Interview with Kathryn Frankson, Director of Event Marketing, Informa.

Kabir Uppal
• July 15, 2021
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his article is part of our new Future of Events 2021 Series which will interview a mix of event organizers, consultants, thought leaders, and other event professionals responsible for overseeing events put on by their organization. Our goal with this series is to help event organizers best prepare for the future of events. 

The following is an interview we recently had with Kathryn Frankson, Director of Event Marketing, Informa.

What are the top trends that will shape the events space in 2021?

KF : The biggest trend is that your customers are truly in the driver’s seat. They have new patterns of working and living and were able to go a year without attending your event. Now we are challenged with creating something that’s compelling, relevant and matches their new needs and wants. More specifically…
  • Smaller, more curated events will get the respect they deserve.
  • Marketing will continue to level up because the standard cadence of announcements doesn’t hold the competitive advantage or garner the results it once did.
  • Virtual will continue to be a go-to strategy for niche, audience events that delight.
  • Event organizers will design events around creating together, not just learning together.
  • We won’t rely on generalized FOMO or the idea of “meeting at the hotel bar” as drivers of attendance but rather, we’ll lean into true community building and develop valuable experiences that cater to our audiences in more inclusive, creative ways.
  • We will use the data that virtual and hybrid events offer to improve programming, customization and design in an agile, less annualized way.

What are the top mistakes you see organizations make with events?

KF : Our job as event profs now is to ask the right strategic questions. Our job isn’t to push forward eagerly with the event plans that performed well in 2019. The biggest pitfalls to avoid are thinking your audience won’t embrace digital, not rebuilding your event to ensure a strong product market fit, not creating an in-demand experience that solves new problems and not stepping into human-centered marketing.

What are the keys to a successful event?

KF : Those who can begin with the end in mind and get closest to the customer will win. The key is realizing that there’s no standard playbook and success will be specific to your brand as you anchor into a change management strategy. But, a great theme, eye-catching branding, a personalized approach, tech that enhances the experience and making your customer the hero all while solving a new problem…should all be part of the equation.

What makes events such an important channel?

KF : Events offer an incredible value exchange. Audiences and partners can be entertained, learn, connect and feel a sense of belonging. And in return, through providing a valuable and memorable experience, we grow our databases, drive leads and revenue and create impact in our specialized industries. When executed right, events are the perfect opportunity to achieve business goals and thrill customers.

In your own words, what will the future of events look like?

KF : I’ve never been more excited about the future of events. There’s new tech, new talent, new voices, new data points and new conversations around diversity, inclusion and sustainability. We are sharing more, testing more and in a solid foot race to create events that are more creative, data-driven and shareable than ever. The future will be more customized, more curated, more inclusive. The future will blend partners (less church and state, less traditional formats) and will let audiences influence content and programming more. Agility will take center stage, integrated events (aka hybrid) will allow expansive connection points and marketers will tell the story of their events through voice, video and influencers as the right channels to penetrate new audiences.
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