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How Pulling an All-Nighter Managing Spreadsheets Led an Event Executive to a Strategic Epiphany

by Oren Peleg
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Today, a variety of clients look to Kastner as a key source of customized strategies to help them succeed in the competitive B2B events landscape. For Kastner, one of the most important strategic industry discoveries of her career came thanks to an unlikely source––a pair of pink pants.

The Big Client Ask

Years ago, while Kastner was on the agency side planning and executing events for clients, she recalls working a large event at the Ritz Carlton on Amelia Island off the coast of Florida. While everyone else departed for the welcome reception, she volunteered to assist with coordinating executive calendars and meeting scheduling ahead of a critical day of meetings.

“Off everyone else went to the welcome reception and I started plugging away at the spreadsheets,” Kastner said. “Nothing worked, no matter what I tried. I could never get to the outcome that I needed to make the schedules work. Sure, 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.”

When the next morning came, her clients returned, asking if she’d been there all night. “No,” she told them. She tried to assure them she had just woken up early and hurried down. But she was busted––by her pink pants.

“Nobody would wear those pink pants two days in a row, they told me,” Kastner remembers with a laugh. “Sure enough, I had been there all night trying to solve this issue. I remember saying back then, there’s got to be a better way to do this. And lo and behold, there was.”

Nicola Kastner speaking at a corporate event in 2022

The Discovery

Once Kastner joined SAP, she inherited the company’s relationship with Jifflenow, the world’s #1 meeting scheduling software designed specifically for B2B events and marketing campaigns. It didn’t take long for Kastner to see the unparalleled benefits of meeting scheduling automation for event marketers, mainly because booking customer and prospect meetings at events is a priority for any enterprise. How could any organization depend on spreadsheets and all-nighters to schedule, manage, and report on hundreds of B2B meetings that advance the pipeline at events?

“For us at SAP, outside of the traditional lead generation that you would see in an event, meetings were critical, and they were one of the core measures of success that we had,” Kastner said. “That translated into seeing how much pipeline we were able to impact during 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.”

During her time at SAP, Kastner notes that Jifflenow’s unique ability to provide seamless and detailed reporting on event metrics was a significant contributor to long-term ROI. On the show floor, Jifflnow’s automated scheduling also made event marketers scheduling and managing meetings at events more productive and efficient. Staff and room utilization data were essential to maximize event investments. Dashboards showed which sales reps booked the most meetings, which helped inform decisions about who should attend events and much more.

“The scheduling and the flexibility of the scheduling are second to none,” she said. “There was finally one master calendar for the entire event to show all the meetings that were happening in multiple locations and the value of the meetings. It automated the process from the intake, sending confirmations through to check-ins. It took away a lot of manual steps that were prone to errors, but then also gave that ultimate visibility and reporting that we could use post-event for follow-up as well.”

Credit: Nicola Kastner

A “Core Event Element”

Despite Kastner’s pink pants story taking place years ago, many B2B companies remain stuck in the past. Many event marketers today continue pulling all-nighters sorting through spreadsheets or other inflexible solutions not designed to handle complex scheduling workflows. Perhaps that’s why it’s not surprising that event marketers continue to top lists of the most stressful jobs. Not only that, but Kastner believes too many companies aren’t developing strong, data-backed plans going into events.

Kastner said she finds it maddening that so many companies both use outdated, manual methods to schedule meetings at events, and arbitrarily throw the same event spend and plan at events year after year without the benefit of data visibility.

“That’s why my company exists today,” she said. “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.”

That’s precisely why Kastner’s consulting work often includes training clients on developing data-backed strategies for events. Those strategies often include a prescription for a robust meeting scheduling automation tool, which she calls a “core event element” companies need to incorporate into their tech stack.

“I talk about [Jifflenow] all the time,” she said. “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 a certain amount of customer meetings that advance opportunities or influence new pipeline, or whatever those goals are, then we work backward to create a plan to achieve those goals. How do we do that? What tools do we need to execute our strategy? That starts with goals and leads you to build a logistical, operational plan of tools and tech processes that support the outcomes. Jifflenow is often a critically important part of that.”

Value for ‘Amazing Brands’

As a long-time user and advocate, Kastner is well aware of the data that backs up Jifflenow’s unique value in the marketplace. Enterprises leveraging Jifflenow see an increase of at least 40% more meetings and sessions at events. Don’t forget, B2B meetings are the key indicator of pipeline, and pipeline is the key indicator of revenue. Additionally, marketing and sales teams see an 85% reduction in scheduling efforts, allowing for more productive, highly efficient teams.

But Kastner believes the numbers only tell part of the story. The other key proof point, she says, is the collection of “amazing brands” who don’t send their marketing departments, salespeople, subject matter experts, and executives to events around the world without Jifflenow to help.

“Just think about the [Jifflenow] client base,” she said. “Look at how many big tech brands are using it to manage their meetings. It’s not just SAP and I that found it valuable. There are lots of big-name clients that do and there’s a reason for that. I think that the amount of amazing brands that Jifflenow works with and rely on the platform as a critical piece of their event tech stack to produce successful event outcomes is a huge testament to the value that Jifflenow provides.”

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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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