2020.9.16 Column

What is behind a successful B2B event in Japan?

Event Team members at Bigbeat Inc, a Japanese marketing and event agency in Tokyo, Japan. Whether it is a physical or an online event, organizing a successful B2B event isn’t all that easy. Especially in Japan.

There are a great number of activities, which are almost invisible to the attendees of the event.
And it is fine if the event goes well; but if something goes wrong, be sure that even the tiniest gap will be immediately noticed and can compromise the result of you event. 

The Event Team is the keystone of these activities. The Information hub of a huge amount of data that are precious for the success of your event
Everything inside the Event Team must go smooth, or your event would end up with very disappointed attendees, speakers, and sponsors. 

At Bigbeat Inc. we have over 25 years of experience in B2B event organization, and we have a very experienced Event Team, which is in charge of all of the operative activities for physical and online events in Japan.

Let us go backstage and ask to our Event team their recipe for producing a successful B2B event!

Also, contact us if you want to organize an online event in Japan!

What means to be part of Bigbeat’s Event Team?

Can you tell us something about the main tasks of the Bigbeat’s Event Team?

I.: The Event Team is mainly in charge of secretariat operations of B2B events, such as B2B conferences,seminars,and exhibitions, related to sales and promotion activities.

Actually, we do not just contact the concerned parties and provide them with the necessary information or receiving responses from them. Instead, while sharing the aim and goals of the event, we are also expected to prepare all the activities related to the event itself. From the organization before the event, such as attendee’s attraction, to planning and managing the event day, till the follow-up activities after the event.

Therefore, it is necessary to carefully plan, schedule, and execute the activities related to each project.
For each project we have to deal with a lot of people both inside and outside Bigbeat. Not only the clients, but also speakers, sponsors, attendees, event planning/operation teams and designers, web programmers and coders, and media for attracting attendees and promotion.

As a communication hub, we are in charge of delivering all the necessary information to concerned people and supporting the work of each of them in a smooth way.

Bigbeat LIVE, Bigbeat's own B2B marketing event held once a year in Tokyo, JapanOur Event Team has over 25 years of experience in B2B event organization.

What kind of events is the Bigbeat’s Event Team in charge of? 

I.: We are in charge of the activities related to corporate communication. In details, I am referring mainly to private shows, e.g. conferences, user meetings, and exhibitions.

Also, recently, we have received many consultations about Webinars and Online Conferences from our clients.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic , we were sometimes asked to organize executive round tables, golf competitions, hands-on seminars for users, and photo contests as well.

The “information hub” of a B2B event

As you have to deal with a lot of information and activities, are you using any tool to ease the work of the Event Team?

I.: Yes, we use our in-house developed platform, "B-square" for managing registrations.
It is a highly customizable platform and allows you to design a system that suits your clients’ and projects’ needs. Customizable contents are various.
For instance, you can set an interaction function on the day of the conference, or matching the database owned by the client with the registration database on B-square.

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, most of the events are being held online. In this case, we use "B-square Webinar", based on “B-Square” system, which had positive responses by our clients.

In addition, in order to smoothly communicate with the speakers and sponsors, we use a web platform dedicated to speaker/sponsor: "B-circle".

Actually, there is not a preset operating method to perform our work. Basically, we always choose the best tool, according to the client and project. And obviously, if the client already has a contract with any other system, we may also use it to carry out our tasks. 

The Event Team has to deal with many people. Hence, it is necessary to share information not only with clients, exhibitors, speakers, and attendees, but also with concerned people and teams inside the company. In other words, the Event Team could be also called “information hub”, could not it?

As an “information hub”, what kind of activities do you think you are expected to provide?

Yamasaki: Yes, as we always deal with a huge amount of information exchanged both by email and chat, we always create a “Master”. It is basically a file where all the relevant information is summed up. All the members involved in the project has access to the Master file, so that we are sure that everyone of us could be up-to-date and have a homogeneous understanding

It is not just a matter of note information down, but we are expected to read it, understand them, and manage it promptly. For this reason, it is necessary to collecting information after having fully understand the essence of the project

In other words, I think that understanding, accuracy, and a sense of speed are the key of an “information hub”. And it is hard!

I agree with Ms. Yamasaki.
Often, different client means different communication tool… and I am using too many tools at the moment! 

