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The Juice: Client, Audience and Industry Insights from OrangeDoor

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Welcome to The Juice – OrangeDoor’s observations on what our clients are up to, what their audiences are asking for, what the industry is saying and some thoughts on how we win the future.

In this edition, we have:

What our clients are doing:
Key points from our Client Services team

  • Chomping at the bit for LIVE events
  • Virtual is working really well still (if you do it right)
  • Gratitude events

Engaging with your audiences:
Key points from our Production and Execution teams

  • Not currently keen to travel but this is changing
  • Fed up of Vacuous Virtual
  • Responding extremely well to pre and post content

Industry insights:
Key points from Elizabeth (Founder + CEO)

  • TheGreat Resignation: Is there a skills shortage?
  • Venues/Hotels are full!
  • Insist on a Plan B

What our clients are doing:

1.     Chomping at the bit.

Our clients aren’t horses but if they were, this is what they would be doing.

There is an overwhelming excitement building and desire to get back to in-person events. Corporate policy and local regulations are the two obvious main factors holding marketing teams back. Unsurprisingly, larger corporates are more risk-averse and we have seen some of our non-enterprise clients already commit to upcoming live executions.

OrangeDoor were straight out of the blocks in September, running the hugely successfulCreative Festival – a LIVE festival promoting diversity in the CreativeIndustry and also celebrating the best of the best from AdLand through theCreative Circle Awards.

Our clients are getting sick of 100% virtual and we are working on a huge number of creative proposals to reengage with people, fun, awards, experiences, networking and sales-led nurture events. Our advice is get organised because there are challenges in supply chain and venues (more on that later)

2.    Virtual still works!

We are continuing to have some great success with Virtual, even amongst the other pandemic of Zoom fatigue.

There are some rules to winning that haven’t changed:

  • Make your content, short – sharp – bursting – useful – interesting!
  • Regular cadences of shorter, sharper bursts with utility wins hands down over long, drawn-out fun-sponge monologues – it’s obvious, we know but people need reminding if they want Virtual to win
  • Inject energy! A paid-for moderator or host is worth their weight in gold. And if you don’t have the budget for that, no problem – Find someone in your business with character and confidence - even if they are not the subject matter expert. All they need to do is EMCEE and bind the experts together with their presence and style
3.   Gratitude events

We are seeing a lot of love being shared. Individuals, teams, departments and companies have had a really tough time and so many of our lovely clients are asking us to help them say thank you.

There are ways to say thank you and ways not to say thank you, and our strategists have been doing a lot of work in the area to develop programs based on individualisation, being specific and guaranteeing authenticity. It’s a fascinating area and one we LOVE being involved with.

Tap us up if you want to learn more about how it’s done.

Engaging with your audiences

1.     Delegates are not keen to travel right now, but that is changing

Delegates are still not 100% comfortable with travelling out of their local areas for group, in-person events. But that trend seems to be changing. Consumer travel is resurgent at unprecedented levels and business travel is picking back up.This means that local in-person events are already working (we have been to a whole bunch of them and they have been well attended, by interesting people). Inline with our own predictions, small, local, high-quality engaging meetings are springing up and people are enjoying the new dawn. The delegates are senior –ones that sign their own travel off or near enough – and we are seeing thoseVITOs (Very Important Top Officers) on the move. It’s only a matter of time and new-variant dependent, until we see the ‘influencer’ levels, not just the deal signatories, on the move.

2.    Beware of ‘Vacuous’ Virtual

This is a reinforcement from the delegate standpoint on boring content. NEVER create something to fill a gap or for the sakes of doing something. If it’s not important and timely to get an interesting message or thought out there, nobody will be interested. Make sure you are sharing information with utility.Delegates want information they can use – that will make them better – that will give them competitive advantage. And when you share this information, make it engaging. Say it how it is, use a host, make it snappy. We are seeing some of our clients from some of the least glamorous corners of our industries having the biggest successes with virtual. They have the content and delivery nailed(with our help of course!:-)

3.   The power of the pre and post content

Following neatly on from the previous ‘getting the engagement right’, we are seeing significantly better results with our clients who are working with us to prepare delegates for fantastic virtual and in-person experiences before the events, and then with highlight packages after the events. At first glance this may sound obvious but sometimes we see a lot of attention being spent on the actual event investment and an imbalance on the pre/post attention.

