Percept ICE: Navigating Challenges, Redefining Experiences, And Pioneering The Future Of Events
Read this exclusive interview with Vidya Alva, COO, Percept ICE as she shares insights into the event industry
In the realm of experiential events, Percept ICE stands as an industry trailblazer, constantly evolving to meet the dynamic needs of its clients. As the COO of Percept ICE, Vidya Alva shares insights into the innovative strategies and meticulous planning that define the company's approach.
As the COO of Percept ICE, what are your primary responsibilities and how do you contribute to the company's success?
The portfolio comprises business management, organic growth as also client acquisition and retention. This entails in-depth research, bespoke content creation, setting up and managing the creative and operations teams, ideating on unique concepts, overseeing curating customized presentations for clients, budgeting and ensuring business targets are created as per the market trends and the same are met. A key focus is to constantly develop Percept ICE business for the future keeping integration with technology at the core of its strategy and operations.
Another key aspect is building the brand of Percept ICE across various media to reach to our audience be it clients, resources or the industry.
Daily business management involves overseeing the foolproof management of all experiential projects inclusive of the planning and scheduling, training, managing and motivating team members to enhance the output of work delivered to exceed client expectations, and ensuring seamless on-ground productions within the budgets allocated.
Being a media conglomerate, we also ensure that the Percept ICE team works seamlessly with our 15 Percept Group Companies and IPs to ensure great synergy and value add of services to our clients. This ensures that our clients attain 360-degree solutions from our offering.
How has the events management industry evolved over the years, and what trends do you foresee shaping its future?
From being an unorganized industry, today with industry bodies, peer groups and education institutes focusing on experiential marketing we are gaining shape and size as an industry.
The Indian Event Industry is at a juncture of becoming a recognized, respected and organized sector. World over India is in focus and it gives our industry the opportunity to be the service provider anywhere pan India and across the world offering world-class service delivery at a competitive price point.
The shift from being event managers to experiential marketers is going to be the turning point for our industry. Today marketing budgets are planned keeping experiential marketing and brand activation in mind as this is the real measure of being directly in touch with the customer for any brand and getting the rich analysis to plan further course of action for the brand managers.
Adaptability, creativity, constant innovation and a keen understanding of the market are essential to stay on top of the game. Today clients are seeking a “one-stop solutions provider”, and we have been integrating our range of solutions under one umbrella spanning designing corporate and private events, brand activations, digital solutions, content production, PR and more. Synergy with in-house companies and external agencies is the need of the hour to stay competitive. For example, we have worked closely with our group companies to conceptualize and manage multiple innovative safe on-ground activations for leading brands like Kingfisher, Magic Moments, Wild Drum, BoAt, Havells and GIVA at the Sunburn Festival 2021 which saw 50,000 millennial music fans engage in real-time both online & offline to great conversions and sales.
Another big shift would be the growing focus and dialogue on sustainability and environmental concerns. This is likely to impact our industry in a big way. For the events industry, sustainable practices being adopted at all touch points is the need of the hour, which can be achieved with industry collaboration and technology integration.
In the current landscape, what role does technology play in enhancing event experiences, and how does Percept ICE leverage it?
As Technology gains greater importance in our daily lives, and brands and consumers get more comfortable with tech-driven experiences, it will become vital for us to innovate, think new and merge the best of technology and creativity to offer an unforgettable experience. New metrics, such as impressions, number of virtual attendees, real-time feedback and the size of social networks will become the new age benchmark of a successful event and also vastly leverage the value and progressive image of the company hosting the virtual event.
Technology will play an important role in keeping our audience engaged on the ground and amplifying engagement in multiple online. Brands expect ROI in a combination of on-ground and online reach and having technology at the core of our solutions will bridge that.
At Percept ICE we believe in challenging our limits and reinventing ourselves as we progress. Under the umbrella of Percept Group we have always possessed a range of digital media and marketing service offerings, which empowered us with immense knowledge, capability and proficiency to navigate through the virtual space. These in-house resources enabled us to ideate and focus on how we could evolve and take experiential marketing and events into the tech-driven frontier.
In the recent past, we have had great reviews on multi-city brand launches like Gap, Azorte and Swadesh which were enhanced with technology and hence took the experience to a heightened level. Another example would be when Percept ICE brought to India for the first time a larger-than-life Snapchat Mirror experience at Lolapalooza and Sunburn, which created a magnanimous experience with a special lighting technology to immerse the Snapchat community into the Snap colours via the Snap Ghost Tunnel at Sunburn. The installation enabled guests to click 'the' most iconic 'Snap' of the event with bespoke filters available only via the installation. The installation was bathed in the iconic Snap Chat Yellow colour which was a visual crowd-puller even from a distance. The AR Mirror Wall was a magnificent homage to the highly relatable experience of the 'Mirror Selfie' and attained the objective of highlighting Snapchat’s iconic position in the Social Media domain with their Target Audience in a highly interactive and engaging manner.
