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Open Air Business February 2018

The UK's outdoor hospitality business magazine for function venues, glamping, festivals and outdoor events

FUNCTION VENUES Brands

FUNCTION VENUES Brands Go Outdoors Alistair Turner explains why 'business' wants to party and meet customers in the open air COMPANIES ARE GOING outside more and more these days. As they look to grow their businesses, promote their products and services, and incentivise their customers and staff, they are choosing outdoor experiences instead of traditional indoor formats. Why? It’s important to understand this fundamental question, because behind it lies a massive business opportunity, but one that has a very clear ‘handle with care’ sign on it. To understand it is to appreciate it and get ready for it. It’s not traditional events business, but it can be highly lucrative, repeat business. It also comes with a language of its own; events turn into experiences, people turn into consumers, VIPs to stakeholders, talking becomes interaction or engagement, and fun is gamification or engagement. It’s time to learn a new language, it’s called ‘brand speak’, it’s used by your future customers, so let’s get started… with this article! REMOTE RELATIONSHIPS You may have noticed that major brands are a little more well, techy these days. The top companies on the planet sell social networks, screen 22 WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM

FUNCTION VENUES TIMEBASED EVENTS WWW.TIMEBASED.CO.UK time, mobile technology or information. They are a new breed and they behave differently. The reality is a business can have a relationship with a customer without ever having a physical interaction. Take amazon, you can spend an hour on the website, buy a product, get it sent, receive and wear it, without ever speaking to anyone from the business. This is great for the consumer, but scary to the brand. Research increasingly points towards a diminishing of loyalty between consumers (people) and brands (companies), and it’s this lack of interaction that lies at the heart of it. Brands want relationships as much as anyone, and the only way they can have them in a digital age is though events. This is evidenced by the major spenders in events in 2017; Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook have all put major investments into either sponsoring events or holding their own. They want to go out and meet their customers, shake their hands and show them a friendly face. Face to face is critical to them and it’s flying up their sales, marketing and business agendas. GETTY IMAGES ABOVE: The TalkTalk Great Getaway one day festival for staff held at Ragley Hall “EVERY DAY THE EVENTS INDUSTRY IS SEEING BIGGER PRODUCTION, BIGGER IN- VESTMENTS, AND MORE AMBITIOUS ACTIVATION OF OUTDOOR EVENTS, FROM BRANDS” COMING TOGETHER If it’s important externally, it’s equally so internally. Increasingly work forces are fragmenting, the big office block with a 9-5 work force is eroding and leaving a collective of micro departments, working alone, remotely and linked together by digital networks. None more so than major tech and social companies, but this isn’t just about them, banks and building societies are just as likely to have a remote work force as anyone else. Again, while social networks and modern working practices fail, the events industry picks up. Teams need to meet on a regular basis, but they also need to come together en masse, they need to be incentivised and rewarded; and this isn’t just a Christmas party, it’s gone way further than that. Imagine a fun fair, built from scratch in a field, a stage with comic and music acts, picnic areas, bars and food stalls. All expenses are paid and the experience isn’t just an afternoon, it’s a weekend. Production is high because the brand understands that to motivate someone you have to do more than give them a gift, you have to leave them with a memory. An incentivised work GETTY IMAGES force is highly profitable, a happy client and customer base equally so. Brands have event managers with the specific objective of creating en masse feel good factors and they see the value and the return on big investments. WHY OUTDOORS? So why outdoors? The simple reality is that brands started all this indoors - magnificent set piece Christmas parties, hospitality, high production conferences, exhibitions and expos. This is where the industry gained its confidence, but now it’s looking at other forms of fun that its customers, stakeholders and WWW.OPENAIRBUSINESS.COM 23