<![CDATA[BRAGGING RIGHTS EVENTS - Blog]]>Sat, 16 Nov 2019 16:26:05 +1100Weebly<![CDATA[Make Your Event More Sustainable with Technology]]>Fri, 15 Nov 2019 22:45:49 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/make-your-event-more-sustainable-with-technology
Technology is providing some great options to help you make your event more sustainable - here are our top 5 hints:

1) Instead of giving expo and event attendees a bag full of printed collateral, offer them a digital "swag bag", with physical give-aways being limited to useful and environmentally sound branded products - keep-cups, cloths to clean reading glasses,  jute bags etc.

2) Use projection mapping, which offers innovative and interactive decor and replaces much of the less sustainable single use decorations. Projection mapping also enables you to transform abandoned, outdoor and under-utilised spaces to create a unique branded experience. 

3) Include the use of branded multi-use apps which enable you to personalise the experience, conduct realtime surveys, and offer networking and connection opportunities to attendees. Also consider including reusable wearables, which can help event attendees navigate to stalls and points of interest based on timetables, preferences, and ticket types.

4) Drawing up a map showing the location of tables, seating arrangements, room design and so on, then giving everyone a hard copy, is now old-school. Ditch the paper and use event diagramming apps that offer a much higher degree of accuracy, are  interactive, and can be changed in real time. Do the same with your event and staff scheduling for a completely paperless experience.

5) Use technology to streamline event registration and entry - there are numerous options including apps, scanners, web based check-ins (similar to airline ticketing), facial recognition, etc. It can also be integrated into a wearable. To avoid waste printing badges that aren't used, technology now offers the option for badge printing to be triggered as part of the checkin process.
<![CDATA[It's time to embrace the #foodie trend]]>Tue, 12 Nov 2019 05:28:01 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/its-time-to-embrace-the-foodie-trendPicture
According to Australian Tourism, only 26% of our tourists associate our destinations with food and wine. Yet we have some of the best food and wine offerings in the world, with over 65% of our food being exported per year and agricultural products making up over 15% of our total exports. So what are we doing wrong?

In an era when consumers are looking for authenticity and local experiences, and when agritourism is expected to reach US$10,220 million by 2024, we are still focussing on the same icons we have promoted for decades.  Google “visit Australia” and you will see the same things you saw in 1999 – promotions of sites like the Sydney Opera House, the great Barrier Reef, Surfers Paradise, Melbourne Art and Museums, and Kakadu National Park. Don’t get me wrong, these are worth the visit! We do however need to think beyond this. In an era where travellers seek information through social media, restaurants, cafes agribusinesses and rural towns have the opportunity to step up and make their mark.

Restaurants and cafes should grab the opportunity to embrace indigenous foods and transparent paddock-to-plate ingredients. Diners love menus that tell the story of where their food came from and how far it has travelled. They will actively seek out dining experiences that are local, reflect the region they are in, and offer them an authentic experience that gives them social media bragging rights. Indigenous bush foods are not only unique and full of flavour, they are environmentally sustainable and truly tell the story of our land. Add these to foods that can be traced directly to small, sustainable food producers in your immediate region, and tell your diners the story about the food on their plate, through the menu and through conversations with staff who are passionate about what they are serving. Do it well, and social media will spread the word.

Agribusiness owners have an opportunity to diversify without taking massive risks with current operations, by stepping in to Agritourism. The vineyards are a great example of how you can create additional income by offering visitors an combination of education and experience, then upsell with wine clubs. The truffle industry is following suit, and there are ample opportunuties for other food producers to do the same.

We do however understand that some councils have a way to go in cutting the red tape that can surround agritourism, so if as an agribusiness you find the red tape is more effort than it is worth, there are options just outside the box.

Food markets and food events are a burgeoning industry, with many making it onto the International Event calendars. Whilst the Melbourne and Sydney Food and Wine Festivals often come to mind, regions are making their mark, with the Orange F.O.O.D Week going from very humble beginnings to a massive 10 day gala event attended by visitors from around the world, and about to enter its 29th year.  For small regions, a successful event like this can be the difference between a thriving town and a town whose economy has been crippled by drought and a diminishing population.

If you would like help with your food business, email info@braggingrightsevents.com.au  We have experience creating events, expos, symposiums, and strategies in the Canberra and Southern NSW region.

<![CDATA[Will Your Guests Talk About Your Event For The Wrong Reasons?]]>Fri, 08 Nov 2019 04:40:42 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/will-your-guests-talk-about-your-event-for-the-wrong-reasons
Here are my top 5 tips to ensure this doesn't happen to you! they seem incredibly obvious, but I am constantly attending events that make at least one, if not more, of these mistakes! 

