Event Management Q&A – Alumna and eminent industry expert answers our questions

9 Feb 2019 | by Les Roches

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Alumna, Zanine Adams Margetson, has been named one of the Most Influential People in Meetings and Events. She graduated from Les Roches in 1996 and has enjoyed a glittering Event Management career in the US and UK. Zanine has helped plan celebrity weddings, safaris and the London Olympics, and now she answers our questions on the rise of ‘bleisure’, the demands of leadership, and going freelance.

Business tourism is expected to be one of the biggest growth markets for travel industry providers in years to come. What are your thoughts on how the field needs to focus on both the individual business traveller, and the meetings/conventions market in order to expand revenues?

“Whenever I’ve received an RFP (Request for Proposal) for a major congress or city-wide project, the requests aren’t just for the event itself, but all of the wrap around activity that comes with it, providing the delegate with the full experience of the city they’re visiting. Events are huge drivers for success.”

“Anticipating an uplift of 30% for any event coming to London, event organizers are savvy to the needs of their audience. Not only do they wish to visit for a conference, but also for ancillary meetings, business extenders, the vast networking opportunities, retail and entertainment opportunities and the opportunity to travel around the rest of the country. If they have a successful event experience, they’re sure to return as an individual.

“The UK meetings and events industry generates £42.3bn to the UK economy. More and more organizers and government organizations understand the fact that the event is more than just the sum of its parts. It’s about the whole experience. The opportunities; networking; business contacts; foreign direct investment. Whether that be for the individual or for the event overall. It builds reputation and puts cities on the map.”

So, it is about having a more holistic view?

“Yes, absolutely. Business travel and meetings and events go hand in hand… populate with the right content, attract amazing speakers and your audience will come. From C-suite executives to students (our future talent) they all have business needs. The travel industry needs to support these events and can easily do this with capped euro/dollar packages; incentive programmes; discounted travel; flexible rates… it’s win-win for everyone.”

The more accessible these products are… the more attendance an event will achieve… it’s not just about one… but many… provide a good service, offer flexible rates, be agile and helpful – and you will hopefully have guaranteed loyalty and repeat business.”

As the former Head of Events & Business Development at London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s official promotional agency, how did you balance the analytical and creative demands of your role?

“My role was completely external facing. Although I managed the internal events team – we ran such a tight ship, they were brilliant.”

“My role was to attract big business events to the city and unlock the city for experiential and live experiences. Whether this be for Red Bull athletes or attracting big tech communities such as Tech Crunch. The role was more than just providing a service. It was helping event organizers to understand how to navigate the complexities of a city like London whilst being creative enough to engage audiences.”

“I’ve been very fortunate to have been able to fully immerse myself within the meetings and events industry over the past few years and the opportunity to wear many hats. I was fortunate to have the support of an outstanding research and insights team – so whenever bidding for a major event, I could provide facts and information with confidence, whilst focusing on the main part of the bid, which is of course, the operational excellence and the experience.”

How did the insight and creative support help your role?

“London does not underwrite events, we don’t use taxpayer’s money to attract big business here, so we’ve always had to think about value in kind and offer creative ideas and content to ensure that London stands a chance against other cities who have deeper pockets. We’ve managed to win time and time again due to our reputation as a world class events destination and we have so much creativity at our fingertips, that we can offer more than just a venue and a good DDR (Delegate Day Rate).”

“Divergence is key. In the US, if you’re looking to work with the media and advertising world, you head to NYC, for medical associations to Chicago, for Tech to San Fran, Film & Television, LA. London is so much smaller, that everyone is here, mixing amongst one another – so content and creativity is rich and enables us to source great speakers, new tech, and provide a great experience.

“I’ve been very lucky.  I’ve had a great landscape to play with. I’ve always said when attracting an event to London that it’s about the whole city, not just the venue/hotel you’re occupying. Be creative. From old print works to new architecture, historic monuments, to glass structures, the opportunities are endless and if the budget is right, so too are the opportunities to be creative.”

You have since left your role as Head of Events & Business Development in order to become a freelancer. What propelled you to take the leap?

I came back from maternity leave in January 2018 after having my second child and although I absolutely loved my time at London & Partners, I felt it was time for me to move on. So many exciting projects have crossed my desk over the past few years, and I decided that I’d actually like to be more actively involved in some of them.

For years I have provided advice and strategy, connectivity and introductions and I felt now was the right time to take the leap and get my teeth into something I’d like to see through to completion.

Freelancing and co-working is on the rise worldwide. What are your thoughts on this and what advice can you give readers who are considering going freelance?

“For a tremendous work/life balance – I wholeheartedly recommend it. However, you do need to be on the front foot a lot more, always thinking about the next project and where it might come from. You need to keep the wheels moving, networking as often as you can, as otherwise things will pass you by. At London & Partners, I had access to everything and everyone, and although my experience comes with me – I do need to be constantly front and centre so people are reminded that I’m still here and available to help.”

Thank you to Zanine for taking the time to answer our questions and give her considered and insightful responses. We are proud of her successful Event Management career  and wish her all the best with freelance life!

Les Roches

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