Photo: Shutterstock

[pullquote]As a matter of fact everything is connected with self-image. If we are objectively proclaimed as one of the best hotels in town, an online competition won’t mean much to us.[/pullquote]In the middle of scorching summer days interesting event stories are hard to find and the event industry usually finds itself in off-season. A call between me and one of my colleague in the hottest days of August regarded a campaign, which took up an emptied out media space. The question was how can we help her get more likes, more fans, more followers, so their location would become a winner in one of the contests on social media.

I am not going to start a debate about the mechanisms to win, but I am more intrigued about the movements and reasons that push a “serious” industry into feverishly collecting likes and attention.

As a matter of fact everything is connected with self-image. If we are objectively proclaimed as one of the best hotels in town, an online competition won’t mean much to us. The Ritz Carlton in Budapest or Regent Porto Montenegro probably have no need to enter such competitions, as self-confidence and quality comes standard in such institutions, where they give their all to justify that service. Real self-respect is the foundation of a healthy self-image.

When self-image isn’t defined it seems that the only shortcut to the heaven of social identity is through numerous campaigns and competitions. I am a big believer in such stories, if only they include a reference system based on clear and comparable criteria and if the key public is clearly defined #eventproofs (meeting planners or event organisers). Immediate skepticism occurs when you are talked into paying an entry fee of 199,00 EUR to be nominated by votes of an undefined social community.

I guess the focus group of such competitions are hotels that strive for a positive self-image, which is already standing in front of a mirror for 24hours on Trip Advisor. If that is not enough to boost your moral, there are plenty of people in our industry capable of doing objective hidden guest evaluations and at least get close to reality.

Organisers of social contests mostly take advantage of todays neurotic communication, which usually boils down to only graphic, audio and info flashes, where you run out of time for any more in-depth analysis.

I like campaigns that are fun and not too narcisstic. For example an innovative idea is the World IceCream Index from the agency Soolnua. I take it as a fun, intelligent and intriguing markting campaign which is promoting destinations with which they are working with and as a platform to promote their own social media. The campaign is fresh and in its core isn’t actually picking the best ice cream in the world.

The problem occurs when the ones competing take it a little bit too serious. Even worse is when they try to use it for their own promotion in an inappropriate way through personal mail and marketing, which bends the innitial ideas of the authors. Choosing the best icecream is based on physical perception of quality and is distinctly subjective. It can probably be judged by only true experts ( in my head I imagine them to be hardcore italian icecream profs).

Even in a small group of people you will quickly stumble upon the well tested proverb of “It takes all sorts to make a world”, when it comes to taste and the perception of quality. Authors of the campaign never bothered with that and they clearly bent the rules a little bit. In their core social competitions are a practice range for meeting destinations to develop their self-image. Their ingenuity is mostly shown in intro videos, which allow for comparissons of creativity, more than the comparissons of actual icecream quality.

That was basically the way I answered my colleague and opened a bunch of other questions regarding content marketing and communication in meetings industry. Shortcuts to the hearts of event planners are rare and can be found only with hard work and a quality product that can’t be replaced by any social campaign, media or marketing agency. Good icecream makes a name for itself and event organisers just have to find, whether with the help of DMC’s or by looking at well respected reference scales.

I myself am leaning towards picking the Miss and Mister of the meetings industry. Looking at the stereotype of the attractiveness of our industry I am sure to have a lot of candidates coming my way. See you again when the parade of brilliance and glamour is all set.