Elling has spent most of his career as a senior executive in the Norwegian oil and gas industry and later as a management consultant. He started an event agency in Norway in 2000 and Event ROI Institute in 2005.
He is a member of the jury of European Best Event Awards (EuBEA), Eventex, Middle East Best Event Awards and a number of national best event awards across Europe.
Conference & Incentive Travel Magazine ranked him 5th on their list of the 50 most influential people in the UK meetings and events industry in 2006 and Eventbranche magazine named him third among the 30 most influential in the meetings and events industry in the Netherlands in 2012.
Why did you decide to turn to the event industry after such a successful career as a senior executive in the Norwegian oil and gas industry? What attracted you so much to the world of events?
It was just chance, like most things in life, someone asked me to help organise an oil industry conference. It was a great success and I just got hooked.
You teach that meetings and events have great potential to increase a company’s or organisation’s revenue and performance. What is the recipe for a successful event?
First you have to answer the following questions:
1. What is the context? How does the event support other strategies or initiatives?
2. How does the event connect to our bottom line or mission? What exactly will participants do afterwards to achieve this?
3. How will the format and content of your event make participants do what you need them to do in order to create value? Why don’t they do that already?
Then you have to develop a set of detailed and measurable objectives for the participant behaviour and required learning experiences and ask your event designers to achieve those and nothing else.
What do you consider as the biggest change in the event industry for the last decades or so?
It is difficult to pick just one. First, slowly but surely, more and more meeting owners are seeing events as investments which help them increase profits or fulfill their mission, rather than just being an expense. Secondly, technology has already had a big impact, in particular social media and virtual or hybrid meetings. Thirdly, meeting designers are beginning to create effective learning experiences, not just entertainment and ‘wow’ or killing participants with bullet points.
What will be the trends in the event industry in the next 3 years?
Three years is a very short time, change happens slowly. The trends I mentioned above will continue; meeting owners will require more measurable business results, technology will enable us to achieve better results for less money and sciences like social neurology will help us design event experiences based on how people learn and change behaviour.
What’s your best advice to someone who’s just starting working as an event professional?
Find a good boss who will support and grow you into a real professional. This is my most important advice. Then study the basic skills such as project management, quality assurance and how to set objectives and measure the results. If you want to become a meeting designer, then study some social neurology, cognitive science and behavioural psychology as these apply to the design of learning experiences.
Which are your most recent participations as a speaker (at conferences, trainings etc.)?
I had the pleasure of giving a one day ROI masterclass at Eventex and I spoke the following week about event ROI at the Event 16 Exhibition and conference in Utrecht in the Netherlands. I would also like to mention a presentation at the Red Tie Awards in Moscow last autumn, because it was video recorded, you can watch it here.