INCON Expert Article
Do you have the right strategy for your international meeting?
By Robin Lokerman
As associations continue to expand and grow globally, meetings become a key strategy for organisations to open and penetrate international markets, especially the emerging ones which show a huge thirst for latest content offered through multiple products and services.
7 key areas:
Meeting revenues mainly come from two sources – participants and industry partners in terms of sponsors and exhibitors. However, with more and more meetings taking place, content being made available in digital forms and through various online portals, and shrinking travel budgets, it becomes extremely important that associations have the right strategy behind their meetings when expanding in international markets, especially when they are new markets.
Below are 7 key areas to look into when planning international meetings.
While working in international markets, organisations need to ensure their content is more locally relevant. Having the same content might not be a successful strategy as it might not address the local audiences. A good strategy will include customisation of the content or having the content presented with local relevance and connections so the participants find it most useful and wish to attend the meeting.
2. Marketing and promotion
One of the major challenges faced by many associations when expanding into new markets is developing a locally relevant marketing and promotion strategy. From print marketing to social media, each industry and market responds differently and it is crucial to understand the triggers of that market before launching the strategy. One way to do this is to connect and discuss with counterpart organisations, local suppliers or, at times, even international members.
3. Pricing strategy
Whilst most markets can adapt and work with a consistent and similar pricing strategy, there are certain countries where organisations need be careful in defining the sponsorship/exhibitor values and registration prices. It is essential to look into this at the start when working on the event plan. If there are reasons for having lower prices, then the event costs have to be managed accordingly to ensure financial objectives are met and there is no last-minute compromise.
5. Stakeholder involvement and support
No meetings are successful ion international markets if the local/regional stakeholder are not sufficiently engaged. They need to be invoiced in define the content, pricing strategy and in gather the right support from local authorities and industry. The will not only help in bringing in direct revenues but also in assisting in elevating the meeting brand that eventually will attract more participants leading to increased revenues.
5. Audience engagement
Having the potential participant engaged right from pre-event marketing is the best way to ensure they attend the meeting. Audiences today can be engaged in developing content and choosing the speakers through voting. Social media and digital tools also help connect them into forming a community, so today it is very easy to have your audiences engaged at reasonable cost. These communities can then be used to generate revenues by connecting the industry partners to them in various forms post event to start an industry conversation.
6. Partner involvement
When working in international markets, having a local on-the-ground partner helps associations to address local challenges. Costs are reduced through better contracts, knowledgeable management of local stakeholders and partners as well. These could be conference organisers and/or destination management companies who can also provide insights into the marketing mix and local market relevance.
7. Value-added services
A lot of organisations do not pay attention or focus on the value-added services desired by participants assuming the meeting is focused on local and regional participants. Services like offering accommodation, industry meetings, or offsite activities do influence the decision of a participant to attend the meeting.
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Robin Lokerman is Group President of MCI. Based in Dubai, Robin has driven MCI’s expansion outside of Europe since 2007. Under his leadership, the company has registered impressive growth in Asia-Pacific, India, the Americas and the Middle East & Africa and today serves a growing number of clients from 31 offices outside of Europe.
As a member of MCI’s Executive Committee, Robin is jointly responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of an international group with a turnover of €280 million and offices in 60 cities and 31 countries around the world. He also leads the company’s Institutional Division, serving association and government clients, and is responsible for strategic service development for these markets.
Day-to-day, Robin consults for associations on strategic planning, board assessment and global growth strategies, speaks at international business events and works with several leading industry organisations at the forefront of knowledge exchange.