When the developers of the

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What Makes A Great Event?
 Event management is a growth sector and in this Survey we list the main
 players and talk to some of the principals about the criteria you should use
           when choosing an event manager By Chris Sparks

        hen the developers of the                                                              the answer to these questions are ‘no’

W       Eden       Gate       housing
        development in Delgany, Co
        Wicklow wanted to launch
the scheme, they didn’t just stick an
ad in the papers. Cosgrave
                                                                                               and in that case we recommend
                                                                                               working with a professional event
                                                                                               management company such as CSL
                                                                                                  The      provision     of      event
Developments brought on board                                                                  management services is growing for
event managers PLANIT, with the                                                                several reasons. As the economic
aim of creating some buzz that would                                                           surge continues, companies have
impress potential buyers. The brief                                                            more to spend on marketing. And
was firstly to entice potential buyers                                                         marketers are always looking for new
to the new development and then to                                                             angles that will make their product
leave visitors with the distinct                                                               stand out from the crowd. For
impression that Eden Gate was                                                                  instance when estate Sherry
more than just another property                                                                FitzGerald goes on the road to
development.                                                                                   market its property portfolio, as it did
   Says PLANIT’s Antoinette                                                                    earlier this year in the Mansion
Redmond:          “Branding        the                                                         House, Citywest and Dromoland, the
development, introducing novelty                                                               estate agent employed the services of
characters, providing entertainment                                                            event manager Verve Marketing.
for the kids and a cup of tea for the                                                             Organising conferences is big
adults on arrival, together with                                                               business too. Bravo!’s website lists the
complimentary umbrellas and                                                                    company’s involvement in such
transport via golf-buggy, raised the                                                           international conferences as the
bar in terms of memorable, impactful                                                           International Epilepsy Congress
and successful property launches.”          are you one of these companies who have       (5,000 delegates) and the Dental
   Event management is complicated and      the internal resource to pull an entire       Educators Conference and Reunion (900
best left to the experts. For those firms   event together? Are you aware of all of the   delegates). At Ovation, this year’s events
who believe they can organise an event      aspects involved in producing the event       diary for the firm includes the conference
inhouse, Liz Long of CSL Events has the     and can you coordinate it in the time         of the European Operating Room Nurses
following advice: “Some companies           frame that you have? Do you have the          Association (3,000 delegates) and the
completely underestimate what it takes to   knowledge of the aspects and potential        World Conference of Credit Unions
produce a quality event. The question is,   pitfalls to your particular event? Usually    (1,000 delegates).

