High Production; High Returns?

Stephanie Beattie, Head of Corporate Sales, SEC Conferences 

There is no doubt that the dynamics of events are changing – for the positive. Research from ICE, BCD Meetings & Events, the mia (Meetings Industry Association), in the UK and abroad, all indicate both a growth in visitor / delegate numbers, and the ambition of the experiences brands and businesses are looking to deliver for them. 

Investment in production is increasing to meet these ambitions. Event budgets, which were already being influenced by global inflation pressures, have continued to grow as the market settles, quite simply because organisers are looking to increase the production quality of the experiences they create. They do this because they are seeing clear returns on this investment; confidence is growing. 

On a purely economic level, delivering greater experiences to more people is just one of these returns. Organisers are looking to create ‘unforgettable’ events, and the more people that benefit from their content, the better the return on investment.  

BCD’s report tracks that average delegate numbers have gone up, from 150 to 170, and ICE’s report underlines that the appetite for events within internal departments shows no sign of abating. They have bought heavily into events, they have seen the value of them, and they want more; bigger, better. 

At the SEC, we have witnessed these trends play out on a more anecdotal level as our clients look to invest in the wider event experience. The ibtm World Trends Report 24, released last year, quoted that brands and businesses are ‘using events both as a way to put their values on show, but also to do so in a way that shows these values in practice’. To summarise, the importance of events in creating loyalty, understanding, and fandom, is one highly valued in the corporate world. They do this through experience creation, and that takes production. 

Production does not necessarily mean increased budget though. This is a pressure that we’ve tried to take on, investing heavily in AV and streaming technologies that not only add to the visual aesthetic of the event, but allow it a stronger ‘out-of-the-room’ reach. The venue has worked with some of the world’s most innovative creative agencies and brands and has been tested by the best.

Equally, these investments in tech do not come at a cost to sustainability. Brands, and their agency partners, are finding new ways to not only entertain and inspire their audiences but do so in more sustainable ways.  

So, production needn’t cost; however, it does require creativity, new ideas, and new executions that bring brand’s visions and values to life. We’ve seen this in action. The use of dynamic lighting, intelligent AV and tech, investment in impactful speakers, and highly creative and engaging sets and stages, are all being used. 

We see this move towards creatively led high production as a universally good thing for the events industry. Businesses don’t invest unless they know there is a return, and the data shows that the more investments they make, the more returns they get. In the UK, a report by AJ Bell, which tracks marketing spend, clearly shows an upward shift of budgets moving towards ‘experiential’, and that this move is adding incremental growth to marketing spend. Marketers are known for being data led, if they see returns, they double down. 

This isn’t missed by our agency clients either. We’ve seen the rise of highly creative departments and agencies who are inspired by artistic and theatrical backgrounds that bring flair and drama to the event experience. Agencies are working with brands that see the value of experience led events clearly, and that are willing to invest in creatively led high production. 

They do this because they know they will get the return on investment they desire. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t. We’re pleased to be a willing and trusted partner to their vision.