Le tour de France is one of the three biggest cycling events in the world. It takes place mostly in France, but starts at a different city every year. This year the grand départ came back to Holland for the sixth time; a record! Utrecht was the elected city to host the event. How did the city of Utrecht get this event to take place in their city and how can you prepare for an event this big? I went to a press presentation where I got all these questions answered.
It wasn’t easy to get the event to take place in Utrecht. It took the city 13 years; from the first idea written on a beer coaster to the actual event the beginning of July 2015. With a few setbacks, it wasn’t until a few years back it became clear Utrecht would be the host of the grand départ 2015. It wasn’t a coincidence that they chose the year 2015. It’s the perfect year to do this: there are no Olympics, World or European Championships. Everyone is focused on the tour as the biggest sport event of the year. It makes for maximum publicity.
100 days of festivities
To get most out of the event Utrecht decided to expand the festivities from 3 to 100 days. Because, why not? All kinds of smaller events are organised that are in line with the cycling event. Think of sport days with primary schools and local cycle contests.
Doing it together
The scale of this event is enormous. Beforehand they expected 300,000 people, newspapers reported after the event that 350,000 people came to watch the grand départ. That’s a lot for a small city that is only used to events, for example King’s day, with 100,000 visitors. Together with local business owners, inhabitants and volunteers the city of Utrecht organised the event. Every little detail is taken care of: from enough water taps to garbage disposal to age bracelets to prevent underage drinking.
What makes an event a success? When would you call it average or good? The last week I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic. The Dutch love to know where they stand. We love to use KPI’s, analytics and targets to measure. Let’s have a look at how to use measure the ROI of your event.
Quantity, quality – or both?
Before you can start to measure anything it is key to know what you find important. Quantity? Or quality? Leads or sales? Emotion or facts? Then it is interesting to know what you want to do with these goals. How would you translate them into measurable goals. Quantity could be the amount of attendees, where as quality could be the amount of attendees that made an appointment or interacted during your event. Of course such targets have everything to do with the sort of event you are organising.
Criteria should be SMART
A good criteria is SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-related. Without these preconditions you can not really measure, since the criteria were too vague, too broad or not bound to a certain time period.
Measure, reflect and try again
In the chaos of planning the event and the day(s) itself it’s easy to forget about ROI. Therefore it is smart to create forms and surveys beforehand and think about how you are going to receive the information needed for your SMART criteria. A lot of the information needed can probably be digitalised retrieved!
Don’t forget to reflect on these criteria. What went well, what could be better? Use such a reflection for your next event. And don’t forget to have your eyes and ears open when you’re on the event floor. A lot of important information is shared informally!
Nobody is interested in yet another branded pen. Flags, banners and USB-sticks aren’t original anymore. Time for some inspirational ideas to brand your event!
A common mistake brands make during events is to overexpose the brand’s logo on the stand. This over commercial approach won’t help you tell your story. As a matter of fact, it could even decrease the chance of a good conversation with your target group.
Use your senses
So, now what? The best way to brand your event is to transform your brand into an experience. Let people use their senses to get to know your product. Let visitors taste the local cuisine, let them look around your factory with the Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses, let them feel different textures, or let them smell different scents during a contest.
There is a reason why many brands and companies choose for a mascot or icon to represent their brand. It personifies your brand, makes you therefore more approachable and you can give it several characteristics that are in line with your brand identity. Popular and well known mascots and icons are: Old spice guy, Bibendum – the Michelin guy, Ronald McDonald and me!
What’s on the target group’s mind?
Every single industry and area of expertise has their own trends, challenges and barriers. Which struggles do they face? Who are the inspirational speakers? Where do they find their inspiration? When you know all the answers to these questions you can do something with that information. Organise small inspirational sessions with a group from one industry. Provide them with everything they need. Make all communication personal. Send them a text message when they arrive, to welcome them. Give a personalised goodie bag. How do you personalise it? For instance: check their Twitter account or background details and find something fitting that will bring a smile on their face.
I’m sure they will remember your brand – even without the pen.
I hope that you all are fully recovered from the awesome and exciting days in Frankfurt. It feels like the trade show is getting bigger and better every year, doesn’t it? Back at Holland I am flicking through all the cool pictures, with old and new friends. Since you all contributed to this unique experience, I want to share my favourite memories with you. Here are the best pictures of IMEX Frankfurt 2014.
Let’s meet again at IMEX Frankfurt 2015!