Meetings Canada


Change the Conversation

Is your organization’s event portfolio creating value?

By Susan Radojevic


Susan Radojevic.

**DISCLAIMER The views and opinions expressed in this column are intended to foster debate and discussion on how to revolutionize the meetings and events community. They don’t reflect the views of M+IT magazine. We welcome your feedback.

Raise your hand if you believe the events you plan, organize and deliver are creating value for all stakeholders. What value are the events creating?

In August, at the IncentiveWorks trade show and conference, in Toronto, I asked people who participated in my knowledge pod session these same questions.
These were some of their responses: “Networking, panel discussions, sharing knowledge”; “Using interactive technologies and social media”; “Using incentives and recognizing customers (appreciation and rewards)”; “Sharing best practices and solutions.”

Twenty minutes of speed learning followed, where we categorized and analyzed the responses to identify what kind of value their events were producing. Participants were surprised to learn their events were not creating value. In fact, 60 per cent of the responses were ‘preserving value’ and 40 per cent were ‘adding value’ (not the same as ‘creating value’).

At our agency, we use four terms to identify the type of value events create. They are—Value Creation; Value Preservation; Adding Value and Value Destruction. For corporate leaders to invest in events, they need to produce Value Creation.

So what is Value Creation?

Value Creation occurs when an organization is dynamically learning from all stakeholders: clients/customers, suppliers and shareholders. Through the learning process, the organization is growing trust and leveraging what they learned. The data collected is used to innovate and make decisions, internally and externally, that will ultimately create organizational growth.

Today, corporate leaders understand that the way to success is to come to grips with what they need to do less of, what they need to eliminate completely and what they need to do more of. And because of this, how to create value is at the top of the to-do list for most forward-looking leaders. By asking ‘what if?’ and ‘why not?,’ leaders can transform their business model more effectively. Ultimately, this will create value and differentiate their organization from their competition. This makes perfect sense!

Except the participants’ responses mentioned earlier produced event Value Preservation, which occurs when an organization reacts to what it sees, what it hears and imitates what others do. It’s when the meetings and event community pushes the same agenda. Its focus is inward-looking and it talks, only, about travel and hospitality event inputs (logistics). Practicing Value Preservation is dangerous because when we only stick to what we know, we are missing out on emergent possibilities and transformational growth. When we preserve value and justify an existence, what we’re really saying is, “we offer no value.” Value Preservation trajectory is from 0 per cent to 10 per cent growth, compared to 10 per cent to 20-plus per cent growth for Value Creation. In which one do you think leaders will invest?

Here’s the thing. If an event portfolio is not creating value for all stakeholders, there is no reason to have events. And if there are no events, there is no need for travel and hospitality event inputs. When an event portfolio is aligned, proficiently measured and designed (content design, not just environment design), it creates value. When something creates value, then its cost is seen as an investment.

By simply changing the conversation from only talking about travel and hospitality event inputs to talking about event alignment and Value Creation, an event portfolio is positioned as leadership transformation tools. The value events create is relevant to leaders because through events, leaders can inspire and empower all stakeholders to commit on an individual level. And it makes stakeholders feel they are contributing to an organization’s success. In a nutshell, it’s the difference between events being perceived as a discretionary cost or an investment.

Think about your organization’s event portfolio. Is it creating value? And if not, why is that?

In the next The Provocateur v-blog, we’ll explore Adding Value and Value Destruction and their use and impact on events.

—Susan Radojevic is president of The Peregrine Agency and host of Corner Office, in Toronto. Twitter: @susanradojevic

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