We all know meetings don’t just happen. They take planning, company resources’ time and hard earned cash. In order to understand your meeting’s ROI, it is necessary to measure the full extent of the costs required to execute a successful meeting.
It all begins with establishing your objectives. Let’s start with the most basic of questions.
Why – What is the purpose of the meeting? What is your message? How do you want your participants to behave and feel at the conclusion of the meeting? Is there information they need to learn or people they need to meet?
What – What form will this meeting take? Will it be a half day, full day? If it’s more than one day is accommodation required?
When – When is the best time to hold this meeting? Is the message time sensitive? Do you need to consider industry / company events to avoid conflicts?
Where – Where will this meeting be held? Should it be held in your home city or out of town? Will flights be required? Where should the facility be located downtown, suburbs, an airport property?
Who – Who will be invited to this meeting, employees, suppliers, existing or potential customers?
How – How will this meeting be managed? Will a committee be established? Will an external meeting planner be hired to handle logistics?
So exactly how do the answers to these questions impact your Return on Investment?
1. Soft dollar expenses
(Often overlooked, yet they definitely represent a cost to your organization)
- Executive time (decisions/approvals)
- Mid-level managers (decisions/approvals)
- Planning committee (pre-event meetings time, individual committee members’ role)
- Meeting planner (attendance in meetings, executing the details)
- Participants (time at the meeting away from their job)
2. Hard dollar expenses
(The most visible expense area and often, mistakenly, the only cost considered when calculating ROI.)
Included in hard dollar expenses are:
- Travel and accommodation
- Meeting room rental
- Food and beverage
- Off-site evening/team building event
- Guest speakers
- Social media management
- Print and promotional materials
(Negotiate everything and track all savings.)
Below are actual savings to be tracked:
- Any reduced rates that are negotiated beyond the initial quote from a supplier
- Attach a monetary value to any value adds a venue may offer i.e. a complimentary coffee break.
- Reduced costs to outsource to the experts. Hire a professional event planner that has existing relationships with hotels, venues, and speaker bureaus. They have negotiation skills, know the right questions and have already established tools to get the job done efficiently and effectively, including budget templates, critical paths, and planning documents.
Using internal staff to plan your meeting may appear to cost less than outsourcing. However points to consider with an internal staff member is their familiarity with planning meetings and will there be a learning curve? How will this distract from their everyday duties?
4. The Bottom Line
- Knowing your true cost for the meeting is just the beginning. You also need to determine the value of your meeting objectives.
- Determine how you will measure the results.
- Survey the participants
- Did sales increase generating additional income?
- Has your sales team increased their number of sales calls?
- Did you change behaviour?
- Improve networking?
- Improve teamwork?
- Decrease operational costs?
- Improve customer service?
- Follow up in a few months with a second survey as an indicator of continued success.