It was a bumpy ride into Salt Lake for most of us (you gotta love those white-knuckle mountain descents), but we all made it to the beautiful Grand America Hotel safe, sound and ready to roll.
EMS this year kicked off the day before the event got into full swing with our first-ever “Destination Day” event. Event Marketer staffers joined attendees for a full day of fun in Salt Lake, kicking off in the wee hours of the morning with a ski trip to nearby Snowbird for a group of 20 intrepid spring skiers, and taking place around downtown Salt Lake for three other groups taking part in city, museum and shopping tours. The good news: nobody broke a leg on the slopes (only one face plant resulted in a bloody nose). The bad news: it’ll be hard to replicate the fun had by these early birds (but don’t worry, we’ll try—did you know we’ll be in San Francisco next year?)
After a good night’s sleep, and probably a little Icy Hot for a few of our more, ahem, mature skiers, EMS proper took off like a shot Wednesday morning with five concurrent workshops tackling topics from event measurement and trends to sustainable events and building the perfect microsite. With everyone’s brains buzzing from the morning’s coffee and the morning intensives, attendees moved into the kickoff keynote: Driven to Delight: The Mercedes-Benz Experience. In it, Head of Brand Experience Marketing Stephanie Zimmer shared her insights on how to translate brand love and loyalty into exceptional customer experiences.
After a tasty lunch of butternut squash soup soufflé masquerading as chicken pot pie and a light salad, it was off to our first block of afternoon sessions. Ford talked about taking something great (its Fiesta Movement) and making it greater (Fiesta Movement: The Sequel). Pepsi shared its insights as a longtime player in the music space, and how to own a piece of it through events. SAP explained why it tore down the walls and transformed its events into open “campuses” where interactivity is encouraged, and PowerPoint slides need not apply. And PayPal gave us all a taste of the cashless event (oh, yes—it’s coming). And these are just four of the 21 sessions that were on offer.
Happy hour started promptly at 5:00 in the Solutions Center where attendees had their first glimpse at the more than 55 industry partners who came to share their expertise and their products. And then at 7:00, everyone reconvened in the Grand Ballroom for the 2014 Ex Awards Gala where the industry’s top awards were announced (congrats, Target and all of the night’s winners!). The booze was plentiful and the competition for the rowdiest table was fierce (congrats to Motive), and we topped off the night with an after party featuring a dancing Twinkie.
With so much to see and do, we know it’s impossible to take it all in. So we have compiled a list of the day’s top quotes and insights. Enjoy… and we’ll see you here again tomorrow.
“There’s always an opportunity to optimize. It’s just about how aware you are of the need for optimization.” —Ben Grossman, Strategy Director, Jack Morton
Creating a Killer Measurement Report for your CMO: “We look at what they really care about, what they are trying to drive, what’s going to make them successful and we map that vision to our strategy within global events. We’re trying to do the same thing they’re doing. We want to be the No. 1 company in IT, we want to drive the right platforms and experiences and we need to do that from awareness to customer relationships all the way to providing business value. So we have metrics that align to what they’re trying to achieve.” –Mary Fehrnstrom, Director, Global Event Strategy
“Data reliability is really born from consistency and the way you’re capturing the data, and making sure your organization is trained on how to capture the information.” –Brian Garino, SVP, Head of North American Analytics, Geometry Global
“Anecdotes are not ROI. You have to drill down and find out why people bought something. I recommend using classic techniques. Don’t get caught up in the flavor of the month. People get excited about certain trends and counting how many Instagram [impressions] or Snapchat [impressions] they have. They’re nice to have, but they’re not going to be your ROI. Your ROI has to be back to basics—a multi-wave study asking if they bought something, asking how much they spent and if it was because of the campaign.” –Michael Harker, Senior Partner, Enigma Research
“To me, there’s nothing more annoying than ‘cool kid’ clip art, or, telling young people to go out and do something cool, then capture it and slap a Ford logo on it and call it ‘cool.’” –Crystal Worthem, Brand Content and Alliance Manager, Ford
“Now it’s really a partnership. Brands, music labels and artists are looking for extensions for their music and keeping their brands on the consumer’s prevue as much as possible. We use events as a way to spark the storytelling of the experience that we’re trying to create with that artist or with that platform.” –Javier Farfan, Senior Director of Cultural Branding at PepsiCo, Pepsi
“Old school is still cool. We contribute a lot of the success of the [Christmas Miracle] video to basic p.r. We really pounded the pavement and went to radio and TV. As marketers I think we’re guilty with all the flashy technology and social media of overlooking [traditional p.r.]. This was an old school p.r. stunt, but now due to technology, we were able to take it to next level, take it to YouTube and share it with the masses, which is something people were never able to do in the past. I want to make sure we don’t discount traditional TV and radio—they were a really big part of it.” –Corey Evans, Manager-Sponsorship, Community Investment & Experiential Marketing, WestJet Airlines
“Data should give you the ability to make changes in near real-time on your footprints, at your events, at your activations. If data isn’t making you ask why and giving you an idea of what kind of changes you need to make on-site, you aren’t using data properly.” –Paul Omps, Director-Strategy and Branding at RedPeg Marketing
“That was probably one of the key things that was really missing in our ability to be successful is that we were just allowing it to happen without having any conversations to create this experience.” –Kati Quigley, Senior Director, Worldwide Partner Events, Microsoft
“The campus concept isn’t anything new, all we did was focus it on our customers and that’s how we started making the evolution toward the format.” –Michael Trovalli, VP-Global Events, SAP
“Our engagement was so high at one point that we were put in Twitter jail, shut down, because I’m sure Twitter thought, oh, this must be a spam thing going on but actually it was our unique communications to our attendee during this time that got us shut down—something I’m proud of.” –Kathleen Mudge, Social Media Manager, Consultant, Cisco
“A lot of people see green meetings and sustainability as strictly an environmental thing, kind of a feel good thing, a way to cut down on paper, to use less energy, those kinds of things but there is actual business value in bringing sustainability into the conversation and integrating it into your event experiences. Everything from your attendees to your company management, to the people that you work with are starting to have a different level of expectation.” –Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing, Oracle, and Past President, Green Meeting Industry Council
“As a destination, a lot of times it is an outside-in force. It is someone like an Oracle looking for a destination that meets their corporate social responsibilities and on some level pushing us in certain ways. After the Olympics we began to attract clients and organizations who have an ethos around sustainability and they began to push us outside of our comfort zone.” –Scott Beck, President and CEO, Visit Salt Lake
“Drug dealers, the beach and music festivals are the only places where cash is king. We at PayPal hope to change that, at least the beaches and music festivals.” –Chris Lee, Senior Manager-Brand Partnerships at Esurance
“The word ‘microsite’ is old style thinking. Instead, think in terms of ‘hubs’ of activity, of community, of an event program” –Clay Parker Jones, Partner, Undercurrent
Micro-Targeted Events: “This kind of execution is good for brands without super deep pockets, brands that engender passion and have the social-savvy consumers to tap into that passion.” –Sarah Mandell, Brand Manager, Remy Cointreau
“We tried to give the local people something good from the Good Hands about Allstate’s sponsorship of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans just a few months after Hurricane Katrina.” -Pam Hollander, Director-Sponsorships, Promotions and PR