Eubea Exclusive: Ilka Eimkemeier
Ilka Eimkemeier (Symantec) explains EuBEA’s importance and discusses event industry’s current issues
Ilka Eimkemeier (image), Senior Manager Global Corporate Events EMEA at Symantec, has worked for corporations such as Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone/Arcor, Software AG and gathered a broad knowledge in event marketing by managing several national and international events. Since 2004 she works for Symantec and organizes numerous conferences, tradeshows and other pan-European events such as Vision or Mobile World Congress and supports the local field marketing organizations as a trusted advisors with her comprehensive expertise. She’s one of the jurors of this year’s EuBEAand we interviewed her to talk about the most recent changes and issues of event industry.
Why is it important to participate to the European Best Event Awards?
The BEA event award is a fantastic proof of the excellence and quality of an event as it is provided by an international, independent jury with an amazing expertise in the meeting and events industry. The award helps to increase the awareness of event suppliers/agencies, hosts and corporations in the industry which can finally lead to more business. It also helps other event hosts to compare their events with award winning events and to set their own benchmarks and is finally a fantastic quality check and reference.
What is the evolution of event industry from the creative and productive point of view in your country?
First of all, focused, tailored events for a smaller, precise audience offering networking opportunities with the right people about relevant topics will be key. There will be a huge need for interactive events using digital technology, intelligent event Apps and Social Media to enable crowds to influence the live experience.
Traditional product presentations via computers and screens will be replaced through more flexible, new technologies like 3D LED screens, Mobile Devices/Air Play Technology and more to increase participant engagement and face-to-face events will be combined more and more with virtual events/hybrid events – pre, during and after the live experience.
Moreover, there will be a growing importance that data will play in delivering more intelligent events and more personalised experience. Asking the right questions when delegates register is key, topics they have spent time looking at on the event site and social media monitoring can give further context.
Enviornmental sustainability will become an important policy for companies to demonstrate corporate responsibility and trust. It will be a key criteria for the venue and supplier selection.
Lastly, measuring event objectives and results will be key to justify the investments. B-to-B events in EMEA have to demonstrate and proof that they are a good investment for clients, employees, shareholders and finally the company. Events have to be measurable to create a strategic event marketing plan and to evaluate the importance for the company YoY.
Which are the current problems of the event sector?
Measuring the ROI/ROO of events is still a challenge for the event sector. Given the difficult economic times in many European countries, events have to support business objectives and to deliver more event value for less money otherwise they will be replaced with other marketing activites. Companies have to plan cost effective events and justify event budgets. All event objectives have to be measurable and comparable – this includes the business impact of an event but also the achieved customer experience and perceived value. Event creativity is not the most important success factor anymore but the potential ROI/ROO that can be achieved with an event. Agencies have to be prepared and the tools in place to support the measurement of events. Event hosts have to clearly define target audiences, the achievable event results and to provide useful data.
Another problem is to adapt to technological innovations in our fast-evolving society, which can seem challenging to many events organisations, but responding in line with changing consumer behaviour is the only way to meet users’ expectations. Failing to do so can result in disengagement, dissatisfied users and lost custom. Responding to technological evolutions, such as the massive uptake of social networking in recent years, is critical to success in today’s economy. Maintaining proactive, up-to-date and responsive accounts means that you are positioned effectively to communicate with your target audience when they are susceptible to listen and react accordingly.
Environmental sustainability is not yet on the radar of many event suppliers and venues. However it will be a basic requirement in future RFPs to meet certain standards. Event suppliers should make themselves familiar with those standard and think about alternative ways to offer their services.
Which are, from your point of wiew, the most used types of events in the last years?
B-to-B events, which are more and more focused on specific target groups, topics and future trends in certain industries to best meet delegates interests and to justify their investment and hybrid events, that have combined a “live” in-person event with a “virtual” online component. With the growing popularity and cost-effectiveness of virtual events, hybrid events have become a popular way of increasing participation in traditional events at a relatively low cost. They also enable participation by people who might be unable to attend physically due to travel or time zone constraints or through a wish to reduce the carbon footprint of the event.