Events are all about ‘bespoke experiences’

Jay Martens from Talk2 Media & Events, and Event Director for the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) discusses why an event needs to be thought of as a ‘bespoke experience’.

In any industry, it’s difficult to find the difference between a genuine trend and a passing fad. The events industry is no different. Every year event professionals and groups seem to be discussing ‘this new objective’ or ‘that latest revolutionary tech’.

Jay Martens has a long career in the exhibition and events industry, working in developing markets like Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Turkey, China and India. His experience running events in a variety of places gives him a unique take on the industry, and allows him to identify the difference between a passing fad and a proper trend.

When asked what the biggest trend in the events industry is, Jay uses a metaphor.

“The best comparison for an event you can have is a market. We used to go to markets and we were attracted by the guy that shouted the loudest from his stand. Then you had the emergence of supermarkets, with the big room, the best displays and great music to entice you to buy more.”

“It forced the old market to change to a bespoke experience. It wasn’t enough to scream, it was about building a personal relationship with the people that come and buy fish that’s more expensive than a supermarket.”

“In events it’s the same thing. We used to go to exhibitions because it was the only place where there was a big gathering with lots of information, but now I can find anything online. If you have a board meeting, do you have to be in the same room? We can do that with a conference call.”

“So, what’s the purpose of me going to an event? It’s the moment when you have a board meeting where you think ‘I need to be there’. Not because there is an obligation from the company, but because there is a moment where I can sit with my peers, and talk, share and bond.”

In other words, guests are looking to have an experience that is unique, tailored, ‘bespoke’. According to Jay, a bespoke experience “can be translated to any component of an event, to the table setting, to the food that you eat, to the things that you drink.” The rise in popularity of comic and pop culture conventions like Comic-Con—which are all about experiences—is proof of Jay’s theory. An event is about having a personal, memorable experience more than anything else.