1) The quality of your food and wine is important 
Even if it is free, your guests will still expect quality, and today many expect traceability, with a local point of origin. In an era where every third person aspires to be the equivalent of a television masterchef, everyone is a critic. You are also expected to have a focus on sustainability by reducing waste, and offering alternatives to disposables.

2) Skip one sided long-winded lectures
Today event participants want to interact as they learn, so choose authentic speakers who create engagement, make your audience feel like an integral part of the event, and don't give the same speech they give every time they are booked for an event (they get paid a lot of money so they should show you enough respect to ensure their content is constantly revised and refreshed) . Sitting down for hours listening to lectures will lull even the most interested participants into a deep sleep. Insert lots of breaks where they can move around and network or get involved in interesting activities. Ensure the event has variety, and add entertainment for light relief.

3) Location Location Location
No matter how interesting the content is, an event venue that inspires will always be a more creative environment and will encourage participation, conversation and information retention. Choose unusual venues, or add atmosphere with lighting and creative themes. Plan your layout carefully, thinking as if you were one of the attendees, and then looking at it again from the viewpoint of your guest speakers, sponsors etc. 

4) Keep it fresh
Innovative and creative events offer an evolving experience that has the audience looking forward to whatever is coming up next. NEVER do a complete repeat of the year before, no matter how well it was received. Your audience will remember that the speaker gave exactly the same speech last year, and an activity quickly loses its appeal when they learned all the tricks to doing it the year prior. 

5) Keep it relevant
Spend time working what your message is, and how you are going to convey the message. Then ensure you understand who your audience is, and make sure the what and how are relevant to the "who".
<![CDATA[What is an Advisory Board and Do I Need One?]]>Mon, 04 Nov 2019 06:11:29 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/what-is-an-advisory-boardAn Advisory Board, also known as an Advisory Panel, does not have the same fiduciary responsibilities as a Board of Directors, nor do you have to follow the advice of the panel if you choose not to. Their role is bound by a charter and the terms of reference by which you appoint them. They are also one of the best strategic moves a business can make, if you are clear about:
  1. their purpose
  2. what you hope they will achieve and
  3. the knowledge and experience you are looking for as part of the appointment process.

A good Advisory Board is a team of highly experienced professionals who can add incredible value to your company. Amongst the many contributions they can make, they are able to give fresh insights, provide quality advice, monitor business performance and challenge you to consider options and alternatives to grow your business. They add diversity, increase the confidence of your consumers, enhance your company profile and reputation, and can provide invaluable expertise if you are considering listing on the stock market, implementing major change, experiencing a  serious threat or facing a take-over. 

It is not necessary, and sometimes it is an advantage, to choose at least some of your Advisory Board from experts outside of your industry - in other words, target them for their skills, not their experience in your industry. Commonly sourced members may include financial advisors, legal advisors, entrepreneurs, innovation or technical experts, and industry sector experts, for example people who have experience in leading a union, business chamber or industry advocacy group. Don't overlook the value and depth of experience that can be added by consciously including in your wish list someone who is retired or partially retired, from a different culture or someone with disability.

Payment for their expertise varies, some advisory boards are paid out of pocket expenses and travel and given a good lunch, others may be paid a small retainer or a per meeting fee. We highly recommend getting expert advice from the Association of Company Directors, your solicitor, or have a meeting with one of our industry experts at this stage so that you have the correct governance processes in place before you put the board in place!

Once you have made sure you have proper governance in place, you then  workshop your business to determine what your perfect board looks like, draw up a list of possible candidates, and develop your pitch. The level of value you will get out of your board will depend on the clarity you build around the type of people and skills you want brought to your table, and of course your ability to sell your ideal panel member on why they should be investing their valuable time and expertise on your company! This is where Bragging Rights Events can help you. We can facilitate a workshop and bring in industry experts that will help you work through this very important part of the process. 

The rest is up to you - like anything, if you make sure the foundation is solid, the rest will easily follow. Rush in and don't create your foundations first, and it will fall over like the proverbial pack of cards. Ready to go but not sure how to take the first step? give us a call and we will guide you through. Our success tip? Always surround yourself with people smarter than you. This is a great way to achieve that. 

<![CDATA[Giving Part of Your Profits To Charity]]>Thu, 24 Oct 2019 00:30:44 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/giving-part-of-your-profits-to-charityI am surprised we get asked so often "why do you give a percentage of your profits to charity? Is it for the tax deduction? " My answer is "Absolutely not!"

