Iva Nedelcheva remembers the day she decided she was going to be a full time event maker. It was back in 2002, as she was completing her masters degree from NYIT that Iva organized and put on a charity fashion show for one her friends and followed that up by worked on the Miss Bulgaria pageant, and she was hooked. The experiences had such an impact on her, Iva knew that she wanted to work on events for her career. And she did.
After realizing that event making was her passion, Iva organized high profile entertainment events at beach parties with famous DJ's Tiesto and Armin van Buuren at Cocoa and Sunny Beach, and later moved back to Bulgaria to pursue her passion in her home country. She worked for the president of Bulgaria as a protocol expert and helped organize all official ceremonies, visits, and meetings of both the presidnet and vice president of Bulgaria.
Later, Iva opened her own public relations agency that ended up organizing corporate events which lead to her working on international events at Eventex, a forward-looking eventof education, networking, entertainment, and awards. She worked on Eventex 2015 and is currently working on Eventex 2016 and still living her dream of working on events.
SpinGo caught up with Iva to ask her some questions about Eventex, how PR relates to events, and how to make a successful event.
SpinGo: You help organize Eventex - Tell us a little more about it.
Iva: Eventex is one of the most exciting professional events in the meetings and events industry. It started as an annual gathering of local event professionals back in 2009 and grew to a large international industry event in 2015. Last year we had attendees from India, Dubai, the US, Europe and Saudi Arabia to give you an idea of how international we are. This year we’ll deliver the biggest Eventex we’ve ever put on: 3 days of exceptional education, inspiration, networking and fun! We’ve planned a lot of surprises for our attendees so they can go back to work full of excitement, valuable know-how and new ideas to implement in their practice. The first two days are dedicated to masterclasses on a variety topics and the third day we have a non-conventional conference. Meanwhile we’ll award the best events, agencies, venues, speakers and event technology from around the world.
What are your main responsibilities with organizing Eventex?
I have a lot to do, starting from the initial brainstorming; going through the event planning process; communicating with partners, attendees, performers, and jury members; creating the PR and marketing campaigns; and finally collecting all data and communicating it after the event.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face while organizing Eventex?
Time management is a great challenge, of course, but the greatest challenge comes with working through the limitations of the event destination. Bulgaria is a beautiful country, but it has a long way to go until it evolves into an attractive and convenient event destination. We need more venues, more hotels, more direct flights, stronger government support and a boost on event suppliers and technology.
What’s it like organizing an international event as opposed to a local, domestic event?
We communicate with media partners and delegates from Europe, Asia, Australia and the US. All of them have different cultures and business routines. Finding the right balance between the local and international demands in terms of topics, technology, and overall event concept is quite a stretch.
What are some of the unique challenges that come up with hosting such an event?
We organize an event for event professionals. We are required to be inventive, captivating and novel. It’s necessary to present trends, to show our delegates how to excel at work, to inspire and surprise them. This is really hard as most of our attendees visit the greatest industry events around the globe.
What solutions have you found to overcoming those obstacles? What works for you?
We have two lucky stars in achieving these goals: 1. The people we work with are all skillful speakers, advanced in event technology, and some of the brightest visionaries who see the potential of the event; 2. The motivation and ambition we have to provide excellent education to event professionals across the globe and make a real difference in the way professional events are organized.
You have a lot of PR experience for events - In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of PR to make an event successful?
PR might be a mechanism of creating a brand awareness or loyalty, but what’s most important is making it personal. When I think about our PR strategy, I start off by thinking about the experience we will create for our attendees. I try to develop a real relationship with the audience - find out their demands and the best ways to deliver to their expectations. It’s crucial to know who you’re addressing.
How are you able to reach an international audience when marketing? What channels do you use to reach the right audience?
We mostly use a direct approach - email marketing, social media communication, and phone calls. We talk to our actual and potential attendees a lot. Word of mouth and direct recommendations are our main strength but the support we get from our global media partners is also vitally important, especially in markets we haven’t previously worked with.
What are you most nervous about when organizing an event?
We want to make progress with each Eventex - we constantly upgrade our event concept as we go, so there’s always some anxiety on how our audience will react to that before, during and after the event.
Where does your passion for events come from?
I think it all started with my short teenage modelling career. I was part of a couple of pageants and some catwalks when I had a significant car accident. As I was lying in the hospital, thinking of how my emerging career has come to an end, I remembered all people who were making those glamorous events actually happen: marketing experts, agents, decorators, artists, technicians, musicians, stylists, and event coordinators. I realized that I didn’t have to be a model in order to be part of these events - this was my breakthrough.
How has relationship building payed off for you?
People mean everything to me. I believe that no man can achieve anything alone. One doesn’t even have to ask for help - the more people you know, the more inspiration you have in your mind and the easier it is to find a solution to any situation. Each person in my life has taught me something, and I’m very grateful to have learned many lessons that way.
What is one thing you always make sure to bring with you to your events?
My smile and a couple of band-aids. I walk and talk a lot during my events. Matching a face to all those emails during the event preparation is my favorite moment.
What apps do you find helpful for organizing your event?
Audience engagement is key. That’s why the more features an event app offers on this aspect, the greater advantage it has in our decision-making process. Last year we worked with Guidebook and Sli.do, and this year we chose Attendify, which offers a private social network for events.
What are you doing during the event?
It’s hard to summarize - besides monitoring the smooth running of the event, there’s the networking, crisis management and crowdsourcing. I turn into a hybrid between an attendee and an event organizer.
You attend many events each year, what do you find makes for a successful event?
A tireless team with a distinctive concept.
What’s your most memorable event experience?
I’ve was a part of New York Fashion Week during my internship with Donna Karan International in 2010. That really gave me a solid ground in event planning and all details that go along with it.
What are your personal and professional plans after Eventex 2016?
I have an idea to create something really valuable for the local event market and this will be my top priority on a personal level. As for Eventex 2017, it will definitely be taken a step further, but I can’t reveal any more details at this point. What’s certain is that 2016 will be a very intense year and I have a lot of excitement about it!