With the 2014 version of the Customer Festival in mind, which included a Google Glass wearing Andreas Weigend, AdAsia looked forward to visiting the 2015 version. But upon arrival at the venue we realised that, much like ad:tech asean this year, this year’s edition could very well the last one too. The festival had clearly shrunk to miniature levels.

With just a dozen exhibitors scattered around the hall, a separate main stage, a cramped side room and an open space for speakers in the middle, the size of this year’s festival was roughly a third of last year. As size does not always matter, one would hope that the quality of the speakers would not be affected by a similar factor.

Terrapinn had decided to divide the speakers into two tracks, called Loyalty World and Big Data World. In the afternoon on the first day, Big Data turned into Experience World.

Unfortunately there was little to cheer for in terms of quality. The usual topics bubbled up with a strong focus on the importance of connecting emotionally to your customers and the importance on getting it right on social media. But most speakers came forward with very tactical suggestions, forgetting that the audience was probably from a much wider range of industry verticals.

 

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One of the better keynote’s came from Nikita Kaufmann, assistant director global loyalty programmes and strategic alliances at Millennium & Copthorne Hotels & Resorts. She brought up why it is important to focus on rewards instead of discounts. The latter are simply setting expectations that lead to short term or no loyalty and that also devalue your brand. The hospitality industry struggles with this topic since the early days of the internet, as it was one of the first industries that got partially disrupted through the online booking moguls.

 

Millennials

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Another interesting session was the millennial consumer panel, four senior members of the student and staff communities at SMU, all millennials, sat on a panel and explained the partially non-millennial audience, what they liked and disliked when it comes to modern marketing. The discussion spurred no surprised but did confirm that millennials prefer WhatsApp, Facebook and snapchat over a call and that they look for authenticity in the attempts of brands reaching out to them. The topic of brand ambassadors, i.e. acting on social media and in your community of friends on behalf of a brand while being rewarded for it, showed that also here brands need to be careful when engaging millennials. Brands like Coca-Cola seem to do a very good job here.

 

Conclusion
This festival was like one more tree falling in the woods. Hardly anyone was there so no one has heard it. It is probably the first event we attended where the networking cocktail at the end of day one had an audience of maybe 15, out of two to three hundred delegates and speakers. Mark our words, this is the next one to go after ad:tech asean.

Is this a sign of changing times? Do we need a different format to counter conference-fatigue? Is the topic of customer experience and loyalty too tactical? Let us know!


Editor: Matthieu Vermeulen