Event Tech Strategy, Insights & Trends.

Geo-Cloning Your Event

This post was written by William Thomson, Head Honcho at Gallus Events

The decision to take an event from your home market and replicate it in another country is a big one. When an event is still relatively speaking a toddler (Tech Fest in London is only four years old) running it only three months later half way across the world is certainly a major decision.

So in this post for etouches I’d like to look at the things to consider when “geo-cloning” your event. Yes, that’s what it’s called.

Replicating your event in a foreign land is the goal for many event companies and it’s easy to see why. If you can reproduce a successful event in another country you are likely to raise awareness of your brand, company and revenue. This has been done with aplomb by some of the events you will have attended. IMEX runs very successfully in both Frankfurt and Vegas. The IBTM brand now has seven bases across the globe. Many, many events operate on both sides of the channel or the Atlantic. Financial events run in London, Singapore and Tokyo. Medical events in New York, Paris and Nairobi. Oil and gas in Oslo, Houston and Aberdeen. Geo-cloning has been a process for many event businesses for decades, but it isn’t easy.

I’ve been lucky to have ran, attended and spoke at events in a few different countries around the world. And this year I will take Tech Fest from London to Sydney. I thought I would look at a few of the things I have considered when “geo-cloning” Tech Fest.

Embrace the differences

It would be a miracle if you could simply replicate your London event in Bahrain. Or your New York show in Tokyo. Beware the cultural differences they can cause because even the mightiest ship can spring a leak. It’s not just the format of the meeting that may change. It may be the pricing structure. The lead time. The type of venue available. The approach of the hired staff. There are a lot of variables that come into play when you move your event and you can’t expect everything to line up as you like. So the key is to embrace the differences to ensure that your geo-cloned show has a feel of the city or country you have chosen.

Replicate what you can

If you try to change everything it is unlikely that you will find any decent margin in your event. And of course if you are “cloning” what you end up with has to in some way resemble the initial event. So start to look at the things you know you do well and what has helped you build your event and see if you can replicate these parts first. If you find that your uniqueness is likely to be weirdness in your potential new land, maybe think again. It is easier to find another country that is similar to where you run your event than to change your event too much. You will certainly find it much easier to do if you can for example use the same website, event registration platform, app provider and all your processes and procedures. You want to be cloning these types of things for sure.

Find a local partner

You can’t underestimate the power of local knowledge. When I ran an event in Barcelona it wouldn’t have worked had I not listened to the locals. A 9am to 5pm event doesn’t work in that city. Not everywhere has the Dolly Parton working day. In Beijing an interactive session is unlikely to work and your local partner will know that. When I ran an event in Azerbaijan we had to work with a dedicated team supporting everything on the ground as the approach to securing speakers was very different from the informal LinkedIn request that I would use. They were also more culturally adapt at dealing with the kidnap of our keynote speaker than I was! There are so many potential pit falls that trying to do that on your own is a sure fire way to fall into at least one of them.

Build from a secure footing

Unless you have a massive multi-million events business, you have to start from a small but secure footing in another country. Think long term. Where can you be in five years rather than two? There are many risks that come with geo-cloning, so you have to make sure you do not stretch your business. You don’t want your foreign exploits to bankrupt you at home.

Enjoy it

The chance to lock, stock, and barrel move your event to a foreign land is a fantastic challenge. For many planners, this opportunity to test ourselves is why we run events. Spending time in another country while you do your job is something that a lot of professions do not offer. So take advantage of that. Have caviar in Baku. Chicken’s feet in Beijing. Cycle the canals in Amsterdam and climb Montjuic in Barcelona. You can clone events, but you can’t clone memories.

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