"Co-creation is all about starting debates long before the event and getting the delegates involved in what’s actually happening," said Andrew Winterburn, director at Ashfield Meetings & Events. Through the use of a wide range of channels, such as social media, apps and blogs, it enables attendees to create event content themselves and pull the elements they really want. "It’s about tailoring content to allow people to take away what’s really important to them," added Winterburn.
Meeting design was another hot topic for planners. "When it comes to events, the agency has become the ‘hub’ of the conversation," explained Alan Wight, managing director of Cascade. "We’ve got a bigger toolbox than ever before and greater demand from clients. The agency is now the central cog."
Whilst content agendas would have previously been designed by corporate groups, it’s becoming increasingly common for the agency to take on this task – in some cases even deciding when meetings should be held. "We’re directly involved with the communications teams and the audiences at lots of the brands we work with, such as DWF and Iceland." He added that events were now part of the whole communication process, rather than a separate entity.
These thoughts were echoed by Richard Bridge, creative director at Top Banana. "I see our organisation as an international communications company that specialises in events," he explained. "Events are about the real changes you can make for companies."
Agents also stressed the importance of collaboration in event planning. "We need to work together to deliver the right product," explained Winterburn. Whilst many clients hire a lead agency, he said it was important for them to work with specialists in other areas, such as audio-visual companies, to deliver.
"That’s why getting involved with associations and events is so important. You need to make contacts in the industry to deliver the right products."
• For more breaking news and in-depth features, sign up to C&IT Magazine's daily Newstracker here