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Is it Time for a Chief Events Officer (CVO)?

Jane Holloway, the new CEO of F500 Inc. called a meeting with her Chief Marketing Officer, Rob Lopez and laid out a very ambitious vision positioning the company in the New Year and her goals for brand enhancement.  In a short period of time, Jane wanted employees, customers, partners and industry influencers on a worldwide basis to embrace the new approach.  Rob left the meeting with his head spinning.  Jane’s drive for brand improvement meant an extensive marketing plan including big events, small meetings, one on one briefings and she had further made it clear that there was a fixed budget and no time to waste.  While Rob was no stranger to demanding bosses, Jane had just upped the ante.  A lot was at stake for the company and for him.

Early the next morning as Rob was in his office trying to get his arms around the scope of Janes’s initiative,  Don Hall, who ran the corporate meetings group and had been working with Rob to plan a series of client briefings, stuck his head in the door.  “You look overwhelmed for so early in the day.”   Rob invited Don in and shared an overview of Jane’s plan.   “That’s some agenda!” said Don as he sat back sipping his coffee.   “I think I can help.”

Don went to the whiteboard and quickly outlined an approach to capturing Jane’s goals in a focused, measureable way.  He then showed Rob how he and his team, which included meeting professionals around the world, could get an approach to planning in place which would give them the efficiency they needed for handling logistics.  “We can use one event management platform for all global staff to collaborate on the budgets, tasks and assets for the program, then roll-out a mobile application at the live events that will give us instant feedback on how the campaign is unfolding – session by session — and track that.  By integrating mobile with social media we can tune into attendee reactions and behaviors pre-event and post-event.”

“What about people that can’t make the events, Rob replied.  “How do I reach them?”

Don opened his iPad and took Rob to a website featuring a virtual demo.  “Not only can we reach them simultaneously, but even those who miss it can still access your great session content in a virtual environment for months via the web.”

Rob immediately grasped that what Don was laying out was a comprehensive approach to blanketing attendees via face-to-face meetings and virtual events and leveraging it all with mobile and social media.

Clearly, Don had been doing his homework and was fluent in technology options and how to deploy them to meet marketing goals.  Rob was buoyed by the exchange and realized he could over deliver against Jane’s aggressive plan with Don’s help.  Don’s command of the inner workings of events and maximizing their value had led to an unexpected strategic assist in the F500 Inc.’s achievement of its mission-critical goals.

The era of the Chief Events Officer

The meeting and event planning career has grown to incorporate a plethora of management– from planners, to attendees to executive technologies and beyond!  Has it become such an important role for organizations that it’s time for another “C” level executive?

In the world of IT, the CIO has come to be viewed in many organizations as the key contributor in formulating strategic goals for a company and driving their achievement through a combination of business understanding and technology.

The time is ripe for enterprises to consider what’s at stake in getting their meetings and events strategies spot on and aligning those strategies with, not only technology, but strong executives to spearhead the undertaking.  Those who understand that the potential return on events spend is tied to increasing the top line and profits and can do so on time and on budget can make a massive difference in measurable business results.

The meetings and events industry is undergoing the most profound change it’s seen in the last 15 years.  The advance of cloud computing, mobile, social media, virtual and other innovations are driving opportunities for all the key event stakeholders to rethink meetings and events planning and execution.

The explosion of technology choices for meeting professionals, attendees, speakers, exhibitors and others has given new meaning to planning events, conferences and key internal meetings.   Those savvy individuals who recognize that technology adoption is key to achieving internal or external clients’ strategic meetings goals are on a path to enhanced careers.  Marketing and sales executives in corporations, association CEOs and other executive sponsors are realizing the potential to dramatically enhance the business value associated with events.  Pre and post-event planning, promotion and execution via social media now enhance the actual event and add to the return on investment.  Virtual events extend the useful life of content investments and provide a basis for understanding current and ongoing attendee interests.

Corporate profits and market position depend on successful sales and marketing promotion.  After all, events and meetings are all about selling something… be it a product, message, service or knowledge.  Events and meetings are critical to the advance of market share and revenues.  Today’s meeting and events software capabilities maximize the selling opportunities at events and extend that influence through social media driven connections long after the event.

Additionally, the increasing need to manage attendees’ personal data has raised the bar for meetings technology infrastructure, and planners must take into account how to maintain a high degree of control and discretion over credit card information, profiles and other important attendee information.

Increasingly, the fragmented enterprise meeting profile is coalescing around the need to aggregate event-related data across the business.  Understanding important demographic, economic and behavioral attendee data, along with preferences, is key to indicating the event drivers, which means the more consistency of technology deployment and data capture the better.  Integrated solutions deployed across the enterprise provide the best yield in understanding the entire attendee universe of need.

Meeting and events complexities by themselves create a demand for smart meeting professionals.  Add in the strategic goals of organizations and the richness of today’s technology landscape and it becomes time to consider raising the executive meeting professional to the “C” suite and embracing them as a true value-add business partner.

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