58                                                  Business Plus June 2006
    The experience of working on        managers. You get some idea of        ‘Companies should be looking at
such big events has encouraged          the extent of this market from         the complete event and what it
Irish event organisers to expand        Odyssey International’s website.
their horizons. For instance            The testimonials on the site come
                                                                                   says about their brand’
Dublin firm Platinum One worked         from such firms as Independent        Liz Long
with Bio Rad Europe last year on a      Liquor from Australia, Baxter         CSL Events
400-delegate event in Nice,             Healthcare in Belgium, Sainsburys     “There has been a general
advising firstly on the destination     in the UK, MSD Agevt in France        increase in activity on all
selection and then delivering and       and CGU Insurance from the US.        levels in our business but
managing all local ground                   Companies also turn to event      perhaps most strikingly is
management services and the             managers for internal staff           the development in our
registration process. In January,       purposes, whether for team-           incentive travel and
Platinum One expanded its activity      building or celebration activities.   conferencing business. This
into Scotland, offering destination,    For instance, last summer Verve       we believe is attributable to
conference and event management         organised a summer staff and family   the changes in the market conditions, some element
services for both the Scottish          party for Vodafone and a 20th         of the sophistication in how corporate bodies are
market and the international            anniversary party for Microsoft       utilising their marketing and HR budgets and
inbound market.                         employees. More recently, Verve       generally a broader awareness of calculating return
    The firm has also developed a       organised a ‘March Madness’ event     on non-capital investment.
website,,          for Accenture, which saw 300              “The corporate event management business is
which offers online localised access    Accenture employees running           quite broad and fragmented with a lot of suppliers
service for conference and              around Croke Park, culminating in     offering various services and products. Some of the
incentive travel event organisers in    a fancy dress disco.                  challenges which we are currently enjoying are from
18 destinations. Says Miriam                The involvement of event          clients who need to generally improve the overall
Kennedy of Platinum One: “In            managers is also crucial for          event package to include concept and design of the
growing economies, employees’           awards functions. CMS Marketing       event theme through to the production and into
rewards       and     motivational      handles the organisation of the       general communication and invitations etc.
expectations go beyond salary.          music industry’s IRMA Honours,            “Every event is a marketing operation, be it an
Incentive travel has proven itself to   held this year in Citywest. The       internal or external marketing function, and each
be an effective motivational tool       firm also handles the Vodafone-       event should be treated as such. Obviously cost and
which increases productivity and        sponsored GAA All Star Awards         value for money are always paramount, but so too is
successfully rewards hardworking        function, a televised event where     ensuring that the event achieves what it set out to
staff.”                                 the event organisers have to          do. Companies should be looking at the complete
    With the massive investment in      consider set design, guest            event and what it says about their brand, their
hotel, golf and other tourism           management, branding, liaison         company and even the relationships which they have
facilities in recent years, inward      with all third party suppliers and    with their guests, employees etc. Taking these
bound incentive travel continues to     event choreography.                   factors on board and managing the outcome is what
be busy activity for event                            continued on page 60    a professional manager should strive to do.”

                                          LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS?




                                                  v i s i t w w w. b r av o. i e

                                                       Business Plus June 2006                                                59
                                               SURVEY: EVENT MANAGERS

           ‘Added value for money should be high up on the list of requirements’
Ciaran Hynes                                   celebratory parties. I can actually say       and training opportunities. Finally, not
Bravo                                          this from first-hand experience, seeing       just seeking the cheapest price; added
“When planning an event, companies             as how we acquired the business of            value for money should be high up on the
should ask themselves fundamentally ‘is        Camelot Corporation, one of this              list of requirements.”
the running of events a core activity of our   country’s longest established and most
business’. If not, the process should be       respected event companies, in March of
outsourced to an event solutions provider      this year.
who can deliver the event’s objectives           “The most important thing when
without using up vital internal resources      looking for an event organiser is to hire a
from other core projects.                      solutions consultancy with a proven track
  “A trend we have noticed lately is that      record in devising and delivering high
due to the buoyant Irish economy, there        quality events; on time and within budget.
has been a notable increase in the             Enlisting the services of a consultancy
number of mergers and acquisitions.            with international affiliations ensures you
Many corporate organisations wish to           are dealing with true professionals who
mark the occasion with unique                  keep abreast of current industry trends

   ‘A professional event manager can take the stress out of the onsite management’
  Catherine Bodley                                                                           work with a number of key suppliers
  Ovation Group                                                                              for different events and have greater
  “While some companies may think                                                            buying power.
  they can organise an event themselves,                                                       “The basic requirements a customer
  they need to be aware of the time                                                          should be looking for when bringing
  involved and this is one of the key                                                        on board an event management
  benefits in using an event company.                                                        company are: ideas, experience and
  Also on the day, when they need to be                                                      knowledge, creativity and innovation,
  meeting and greeting clients - the                                                         professionalism, and thinking outside
  reason behind running the event -                                                          the box. They will bring new ideas on
  and such, a professional event                                                             putting an event together. The types
  manager can take the stress out of the                                                     of specific corporate events we have
  onsite management and last-minute                                                          seen an increase in over the past few
  changes that tend to happen.                                                               years are team building and events to
    “Event companies continually                                                             motivate staff and sales team. As well
  research new ideas, which can be very        planning an event. Event companies            there has been an increase in client
  time consuming for a company                 can also bring cost savings as they           incentives and sales incentives.”

