Pre-event planning: Global technology company SAP runs two annual series of events globally. The first, Tech Ed, is a technology education event, which teaches customers' IT teams how to use SAP programmes effectively.
The other is Sapphire Now, which gives senior staff and customers - such as chief technology or information officers - an understanding of SAP's wider product offering and how it can help a business run more effectively.
This year, for the first time, the two events were run together for the EMEA and Chinese markets. SAP holds the EMEA events at different places around Europe. This year, Madrid was selected because the Spanish market was important for SAP, and the venue was available. As SAP's senior manager of global events Mathias Sondermann says: "We are limited to venues that can host that many people."
The destination is usually chosen between nine and 12 months before the event.
Objectives: SAP wanted to educate its customers' IT teams about how to use its products most effectively, as well as showcasing its full range of products to senior customers.
Challenges: The main challenge for the event was its sheer scale. Transportation and accommodation were particularly tricky.
SAP used agency Grass Roots to handle the registration and transportation, which included running shuttle buses. The Madrid Convention Bureau helped with the accommodation, which involved around 40 hotels. SAP executives and some customers were hosted in Villa Magna, the Westin Palace and Hotel Silken Puerta America. SAP grouped the other delegates together by country of origin, and split them between two or three hotels. The UK group stayed at the Miguel Angel.
Solution: The conferences, held at IFEMA, kicked off with keynote speakers each morning - including SAP's co-chief executive Jim Hagemann. After the main plenary sessions, delegates were able to attend a variety of break-out sessions.
For Sapphire Now, three 'campuses' were set up - Business Analytics, Mobility and Run Better - that had presentations, discussion panels and forums.
The conference schedules were made visible on a website one month before the event, so delegates could build their own agenda. Keynote speaker presentations and some of the smaller sessions were filmed and put online.
At the end of the three days, SAP held a large concert in the stadium Palacio de Deportes, with entertainment from singer Anastacia and Cirque du Soleil performers. The concert was attended by nearly 7,000 delegates - a record for one of the SAP's entertainment events.
Client verdict: SAP was pleased with the way the event ran. Sondermann says it achieved its sales objectives and the venue "was the perfect place in terms of space, infrastructure and services".
Post-event analysis: Although SAP is still collecting feedback, Sondermann expects the event to achieve the target net promoter score, which reveals how many people would recommend the company and the event.
Event: Sapphire Now + SAP Tech Ed Madrid
Group size: 10,500
Agency: Grass Roots
Date: 8-10 November 2011
Nov 2010: Madrid chosen as a destination
Dec 2010: Conference location and venue communicated
October 2011: Conference programme published online for delegates to
November 2011: Event kicks off
December 2011: Delegate feedback gathered