Ian Austin, March 2016 #EventProf of the Month

The HGA Creative Digital Project Manager, Ian Austin of Manchester – who is a newly minted Chartered Institute of Public Relations award winner – shares his success stories using DoubleDutch, event technology predictions, and the art of sophistication.

BL: How long have you been involved with event marketing?

IA: I’ve been involved in the events industry for the last eight years, but have moved over into the marketing side over the last two. I enjoy learning from each event more than anything; it allows me to understand how we can adapt and evolve our strategy and approach for our next event to continually improve on our results.

BL: Tell me about your most recent event success where DoubleDutch was involved.

IA: Our event was for one of the UK’s largest high street banks. The event was their Annual Awards – the most prestigious event in their calendar; recognising and rewarding staff across all of their business including those working in high street stores, telephone support centres and their other offices. The event itself was held at The Celtic Manor Golf Resort over the course of an afternoon and evening for around 400 people.

BL: What were the objectives you were measuring against for this event?

IA: Our client wanted to see marked improvements in digital feedback – increasing the number of completed surveys by 7%. Out of these surveys, our client was looking to achieve increased awareness and understanding of the event itself, which would be measured by a 5% increase around how well publicised and accessible the event was within a division – a question asked outright within the feedback survey.

BL What type of feedback did you get on the app from attendees and your client?

IA: Our client’s CEO described the event as, “The best annual awards ever!” He was totally enamored with the event app and integrated it frequently during his time on stage. Internally within the app, the employee feedback ranged between “[The] app was a revelation” through to “Keep the app – awesome to create excitement and build up to the event!” On the whole, it was pretty amazing!

BL: Anything surprise you about engagement?

IA: This event is fundamentally a gala dinner and awards evening. We’ve got a lot of experience delivering the app in a conference type space and although we were confident in being able to deliver some fantastic results; there were initial conversations as to whether we felt an app would be appropriate and whether it could work as we’d want it to in such a different setting.

Sitting here today – talking about what is now an award-winning implementation of a digital platform – we definitely managed to make that transition and then some! A 96% approval rating post-event doesn’t hurt.

BL: About that award…

IA: Yes! We won an award in London from CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) for Best Use of an ESN (Enterprise Social Network). It clearly demonstrated to us that together we have a special recipe that has proven to not just produce excellent measurable results, but now also award winning results! Beers all around, I guess!

BL: Cheers to that! What data were you able to pull from the CMS to drive future event decisions?

IA: We now have a greater understanding of how we can leverage the tools the DoubleDutch platform offers to achieve great engagement results in a setting you wouldn’t ordinarily see it working. We’ve also gained great insight on how to drive engagement with a client who operates in an industry which actively discourages the use of mobile phones, in order to create not only a fantastic social community but to provide our clients with measurable data and excellent ROI too.

BL: Any event marketing trends you see in 2016?

IA: In the last twelve months alone we’ve seen a real shift towards event apps – it’s becoming the must-have technology for more and more events and is beginning to take off at an incredible rate. We’re expecting more interactive and integrate-able technologies – RFID, Geofencing, iBeacons and such – to play much more of a regular part at events over the coming year or two, and man, are we excited!!

BL: Your Motto…

IA: Sophisticated can be simple. Simple can be sophisticated.

BL: When you’re traveling for work, what can you not leave home without?’

IA: Headphones are a must.. Second to that, I’d have to say my sunglasses – you’ve got to stay positive, right?