ROI is amplified if you look at the ‘event’ as a plant in the middle of fertile ground either side. Tricks are missed if you are not building excitement before the event. Preparing the delegates’ expectations, giving them the anticipation with which to fuel their engagement in the event. Then what about all that great content and energy you have shared during your show? This needs to be given more life – repurpose it for sharing with attendees and those who couldn’t make it. Get the most out of your spend. Otherwise it’s a trick missed.

Industry insights

Founder + CEO, Elizabeth Heron’s observations from being a panellist at industry events and having her head out of the boat, surveying the wind shifts.

The ‘Great Resignation’ and skillset drain

The live event industry has been seriously affected by the pandemic and during the past 20 months the first six months were named ‘The Great Resignation’.  

Those that were able to retain their jobs started to re-evaluate their roles, the hours, and the lifestyle that our jobs required.

Although it was exceptionally sad to see so many friends and colleagues leave the industry, some by choice some by necessity - I don't for a minute believe we have a skillset shortage. We have so many exceptional players left and new talent getting more impressive every day. Those that remain have grown stronger, been more adventurous in their delivery, learnt new skills, fought harder and adapted time and time again. Our resilience is relentless!  At OrangeDoor, like so many agencies, we took this time to assess our processes and dug deep into who we were.

We changed, we grew and we came out stronger.

With OrangeDoor’s growth and the rebounding of our Live work we are working with Permalancers much more - employing the right person, the right skills and right experience to work alongside and support our full-time team. These wonderful extended team members aren't by any stretch of the imagination ‘a back stop or second class team' - they are beyond knowledgeable, working at the forefront of our industry and bringing experience, vitality and enthusiasm.  

In previous times I would have been reticent to headline our non-‘permanent’ staff members but I see this new dynamic as such a positive approach which enablesOrangeDoor to have world-class talent and the world class talent to have flexibility, control and ownership of their lives. Most of all it means that our clients get the expertise they deserve when and where they need it, and because we work with trusted and experienced professionals who know our systems, everyone is a winner.

Hotel rates and availability.  

We are seeing a resurgence and it's exciting. But with this result has come a new set of problems.  

Over the past 20 months lead times for projects have shortened week by week and the expectation for agencies to turn projects around really quickly has become areal reality.  We have all risen to this challenge - it's now our norm.  

But it's not going to be that easy for us to react in the same way as we come back to Live and the momentum builds - even though the desire will be there to respond with lightning speed.  

The old assumption that hotels are sitting waiting for our business to walk through the door isn't true. There is a backlog of interest alongside new requests all colliding and it's affecting availability and impacting on rates. The demand is HUGE and the best venues are already seeing strong bookings. Major hotel brand shave been super smart and protected their brand by holding on price and are remaining unwilling to comprise as we return.

We are excited that our hometown of London is seeing some of the most amazing new openings and this will give us more bedroom stock and we are loving exploring all the new hotels.  

Our advice is to allow good lead times, plan well ahead and if you want choice and leverage be flexible. It’s not a jungle, it’s a playground out there.

Insist on a plan ‘B’

It surprised me at a recent event I was speaking at that few of the other agencies incorporated a Plan B in proposals as standard. There isn't a single event thatOrangeDoor has run that hasn't had and formal Plan B. In fact I know of some events where we have had Plan B C D. These plans cover everything - Keynote speakers not showing up ,volcano erupting, off-site dinner venues flooding, the small factor of lock-downs and pivots to Virtual

One warning I will highlight as it has caused some shock in the past is that a pivot to virtual is not a straight swap of value and service. It’s a reconfigure and it will inevitably require additional work.

Never accept any event plan without a Plan B - Whether that's reverting to virtual or finding a new venue. Our ability to pivot and react rapidly is second nature as we moved forward. We have your back!

Behind the OrangeDoor: A purpose-led business and strategy

Have you ever undertaken a values elicitation exercise? Do you understand how your values connect to your actions? OrangeDoor had the opportunity to navel-gaze with some interesting results.

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