David Taylor is managing director of Grass Roots Meetings & Events – specialists in strategic meetings management and delegate management. An industry figurehead with over 25 years’ experience, starting at Hotel Brokers International (HBI), he became sales director as they joined the Grass Roots Group. After a period of integrating GRG services with WPP in 2015 he was made managing director of the M&E division in 2016.
Developing delegate intelligence
Anyone involved in managing events is faced with the ongoing challenge as to how to attract the correct audience. While content is always king, you can put on the best event but if the audience doesn’t meet with your criteria the event is doomed. There is not much point in inviting a group of students to a luxury car launch for example. You want your high earners but how do you find them?
Traditional methods of attracting delegates include email, advertising and cold calling which generally produce quite low returns in terms of the money spent and the numbers they generate. More recently social media has become a popular tool but its effectiveness is again mixed depending on your target market. In the case of the luxury car launch middle aged high net wealth individuals are not generally big social media users. The key is to target those who fit with the event profile rather than resort to blanket messaging but this is easier said than done.
Unsurprisingly then, there is now a big drive towards personalisation, largely through the use of Artificial Intelligence, an area that is become increasingly sophisticated. Typically an AI engine is used to source information from social media such as LinkedIn to identify and target suitable prospective delegates. Messaging can then be adjusted accordingly to enhance the event’s appeal to that individual. Engagement at the event becomes easier too as you now know something about the delegate and their wants. Similarly post-event follow ups can be tailored to the delegate so creating a much more meaningful delegate dialogue. This in turn produces a better ROI, particularly as the delegate mining becomes ever more sophisticated.
Deep Learning is seen as the next generation in predictive intelligence. This is machine learning uses algorithms to build analytical models, helping computers “learn” from data. It can now be applied to huge quantities of data to improve efficiencies around most things including delegate profiling. It’s achieving unprecedented levels of accuracy—to the point where deep learning algorithms can outperform humans at classifying images. This will take targeted marketing to a far more sophisticated level and further tighten the event and delegate match. The luxury car dealer for instance will know when their potential client usually trades his car, what colour he favours, how he likes to finance it and what the likely mileage will be.
These rapid advances in delegate profiling will certainly enhance the value of events but are not necessarily good news for all today’s delegates. It will I suspect lead to the extinction of the often seen event freeloader who comes to the opening of an envelope, leaving only when the drink is finished and their goody bags are overflowing with free samples. Sad times for them indeed.
This blog also appears in Conference News, October 2017