A business insider's guide to cracking conferences

Tyron McGurgan, CEO of events company Media Corp International, reveals the secret of reaching decision-makers and supplying a “bullseye hit” for delegates

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July 19, 2016
A business insider's guide to cracking conferences

After the speaker wraps up his closing statements, the attendees of the CXO Leaders Summit file out into the lobby of Singapore’s Ritz-Carlton and straight into an adjoining room. For the next 30 minutes they will engage in prearranged one-on-one meetings with each other – a corporate take on speed dating.

“Even when you’re talking about companies like IBM and HP, the problem they still have is reaching the decision-makers,” says Tyron McGurgan, CEO of Media Corp International, the event organisers behind this business conference. “Most event companies build databases and then ping out emails to invite everyone and anyone. They’re trying to get numbers on seats, but what we focus on is quality and making sure the individuals attending are able to meet the key decision-makers.”

Indeed, over the course of two days, the summit’s delegates had three-and-a-half hours, aside from networking breaks, to spend in these one-on-one meetings, which, according to McGurgan, is a chief reason why the events his company organises are so successful. Before each conference, attendees can select who they want to meet, and the staff at Media Corp International will pair up delegates for the closest match. A great deal of time is spent beforehand making sure attendees are what McGurgan enjoys calling “decision-makers” – those from respected companies, who have some control of their firm’s budgets and are in “the right purchasing frame of mind”.

“One of the key things is that people are in the right frame of mind,” he reiterates. “They’ve got two days set aside to really listen and look at new innovations to help their businesses and, ultimately, what we’re doing for our clients is huge, because they can actually do business at our events.” Or, as he rephrases it, every one-on-one meeting allows the delegates to have a “bullseye hit” of what they’re trying to achieve: networking, learning from others and, essentially, sales.

Media Corp International was founded four years ago by McGurgan after he left a job running a UK-based events company to tap Southeast Asia’s “huge niche market” for business conferences. “Asia was where the money was, and I saw the growth potential of the Asia-Pacific region,” he says. Along with its headquarters in Sydney, the firm also has offices in Singapore and a newly opened one in the Philippines. It organises as many as 20 conferences per year across the region, from the IT sector to marketing, finance and HR.

“Singapore is the hub,” McGurgan says, adding that, along with Hong Kong, it is clearly the most developed country in the Asia-Pacific region for conferences, but the likes of Thailand and the Philippines aren’t far behind. What’s more, he has found it important to cater to individual nations because, in each, there are “different themes and topics on the minds of the vendors and decision-makers”.

Of course, he adds, compared to four years ago, organising business conferences in this part of the world is no longer a niche endeavour, as the numbers have exploded in recent years.

“Every year I see companies coming from Europe and the US to try working in Asia. They do their first event, don’t do it right, and then they’re not back the next year,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of companies test the market, but they don’t understand how to make it successful in Asia. There will always be events, from large to tailored events, but it’s about the quality and the audience… Some companies are getting greedy and looking only to generate revenue. But sometimes they lose focus on who the key people are and making them money.” 

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