Sometimes it goes to registered charities. Other times we go to the streets of Canberra or Melbourne, as our personal  project. We stop and talk to the homeless living on the streets, learn their name and their story, and get them something they need ... coffee, warm gloves, shoes, a room for the night - paid for by the profits from Bragging Rights Events and our sister company, Mongarlowe Gourmet. We are never there to judge, just help; and we would love other businesses to follow this example.

Everyone deserves a chance. Many don't get it. So as inspiration, this is an extract from latest email I received from a man I hold in the very highest of esteem, Jon Owen; 

Dear Inner Circle,
Last week we buried a young man, murdered in his mid-20s. It is one of the greatest dignities I can afford someone who exists close to the street but is also something that brings me great pain. Could there be any greater honour than to be trusted by a family to sit with them in their grief, and could there be any greater agony than sitting amid such pain and loss? In such a state, people aren’t asking philosophical nor theological questions; often, they’re doubting existence itself. There are no words to answer such doubts. All there is, is presence. The foster mother had first taken this boy in at the age of three when he was removed from his family for severe neglect. She will never forget the first night he sat down to dinner. He ignored his cutlery and dove into his dinner hands-first. The whole family thought he was about to start shovelling it into his mouth Indian style (I really am in a  rare position to be able to write that). Instead he was moving his food around on the plate and staring at it as it passed through his fingers. It looked like he was playing with it rather than about to eat it. When asked what he was doing, he responded, “I’m checking for ants.” Only three years old.
During his memorial stories, we were told of a life that blew away the idea of a level playing field. I don’t think it would be fair to call the time he was in utero, “gestation”, it would be more accurate to call “a pickling process”. Stories were traded, as they are in Wayside style, about a young man who everyone loved, but who also drove everyone mad. Even the police and prison guards were in attendance at the funeral, such was the impact his life had upon them. We heard about how he used to take an extra lunch in primary school for the man who was sleeping under the bridge, and how he was first suspended for punching a kid, who was bullying some other kid who had Cerebral Palsy. We also heard how he was so driven by self-hatred that he would punish himself constantly, even from a young age. 
A room full of people wept as they farewelled the beautiful young man who rarely had a chance, but it was a room full of people who loved him for who he was and not for any standard he was hopelessly unable to attain... 

Jon Owen
Pastor & CEO
Wayside Chapel 

<![CDATA[Booking an Event Strategist]]>Mon, 21 Oct 2019 00:38:02 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/booking-an-event-strategistEvent planning takes time, energy, knowledge, patience and a whole lot of know-how.  Hiring a good event strategist  will take the burden from your staff, allowing them to focus on their core role, and add a much greater dimension to the event.

They can guarantee a static budget, and offer marketing expertise, creative ideas, a goldmine of contacts, and a bucketful of strategies for everything from stakeholder engagement and sponsorship development to current expectations of event goers, legal requirements and risk management.

To ensure the event manager has a thorough understand of what you are looking for in an event, it helps to plan ahead for your first meeting, and have a brief proposal sent through to them prior to that initial discussion.

The proposal should include:

* Purpose of event
* Date (actual or approximate) and time
* Address if known, otherwise location requirements (eg, within 80kms of the city centre)
* Budget 
* Approx number of attendees
* Any of your own ideas, for example do you have a particular theme in mind? 

It doesn't need to be an in-depth proposal. The goal of a proposal is to:

* Help articulate your vision
* Help the event manager get a clear understanding of that vision
* Form the basis of the initial discussion so that all parties are on the one page
* Form the basis of an agreement that ensures your vision is realised and all expectations are met

<![CDATA[Networking Made Easy]]>Sat, 19 Oct 2019 01:54:50 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/networking-made-easyWe manage a lot of events that include networking, and attend networking events on a weekly basis. Networking is a skill. It's not about collecting as many cards as you can, and then selling your product to as many as you can - it's about creating lasting business relationships. 

Here are my top hints for the new networker:

Feeling Comfortable
  1. If you haven’t been to a particular type of event before and you are feeling a little self-conscious about what to wear, use google to see if there are photos of previous events. Failing that, call the event host!
  2. If you haven’t networked before, let your host know prior to the event. A good networking group leader will partner you up with someone who has more experience and can guide you through the awkward stages.
  3. Arrive on time. Arriving too early can be awkward, and arriving late means conversations are already in progress and you will may to step into a group which is already in discussion – equally awkward for a first time networker!
  4. It is OK to have a drink or two at an event, but nerves can sometimes mean you will drink a little faster than you usually do, which can also mean you drink a little more. IF you want a drink to calm the nerves, by all means do so, then switch to water. A good philosophy is to drink as if you had to drive afterwards, even if you don’t!
Meeting people
  1. It’s common sense not to spend the entire event with people you know. But it’s also important to chat with them for a few minutes, find out how they are going, and let them know what you are up to. Then move to people you haven’t met yet. People want to get to know you and trust you before they do business with you, and that takes time.
  2. A network meeting is NOT about making sales. Go in with the attitude of “what can I do to help other businesses grow?” Ask what they do, and really listen. Think about people you know that may be a good fit for their business.
  3. When approaching people to talk to them, look for a group that is like a donut with a bite taken out of it …it has  a natural opening for you to come in and enter the conversation. If you want to make a connection with someone but it looks like a closed circle, wait until the dynamics shift – they always do – before stepping in and introducing yourself.
  4. When someone gives you their business card, take the time to really look at it - read it, thank them by name, and then put it in a pocket or your wallet. Reading their name and title, and thanking them, also helps you remember their name.
  5. Make sure you have your elevator pitch, and who you want to meet, clear in your mind before you go to the event. An elevator pitch really does need to be short and sweet – your name, your company, what you do, and something that is special about your business. Having that pitch clear in your head means there is one less thing to worry about on the night and you are going to feel more relaxed.
  6. If someone asks how they can help your business, have a clear idea of who your ideal client is, and what type of business can introduce you to that client. For example, if you sell a unique brand of tea. Your ideal client may be a cafe, but the ideal contact may be a linen supplier who has contacts in the café business.
  7. If you want to meet someone in particular at an event, speak to the event organiser, or someone who is likely to know them, and ask for an introduction. You will find most people are more than happy to facilitate introductions.
  8. They are just people. They have been nervous like you and have strengths and weaknesses just like you. There will be people you “click with” straight away, and conversations where you feel you are struggling to keep the flow happening. Keep reminding yourself they are just people.
  9. With each new person you meet, set yourself a task of finding out what they are truly passionate about. If you do this you will leave the event feeling motivated, and more confident; you will have learned new things and you will have made friends.
Thanking Your Host
  1. Always thank your host before you leave, or if you miss the chance, drop them an email the next day. Putting together a networking event takes a lot of behind the scenes time and work, so they appreciate people acknowledging their work.
  2. If you get the chance, give them a social media “high 5” by taking a photo of the event and tagging them with a comment about how great the event was. Remember that not everyone wants their photo put out on the web, so use things like banners as the focal point of the image.
After the Event
  1. Treat the business cards you collected with respect – to the business owner, that card represents their brand. Put them into your contact list as soon as you get home. Add a few notes about where you met them, and something you learned about them. This helps you connect with them later.
  2. Within 48 hours, email anyone you met that gave you a card. Remind them where you met, thank them for their time, and say something that you liked about the event, and about their business. This is NOT the time to go into a sales spiel unless they have asked you for more information. If you have suggested introducing them to a contact when you were chatting at the event, ensure you email through an introduction the very next day.
  3. If someone you have met at a networking event has asked you for more information about your business, reply within 24 hours, even if you don’t have the answers at that time – you can always say you will get the information to them within xyz period of time.
  4. Add them to your LinkedIn circle. Don’t just put in an add and then don’t say anything. Ask them if you can join their network so that you can refer people to them where appropriate; and thank them after they add you.
  5. DO NOT automatically add new contacts to your email database. You will become part of the junk mail that they delete each morning in the race to get through to emails that, to them, have a higher priority. If you have something that they may want later, gaining a relationship and trust through future networking meetups and LinkedIn is a much more professional way to put your name in front of them.

<![CDATA[October 11th, 2019]]>Fri, 11 Oct 2019 02:33:53 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/october-11th-2019We have had a few clients recently who have been let down by another event planner, and we have been called in at the last minute to try and rescue the event. 

This is heartbreaking for the event owner, and can often mean the difference between a profit and a significant loss. Some we are able to rescue with a little creative thinking and a lot of hard work. One we had to be brutally honest and advise that, even calling in every favour we had, it just wasn't possible to get all the permits and other bits and pieces together in time and they had no option but to cancel. (We did however come up with an idea for another event which will help them recoup their losses and make the profits they were hoping to get from the failed event, and will be making that happen in 2020)

Here are our suggestions to avoid this;

1)  Clearly include expectations in your agreement, including timelines and communications.  The closer it is to an event, the more frequently your event planner should be talking to you, emailing you and updating project actions.

