When he was in college, Michael Alexandre thought he’d graduate and become a PR professional for sports. Then he discovered the reality of the role, which involved writing lots and lots of press releases. “I’m just not a huge fan of this!” he recalls realizing.
Unwilling to settle, he explored options in a few different areas—including news production—before finding a passion and calling in events. As it turned out, there were other ways for him to channel his natural inclination toward championing.
“You’re the one that’s essentially acting as the brand representation for your company,”
he says of how he views his role as an event manager, particularly when it comes to in-person engagements.
“And so you always have to put your best foot forward.”
Alexandre is currently at Adyen: an end-to-end payments, data, and financial management technology platform built to support all types of businesses, from SaaS companies to hotels and venues. The latter is a major area of focus for Alexandre, who works with hospitality clients. Notably, Adyen segments its customer base for events: a savvy strategic decision that gives managers an opportunity to specialize and pass an extra layer of personalization on to prospects and clients.
Strategy is a word Alexandre often uses to describe Adyen’s approach to events in 2023. He describes a shift in mindset that occurred around the time he joined the company just over a year ago:
“We’re not a startup anymore. We’re a big, corporate organization, and in order to continue down the path of success, we’ve got to be a bit more analytically minded and metric-driven.”
In practice, Alexandre characterizes the new prevailing wisdom as “less is more.” He’s setting his sights on fewer events but vetting them more carefully, with an eye toward attendees.
“We want to speak directly to the people that are decision-makers,”
he states plainly. Though the new process involves more legwork, he’s proud to share the outcome thus far:
“While there were some growing pains, I do think that we’ve responded admirably. And the metrics show it.”
Strategy also comes into play in more subjective areas. For example, Alexandre is more invested than ever in ensuring that his events are more akin to experiences.
“I think the key to making an event an experience is having multiple touchpoints,”
Alexandre says, referring specifically to after-hours engagements at multi-day conferences.
“Someone’s always looking for what’s next, and you need to give the people what they want.”
At the end of a jam-packed day of networking and sessions, an opportunity to unwind over drinks is what most people are craving. But how can your brand’s invitation rise to the top of an attendee’s stack? According to Alexandre, one needn’t reinvent the wheel; the slightest twist can make the difference. For instance: at February’s MAG mid-year conference in San Antonio, Adyen was one of many brands that hosted a happy hour. No one else offered an opportunity to experience something new at the same time, though. Alexandre came up with the idea to sponsor a locale-appropriate tequila tasting in lieu of an ordinary cocktail reception.
“In any event—and possibly even any walk of life—don’t be lazy,” he advises sagaciously. “Analyze what your competition and everybody else is doing and do things a little bit differently.”