Fran Elliott

Can you afford not to own your event platform?

Fran Elliott, UK director of experiential and events at Momentum Worldwide, discusses the benefits of owning your event platform.

“Are you going to event X? Brand Y is hosting and they have lined up Mr Z for the keynote!” How many times have you heard this kind of banter from a colleague or fellow marketing professional? But, if you think about it, there is truth in the words spoken by such people. The prestige and kudos associated with being the organiser of a top-drawer experience are just a few of the benefits to be had. The question is; can you afford not to own your event platform?

The differences between being an event attendee and an event owner are sometimes confused, but the benefits can be so clear, it’s a wonder everyone doesn’t own an event platform. Then come the challenges of being an owner and by definition, a leader.

Attendee v. Owner

Being an attendee allows for fluid and almost casual involvement in an event, while being an owner allows you to set the agenda and lead the conversation around your chosen topic.

The cost of being an attendee at someone else’s party can be considerably lower than owning the event, but savvy investment and strategy can cost neutralise an event and even make you money. Many brands are now using this tactic and can be seen to be the leader in their chosen field and create sales pipelines that would be the envy of their competitors.

Being an attendee and giving a good show can certainly be easier and more cost effective, but the kudos and prestige attached to being an event owner can be huge, especially if you set the right agenda in terms of audience, tone and content from the outset. In fact, providing a solid platform can attract other creators and innovators to join your event, sometimes at little or no cost to you as the event organiser, especially if your event is an industry establishment.

Yet, being an attendee allows for more tactical engagements and appearances at an event, while being an owner demands a longer-term strategic approach to truly give a newly-minted series longevity.

With all of this in mind, you may be thinking about starting your own event platform for your brand or organisation’s benefit, but a caveat reader… are you ready for the challenge(s)?

The challenges of being an event owner

  • When launching a new event, its like introducing yourself to someone for the first time, you only get one chance to make a good impression, so the pressure is on.
  • You are only as good as your last event – You may have had several years of success in a series of owned events, but one bad execution can be the death knell for any experience in the future.
  • Setting, and thereby leading the agenda in any space is hard, continually innovating and refreshing the conversation around any subject is essential to ensure success, but the resources needed to do this (financial and intellectual) can be too high a cost in some instances.
  • Credibly, do you have the knowledge/experience/reputation needed to be an event owner and set the agenda? You need to be honest with yourself here otherwise this could be a huge waste of resources.

In short, it’s not for everyone. The benefits and challenges of owning an event versus attending an event are wide and varied, but if you have the time, and the inclination to invest, the dividends can be highly rewarding.