Organising paperless events across the globe is no easy task, but for app-savvy travel technology company Amadeus, it's the future. "We've seen a huge rise in the use of event apps over the past three to four years," explains head of group events management Amanda Hoffmeister. "It's become a key part of the strategy for the company's events and it's something we hope to see develop further in 2017."
Based in the south of France, Hoffmeister works with a team of ten global event organisers, four of whom are specialists at Amadeus's in-house conference area, the executive briefing centre. They also work closely with an events manager at the organisation's head office in Madrid. The European team produces 25 internal staff events and around 60 customer events per year, aiming to deliver consistently high-quality conferences within a tight budget. Of these, around 60 per cent do not require a website, as the event apps cover so many details. "One of our key challenges as a team is to save costs, and this has been a huge money saver for us. We no longer need someone to develop a website as everything is run from the apps. It's totally paperless."
While apps are crucial to Amadeus's successful events, the company has also experimented with other new technologies, such as the budget-friendly Facebook streaming tool. "While this would only work for customer-facing events, it was a great way of sharing the information we have with a wider audience for very little cost."
Worldwide, Amadeus runs more than 150 events per year, as well as 900 meetings at its executive briefing centre, which welcomes 30,000 visitors every 12 months. "Although my team is not responsible for every event within Amadeus, it's still a huge challenge for our team," explains Hoffmeister. "I'd say around 99 per cent of the internal events we run are conferences, which tend to focus on specialist business areas. For our business customers, we organise a range of thought leadership, technology and industry-related events. Our goal is for these to be more than just a sales event - we want to deliver important customer-centric messages about the evolution of travel as whole."
Several years ago, the company realigned the focus of its events, to spend more time developing smaller, strategic events, which cater to a specific audience. "Last year, we held a very successful event for 450 of our research and development leaders. The two-and-half day trip took place in Baveno, Italy and incorporated a series of plenary sessions, interactive workshops and strategy plans, as well as a gala dinner."
In addition to the usual challenges of delivering a big global event, the team had the added complication of a last-minute venue change. "Originally the event was meant to be held in Casablanca. But due to political tension in France and fears surrounding security, we moved the event to Italy." After six weeks, 32 venue searches, a few sleepless nights and the help of agency Touch, the team booked a spectacular conference venue called Grand Hotel Dino, as well as bus transportation for French delegates.
Despite the changes, Hoffmeister said the event achieved a 95 per cent satisfactory rating among delegates, adding that it created a fantastic opportunity for people to network.
"There are always going to be regional differences in the global teams, but ultimately, agile events such as these provide a platform to ensure that the shared strategy is understood across the board."
150 - Approximate number of worldwide events a year
900 - Number of meetings at Amadeus's executive briefing centre
30,000 - Number of visitors a year to its executive briefing centre
2 - Number of agencies Amadeus works with
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