I had a fascinating briefing with Scott Schenker, VP of Global Events last week as he walked me through some of the elaborate planning that goes into a massive event like SapphireNow. He talked nuances like “optimizing the linear frontage of partner booths facing the SAP campus on the floor”. He talked about special cooling/heating needs of the band, Van Halen. He discussed the “social ambassadors” SAP assigned to blanket the event on blogs, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube and how they had started their coverage a month prior. He talked about how SAP planned to use the event’s content with its global salesforce for months afterwards.
In my new book, I profiled how the Chicago marketing firm EA helped Boeing with the launch of its new 747-8 model
EA concealed the plane with a massive 61-by-225-foot kabuki (a massive fabric panel that is quickly dropped to reveal something behind it) drape, which was lit with the “Incredible, Again” logo and color scheme. Multiple stages in front of the drape provided elevated spaces for the speakers and performers to address the 10,000-person crowd
And last week I also had a chance to observe how people differently “consume” that content at events. Brian Sommer, seating next to me at SuiteWorld took pictures with his digital camera of every keynote slide he found particularly interesting. (He generously allowed me to use a couple in one of my posts). Dennis Howlett and Jon Reed must have videotaped anybody with a pulse at SapphireNow.Ray Wang likes the number of his tweets from events to compete with his frequent flyer miles to travel to them. Frank Scavo likes to sit down with customers and walk the partner booths. Paul Greenberg makes time for fellow bloggers – I enjoyed an hour at the bar with him and we talked baseball, travel and of course, a bit of technology.
To me, an event is well worth it, if I can get a couple of posts for this blog, 4-5 innovation posts for New Florence inspired by the travel to, the city of the event, the partners at the event, interesting speakers at the event. Events which make a big impact often show up in my books. The Ignite event in Toronto and CES in Las Vegas are prominent in the first few pages of my new book.
Of course, executives like Schenker don’t plan giant events for us observers. 97% of the audience is customers, prospects, partners and employees. Some come to learn, some come to be entertained, some come to do a gut check on the vendor.
You get the idea, though – how events get produced and consumed keeps getting more and more sophisticated. There are “experiential” marketing firms, experts like Schenker, d schools which focus on events design, hospitality and travel planners. It is a fascinating business.