Food for thought: Feeling like a VIP

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Sophie Baker, Marketing manager, Cloud Expo Europe, CloserStill Media At Cloud Expo Europe in January, out of a total of 4,505 total attendees, 474 CIOs, IT directors, CTOs and other senior execs attended as part of the VIP programme. The task of making 10 per cent of the audience genuine VIPs was achieved with a 55 per cent pre-registration conversion among this specific group. A VIP initiative was significant to Cloud Expo Europe as the senior IT buyers are notoriously difficult to attract. We knew generating high quality delegates would increase the value of Cloud Expo Europe for exhibitors and differentiate us from competitors. The three key components of the VIP programme were data, communication and content. Consistent targeting and high levels of customer service essentially secure the conversion of attendees. Technology also played a key part, facilitating targeted and consistent communications. Data was key, and we worked with partners and exhibitors as well as an in-house team of telemarketers researching key names and building our database. Data was broken down into more than 10 key vertical industries. Multi-channelled communications enabled a VIP level of customer service. This ranged from the initial telemarketing contact and availability of support pre-show to personalised email communications and excellent onsite care. Finally, our offer focused on exclusivity and a demonstrably superior offering to the standard delegate package. We provided invitees with additional reasons to attend. These included private onsite facilities, peer-to-peer networking, complimentary refreshments, a dedicated registration area, reserved seating in all theatres and specific industry information and insights. The result? A core group of senior buyers who added massive value to our exhibitor experience. We also enjoyed a fantastic onsite rebook with the show set to double in size. Exhibitor feedback showed excellent satisfaction with the level of delegates, and going forward we have been able to build a major sales differentiator from our VIP visitor sample.  ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jan Barthelemy, event manager, ATC Global, UBM LiveCatering for the air traffic management (ATM) industry, we see our VIP programme as the best tool for amplifying the value of an exhibition for both buyers and exhibitors.  The businesses ATC Global brings together have very specific needs and because they are geographically dispersed across the world, with the rare opportunity to all assemble under one roof, it’s essential we create a streamlined experience to avoid any time wastage. A key element for ATC Global’s VIP programme is our Hosted Buyer Programme. For this we employ a dedicated team to compile the desired product and service offerings of each exhibitor and match these with the investment plans of the relevant buyers, allowing all parties to agree on an efficient and well-planned meeting schedule months prior to the event. ATC Global has invested considerably in its VIP programme in the last two years and will continue to increase next year. We have used this programme as a key ingredient for growing the whole event. It has allowed us to actively source new buyers and key absentees, offering a more potent networking environment for all. A successful VIP programme must be discerning about its clientele, however even though we typically facilitate over 250 meetings during an event, this client base makes up less than five per cent of the total exhibition capacity. Championing quality over quantity enables us to offer a well-staffed and professional hosting service that begins at the airport and ensures the integrity of all meeting schedules is maintained. VIP programmes at UBM Live are in place to enhance the networking experience of our exhibitions and I feel strongly that the success of our events should be measured on their ability to produce genuine investment opportunities. Working across numerous sectors and in various markets, these have proven to be a key differentiator from our competitors. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Alejandra Campos-Morales, Event director, National Wedding Shows, Ocean MediaOur VIP visitor programme varies show by show, sector by sector, and most significantly according to whether it is a trade or consumer exhibition. For the National Wedding Show, the VIP ticket purchaser is self determining, in contrast to our trade show where exhibitors are crucial for deciding who VIPs are. VIP packages in trade shows such as White Gallery London provide selected buyers with free accommodation, travel, and access to lounges during the exhibition, as well as other bespoke elements relative to their importance to our exhibitor base. On the consumer front, a VIP package offers visitors an enhanced, glamorous and inspirational shopping experience, catering for the most discerning customer. At the National Wedding Show this ticket includes reserved catwalk seating, a complimentary glass of bubbles, access to a VIP lounge and a premium goody bag. VIP programmes are important as brands like the National Wedding Show attract an audience of visitors with varied incomes and wedding budgets. While it’s important to make ticket prices accessible for all, we still want the option of an ‘enhanced’ experience to cater for the higher end of that audience. For the National Wedding Show we have developed a new scheme providing a focused platform for every level of exhibitor to showcase their portfolio to the right visitor in the right environment. We have an obligation to deliver an affluent visitor, suited to their product and price point. The VIP proposition allows us to target the upper end of the market. For the National Wedding Show about 10 per cent of our visitor base is VIP and this is growing year-on-year. Within our trade portfolio, it is imperative key industry representatives attend and are given the best possible experience to maintain our market position. Ten years ago, a VIP programme was a hybrid of corporate hospitality or ensuring the right people were covered off. Nowadays, whether trade or consumer, the emphasis is on smart business and flexibility to meet the changing needs of exhibitor and visitor.  This was first published in the September edition of EN. Any comments? Email exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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