                                               ovation dublin         ovation northern ireland
1 Clarinda Park North, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, Ireland              Portside Business Park, Airport Road West, Belfast BT3 9ED
              t : +353 1 280 2641 f : +353 1 280 5405 e :             t : +44 28 9045 6451 f : +44 28 9045 0534
                                             e :
                                             SURVEY: EVENT MANAGERS

                ‘Experience is vital and that’s what makes a good event great’
Antoinette Redmond                                                                     lighting, props, linen, catering,
PLANIT                                                                                 promotional staff and the myriad of
“Organising an event is hugely time                                                    requirements that are an integral part of
consuming and a very specialised area.                                                 every event.
There’s no doubt that with some level                                                     “Customers should also know their
of inhouse expertise that companies can                                                budget limit and be realistic about what
of course organise certain types of                                                    can be achieved. A good events
events. However, an event management                                                   management team will meet with the
company knows all the potential                                                        client, regularly, and advise on the
downfalls and is acutely aware of                                                      optimum choice for their event, which
what will and will not work. This                                                      will offer value for money while
comes down to experience, which is                                                     achieving the objectives of the event.
absolutely vital. It’s what makes a good                                               The standard of events being organised
event great.                                 execution of an event. Clients do not     in 2006 far exceed those of ten, even
  “The provision of a full-service           want to deal with several different       five years ago. We have better
offering is fundamental, from the            companies involved in the different       equipment, better technology, and
origination of ideas right through to the    event management elements, such as        greater resources.”

           ‘An event must reflect the company positively to both staff and clients’
 Alma Tyrrell                                                                         event manager will always be one step
 Verve Marketing                                                                      ahead and ready for any unforeseen
 “We often offer advice to existing                                                   occurrences. The skills an event
 clients free of charge on how they can                                               management company can offer are
 organise a simple, straightforward                                                   invaluable to a client when they are
 event. But with their regular day-to-                                                leveraging an event to deliver a positive
 day jobs to carry out, using an event                                                corporate message.
 management company will let them do                                                    “When considering using an event
 their own job and be fully involved in                                               management company, look for a
 their event, always with a better result.                                            company who has depth of resource,
    “There has been certain changes in                                                experience and expertise in the field.
 some events in the past few years.                                                   An event must reflect the company
 For instance, summer events are                                                      positively to internal staff and/or their
 increasingly being adapted to suit not                                               customers. It is the responsibility of
 only the staff but also their families.     comes to larger events, there are many   the event management company to
 Another development is the increase in      elements that may not be obvious to      ensure that the client is represented in
 bespoke Christmas events. When it           the non-professional. A professional     the best possible way.”

62                                                  Business Plus June 2006
                                             SURVEY: EVENT MANAGERS

      ‘The key elements to look for are experience, flexibility and innovation’
Miriam Kennedy                               international venues and                                     “When looking at hiring
Platinum One                                 suppliers can be limited.                                 a     professional      event
“Incentive travel and associated events      From      a     European                                  management firm, the three
have increased over the past number of       perspective, outsourcing                                  key elements to look for are
years. It’s clear that in growing            of event management                                       experience, flexibility, and
economies people’s reward and                requirements is a growing                                 innovation. The firm
motivational expectations go beyond          trend with double-digit                                   should have the following
salary. Incentive travel has proven itself   growth experienced in                                     core skills inhouse: a
to be an effective motivational tool that    2005 and expected in                                      structured business process;
increases productivity and successfully      2006. In terms of time                                    developed      relationships
rewards hardworking staff.                   management,           cost                                with     local       supplier;
  “Running a successful event is no picnic   effectiveness and creative                                experienced            project
and requires a lot of time, dedication and   input it makes sound                                      management skills; buying
experience. Some companies do choose         business sense to use the                                 power; registration services,
to organise their events inhouse.            right event management                                    both on and offline; and
However their knowledge of local and         partner.                                                  multilingual staff.”

