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Q&A with Nicola Kastner, SAP’s Former Head of Global Event Strategy

by Oren Peleg
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Few event marketing experts can match the varied skill set, experience, and widespread admiration in the industry of Nicola Kastner. Her decorated career has included freelancing for name brand clients, serving as SAP’s Head of Global Event Strategy, and now running The Event Strategist, her own consulting company. But throughout it all, Kastner has been a vocal advocate for Jifflenow’s inclusion in a comprehensive, successful B2B event strategy.

We caught up with one of Jifflenow’s biggest fans to let her know the feeling is mutual, and to find out more about her vast experience in the world of event strategy. She gave us her thoughts on data’s key role in event strategy, industry trends she’s seeing, and how a pair of pink pants made her rethink some long held beliefs about managing meetings at events.

Learning about Jifflenow

Jifflenow: How did you discover Jifflenow?

Nicola Kastner: SAP was a user of Jifflenow, so I inherited the relationship. But I very quickly became a huge advocate, especially because of my background of being a consultant, trying to manage these meetings at events and the constant juggling of rooms available, the availability of executives and customers, and all those things and the nightmares associated with all of that. When I realized that this tool existed, that I could have saved myself so many hours of pain and suffering, earlier on in my career, I very quickly became a huge fan.

JN: We love to hear it. Sorry to do this, but can you backtrack for a minute to those early years of pain and suffering? Can you walk me through what that looked like?

NK: It’s still stuck in my brain forever. I call it the pink pants story. We were running an executive partner forum event for my client. We had a really strong working relationship with these people. It wasn’t my first time working with them. There was a lot of trust. And we had not taken on, as the agency, the responsibility for scheduling the meetings. But something happened on the client side and I said, ‘You know what, don’t worry about it. I’ll figure it all out for you.’

The Pink Pants Story

JN: Famous last words. So what happened?

NK: I’m a master at Excel. I’ve got this figured out, I thought. Off they went to the welcome reception and I started plugging away at the spreadsheets and just realized it just wasn’t working no matter what I tried. This was a number of years ago. I could never get to the outcome that I needed to make these schedules work. Eventually I got there, but it took me the entire night to get there. I pulled an all nighter trying to figure this out for my clients. So the next morning they come back and they’re like, ‘Nicole, did you go to bed?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, why?’ And they’re like, ‘Because nobody would wear those pink pants two days in a row.’ I was totally busted by my pink pants. I had been there all night trying to solve this issue. I remember even back then thinking surely there’s got to be a better way to do this. And lo and behold, there’s Jifflenow.

JN: It really paints a picture.

NK: A very pink one.

Using Data in Event Strategy

JN: During your time at SAP, once you inherited the Jifflenow relationship, what were the biggest benefits you noticed?

NK: Well, I think there’s a few certainly. The scheduling and the flexibility of the scheduling is second to none. The visibility is amazing too. There was finally one source of truth of the meetings that were happening and the value of the meetings. It automated the process from the intake through to scheduling. And so it took away a lot of steps, but then gave that ultimate visibility and reporting that we could use post-event for follow up as well.

JN: The reporting piece of it. How were you able to utilize that information?

NK: In many cases, people will go to third party events for demand gen, to click names or to collect leads, but they can also be incredibly valuable for later stage conversations with customers and prospects. You’re meeting your clients where they are versus expecting them to come to you. So for us at SAP, outside of the traditional lead gen that you would see in an event, these meetings were critical, and they were one of the core measures of success that we had. That translated to seeing how much pipeline we were able to impact during the discussions at the meetings. So Jifflenow was the tool that gave us the ability to not only aggregate this for a specific event, but also compare events, or also year-over-year performance. It was our single source of truth that gave us the insight and visibility we could always go back to.

Event Strategy without the Strategy

JN: This is an issue that you hear about anecdotally in the industry. There seems to be a lack of data and a lack of reporting. With a lot of companies it seems to be the same spend on events every year, but not necessarily strategy. Is that something that you’ve noticed?

NK: It was the bane of my existence, and that’s why my company The Event Strategist exists today. That’s Einstein’s definition of insanity, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You have to start with a strategy and a plan in order to be successful.

Jifflenow’s Work With “Amazing Brands”

JN: And how do you see Jifflenow helping with that strategy, that plan?

NK: Just think about your client base. How many big tech brands are using your tool to manage their meetings? It’s not just Nicola and SAP that found it valuable. There’s lots of big name clients that do and there’s a reason for that. I think that the amount of amazing brands that you work with and rely on your technology as a critical piece of their event tech stack and producing successful event outcomes is a huge testament to the value that Jifflenow provides.

JN: In your consulting work, does Jifflenow come up?

NK: Absolutely. We talk about [Jifflenow] all the time. I always take a step back and say to my clients, well, what are we trying to achieve? What does success look like? And if it’s X amount of new pipeline, accelerated pipeline, whatever those goals are, they vary by client, then we work backwards to create a plan to achieve those. How do we do that? What are the tools we need to execute our strategy, which starts with the goals and  leads you to building a logistical operational plan of tools and tech processes that support the outcomes. Jifflenow is often a critically important part of that.

Jifflenow is a “Core Event Element”

JN: As companies struggle with layoffs and economic uncertainty, how do you see Jifflenow’s automation of meeting scheduling factor into how companies do more with fewer resources at events?

NK: We have to rethink everything we do, not just in the events industry, but in every industry. If there’s a way to accomplish something with less steps, be more efficient, and more effective, then it’s a no brainer. That’s where tech like Jifflenow comes in. Tech is critical for streamlining and helping to achieve the end result in a way that’s less painful.

JN: How important is having Jifflenow at an Event?

NK: When you think about an event, there are your core event elements. You’ve got your registration platform, your event app, and then there’s your meeting scheduling platform. To me, those are your three core elements. Jifflenow is a core event element. That’s what you need to be thinking about.

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Jifflenow is the world’s most comprehensive meeting automation platform, helping global enterprises accelerate business growth by automating the scheduling, management, and analysis of B2B in-person and virtual meetings. Jifflenow has transformed customer meeting management from an offline workflow to an automated, streamlined and online process with measurable results and actionable insights.

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