve never met a client that knows what they want. If you’re lucky you get to know what they don’t want. They’re ultimately looking for a solution.” To do this, we can start by focusing on the H2H factor: human to human. Post-pandemic, there is more willingness from clients to work together with their supplier, to find a solution together.
Generally, if we ask our client what they want, the answer is normally: “faster, better, cheaper”. This option is often not possible or sustainable. As suppliers, we need to be confident enough to ask more questions, such as “What are your objectives?” and “What does success look like to you?”. We should also focus on the three C’s: confidence, clarity and cost.
The session then closed with a round of Q&A with the audience. The next MESA Founder Forum will take place on Thursday 8th December, and will feature Oscar Cerezales, Chief Strategy Officer at MCI Group. The topic of this session is: “The ability and way forward to find new business models”. You can find out more about MESA by visiting their website.