               ‘Look for reliability, creativity, cost savings and local knowledge’
  Christophe de Patoul                                                                  developed a process that deals with that
  Odyssey International                                                                 as well.”
  “We have developed a new exclusive                                                       “In the past 12 months, budget
  system to allow our clients to book an                                                allocations for conferences and
  event online. They send in their                                                      incentive have increased. The local
  request and we guarantee that we will                                                 knowledge and buying power that an
  come back to them within a couple of                                                  agency has can save both time and
  hours with ideas, concepts, locations,                                                money better than if an event is
  venues and prices. Increasingly, larger                                               organised and managed inhouse. There
  companies are using their procurement                                                 are four main things to look for when
  departments to tender for an event,                                                   deciding on an event manager:
  conference or incentive, whereas in the                                               reliability, creativity, cost savings and,
  past we usually dealt more with the                                                   very importantly, local knowledge,
  marketing department. So we have also                                                 especially for incentive events and travel.”

            ‘The centre is designed to cater for the widest possible range of events’
Tom Dunne                                    product launches and other events, and     and a video link with the main theatre and
Liberty Hall                                 features state-of-the-art AV and           conference centre. It can be connected to
The Liberty Hall Centre is a custom          presentation equipment says Siptu’s        the Cois-Life Bar and Lounge by sliding
built multi-use venue in the heart of        head of property, Tom Dunne.               open a partition. The bar overlooks the
Dublin. The centre is designed to cater        The Larkin Room is an alternative        Liffey and can host smaller events, such as
for the widest possible range of             venue for smaller events with a flexible   book launches,” said Dunne. “Back up
business, social and cultural events. The    200-seat capacity at lower ground floor    staff includes technical, front of house and
410-seat Main Theatre and Conference         level. “The Connolly Room can seat up      event organizers, and catering can be
Centre is suitable for conferences,          to 80 and has cutting-edge AV equipment    organised by arrangement.”

                                                    Business Plus June 2006                                                       63
                                                     SURVEY: EVENT MANAGERS

Events Who’s Who
     LISTING CRITERIA                    Looking for someone to organise your conference, seminar, product
  Listing information is provided          launch, team-building day or incentive travel? You’ll find the firm
  by the featured companies and
  sourced from their websites.                        you need in this listing of event managers
  The listing is not comprehensive.

Bravo!                                  Bravo! has recently opened offices in                            Limerick and Cork and in March 2006
(01) 674 5930                           acquired the Camelot Corporation,
Contact: Ciaran Hynes                   one of this country’s longest
Bravo! is a full service integrated     established event companies.
consultancy offering solutions in the
core areas of communications,           CMS Marketing
conference and event solutions. This
year the company managed FÁS            (01) 626 5346
Opportunities 2006 for the second       Contact: Jan Kelly
year running. The exhibition had 120    CMS Marketing’s services include
exhibitors and was attended by          celebrity endorsements, marketing
100,000 people over four days.          and promotional activities, and

