Tomoyo Miyakawa: PA power

How seriously do you take PAs and their buying power? Tomoyo Miyakawa, marketing manager, LSO St Luke’s, explains…

It is a known fact that as market and consumer behaviour changes, businesses need to change their marketing strategies to respond effectively. A fact that is just as relevant in the events industry as it is anywhere else. One area to consider is niche markets, and amongst those we have recently seen the incredible buying power of the humble PA.

Recently, we went to the ExecSec Summit in Oxford and netted business worth well in excess of £40,000, with several opportunities still under discussion. The event was focused purely on secretaries and executive PAs, with just 70 individuals in attendance. For LSO St Luke’s, the results were superb, more than 10 per cent of the delegates were interested in the venue, requesting further information and making preliminary bookings.

So, what is the lesson from our short foray into the wilds of Oxfordshire? Everyone, event organisers and suppliers, need to value this market more highly. All too often an agency will become obsessed by a desire to sell to a corporate events manager or a trade show organiser will focus on nothing but “C” level delegates. I think that is a fundamental mistake. During the event in Oxford it was made very clear to us that the PAs in attendance spend lots of time saying no to people, as they need to filter out sales calls, ditch junk mail and provide “the necessary information in a condensed form”. It became quite clear to us that if we wanted to reach the managing director of several large, well-known names, we had to win over the PA first and foremost.

Whether you are a venue trying to win a new piece of business; a trade show organiser trying to attract delegates who are actually likely to make decisions; or an agency selling your organisational skills – the PAs must not be overlooked. True, they may not hold the budget themselves but a recommendation from a PA is a far quicker route to the top and certainly one we plan to continue following.