We are also proud to have been the core agency managing Formula E for the first time in India and building India’s first-ever Street Race circuit in Hyderabad for the Indian Racing League.
Sustainability and responsible event management have become increasingly important. Could you tell us about Percept ICE's efforts in this regard?
We have been advising our clients and conceptualizing many sustainable experiential activities. Some of our initiatives included booking sustainable venues which have smart energy consumption, sensor-based lighting, electrical equipment, etc.
Understanding Waste Management in events and partnering with agencies who take up the cause seriously and ensure start-to-finish management. Advising clients of the advantages and certifications that the brands can attain by following sustainable practices.
Having worked on global projects like Formula E Race, Indian Racing League, Snapchat, Gap etc. helped us enhance our knowledge and skills in moving towards the sustainable goals for our organization and as our offerings to our clientele.
Simple elements like employing a QR Code, and registration via tech-driven solutions at the venue have helped to turn events paperless. Also since 2020 we have conceptualized and managed hundreds of Virtual and Hybrid Events, which have eliminated venues, travel, and spending and generated close to zero waste.
Building strong client relationships is crucial in this industry. What strategies does your team employ to understand and meet clients' specific event goals?
At Percept ICE we strive to be called as our client’s ‘Brand Custodians’. Hence any incumbent in Percept ICE is trained to understand the client's brand, its vision, its background and the objectives of each experiential project that comes our way or which we propose to our client. Our client relationships are built and sustained on our biggest principle of Delivery – we believe in delivering beyond what is expected. Other key aspects are teamwork, transparency constantly analyzing the results and advising on changes/enhancements to meet the brand objectives.
Experiential events often require meticulous planning and execution. Could you share some key strategies or best practices that Percept ICE employs to ensure the seamless delivery of such events?
At Percept ICE, we have set up SOPs which help us in planning and monitoring the projects. This also sets our resources free from investing time in mundane tasks and helps focus on creating new ideas, and brand strategies and building relationships with our clientele to contribute towards the brand goals.
We also encourage our resources to participate in guest lectures at premiere experiential marketing institutes to share these practices and knowledge with the new crop that is entering our industry.
The impact of experiential events often extends beyond the event itself. How does Percept ICE measure and evaluate the success and ROI of these events for its clients?
Today due to the outburst of social media, the ROI for brands are measured in a few key metrics – one is the on-ground engagement that the live audience is having, measured by way of attendance at an event overall and then filtered with attendance at the brand activation and hence getting a ratio of conversion from an invited or ticket buying audience to the engaging audience. This also works for any brand activation that can be done in places like malls, hangouts etc.
The second measure is when this on-ground audience pushes their experience online and when this online engagement is further amplified with a peer group online there is a heightened ROI that is achieved for the brand activation
The third ROI measure is purely pushing the on-ground experience to an online audience who otherwise wouldn't engage with the brand in the live event.
Experiential projects have a direct, more focused relationship with the consumer, which in turn translates into better viewership, on-ground sampling and sales, database collection, initiating new consumer relationships and followership. The interactivity that events offer is unparalleled when compared to any other form of brand–consumer communication. Corporates create or associate with events because it is interactive, adds tremendous recall value, can be adapted, tweaked and extended in an unlimited manner, and offer far greater value (ROI).
The takeaways and success parameters for each brand will be different, and we ensure we work very closely with all our clients to gauge their requirements, highlight their USPs, and create innovative personalized experiences that stand out.
Could you provide insights into the challenges that events management faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and how Percept ICE adapted to these challenges?
The Covid pandemic caught the entire world and our business unawares, and its initial impact was devastating on our Experiential business. Fortunately, Percept ICE was very quick to evolve into the Digital, Virtual and Hybrid event space with the launch of Percept digitICE within 3 months of the India shutdown. We took help from our Digital and Marketing divisions to scale up our Technological capability and executed a lot of Training and Employee Engagement initiatives with our team to help them enhance their Digital skills. Clients similarly had no choice but to move into the Virtual space given the lockdown, and our Digital events business leapfrogged in 2020-21.
Over the past 3 years, we have successfully managed hundreds of innovative Virtual events for a diverse range of Clients. Today clients are expecting innovation, unique creativity, and curated experiences that can produce a WOW factor in the Hybrid format at optimal costs. And that is what we will continue to offer going forward, be it Launches, Employee Engagements, Dealer Meets, AGMs, Parties, Webinars, Mixed Reality Events, Live Streams, Hybrid Programs, Weddings, Celebrations, Employee Engagements, Motivational Speaker sessions, Games and Music Festivals.
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