                                                                                event management, from                  With offices in Dublin and Shannon,
                                                                                conferences to product launches,        Odyssey International Meetings &
                                                                                themed events to national               Incentives organises and manages
                                                                                roadshows, and corporate                incentive travel programmes,
                                                                                hospitality to sporting events. Other   conferences, meetings and corporate
                                                                                services include team-building, and     events in Ireland and abroad. In
                                                                                destination management, both            business for over 20 years, the
                                                                                inbound and outbound.                   company counts among its clients
                                                                                                                        large corporations which choose
                                                                                CSL Associates                          Ireland as an incentive destination for
                                                                                          staff and clients. Odyssey has
                                                                                (01) 676 6650                           developed a new exclusive system
                                                                                Contact: Liz Long                       that allows clients to book an event
                                                                                Established in 1988, the company’s      online.
                                                                                new brand CSL Events focuses on
                                                                                incentive travel, conferences and       Ovation Group
                                                                                corporate event management. The
                                                                                company recently hired Sandra Tully     (01) 280 2641
                                                                                and Sarah Kinsella to aid with the      Contact: Patrick Delaney
                                                                                expansion in activity. CSL recently     Ovation Group is Ireland’s largest
                                                                                managed the inaugural national          specialist business and event
                                                                                mortgage conference for the Irish       tourism company and is involved in
                                                                                Bankers Federation. Corporate           event marketing, conference and
                                                                                Sport & Leisure is the country’s        destination management services.
                                                                                premier corporate hospitality           The company specialises in all
                                                                                company in the sporting, cultural       aspects of event management from
                                                                                and entertainment arenas.               initial creation of the idea to
                                                                                                                        production, sound and lighting and
                                                                                Odyssey International                   theming to invites and onsite
                                                                                            management and co-ordination. The
                                                                                (01) 497 4866                           company has annual turnover of
                                                                                Contact: Christophe de Patoul           €15m and employs 55 people at

64                                                             Business Plus June 2006
                                                      SURVEY: EVENT MANAGERS

offices in Dublin and Belfast. Last      type or size. Founded in 1991, the       Conference Partners             Key Events
year Ovation organised the World         company has 15 event managers and
Apiculture Conference at the RDS,        its client roster includes many of
which had 4,000 attendees from           Ireland’s blue-chip companies. In        Euro Events                     Marketing Initiatives
100 countries. This year Ovation was     addition to its core services of event     
the only company in its sector listed    management, conference
among the top 50 companies to            management and promotional field         Event Plus                      McColgan Gibson Management
work for in Ireland.                     personnel, Verve has also secured      
                                         exclusive management of the event
PLANIT                                   space in David Lloyd Riverview. Says     Eventive                        Meeting Point International                            Verve’s Alma Tyrell: “Our rapid       
(01) 295 7522                            growth and unrivalled reputation are
Contact: Antoinette Redmond              testament to the quality and success     Eventznet                       MGM Event Consultants
PLANIT is an event marketing agency      of our work. Our internal resources      
based in Blackrock, Co Dublin, where     and experience recommend us as a
the directors are Spencer Simmonds,      one-stop shop for all of your events     Full Circle Events              Milestone Events
Alan Simmonds and Antoinette             and promotions needs.”         
Redmond. Property launches and car
launches are two specialities and the    Advantage ICO                            Hospitality Partnership         RedZebra
company also has clients in the IT,                     
pharmaceutical and financial sectors.
Unlike most companies in this field,     Carol & Associates                       ICC Concepts                    TGA International
PLANIT has its own inhouse             
production team. Says director
Antoinette Redmond: “PLANIT’s rich       Casino Enterprises                       Inventive Marketing             Ultimate Communications
mix of passionate talent and diverse           
experience ensures long-term
relationships with satisfied clients.    CETEK                                    Ion Entertainment               Unique Entertainment
The creative synergy between the                   
directors and the PLANIT team
allows us to excel in every              Clara Clark Event Management             John Brady Entertainments       Upbeat Promotions

Platinum One                             Company Occasions                        Jigsaw Management                          
(01) 206 2900
Contact: Miriam Kennedy
Platinum One specialises in the
creation and production of corporate
events both in Ireland and across
Europe, specialising in international
association conferences and
corporate meetings, product and
company launches, client and staff
conferences, corporate meetings,
gala events, and client and staff
sales incentives. The company is
providing consultancy, sponsorship
and event logistics services to the
Ryder Cup. Abroad, this year
Platinum One provided all logistical
and event services for World Food
Program 2006 in Copenhagen

Verve Marketing
(01) 661 0988
Contact: Alma Tyrrell
Verve are specialists in bespoke event
management, regardless of event

                                                                 Business Plus June 2006                                                        65