TEDxCluj was in 2019 one of the important events of this kind in Europe. Then, the completely unfavorable context for organizing events slowed down growth, and the events market looked for adaptation solutions.
After a hybrid event in 2021, with a thousand physical participants – as much as the restrictions allowed at the time – and two thousand online, the organizers TEDxCluj they decided to continue in 2022 only with a live audience, he says Tudor Easter, Managing Partner of ClujHub and Project Manager TEDxCluj. Interest in online tickets is low, and an important part of the success of the event is the experience that attendees have on the day.
Because it is a non-profit event, TEDxCluj relies on a smaller number of corporate partners, whose presence is not a commercial one, but one that improves the experience of those present. Besides, brands are more reluctant to conclude partnerships, and budgets are smaller, based on the context of recent years, says Tudor.
Audiences have become more involved and vocal over time, and organizers need to keep up with them. Speakers and topics are chosen taking into account the context and preferences of people in the community, and each event is followed by a feedback process. More behind the scenes at TEDxCluj, in the interview below.
The events market in 2022
I believe that the year 2022 for the events market is characterized by an adaptation and calibration to what the global economic and social challenges of recent years mean, reflected both in the business environment at the level of suppliers and collaborators with whom you interact in organizing an event as well as the different way in which the public relates to events. There is a clear tendency to purchase tickets as close to the event date as possible, unlike in previous years when a significant proportion of attendees booked their tickets months in advance.
Trend of the year
I think that at any of the profile events in Romania, the phrase “new reality” has been used lately and that many of them have addressed the changes and modifications of the context in which we are currently.
The most significant difference I notice in the current context, as opposed to 2016, when I started to get involved in the organization of large events, is the increased financial unpredictability of the event organizer. This is largely due to the tendency of the participants to purchase the tickets in the period close to the event and to the extension of the term from the start of discussions to the realization of corporate partnerships, both of which are motivated by the evolution of global events in recent years.
The evolution of TEDxCluj
In 2016, TEDxCluj had a number of 800 participants, gradually increasing from edition to edition. The 2019 edition was a landmark for us, as it was the first event to exceed a thousand participants. We had with us then, in a new location, 2,500 participants from the “community of unusual people” as we like to say. We were one of the biggest TEDx events in Europe.
The next hybrid edition in 2021 recorded 3,000 participants, 1,000 physical and 2,000 online.
As for the guests, over time we had the pleasure and honor of having with us on stage: Andi Moisescu, Princess Marina Sturdza, Florin Piersic Jr., Brad Blanton, Gașpar Gyorgy, Paul Bourne, Iv cel Naiv , Oana Pellea, Cristian Presură, Simona Tivadar, Solomon Marcus, Cristian Onețiu, Andrei Gheorghe, Melania Medeleanu, Florin Talpeș, Teodora Enache, Răzvan Exarhu and many others who delighted us with their speeches.
The central themes of the editions, in reverse chronological order, were: Choices, Together, What if, Connecting The Dots, Going Beyond, Mythbusting, etc.
Life after the pandemic
For us, the 2021 edition was the first big event in Cluj Napoca, organized indoors after the pandemic and was marked by the challenge of the unknown, in which we all find ourselves. It was an edition with great emotions in terms of the number of physical participants, because at that time it was not clear the set of restrictions regarding the maximum number of participants in an indoor event, which was to be implemented 4 days before the event. 1,000 was the imposed limit, a number to which we also limited the registrations.
At the industry level, the context was and still is a difficult one, because immediately after the pandemic came the outbreak of war, followed, now, by high inflation. All of these factors have had a significant negative impact on the activity of organizing an event, which is based both on the purchase of tickets and on partnerships and sponsorships from the corporate environment, both of which have been directly impacted, in turn. This translates into the purchase of fewer tickets and the reluctance or reduction of budgets from the corporate side, in a context of general price increases.
Participation in live events
For us, the main way to attract participants is a balance between the experience that participants have on the day of the event and the quality of the speaker line-up together with the ideas they present on stage.
Both are directly influenced and diminished in the case of online participation in the event, which is why I also gave up organizing the event in a hybrid way at the last edition, due to the very small number of online tickets purchased.
At the same time, a reduction in the number of physical participants is observed, which is normal, due to the contexts mentioned above.
The audience of 2022
During the last 8 years, since I have been involved in the organization of TEDxCluj, I have noticed that the public has “decanted” more and more and is more involved. Events must keep up with this process in which the public is increasingly communicative, more vocal, more willing to give feedback and closer to the organizer through advice and input regarding possible improvements, topics or speakers they want to see on stage.
Brands join us at the TEDxCluj editions because they want to obtain relevant association with a focus on quality in an event that targets a premium participant profile. Our partners’ exposure and activations are not commercial, transactional in nature, but the interactions they have with attendees are focused around the contribution that brand presence makes to the attendee experience.
Another major advantage for brands is that TEDxCluj is a non-profit and non-commercial event. For this reason, the number of partners is also small, so their logo is one of 10-15 logos, not one of 50 or even more.
Speakers and themes
The choice of theme is a team decision. Based on community interest and feedback, we propose different topics to cover and then design a theme around them. In line with the TEDx concept, the topics themselves must be generic in order to be approached from multiple perspectives and avoid so-called niches. Finally, after choosing a theme, we start working on the content part and outline the directions of approach and the speakers who can deliver them.
Of course, throughout this process, we carefully weigh what kind of themes are suitable to pique people’s interest and which would be appreciated by our audience, both before the event, which translates directly into social media engagement and ticket sales, as well as at the time of the event, which translates into a relevant experience for the participants, something that is reflected in a good post-event feedback, a process we carry out after each edition.
Measure of success
I think that for an event in the category we are in, the most relevant is the quality of the delivered content and the value of the information that the participant is left with after the event.
The result can be seen in the way the community interacts with us and responds when we announce each new edition, and the fact that we are perceived as one of the must-attend events in Cluj.
Another indicator is the fact that at each edition we have people from all over the country, and even Romanians settled abroad who purchase tickets in advance to ensure their participation in the TEDxCluj editions.
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