Arguably no conference exemplifies the festivalisation trend more than Xerocon. EN caught up with Christine Bennett, partner at creative event business Taylor Bennett, to learn more.
Is festivalisation a growing trend for business events?
It is, and it’s interesting to reflect on where the expression comes from. We believe festivalisation derives from event delegates now demanding an experience and not just an event.
More and more today people crave experiences – experiences that engage, entertain and emotionally connect. They want to have fun and they want to experience an event that isn’t just informative or educational but is sociable, interactive and feels personal.
We have always believed in the power of emotional memories and this belief is at the heart of our business. It drives us to design and create innovative and inspiring event solutions for our clients; create learning experiences that feel intensely personal, and create parties that through the music, the amazing range of street food vendors and the immersive nature of all of the activities feel like a vibrant and dynamic festival.
What was the brief for Xerocon?
No matter what, Xerocon always has to educate, inspire and entertain.
Educate: The Xero platform is constantly being updated and improved. There is no better place to educate our users on all of the exciting new ways that we are making their lives easier, more enjoyable and more profitable.
Inspire: We have some incredibly helpful content designed to keep our customers up to date with the latest changes.
Entertain: We create an interactive fun and dynamic ‘festival’ rather than an accounting software conference. It’s as much about our customers getting together and enjoying the few days than it is about us educating them on Xero.
What did the event look like?
The exhibition hall at ExCeL London, featuring Xero and its partners, had two artificial hills covered in grass and bean bags. This included. digital LED swings and a 65m-long 10m-high zipwire. These aren’t things you’d usually see at a conference!
The huge 60m-wide stage featured a light sculpture nicknamed the ‘cheese wheel’. It consisted of 260 custom-made LED circular lights and 65,000 LEDs, each manually wired and programmed creating drama and memorable imagery.
At the end of the first day, delegates enjoyed the fun and excitement of a fantastic party. Highlights included the delicious street food vendors, illuminated table tennis tables, a UV light mini golf and a karaoke van where people could record their own. Guests really got to relax and enjoy the night.
How did it tie in with the brand image?
Xero isn’t just about accounting software. Xero is a global platform that seamlessly connects businesses, saves time, and enables success. Our purpose is to make life better for people in small business, their advisors and communities around the world.
Xerocon provides us with the perfect opportunity to live up to this purpose – by bringing our communities together in one place.
We aspire to inspire our people to do the best work of their lives, to create and deliver beautiful products and services, and win the hearts and minds of our customers and partners around the world. So, every year we strive to make Xerocon dynamic, fun, exciting and beautiful.
Who were the attendees?
They are mainly accountants and bookkeepers. The excitement running through the event shines through. Indeed, one attendee tweeted: “…OMG [Xerocon] out of the park…like riding a unicorn across the universe.” This isn’t what comes to mind when you think of a cloud accounting software. We know that a small business owner’s most trusted advisor is their accountant or bookkeeper. And Xero connects small businesses with their advisors to build happy and profitable relationships for both.
What were the desired outcomes for the event?
There were four key goals:
Good delegate experience
The overarching goal was to give delegates an experience they would enjoy and learn from, and ultimately want to have repeated. A beautiful experience can change your life. It can show you how you can do things you’ve never done before or didn’t even know could be done. And it can enhance your enjoyment of life.
Strong thought leadership
Thought leadership was the second goal. It is an often-used expression but what does it mean?
It means your expertise is recognised as having clear and demonstrable value. It means our opinions (and your products) can be trusted and you move and inspire people with your innovative ideas. Thought leadership is about being known for making a difference. All of this exemplifies Xero’s approach to the business of accounting software and its belief in the immense importance and value of small businesses.
Xero celebrates small businesses and its reason for being is the growth and success of these businesses. Business generation at all times is a key driver and Xerocon, while only one activity of Xero’s revenue growth, is an important business generator.
Excellence in execution
Excellence in execution was a key goal because this is the platform on which the delegate experience, thought leadership and business generation can thrive. Excellence in execution across all business activities. Excellence in execution across everything we do at Xero. EN