Event360: 60 seconds with... BMW's Yvonne Holden

Speaking at Event360 yesterday, Yvonne Holden, general manager of events at BMW Group, explains how the team works with procurement to produce high-quality conferences.

Yvonne Holden, general manager of events at BMW Group
Yvonne Holden, general manager of events at BMW Group

Holden spoke on a panel alongside brands including Barclays and Benefit Cosmetics, at Event360, which took place yesterday, 23 June, at the Roundhouse, London.  

How do you build relationships with your procurement department?

We’ve just had a new addition to our procurement department, so he’s currently learning the ropes. We meet with him on a regular basis and encourage our agency partners to meet him, too. We try to make the whole process collaborative. Members of the team come along to our events so that they can see what we’re actually producing. It’s very difficult for anyone who hasn’t been involved in the conference industry to understand what it is we’re trying do. Moving people around, getting them into position, arranging catering, hotels – there are so many elements that we need to consider. It’s very much about making sure they have an in-depth understanding of what we and the business needs to achieve.

Is it more difficult to secure budget for internal events?

Not really, because it’s simpler for procurement to understand that. We work in a franchise operation, with 150 retailer partners who are our key audience. We’ve just run our annual conference in Liverpool at the ACC, where we effectively ran four conferences in four days for different audiences. Procurement appreciates our key channel to the market, which is our retailer network. We don’t really have any push back from that aspect.

How do maintain innovation and engagement at B2B events?

It’s all around bringing the content to life and making it as 'message focused' as we possibly can. We have to realise what that audience is interested in. Showing new models, showing new products is really important, but we need to do it in a way that appeals to them. We create things we call ‘closed rooms’ for example, where we show products that haven’t been premiered yet. We’re taking a closed room out to a consumer audience at the moment but we mirror that for our retailer network, so they can see exactly what it is we’re going to be showing. The positioning of each product is incredibly important and we want the retailers to appreciate that so they are targeting the right audiences when they sell that product.

What do you look for in agencies and venues to deliver an agenda?

Whether it’s a B2B or consumer event, the principles are very much the same. As we discussed during the Event360 panel session, attention to detail is very important, along with service. The ACC, where we held a recent event, really fit the BMW brand in terms of the way it positioned itself. It was very clean and for the staff, nothing was too much trouble. They worked with us and our agency Vista to ensure we delivered exactly what we wanted. 

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