Building an unshakable business culture: the return of Salesforce’s Dreamforce event

Building an unshakable business culture: the return of Salesforce’s Dreamforce event

IBTM World keynote speaker, Gareth Kelly talks to Mike Fletcher about Dreamforce 2022 and what event planners can learn from Salesforce’s annual customer conference extravaganza.

Salesforce’s fabled three-day customer conference, Dreamforce returned to the Moscone Center in San Francisco this year for its 20th anniversary, generating an estimated $40 million in associated revenue for the ‘Golden City’ and donating $25 million to city schools.

The first in-person Dreamforce following two pandemic years, featured environments elaborately styled on Sequoia National Park, a performance from Lenny Kravitz before the opening CEO keynote, a benefit concert from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, a speaker programme that featured Bono, retired basketball star Magic Johnson and actress Jennifer Hudson, plus hundreds and hundreds of technology-focused sessions.

Gareth Kelly, Salesforce’s Senior Director and Head of Strategic Events EMEA is taking to the stage at IBTM World this year to reveal how Dreamforce curates culture as well as being an inspiring environment for his European delegations of customers (known as ‘trailblazers’) to network and soak-up new product innovation.

Plus, he’ll discuss how the EMEA ‘takeover’ on salesforce+ (the company’s virtual platform), enabled the event brand to grow community and create bespoke regional moments while getting across the conference’s core values of customer success, brand trust, innovation, equality and sustainability to a much wider audience.

“All businesses in this new landscape need to focus on driving the bottom line but they also need to consider how they show up. For us, that’s about how we represent the Salesforce brand, how we represent partners and trailblazers and how we represent business as a true platform for change,”

Kelly tells me from his home in Munich.

“During my IBTM World keynote, I’ll look at the shift from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism and how, if you want your events to survive, you need to consider the wider context of what’s going to be important for both future customers and stakeholders, and then how you can address this across your content programme and ancillary touch-points.”

Kelly will also cover the importance of empowering customers to speak for themselves. He says: “There’s no better testimonial than having your customers show up to tell their own stories about how Salesforce has helped their business to thrive and change. We’ve created an event culture whereby trailblazers receive huge visibility for advocating our technology solutions.”

Lastly, Kelly will reveal the secrets to staging ancillary events that don’t cannibalise the main conference, plus he’ll stress the importance of knowing your audience in order to deliver in-person content that engages and excites.

“During the pandemic years, we had the realisation that content was more accessible online. To now deliver that content back to a physical audience, you need softer, more engaging factors that elevate the narrative and prevent people from walking out of the room,” Kelly says.

“Five years ago, you may have gotten away with delivering dry presentations but if your entire content programme isn’t dynamic and exciting today, you’ll lose your audience much quicker. They need more reasons to show up and engage.”

Kelly is looking forward to being back in Barcelona for IBTM World. It’s a city he knows well, having first started going there for Mobile World Congress when he was EMEA Events Marketing Manager for Hewlett-Packard – Enterprise Business Group in 2006.

“In fact, I was in Barcelona earlier this year for a friend’s birthday,” he recounts. “It’s a wonderful city and I have my favourite haunts and restaurants. It will be a real joy to be back at IBTM after so long. I’m very much looking forward to it.”

Gareth Kelly, Salesforce’s Senior Director and Head of Strategic Events EMEA will deliver ‘Building an Unshakable Business Culture: Why Tech Will Continue to Spend Big on Events’ at 09:15am on Wednesday November 30th in the Knowledge Theatre.

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Mike has been writing about the meetings and events industry for over 20 years as a former editor at Haymarket Media Group, and then as a freelance writer and editor. He currently runs his own content agency, Slippy Media, catering for a wide-range of client requirements, including social strategy, long-form, event photography, event videography, reports, blogs and ghost-written material.

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