60 seconds... on creating memorable events and boosting attendance

Deborah Babbage, Alternative Investment Management Association's event manager

Deborah Babbage, Events Manager, Alternative Investment Management Association
Deborah Babbage, Events Manager, Alternative Investment Management Association

Babbage spent eight years in the City of London working in events before joining the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) in August 2011 to help develop the association’s events strategy and create a new programme of events.


How many events do you organise a year?
Around 40 globally

How many attend these events?
From 10 to 450

What type of events?
Breakfast briefings, lunches, dinners, seminars, forums, annual conferences and global member briefings/seminars.

How many in your team?
Just me!

What is your favourite venue?
Really depends on the type of event but my favourite venue for a drinks reception is the Gherkin, 30 St Mary’s Axe – astonishing views over London and the service and catering (Searcy’s) is top notch. It’s the type of venue that people talk about for a long time after the event itself.

Where is your next annual conference being held and when?
The next annual conference is being held at the Guildhall, London this month. Our attendee numbers are growing year on year, which is great.

 

How have you boosted numbers?

For AIMA the key seems to be the more we interact with members throughout the year the higher our delegate numbers seem to be. We ask members on a regular basis what they want from AIMA and what topics they would like us to cover with our events. We have also introduced a new structured invite and follow-up process, which seems to be contributing to increased attendance at events.

What are the main challenges in organising your annual event?
Always a challenge to predict numbers of actual attendees compared to numbers registered because in this industry it changes depending on the market!

Every event planner has a disaster at some point – what is yours?
Just had an email from the office of this year’s annual conference keynote speaker who has just pulled out! Luckily I have managed to stop the programme print run just in time.

What are the next steps for the association?
Onwards and upwards – we are constantly expanding and are offering a much wider range of events to our members than this time last year. All have been well received with very positive

feedback from members.

 

What type of events have you added?

We have added a series of quarterly breakfast briefings that cover the most relevant industry issues (at time of event), plus a series of dinners with our CEO and other member company heads to discuss the industry in general and how AIMA is/can be of more use to them. We have found this a great way to interact with those in senior positions who would normally send representatives to other events and gain an insight into how different member company’s view AIMA & it’s work.

The industry really needs...

More chances for association event managers to come together to discuss ideas, what works/doesn’t etc without people feeling they are giving away trade secrets.

Top tip for other association event planners
I get the impression lots of associations have been running the same events over and over for years and years so my top tip would be to think outside the box, add a new lease of life to an old event – make your events memorable.

How can you make events more memorable?
To make an event memorable it needs to have a few key ingredients. Firstly it has to run on time and schedule otherwise people will remember it for all the wrong reasons.

It must inform and educate delegates as well as give them plenty of opportunity to network during breaks. But you must keep your audience engaged at all times.

Instead of using PowerPoint after PowerPoint why not try using a video or live link to a speaker not in the room?

We held a large conference in Hong Kong recently and had entertainment in the form of a traditional lion dance at the post-conference networking drinks. You could see everybody in the room visibly relax at the end of a long business day when the dancing and music began. It only lasted a few minutes but set up a more relaxed tone to the evening.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles
and free email bulletins.

Register now
Already registered?
Sign in
How events can save the world

Crisis planning, sustainability, wellbeing and inclusion can cause difficulties for event organisers. So is it possible to host a truly ethical event?

Wellbeing makes 'good business sense'

Wellbeing makes 'good business sense'

Annie Metcalfe from Clear Partners says planners must adapt to the changing demands of incentive travel programmes.

Amex GBT appoints new general manager for meetings and events

Amex GBT appoints new general manager for meetings and events

Gerardo Tejado has held a number of commercial and client management roles at American Express GBT over the past 17 years.

Incentives are coming: 7 Game of Thrones-inspired destinations

Incentives are coming: 7 Game of Thrones-inspired destinations

From Croatia to Northern Ireland, the fictional land of Westeros has filming locations around the world ideal for meetings and events.

What does an HR expert look for in Best Places to Work accreditation?

What does an HR expert look for in Best Places to Work accreditation?

An independent HR consultant explains what judges are looking for in accreditation like C&IT's Best Places to Work.

Events budgets return to steady growth, Bellwether Report finds

Events budgets return to steady growth, Bellwether Report finds

UK companies increased their marketing spend in Q1 2019, in contrast to flatlining budgets at the end of last year.

'Unlocking the best parts of destinations' is key for event planners

'Unlocking the best parts of destinations' is key for event planners

Venues should use their expertise to help familiarise planners with a new destination, says panel at the C&IT Association Forum.

Case study: CoinGeekWeek conference

Case study: CoinGeekWeek conference

CoinGeek transformed The Mermaid London for its three-day conference on cryptocurrency and blockchain.

New senior account manager for Top Banana

New senior account manager for Top Banana

Natalie Benson joins from ACA Live and will work on finance, automotive and retail accounts.

Facial recognition will change the way we measure audience engagement

Facial recognition will change the way we measure audience engagement

This kind of technology could scientifically prove the value and impact of events, says Dan Broadberry from Brands at Work.

LATEST JOBS