Today we welcome Kosta Petrov, CEO of The PWorld, to talk about the ups and downs of today’s global event industry as well as its future and the difference between event management in East and West Europe.
The Marketing Kingdom 2012 (Zagreb, Croatia)
Before The P World, most of the major global events were happening in Western Europe. Today your company organizes world class events in countries like Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Azerbaijan. How did you come up with the idea to organize events in these particular markets?
When we launched the P World two years ago, our aim was to change the global business reality. Before starting my own business, I previously worked for two major event organizers in Europe and the Middle East. Thanks to this experience I identified the flaws but also the opportunities in the global event industry. As a company our goal was to create something that was beyond a normal conference, something that was going to leave a mark on the global business scene but at the same time will provide delegates with the experience of a lifetime. So, we kicked off in Serbia in 2010, and since then we have organized more than 50 events all across Eastern Europe, mostly the Former Yugoslavia region and this year we have expanded to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan. We have chosen these markets because they provide more opportunities than existing event markets in Western Europe. Based on our research we have identified that business people no longer want to travel to the same old events, to the same old venues, doing the same thing a year after year. And the sad part is that events in Western Europe are becoming smaller and smaller each year so the opportunities for networking are becoming limited. And then look at our events. Our smallest events are 80 delegates, which are considered big events anywhere else. When, for example, our speakers saw the stage and the 500 delegates at the Marketing Kingdom in Zagreb they were surprised. They did not realize that something like that could happen in our part of the world. By organizing events in new markets, we give everyone the opportunity to expand their knowledge but also to see how things function in other parts of the world.
Kosta Petrov, CEO – The P. (The Marketing Kingdom, Zagreb)
What are the biggest challenges in hosting global events in emerging markets?
The biggest issue that we have identified is the pricing of the events. Putting a big event for 500 people with 30 speakers from across the world is a very expensive thing. Then you also have to invest in a big stage, entertainment, lights – you have to make it look like a big show but at the same time charge only a fraction of what a company would charge in London or Amsterdam. Also, there are certain markets where people are not even accustomed to paying for conferences so you have to go through a process of educating the market and explain that there are costs involved around the event so there has to be a fee. Of course, these challenges disappear once you do the second or third event, but still it is something that you have to be prepared for. The initial ride is not fun, but afterwards you will have the ride of your life.
You have organized events all around the world. What makes events in countries such as Serbia and Azerbaijan different from events in Western Europe or the Middle East?
The excitement! You have no idea how excited our delegates are when they come to our events. They are eager to learn new things. They ask questions so the events are really interactive. It is everything that a conference should be – exchange of ideas and making new friends. We always organize cocktails after the event, and being there and seeing how your event is changing people’s lives is really inspirational. People call us after the event and tell us what they implemented and how it has changed their business. It is everything that a conference should be, really.
The Marketing Kingdom, one of your biggest brands is expanding rapidly and has been hosted in four different countries this year. What is the secret behind the success of the event?
Two things make the event the success that it is. The speakers and team working behind it! The Marketing Kingdom as of today has had more than 100 speakers from some of the world’s biggest companies. Everyone from Facebook to Google and Yahoo! has already spoken at the event. The event is also creating new trends in the countries where it has been held. It is turning into Europe’s largest marketing event. As of today it will be hosted in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and in November we are taking it to Georgia where it is almost sold out two months before it actually runs. We are spending a lot of time with our speakers to go over their topics and to make sure that everything can relate to the local markets. There is no point to go to a conference and learn about things that you cannot implement! The event is all about practical tools and methods. We want to create a better marketing world and the event is helping us achieve that. With the way it goes by the end next year the event is going to be the world’s largest marketing event with annual events in 14 different locations.
The event industry is rapidly changing. What do you think is the future of the events industry?
Yes, everything is different from back when I started in 2005. Few years ago people were throwing money and going to conferences not to learn things but to party. I believe the recession has changed this. Now companies are more careful when it comes to spending, and if they decide to spend they will spend on something that is high quality and well respected. At the same time, delegates these days also expect more than before. You have to give them something unique. That is why as a company we are rarely using the term conference or a forum. All of our events are branded as an experience. We want delegates to come to the event and learn new things but at the same time have the best time ever. If you manage to achieve that they will continue coming to your events, and soon your event will be the only event that they attend.