“Arranging a conference is more than just renting out square meters”

Joost Callaars, owner and founder of Event Management Platform Yellenge, already saw the event and the conference world change in the run-up to the corona crisis. Now he believes hotels can do more than just offer square footage. “As a hotel organization, it’s valuable to think outside the walls of the hotel as well.”

Now that the hotel industry is once again allowed to run completely free, and there are again requests for conferences and events, it is important for the hotel industry to ensure that these events run as smoothly as possible. For now, but also for the (near) future. Each event is a marketing moment for the hotel; for the visitors, the possible organization and the speakers.

When Joost Callaars launched his platform Yellenge in 2008, he did so out of a sense of missed opportunities in the event industry. Mainly, the lack of interaction between speaker and audience was a thorn in the side. “Interaction ensures that the ‘recipients’ feel much more part of the event. That aspect is now well integrated in the conference and event world, but there is always room for improvement. During the process of organizing an event, people often say that something needs to be done about interaction. Then interaction is only integrated because there must be interaction. It is very important how you give it form and content. ”

It starts, according to Callaars, for example, the moment the invitations are sent to the (potential) target audience. He calls it a marketing moment. “Because what you can do at the moment is set up the interaction. Ask in the email about which (sub) topics the target audience would like to be informed about. What you often see is that the entire program for a conference is already tailored before the target group is even invited. By getting the target group part of the program, they are part of the program. “


In the fifteen years his business has been in existence, the event industry has developed significantly. Even before the outbreak of the corona crisis, Callaar’s conference and event industry saw a change. The hybrid model had long been established. It is not a phenomenon that was affected by the outbreak of the pandemic. “Not everyone wants to travel from the United States to Amsterdam for a conference for a day or two, not even before the crisis. But the keynote or another session is interesting for the same person. We integrated the hybrid model into our platform pretty quickly by being able to stream everything in plenary. With this, you provide a service to people who are interested in the services of your event, but who are not willing to cover the kilometers to be physically present. In addition, it can provide additional revenue. With a paid conference, you can offer parts of the conference at a reduced price to those who want to follow the event from home. ” Yellenge’s clientele includes large government agencies and business clients, who locked everything in during the outbreak of the pandemic. A shame, Callaars thinks. He saw that mainly the smaller events and conferences took steps and seized opportunities that were possible during periods of partial lockdowns. “The first three months there was very little. This was mainly due to the fact that it was believed that everything was allowed again in September. It went differently. When the event industry after the summer holidays found out that the corona crisis would last for a while, they started experimenting with hybrid and fully digital. It went well.”

The market of the future

Callaars does not have much to do with container concepts like ‘the new normal’. He looks pragmatically at the future of the market and sees a number of developments in it. “What many software developers have started to do is pour a physical event into a digital environment where, for example, you walk around a virtual world as a visitor and can engage in and follow conversations. Very cool, but we notice that our target audience does not need to walk around in a virtual environment like a virtual doll (also called Avatar, ed.). ” With a focus on strong conferences and events in terms of content, the owner of Yellenge does not provide a solution for his target group in transforming a physical event into a fully digital event. “You miss the layer of physical communication, both verbal and non-verbal. When I am physically somewhere and I see a group of people talking, I can decide if I can participate in the conversation, based on the attitude of these people and the topics they are talking about. During a virtual event, you see characters, but you do not notice if you can become part of the conversation. Content conferences can be organized very well online, but then focus on knowledge transfer instead of mimicking networks. ”

In addition to the interaction between speakers and visitors, according to Callaars, it is also very important that the event manager or hotel owner is in contact with problems that take place outside the hotel walls. “Arranging an event or conference is more than just renting out square feet.” What the Nijmegen resident refers to is thinking about logistics outside the hotel’s walls, and a piece of software can be the solution. “I mention the general practitioner’s conference at the World Forum in The Hague as an example. 2500 people participate. It is difficult for the city and surrounding area to handle this logistically if everyone comes to the parking garage and check-in counter at the same time. We have a built-in module where we personally give everyone a time. Not everyone complies with it, but then you will not have a traffic jam on site before the event takes place. ”

It is well known that software makes it easier to organize an event. But even during disasters, software can ensure that all processes run smoothly. “A pile-up on the A12 meant that half an hour before the event was to start, only 150 of the 600 participants were still inside. Panic with the event manager. We have a built-in module called: ‘are you late?’. Everyone who is already there has been checked in, so we’re aware of that. Everyone who is not there gets a notification on their smartphone where you can easily indicate that you are late and when you expect to be there. Based on that, you get real-time data, and as an event manager, you can decide to start half an hour later because you know when everyone is there. ”

About Yellenge

Yellenge, founded by Joost Callaars in 2008, is a premier Event Management Platform exclusively of Dutch origin. With Yellenge, it becomes easier to organize an event, no matter how complex it is, and the visitor of the event becomes an involved participant. Not a monologue, but a dialogue. Yellenge is a complete all-in-one solution for any type of physical, hybrid or online event: from event website, registration with ticket sales to check-in with live badge printing as needed. From asking questions, answering statements, networking to social media, photowall and evaluation. Yellenge is a first-class product, multilingual and complete.


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