"Planned stress is better than unplanned stress." - Ruchi Aggarwal, Microsoft

Business Events | July 3, 2015 | News

WOW Convention Asia

The third Knowledge Exchange session as part of the WOW Convention Asia 2015, was dynamically moderated and led by Ruchi Aggarwal, Director and India Lead - Partner Strategy and Marketing, Microsoft India and comprised of panelists Rajeev Kohli, Joint MD, Creative Travel & Plant;  Oum Pradutt, Director, Phase 1 Events; Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa, Founder & CMD, Platinum World Group; Daryl Sheldon, Director, 7ty7 and Sanjeev Pasricha, Group MD, CS Direkt who expressed their views on the topic 'In Conversation With Microsoft: The Future of Stakeholder Engagement (MICE)'.

Vinod Janardhan, MD, Team Rustic, was the host to the Knowledge exchange sessions in Studio II at the WOW Convention Asia 2015, welcoming delegates and introducing each panel.
The session threw light on the potential of strategic partnerships with clients in the MICE space, adding value to a MICE programme beyond logistics and format, but actually achieving an objective of the brand, and including aspects of motivation / incentive beyond just travel for the new-age MICE traveller.

Leading the session, Ruchi Aggarwal, called upon illusionist Kruti Parekh for an entertaining mind reading session, which saw Vinod Janardhan volunteer. Parekh asked Janardhan to think of a particular kind of event, an out-of-the-box event idea and a price/budget he wanted for an event. Parekh then attempted to read Janardhan's mind and her close guesses led to a round of applause from the seated audience.

Speaking on the client-agency relationship, Aggarwal, said, "The fact is that the client needs the agency. The trick is to get the client and the agency together."

In an interesting presentation, Aggarwal, touched upon some important factors that are bound to strengthen the client-agency relationship. These included the importance of planning on time, dealing with successes and failures as a team and procurement. 

Commenting on the importance of early planning, Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa, said, "Nationally 1-2 months are apt for planning in advance and internationally 4-6 months are an apt planning cycle for agencies."

To which, Sanjeev Pasricha, said, "Lack of planning means clients sacrificing their expectations and agencies losing their clients, leading to a lot of negative fallout."

Adding an interesting viewpoint, Rajeev Kohli, stated, "Globally, timelines have come down and event planning periods have become shorter. Creativity takes time."

Aggarwal, then, drew a management graph depicting management theory and stated, "Planned stress is better than unplanned stress. Planning only happens when we are one team."

Speaking on how it is important for agencies to take a stand for themselves, Pasricha said, "As an agency, if you have the courage to say no to clients when your terms aren't met, they tend to sometimes respect you more and come back to you."

To which, Oum Pradutt, added, "It is important to sensitize the clients. Take the clients out and invest time in them. We often tell agencies how they can optimize an agency's capabilities. The minute we feel that they are not bothered about creativity and only about cost, we walk away from them."

Aggarwal, then, depicted an interesting table stating do's for clients and agency in terms of respecting timelines and planning ahead, before moving on to the next topic of dealing with successes and failures where she asked the panelists how they deal with the same. To which, Daryl Sheldon, responded, "On-site planning for events is of utmost importance. We usually de brief". This led to Aggarwal adding, "Own up to successes and failure together." As a fitting end, Aggarwal played a quick video which focused on the message - 'To say No to clients is OK!'.

Expressing his point of view, Sushil Shamlal Wadhwa, said, "It is important to build very strong relationships with the procurement team and hope they will understand you and be on your side". To which, Pasricha, added, "It is important to explain the client why your experience is different from others."

Aggarwal then explained how a client should empathize, rope in a procurement partner from the start and reiterate value while the agency can ask for client/brand team support, maintain transparency while declaring costs and walk away in case of disagreements. Adding further, she, said, "Revel in this friendship."
Making a strong point about the importance of associating with trusted partners, Wadhwa, concluded, "If you think professionals are expensive, wait till you try amateurs".

In the knowledge exchange session, 'In conversation with Microsoft: The future of MICE', the importance of agency-client collaborations and planning was stressed upon.

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