ACTIVE Network started life 10 years ago in a small office with a handful of employees, and now boasts thousands of staff who provide services to around 55,000 global customers. How did the company come to expand to the extent it has?
ACTIVE Network has expanded quickly as a result of the increasing need within the industry for technology solutions to power the transition to online registrations and manage increasing amounts of data that require data analytics to unlock key insights.
The company was founded in the United States but quickly identified the UK as a key market and has maintained a presence here for five years (we just celebrated a milestone of ACTIVE powering over 25,000 events within the UK and European markets). In addition, many of the companies we support with ACTIVE's technology are global organisations, from World Triathlon Corporation (also known as Ironman) to Cisco, where we can uniquely manage their business needs globally within our platforms.
ACTIVE Network crunches big data for customers of thousands of events, from marathons to annual conferences. What are the challenges of sifting through such vast amounts of data to gather specific information requested by the company, and how truly reflective can that analysis be on an individual level?
The challenge is often in sharing the benefits to event organisers or marketers to make the full move from offline to online. For example, some customers will use ACTIVE Network to manage the registration and payments process, and miss using this valuable data to interact with people that attended an event. In terms of actually making sense of the data, the team at ACTIVE are always on hand to help interpret it, particularly for some of our clients who may not have data experts in-house, or may only have a small team with limited resources.
If customers want information on the types of people that are attending events, ACTIVE Network can provide demographics and analytical tools with this information. Our technology can go even further than that - for example, we have a survey tool that can send a quick survey to an event attendee's mobile device as they walk out of a seminar. This tool can be used to gather further insight into attendees' perceptions of the event and gain feedback on the content of an event.
Ultimately, our team works closely with each customer to identify their key data and information analytical requirements. We train them in our tools and how to set up smart reports that can deliver the specific results while presenting this in an actionable format.
How could companies make more use of big data when it comes to measuring the success of their events?
Many companies and event organisers are under pressure to deliver return-on-investment (ROI) - the C-level needs to know that every pound spent will deliver a return. By using ACTIVE Network's technology, event organisers and marketers are saving companies thousands of pounds in man-hours - freeing their time up for running a good event and not focusing on the back-end of managing participant data.
On top of this, the data that we gather and interpret can reveal a number of actionable insights, such as: how many people registered compared to how many people showed up on the day; what sort of people attended and were they from your target market; whether people were engaged when they were on the ground at the event and their feedback of the content. By making the data we deliver useful and well-presented, we help companies make changes and improvements that directly impact organisational success as well as their bottom line.
You're looking to grow your clientele in the UK by opening a new London office. What kind of gap in the market are you trying to fill, and what sort of companies will you target?
The UK and European market is very large, which presents both a challenge and an opportunity for us. We work with organisations of all sizes, from the enthusiast who organises a small or medium sized event in their spare time and is looking for support, all the way up to major global organisations that need our support and data management across multiple conferences or events around the world. In the UK and Europe, we are focused on two main areas - corporate events (including conferences, strategic meetings management, training and seminars, and association meetings) and endurance events such as marathons, cycling events (such as Prudential RideLondon) and triathlons.
How useful can social media integration be for companies hosting events? People are increasingly using their mobile phones to engage with friends and air their opinions to large audiences, how can you help companies to utilise that?
Social media integration can be used in a number of ways to deliver value to companies hosting events. From the perspective of a business event, our survey tool provides an instant, direct way for organisers to gather data on the people that participate in their events - all done on mobile devices. For race directors, our Facebook integration allows participants to directly broadcast their race registration to their social network through Facebook, which provides exponential marketing exposure for race events.
What trends have you noticed in event management recently that you think will grow in the coming years?
Events are increasingly a key component of most marketing plans, and marketers need to understand best practices for how to get the most out of events, from initial engagement to post-event follow-up. Integrating CRM with event communications and marketing is key because it allows the event marketing process to feed directly into the sales funnel and to be scored and qualified.
We are finding that marketers can do more to maximise valuable insights from events and integrate event marketing into CRM systems. This is especially true in the sports and endurance space. We believe we will see shifts here, because competition is increasing and the event managers who employ useful technology and tools to understand their data will beat their competition for customer acquisition and retention. Bottom line is that data management, gained by using Active's tools, creates better customer engagement, and that leads to higher ROI. We believe we will see event planning evolve to become more analytical in the next few years.
What plans does ACTIVE Network have for the future?
Our customers are always asking for new ways that they can increase participation and engagement with their attendees - before, during and after their event. We plan to continue iterating and developing our technology to be ahead of the needs of our customers and to grow even further our position in the UK and European market.