by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua
Reflections in the light of Ireland’s Events Industry Awards 2015
During our time at Ovation | MCI, entering for MICE industry awards was a key pillar in our business strategy because it ticked multiple boxes – extending the life of the event beyond its execution, helping us measure the impact and ROI of the event, aligning and rallying the team around the entry, providing a motivational “night out” with the team and the client, leveraging the entry for PR, promotion and marketing purposes etc. Crucially, the award provided a degree of objective global endorsement that permitted us to say “We competed against the best”. Thankfully we competed effectively and won multiple global awards from such industry associations as the International Special Events Society (ISES), the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Meetings Professionals International (MPI), the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), Meetings Industry Marketing Awards (MIMA).
The trophy cabinet at our former Dun Laoghaire HQ, however, was light on national awards. In fact, besides our induction into the “Order of Innisfallen” – an honour conferred upon us by the Chamber of Commerce in Killarney in recognition of our contribution to business and tourism there (Daniel O’Donnell, no less, was the 2014 recipient) – there was nothing. But this is easily explained. Until recently there were no national awards in Ireland for specialists in Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events and therefore nothing to compete for. Thankfully that has now changed. This year the Irish Tourism Industry Council (ITIC) instituted its inaugural tourism awards and the Events Industry Awards (EIA), from a small acorn, has grown to an impressive 500+ event with a kick-ass awards ceremony including international talent.
Entering for an award is a big investment in terms of time, effort and money but if it forms a key element in your overall brand strategy – and I think it should – then it delivers amazing return on investment (ROI). Here are 5 reasons why you should enter your events for awards:
1. You keep the event alive
Many professionals in the creative industries like musicians, architects, graphic designers, artists have the satisfaction of seeing something tangible and enduring at the end of the sometimes lengthy creative process. The song they record, the house they build or the picture they paint remains long after as a powerful symbol of their creative and artistic effort. MICE professionals, on the other hand, live in an ephemeral, passing world where all their efforts culminate in a brief but beautiful flowering, live and real, but for one night only. [This, by the way, is a key element in the MCI brand: a flower whose fragile beauty is ephemeral]. When you enter your event for an award you capture its beauty in the visual precision of print and give it life beyond its execution. It becomes a well articulated case study and provides objective proof of your creative credentials.
2. You’re forced to measure impact and ROI
Most event awards take a holistic approach and ask you to demonstrate how the event delivered on client objectives. It not enough to state that people entered the room and said “wow” or that the office was buzzing the morning after the event. It’s insufficient to remark that every available moving light in Dublin was used at your event or that it took 3 days to build the set. Good event award organisers seek data around budget and want some measurement around spend and outcome. All of this underscores our professionalism as an industry and is reason alone to enter your event for an award. Being able to talk convincingly about the ROI of the event elevates the conversation. You become a trusted advisor to your client, not a mere supplier.
3. You align with your client
Many event awards require client approval or endorsement of the entry. This is a two edged sword as some clients, for reasons of corporate confidentiality, will not permit you to enter their award. However, when winning makes sense for the client company too you can build amazing alignment by doing a joint entry. Doing a joint entry gets you closer to the client as you need to be fully appraised of their internal objectives and understand their brand value proposition fully. This, of course, helps you to pitch event experiences to them that are fully aligned with who they are.
4. You get a great night out
This was perfectly illustrated this week at the Events Industry Awards staged at the DoubleTree Hotel. Produced by extraordinary Susie Sheil of Sheil Entertainment Agency this was a night for those of us normally behind the scenes to step into the limelight and immerse ourselves in the full sensory impact of a live event. And sensory impact is precisely what we got with 5 amazing acts performing at intervals throughout the night (I was speechless and amazed by mentalist Shane Black) and Master of Ceremonies, Neil Delamere, constantly crossing the line of correctness in an often hilarious, blush-inducing commentary role. Worthy winners on the night included a brace for Conference Partners and a hat-trick for Green Light Events who, deservingly, took the Best Event Award for their #TwitterOnTap party during the Web Summit. Susie brought proceeding to a stunning conclusion with a main stage performance from Prodijig followed by the original East17.
5. You can use it to build your brand story
Once you win an event award you’re an “award winning” company and that’s always an impressive, convincing epithet. Awards are objective proof that your effort and execution matches the best possible standards in your area. And not to take away from EIA, the more global the awarding body, the better, particularly if you’re working in a global marketplace. Global buyers of incentive travel experiences, for example, know SITE and see the SITE Crystal Awards as the ultimate guarantee of quality, creativity and execution.
Pádraic Gilligan and Patrick M Delaney were guests of Susie Sheil at the Events Industry Awards and enjoyed a wonderful night of rí rá agus ruaile buaile with Sylvia, Rebekah, Lucy, Karen, Susan, Aine, Jenny and Terri. Thanks ladies for your sparkling company.