In addition, I think that chat tools are suitable for chatting and discussing about issues that you want to solve on the spot. Instead, as our work at the Event Team is mainly a "question → search for information → answer" process, I believe we cannot manage it using a chat tool.
While you are looking for the answer, other topics will be added in the chat thread, and you will end up overlooking them or stopping your work to go back and read them.
The same goes for the mentions in the chat room. If I am constantly mentioned, my work ends up stopping. It is quite frustrating!

Instead, I believe that there is no better tool than email for doing Event Team’s work!
You can leave emails unread or flag them, so you can easily continue your work and you can clearly see at one glance what issue you have solved and what you have not managed yet. 

Moreover, I feel sometimes in trouble when I have to deal with many tools I have never used before, especially while I am working on different tasks.
On behalf of an Event Team, you cannot answer “I don’t know”, “I can’t use this platform” to attendees, speakers, or sponsors. You are expected to know very well the tool you are using for the event, so it is difficult to become familiar with various platforms while managing different tasks at the same time. 

Bigbeat LIVE stageEverything inside the Event Team must go smooth, or your event would end up with very disappointed attendees, speakers, and sponsors.

Organizing a B2B event in Japan: Japanese vs. International attendees

Have you ever felt a difference in the organization and management of events aimed at Japanese visitors only, and events where there are also international attendees?

I.: First of all, the main difference is the registration form.
In some cases, we accept only the form in English, and in other cases, we prepare a Japanese form for Japanese attendees and an English form for people from overseas.

Also, if we have people from overseas, we also organize accommodation for them.
For instance, in the case the hotel offers a special campaign for the event, we usually forward the campaign code to the foreign attendees and we ask them to book the room directly.  On the other hand, we may receive accommodation requests, too. 
When I was in charge for the first time of an event where there were also international attendees, I was surprised because some of them were accompanied by family and partners! It is uncommon for Japanese people.

Moreover, when arriving in Tokyo from overseas, we always recommend Haneda Airport, because it is closer to the city center and to most of the event venues.
However, some people land at Narita Airport, and in that case, we provide them all the access information to easily reach the venue. 

Last but not least, I feel a big difference about food as well.
At local events in Japan, we often prepare a bento (a packed lunch box), which is fixed. There is only one type and you cannot choose other options.
Those who are in charge of event organization in Europe or in the United States may be surprised about it. Actually, it is not a big issue for Japanese people.
But if attendees come from different Countries, you need to check their dietary restrictions and respond to each of them individually.
In some cases, for example, we put a label on the lunch buffet displaying vegetarian meals, etc. 

Online Events 

Due to Covid-19 pandemic, most of the event are being held online. In your opinion, is there any difference in the Event Team’s work when organizing Online and Physical events? 

Yamasaki: Physical events and online events have completely different process. From preparation, to the day of the event. The schedule after the event is different too. Actually, we are still working by trial and error.

Online events do not require a physical "venue", and there is no need to prepare it. Therefore, you can think that an online event is faster to be organized, but, on the other hand, the period until the end is longer.
For instance, on the event day, the Event Team also works as Live Director, and it is in charge of streaming or distributing the event online.
In this sense, I feel that the Event Team is now more involved during the event day, than it is during a physical one. And, of course, we are required to have web, video, and digital systems skills as well!

Bigbeat's Event Team working from home, due to Covid-19 pandemicBigbeat's Event Team working from home due to Covid-19 pandemic.

Behind a B2B successful event: some tips from our Event Team!

If a foreign company wants to hold an event (whether it is physical or online) in Japan for the first time, is there any point to keep in mind before planning it?

Kinoshita: I feel that in Japan we are strict when it comes about care of attendees.
If you do not take care of them, you will receive a lot of complaints.
For instance, comparing to overseas event, in Japan we are used to receive many and detailed information via email about the event. It is part of taking care of the attendees. 

Definitely, I think that you should understand and be flexible with the business culture and habits of the Country you want to hold the event, before planning it. 

Bigbeat Event Reception workBigbeat's Event Team is mainly in charge of secretariat operations related to B2B events.

Basing on your own experience, can you tell us your secret to organize a successful event? 

Yamasaki: Communication with project members.
They should build a strong relationship, so that to be able to supervise each other in case of mistake or help each other when a member cannot do something. 

Also, setting priorities. And stop aiming for perfection!

Bigbeat's Event Team party togetherBigbeat's Event Team during a party with co-workers.

Bigbeat Inc. has 25 years of experience in B2B marketing. If your company is interested in hosting an online event or trade show in Japan, or if you need further information or assistance, do not hesitate to contact us!

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