Fintech giant Square hosted a unique two-day “Almost Xmas Event" experience for their small business customers in Dublin at the end of October. To find out more about the event idea, strategy and results, we chatted with William Egan, Integrated Marketing Manager & Brand Planning Lead at Square.
Square, the leading financial services platform which has revolutionised business transactions and operations for SMEs worldwide over the past decade, has taken a novel approach to customer experience and engagement. In October 2023, the company hosted its first "Almost Xmas Event" in Dublin, a unique pre-holiday celebration that combined festive fun with serious business insights for their small businesses segment. Intrigued by the innovative and unique concept of the event, we reached out to William Egan, Integrated Marketing Manager & Brand Planning Lead at Square, who spearheaded the initiative to learn a bit more about the project initiation and execution processes.
According to William, the idea of the event was to reflect Square's commitment to understanding and supporting its small business clientele, particularly in the lead-up to one of the year's busiest seasons. Read William's complete interview below.
The idea behind Square’s "Almost Xmas Event"
The idea for the "Almost Xmas Event" was born out of a unique blend of factors. Recognising that the Food and Beverage industry begins planning for the festive season as early as October, Square saw an opportunity to connect with this sector in a meaningful way. The event also sought to leverage the seasonal shift post-Halloween, aiming to stand out by launching a bit earlier than the typical Christmas rush. Furthermore, the event aligned perfectly with Square's messaging platform, "Everything Your Business Needs, Almost," which underscores Square's comprehensive yet practical solutions for businesses.
The event’s key features and objectives
The event was designed to merge a brand experience with informative and entertaining elements, all wrapped in a festive ambiance. It featured an "Almost Christmas" one-off restaurant in collaboration with the Dublin-based Japanese-style restaurant, Nomo Ramen, which put a Japanese spin on the traditional turkey Christmas dinner. In addition to a unique dining experience, the event provided local restaurant operators with a complete showcase of Square's full-service ordering system, including its Terminal hardware and digital kitchen display capabilities.
Panel discussions with local restaurateurs and a fireside chat with Dublin-born Robin Gill from Darby’s in London were also part of the event programme, providing some unique insights into how the industry could prepare best for the hectic Christmas period ahead.
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Challenges and innovations
According to William, the initiative posed a number of challenges for his team, particularly in navigating the event’s communications and driving registrations, as Square was still expanding its presence in Ireland following its fairly recent launch in the country back in 2021. To overcome these, the team decided to deviate from the typical conference-style format for such events and opted for the rather unusual round table dining experience.
“Usually, events have a conference style open seating and the average RSVP vs attendance is about 30%. Our seating model which was round table dining went against any best practice as we had to ensure a set capacity. What the team had to do was bring that average of 30% right up to 90%.”
As mentioned earlier, all ordering and kitchen management during the event was also powered by Square’s own tech system showcasing its ease and efficiency and offering attendees to experience the "full Square experience" in real life.
“All guests were able to see how efficient and easy to use our system is. We essentially created a restaurant for one night only. During the panel discussion we even went live into the kitchen where Kevin from Nomo Ramen walked the guests through how the system works seamlessly from table to kitchen.”
The event's success was primarily measured by the positive feedback received from attendees. Square aimed for participants to leave with a favourable impression of the brand, along with enjoyable culinary experiences and memorable stories.
Will there be another “Almost Xmas Event” in 2024?
Looking ahead, Square intends to make the "Almost Christmas" event an annual fixture on the industry's calendar. Plans for future events include expanding the scope, working closely with industry members and trade organisations, and exploring new culinary and beverage options to showcase the diversity of Dublin's cuisine.
“We are looking to make it an annual event and pin on the industry's calendar. Who doesn’t love Christmas? Speaking to people on the night there is still plenty to learn from them and we stay in touch with many of the panelists. Business owners in many ways are the best spokespeople for Square so it is important we share their experience of Square.”
Square's “Almost Xmas Event” is the perfect example of how fintechs could use events not only to demonstrate their products and solutions and educate the market but also to create unique truly engaging experiences that build long-lasting customer impressions and relationships.