2)  Be strict about adherence to these expectations. A single rescheduled meeting is not a catastrophe, but if you can see updates regularly aren't happening on the project plan when they are due, if meetings are consistently rescheduled or cancelled, it's time to act.

3) Your planner will need to be paid a percentage up front to cover expenses, but it is not unfair or unusual to ask for a percentage, between 5 and 10%, to be held back until after the event, and to pay the balance in increments. This gives you a buffer to be able to pay someone if they need to be called in at the last minute, or to be able to claim a penalty for services not provided.

4) Have a "get out of jail" clause that gives you the option to change providers if all the warning signs start to show. This could include indicators such as;

    i) if  over 10% of the action items are more than 14 days overdue without fair reason. A fair reason would be, if the council are delaying on giving approval for the event management plan but have not given a reason why, and the event provider can give evidence that regular contact is being made with the appropriate council staff member and is trying to resolve the issue. Without fair reason would be if council are delaying on approval because they are waiting on further information and that request has not been actioned by your event planner within a reasonable time frame.
    ii) if meetings are being consistently cancelled and phone calls not returned - in other words, your event planner is just impossible to reach.
   iii) if you are reaching a deadline of 45 days before the event and there are still a lot of actions outstanding other than those directly related to management of the event on the day. At 30 days before the event, all activity should be focussed on event setup, and confirmations of action items already completed (eg staffing rosters, catering numbers, set-up etc) All bookings should have been made, staff sourced, signage delivered, approvals on file etc.

If these, or any other issues, have arisen, contact your event planner and ask for an urgent meeting within 2 business days. Video meeting or in person meetings are preferably to a phone call where you can't see if the body language is matching what you are hearing. Put this request in writing, and make it clear that if these issues aren't addressed immediately you will consider it a breach of contract.  You should still have in your bank at that stage, a pre-event payment and the post event buffer, and if worst comes to worst you can use that to call for rescue.

Most event planners love what they are doing and are focussed on making sure your event is absolutely perfect, but these few actions will prevent heartache and a lot of stress if something doesn't go right. 

If you aren't sure, call us. It just may be that your event planner needs a hand, that they are doing everything right and communication has tripped over temporarily, that they have it in hand and don't even realise you are stressed about something, or it is just a misunderstanding - we always genuinely hope that one of these is the answer. But if it is going horribly wrong, it is easier to fix sooner rather than later!

<![CDATA[Customer Service in the Accommodation Industry]]>Fri, 26 Jul 2019 07:00:00 GMThttp://braggingrightsevents.com.au/blog/customer-service-in-the-accommodation-industryI know it just isn't possible to get it right all the time, especially for accommodation venues where so many human factors can influence outcomes. But here in Australia, we can certainly do better.

I travel extensively, and deliberately road test accommodation and event venues in the areas I plan to hold an event or experience. After each visit I receive the inevitable feedback form, which I dutifully complete, offering praise and constructive criticism where appropriate. I have even sought out managers whose staff have provided exceptional service, acknowledging that good staff requires good leadership.

It is disappointing to see how poorly feedback is received by those who ask for it. Whilst some have been fabulous and I recommend them often (Hyatt Canberra gets a special mention), more often than not I will receive, at best, an automated response. No personal comment, no feedback, no "I'm so sorry, we have taken your feedback on board and have taken xyz action" or "I'm so sorry, please find attached a drinks voucher / extended checkout voucher / breakfast voucher - please visit us again so we can show you how much we value our clients" (or something - anything -  similar) Not even a personalised "thank you, we are so glad you enjoyed your stay."for the positive reviews.

We aren't talking about hard to fix complaints. I have an issue with paying premium prices for accommodation and then having to telephone reception because there isn't even a glass in the room - certainly no such thing as a bottle of water. As a guest, the last thing I want is to arrive at my hotel, often late at night and after a long flight, and then have to chase down reception for a glass of water. The demise of the mini bar in some hotels is also an issue, for the same reason. Half hearted cleaning and robot-like receptionists  also gain a dishonorable mention.

I realise that it takes time and money to follow through on every single feedback response, but if you don't want feedback and don't intend to act on it, don't ask! If you have asked, and your customer has taken the time to respond, respect that their time has value too, and follow through.

With so many hotels to choose from, I have no doubt that other guests who have had similar experiences to mine will simply choose another hotel if they feel their response has been ignored. I know I do. They also pass their feedback to others who will listen - social media, friends, network acquaintances ... that five minute human based response you failed to give can result in a significant number of lost customers.

I would love to hear your experiences - do you have a "great service" story;  or "bad service" story that could have been turned into a good service story if only they had taken some action? Email us blog@braggingrightsevents.com.au ]]>