Michel Huvenne (VO Communication): “A flawless organization and creativity are the secrets for a successful event.”
Michel Huvenne, Concept leader at VO Communication, responsible for the Battle of Waterloo Bicentenary Commemoration project, which received the first prize at EuBea 2015, has shared with us everything about his experience and the current changes and issues in the world of events.
After a combination of academic studies, partly commercial and partly creative, I started working in an advertising agency as Creative Director. I then launched my own agency thanks to Unilever for whom I had put together many event communication concepts. It is for them that I created a sister company specialized in events, which led to 3 success stories: the concept developments for the AXE perfumes in the world of music, the CORAL fashion awards in the fashion industry, and OLA in the world of cinema. 10 years ago, I left the commercial world to put my talents to the service of the public sector and create event communication concepts to support social causes to the attention of citizens. 5 years ago, I joined VO Communication by bringing my assets to VO Group.
Talking about the event market, what is the scenery in your country like, nowadays?
Nowadays, the events market is thriving and acts as a lever for the global communication by promoting messages in a visual, entertaining, experimental and participative way: a larger spectrum of benefits compared to traditional communication. This is a feature, which institutional clients have totally embraced. I am therefore tempted to claim that the events market has a bright future.
Where do you think is the world of events going to? What about the new trends?
As I said, the events industry has a bright future, even if in times of crises, it will be the first to be affected by budget cuts. The current trends indicate an increasing interest in engagement and in leveraging the popularity of specific domains such as fashion, music, cinema and new technologies. The large-scale spectacle and show-business also represent strong trends in today’s and tomorrow’s event communication. The other strong focus on event content is the “green attitude” and themes inspired by the environment.
What is the most challenging part of working on events and why? And the difficulties?
The most difficult aspect of putting together an event, and in particular B-to-C events, is mobility and security, especially in these difficult times. Moreover, reaching a higher level of quality is not always easy, and the only way to reach this “premium” quality is to remain rigorous, hence bringing this level of high-end feel to the event. A minutely detailed and calibrated preparation, coupled with strict budgetary control will be required.
What do your clients ask for their events? What do they want the most? (ROI, experience, small budget, or what kind of events are more required…)
Clients are demanding and require an ever-increasing level of quality while working on similar budgets to previous events. Creativity is also very much expected, especially from event agencies who will demonstrate their added-value versus the diverted competition of caterers and venues themselves. The agency remains an overall designer who will keep the entire range of components of an event under control.
In your opinion, what are the most interesting countries to develop events in, nowadays?
There is no doubt that the « recently growing economies » need to show their potential, namely countries such as Russia, the Gulf countries and Asia… these are definitely regions of the world where there is a demand for « show-off » events with a high visibility potential .
What were your biggest challenges of the year? Do you have any long-term goals, targets and strategies for your agency?
Apart from our greatest challenge in 2015 (the Bicentenary commemorations of the Battle of Waterloo), we developed new event concepts in the field of mobility, important national and international congresses, not to mention the recurrent European events for Levi’s, which took place this year in Lisbon and Copenhagen.
What tips would you give to people starting out in the industry?
Creativity and rigour. Not always easy to reconcile, yet absolutely essential.
What do you think is required to deliver a successful event?
A flawless organization and creativity that takes the target audience’s perceptions into account.
Last question: could you tell us the plus of your event at European Best Event Awards? Why was it so successful?
First of all, Waterloo and Napoleon instantly capture the imagination. Everybody knows about this historical event, from Sweden to Australia, from Europe even across to Asia… A quality programme offering a variety of experiences: emotion, re-enactments, education all contributed to this success. Varied and diversified means of communication composed the ingredients of success for a rich and timely provision of information. Last, but by no means least, a flawless execution.