This year’s Festival of Marketing (FOM) took place on 5-6 October at Tobacco Dock in East London. It is the largest global event dedicated to brand marketers with more than 200 speakers, workshops, awards, experience rooms and training sessions. Over the two-day event, more than 4,000 marketing professionals came together to discover, learn, celebrate and shape the future of marketing.
EventTech Talk spoke to Antonios Maropoulos, Festival Coordinator, about his experience of working on the Festival of Marketing as well as what it takes to be successful in event management.
You’ve already announced the dates for FOM17. How far in advance do you usually start planning and booking guests? What is your process timeline?
Festival of Marketing 2017 will take place on the 4-5 October 2017. Booking guests usually starts six to seven months prior to the event. This year we are planning to start registering people as early as possible as planning is a year-long process in itself – part of a forward-looking strategy that spans several years.
Given the size of FOM, what would you say was the biggest challenge of planning an event this size?
Every single aspect of an event of this size is challenging. From content curation and coordination to operations management and sponsor recruitment, crises lurk in every corner. Managing the numerous moving pieces is the biggest challenge. Very capable, close-knit and experienced teams working together is the best answer to any festival crisis.
Has anything gone wrong at one of your events that required quick response and how was it handled? For example, a speaker not showing up, issues with the venue, tech problems, etc.
In an event of this size everything can go wrong very fast. We’ve had last minute speaker cancellations which our excellent content team has filled very efficiently by responding quickly, utilizing all assets available to them and by creating close relationships with many professionals in the industry.
Do you solely focus on FOM or do you actively work on other events at the same time? If you work on multiple projects, how do you manage your time effectively?
The Festival of Marketing team has a few members that are exclusively focused on the Festival all year round but most members of the team are also working on other events during the year. As the Festival season approaches the team internally recruits more and more members reaching full capacity at least four months prior to the event.
How does the Eventsforce software benefit FOM?
Eventsforce allows us to track delegate registrations and manage delegate information and booking status. We can also manage group bookings and ticket upgrades.
What do you see as the most important trend in the events industry today?
Experiential events is probably the most important trend today. Long gone are the speech and drinks events. You need to capture the audience’s attention and imagination from the moment of invitation and interact with them, constantly providing excellent and useful content.
Which mobile app or social media platform couldn’t you live without?
Our Festival of Marketing app. The Festival of Marketing 2016 app by Guidebook is absolutely essential to us, as delegates use it to book their sessions, access the Festival floorplan, navigate through our massive agenda and even connect with each other onsite.
What new event technology are you looking forward to using or would you like to see in the future?
Artificial Intelligence will definitely revolutionize the events industry in the future. Whether we’ll be using it for customer relations, onsite signage or even our first robot speaker, we don’t know. But we are definitely excited by the possibilities.
Is there any advice that you would give to someone considering a career in event management?
The events industry is for individuals that embrace change and love being challenged. It’s a stressful working environment with changing needs that require different approaches. Whatever the challenge, a can-do attitude, calmness and simple problem-solving will get you out of most crises.
Is there a special power you sometimes wish you had when planning/managing them?
It definitely has to be time travel. To go back in time after an event and correct things that went wrong and couldn’t foresee!
Images © Festival of Marketing