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Scottish Event Awards

By The Drum | Administrator

March 27, 2008 | 6 min read

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Events horizon

In February this year, the Main Event, the first exhibition devoted to the events and corporate hospitality sector to take place in Scotland, was held at the SECC, attracting hundreds of corporate delegates keen to take advantage of the events expertise showcased at the fair. 72 suppliers took part; from venues to fireworks, caterers to comedians, hotels to technical production companies. Fran McIntyre managing director of QD Events who organised the show said that 70 percent of the attendees were corporate buyers, and 40 percent of visitors came from large corporate organisations and included buyers from RBS, Standard Life, Marsh Insurance and Harvey Nichols, with many travelling from the southeast of England to attend.

“It was very exciting to see the industry come together for the first time in Scotland. It’s an exciting industry to work in and with the successful launch of the Main Event and the launch of the Scottish Event Awards it shows that this is a growing sector and I am proud to be working in the events industry in Scotland,” she told The Drum.

The Scottish Event Awards recognise the contribution to events from those on the supplier side, as well as the venues that host events, demonstrating both the diversity and expansion of the events function in recent years.

Categories include Best Technical Production Company and Best Event Services Company, in addition to more obvious categories such as Best Sporting Event or Tournament, Best Product Launch, Best Experiential Event, and separate categories for best small and best large festival. The positioning of events such as the 2007 Uefa Cup Final, the MTV Europe Awards held at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh, as well as smaller, business specific conferences held in city hotels, all demonstrate the significant contribution a well staged event can add to the city and the country economy, not to mention the fringe benefits of associated tourism, all of which attract an audience with key marketing spend both to a location, and to the company and venue behind the event. The scale and technique of events is something that has grown exponentially, as both organisers and clients tap into their potential.

“Our events require stage set, lighting, screens, special effects, pyrotechnics and so on. Our expert production team also provide corporate productions for events and manage all on-screen media and live feeds,” says Rhea Hussey of the PR Partnership.

“Events range in size but the general feeling is that they are getting bigger and rely more heavily on technology. For one of our larger clients we hold simultaneous events in Scotland and Holland, with the venues linking up via large screens.”

Marketing through live events has now become a significant strong platform in the marketing strategy available to commercial enterprises, and is a flexible enough tool to be able to utilised by sponsors and marketers to make a positive impact on any campaign launch. David Hicks, commercial director at Edinburgh’s Maximillion Events says the last ten years have seen events evolve to become a keystone in communications programmes.

More sophisticated

“Over this period, clients’ needs have become ever more sophisticated. They now look for suppliers that understand their business challenges, the messages that need to be communicated and how the audiences attention can be grabbed in the most creative way,” he said.

“The industry has developed from events companies providing services that have historically focused on the logistics of delivering the technical elements of events to designing the complete event including the content, strategic messages and advising clients on how best to allocate their budget.”

From a plethora of specialists at one end of the spectrum to the full service companies at the other, the industry now covers a host of practitioners in the communications business and collaboration between providers is becoming more common.

“The significance of this is that ‘events companies’ now provide services that communicate to internal and external audiences,” continues Hicks. “We specialise in experiential communications, where the audience is actively involved in the communication at some level, rather than being a passive part of the process.”

The result, Hicks argues, is that the return on investment from an event is easier to measure than with other marketing activities. In addition to providing positive sustainable benefits, they can also be used to communicate an essential corporate message.

“Events are now seen by businesses as crucial elements in raising awareness of activities and getting people to understand the bigger picture,” he says.

“The social aspects of business are becoming increasingly more important and communicating on a face-to-face basis helps build trust and understanding, no matter what message your trying to communicate.”

Whilst specialising in experiential events, Hicks argues that the events industry in Scotland has massive spin off benefits arising from business tourism, which he says is arguably one of the fastest growing parts of tourism spend each year. Furthermore, as the per head spend is greater than compared to non-business tourism, the events industry in Scotland may now be sufficiently mature to be regarded as a unique marketing discipline.

Coming of age

“There has always been an events industry in Scotland however it may be coming of age now at a time when the industry is attracting spend from several different budget holders within any one organisation,” he says.

With more in depth industry awareness and with more companies and company-types aligning themselves with the events industry, its perception is perhaps now growing to meet the reality of its importance in Scotland.

Hicks adds that the Scottish Event Awards are important, not least for their effect on raising the profile of the business to both clients and also prospective employees.

“The value of awards is in how you use the fact you’ve won the award,” he concludes.

“There is space within the industry for more specific award categories that outline the effectiveness of different types of events for different types of client projects.”

For more information and a full list of categories in the Scottish Event Awards go to: www.scottisheventawards2008.co.uk

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