Event industry folks really like to talk about the next big thing and where the future lies for the industry. We can confidently predict that smaller ‘me-too’ events will continue to disappear in the conference world. Looking around the B2B events space, we have observed that the bigger ‘large-scale’ events (or LSEs) are building momentum.
The big fishes are starting to dominate the events pond. Inevitably, this is having an enormous impact on B2B event sponsorship and delegate revenues.
No More ‘Me-Too’ or Copycat Events
B2B event organisers often attempt to avoid losing market share to their competitors by producing copycat events. This is known, in the jargontastic marketing world, as a ‘me-too’ event. However, this type of positioning is a risky business, especially where the events company lacks the knowledge or expertise necessary to compete in this space.
We’re not talking about small, high quality, boutique events here, in fact these are actually growing in popularity; it is the quick-fix copycat events that aim to emulate another party’s success that are in decline. Rapidly cobbled together ‘me-too’ copies, with no real value for delegates, are terribly damaging for the events industry, so we won’t be sad to see them disappear from the already cluttered B2B events calendar.
The Rise of ‘Large-Scale’ B2B Events
Instead of producing multiple, poor quality, ‘me-too’ events, B2B conference organisers are now tending to put all of their eggs in one basket and are organising bigger ‘large-scale’ events.
In niche markets this may not equate to an event with thousands of B2B delegates, but it will leave room for only one winner within a particular field. Every organiser has its own definition of what equates to a ‘large-scale’ event, but the main criteria is that it is the one ‘must-attend’ industry event.
What Makes a ‘Must-Attend’ B2B Event?
There are several factors that make a B2B event a ‘must-attend’ for delegates, but in my opinion it comes down to two elements.
· The event must serve the whole value chain
There’s something in it for everyone from the senior management to junior staff, the vendors and the suppliers.
· Attendees must be offered an array of options highly relevant for them
Delegates can select the event elements they want: networking, match-making, an overview of the supplier landscape, free content, the booze, the food, the jolly… whatever’s most important for them.
In most cases there is also a combination of free to attend sessions as well as paid formats within these events.
In Conclusion, the Winner Takes All
Inevitably these bigger events are swallowing up much of the B2B event market’s sponsorship and delegate revenues. This is a classic example of marketplace economics being brought to bear on the conference industry. The fat cats are getting fatter and the underdogs are struggling to catch up with them. Therefore, for smaller players, it is through quality content, specialisation and delivering a brilliant experience that delegate numbers will begin to rise, and a solid reputation within the events industry can be established.
Don’t forget that even the big fish started small!