After the 2008 recession, the events industry took a major hit. Companies went from having lavish parties and extravagant events to cutting down to the bare minimum. Then more than ever, event industry professionals had to consistently prove their value and the value of business events to executives and decisions makers. All of a sudden, measuring the ROI and the overall quantifiable success of events became a top priority in order to show the real value of face to face meetings and their positive effects on the bottom line.
We have come a long way since the recession, and the event industry has started to boom once again. This time around, people are spending the money, but they are much more aware and conscious about where the money is going and how it is being spent. Decision makers want to see the significance of the money they are investing, and that is when event professionals can add even more value, by showing the results, proving the success, and impacting the bottom line.
The success of an event can be defined in many ways; whether by number of attendees, information retention, cost savings, new customers, attendee engagement, negotiated costs, etc. We as industry professionals are constantly being asked to measure the success of events, but there are several ways of doing that according to the objectives of the event.
The following examples will serve as a small guideline for the multiple ways of measuring event success, and hopefully help your clients better understand the positive net effects of their investments.
Objective: Coming on or under budget
- Develop an accurate estimated budget and consistently track spending throughout the event process to allow for increased cost saving opportunities and control overspending.
- Track negotiated cost savings for a great value-add. Don’t just show the client that you saved them money, show them where and how you saved it and how it will impact the bottom line.
- Compare year after year budgets and reach concessions with hotels and other suppliers. Sometimes a net amount of savings may not be feasible, but preventing costs from going up and the budget from increasing can be just as, if not more, valuable.
- If the budget is dependent on event revenue, finding ways to increase or expand revenue opportunities and quantifying these can help justify expenses and balance the budget.
- Increase the budget! Although not always possible, if you find yourself planning an event that consistently comes over budget because of added expenses, try convincing the client to increase the budget and set realistic expectations of what can be achieved within that number.
Objective: Increasing event attendance
- Track invite lists and compare them year to year. Look for patterns on those guests who are being invited but not participating and engage them. Also identify others who are not on the invite list but may benefit and/or be interested in the event.
- Use effective online registration tools for increased attendance and better attendee tracking. User friendly registration sites can help encourage guest registrations. Effective online technology also leaves less room for error when tracking final attendance, therefore allowing for more accurate historical attendance patterns.
- Capture the right information for future increased attendance. If you record attendee details correctly on the registration site or during the on-site process, the chances of properly identifying attendees, following up with them for future business, adding them to your mailing lists, etc., allows for greater prospecting and recording of data.
Objective: Increasing sponsorship/exhibitors
- Get creative! Offer unique and attractive sponsorship packages to entice repeat and new businesses to contribute to your sponsorship initiatives and increase the overall revenue of the event.
- Offer sponsorship deals, special promotions and/or incentives for sponsors to sign early on. Not only will this allow you to increase cash flow for the event, but it will help with overall marketing tactics.
- Define your target market and approach targeted sponsors and exhibitors. Often the exclusivity
- Limit the sponsorship and exhibitors. Sometimes the end goal is not more exhibitors and sponsors, but better quality ones with increased revenue opportunities. Define your target market and approach the proper businesses with high value and engagement opportunities.
Objective: Increasing social media presence and engagement
- Create an event hashtag and incorporate it into all marketing initiatives. A hashtag allows you to follow and identify all activity around the hashtag and the event, making it a useful tool when measuring social media presence. Make the hashtag powerful, catchy, and consistent to encourage as many people as possible to use it.
- Calculate the current followership on social media pages and monitor the increased numbers throughout the promotion and planning of the event, as well as afterwards. Being able to quantify the numbers of followers, shares, likes, etc. is a great way to determine whether social media presence has increased.
- Get an app. A fantastic way of increasing social media presence and overall event engagement is to get the right app for your event. Features such as social sharing, gamification, polling and surveys, etc. are a great way to encourage social interaction between guests, and increase overall engagement.
Objective: provide valuable content
- Survey attendees post event. Allow them the opportunity to share direct feedback as to what worked and what didn’t. On-site/live polling at events is also a great way to get instant feedback on specific sessions and an easy way to measure the impact of the content.
Success can be defined in many ways and will vary greatly depending on the objectives of the event and will prove the true ROI. It is our job as event planners to use our expertise and showcase to clients the value of the event itself, as well as the value we as professionals bring to the table. The more measurable and quantifiable achievements we record, the greater the impact will be when proving to our clients their investments are worth it.