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Ep5. The Traffic Builders Initiative: How GES is Studying Event Behavior and Interactions

Video Transcript

Hello event marketers.  Jessica Heasley here, and welcome to another episode of EM All Access where we get you up close and personal to some of the biggest brands, the most interesting events, and the most innovative marketers. 

Today’s episode is sponsored by GES, a global full-service provider of live events, and it focuses on the company’s new Traffic Builders initiative.  More than 100 designers and strategists at GES have been appointed and united to investigate and uncover the building blocks of what drives traffic at live events.

I spoke with GES Executive Vice President Wendy Gibson about the initiative designed to unlock the secrets of experiential traffic generation.  Let’s listen in.

HEASLEY:  So what is a traffic builder, and what should be in the typical event marketer’s traffic-building toolbox?

GIBSON:  Traffic Builders is a set of initiatives, activities, communication all leading to driving people to your particular destination.  So in terms of what should be in your toolset, it’s a variety of things.  So we’re in the process of doing some research and uncovering what are some of the best traffic-building activities. 

GES’ MarketWorks team works with our creative team, and they attend hundreds of different types of events all over the world.  So we’ve been collecting these ideas and really watching to see what works, and we’ve been building a database.  In addition to that, we’re also doing some primary research and finding out what works and what doesn’t with the goal of publishing all of this in a whitepaper. 

HEASLEY:  And I imagine there’s going to be some surprises in there, or is it what people expect?

GIBSON:  I think there’s surprises.  We’re already seeing some really cool things and our team picks up on it as they travel around the globe.  For example, one company—it’s in the medical field—developed this virtual roller coaster of going through a person’s body to explain the effects of a new drug.  It’s pretty cool. 

HEASLEY:  That’s great.  And I would imagine with such a wide footprint, the data and the quantity and the quality of data that you’ve got is incredible. 

GIBSON:  Yeah, absolutely.  We have more than 100 creative designers in our company and these designers are out with their clients and they’re at these events and exhibits and they’ve been collecting data.  And they’ve also been helping clients create awesome traffic-building activities as well. 

HEASLEY:  Where does traffic-building fit in the pre-event build up? 

GIBSON:  You want to make sure you identify who your attendees are, what your company objectives are, and how are you going to get them to the event.  So what are you going to do?  What type of pre-communications do you want to put out there?  And then once they’re at the event, how are you going to get them to your destination or to your experience area?  It’s a very important part of the process. 

HEASLEY:  What are some of the critical elements in developing effective traffic-drivers?

GIBSON:  Well first of all, understanding what your objectives are.  Also understanding who you’re trying to attract, and then what type of experience you want to put on for those folks to visit your destination no matter what it is.  If it’s a live event outside, if you’re building out an exhibit and you want people to visit your booth area, an area of a festival, whatever that is.  So it’s really understanding who the attendee is or who you’re trying to attract, who’s your target market, and what kind of experience do you want them to have when they leave your area.  It’s also important to inject your brand—the personality, the attributes of your brand—and make it fun and memorable.  So when someone leaves, they’re talking about their experience that they had with you. 

HEASLEY:  How can event marketers know which traffic-building activity of all the options—because there are so many options out there—how do you match-make the right activity with the right strategy to the right ultimate activation?

GIBSON:  And that’s a perfect question because that’s what the study is going to tell everyone.  They’re going to, based on what you’re trying to achieve and your objectives, then here’s a variety of different types of traffic-building activities you can do.  So it’s kind of a jumpstart into your planning.

HEASLEY:  GES obviously has a lot of resources at their disposal.  So what kind of opportunities do you offer clients in terms of traffic-building strategies and tools? 

GIBSON:  So we have a strategy team, a creative team.  They like to get involved early in the planning process.  And that part of the process is what are we going to do to drive excitement and bring people together?  And so that’s our creative team; our strategists can help.  We also have a team of folks—GES MarketWorks—and they’re the ones that are actually conducting the study at GES.  And they can come in and consult with you and figure out what’s the best strategy to drive traffic to your destination. 

HEASLEY:  Thanks, Wendy.

GIBSON:  You’re welcome.

Driving more traffic generates more conversations and engagements.  Key to attracting more attendees is a relevant message, a worthwhile conversation, and an exchange of content or shared value.  I’d like to thank Wendy for joining me and can’t wait to see the results of the upcoming Traffic Builders research.  My thanks to you, as well, for watching.

Learn more about this episode sponsor, GES, at ges.com and explore our growing library of EM All Access conversations and behind-the-scenes tours at eventmarketer.com. 

About the Author

Wendy  Gibson

Wendy is an accomplished leader with 25 years of experience leading marketing for fast-paced, high-growth companies. She’s passionate about global brand and marketing strategies and has an unwavering focus on voice of the customer. As Chief Marketing Officer, Wendy manages a global team including branding, digital marketing, demand generation, lead generation, line-of-business marketing, corporate marketing, social and digital strategies, client services and exhibitor services.

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