By Niesa Silzer
If you are responsible for planning and executing your organization’s events, then you know first-hand how much work, time and money goes into managing a successful event. Without a doubt, you’ve needed more resources – staff, time, information – but in today’s economy many organizations are unable to allocate additional personnel to their budgets.
While resources may be limited, internal planners must continue to meet the need for creative and memorable event experiences, and deliver a return on investment. A planner must be strategic and innovative – whatever their resources.
Have you considered outsourcing your next event? Outsourcing all or parts of your event to professional event planners allows you to successfully and cost-effectively plan and enjoy your event. Professional event planners are available when you need them, but not part of your payroll. Expert event planners can assist your team with everything from venue management, to program to production management to menus. They are available to work with you on a single project, as well as contract for extended periods of time.
An event professional’s knowledge, skills and contacts allow you to ramp up your event planning resources and deliver events that are successful, cost-effective and memorable. Often organizations have a single person responsible for event planning. Outsourcing provides additional team members and back-ups when planning meetings and events.
Helps save time and money
Outsourcing some or all of your event management to an outside event planning company can save you money. An outside event planner has contacts, resources and relationships with vendors, venues and suppliers that can save your company money and time. An event professional has expertise in multiple types of events and budgets and can make recommendations and offer alternatives based on years of experience.
What elements of your event can you outsource?
Finding the perfect venue can be a challenge. Site selection services from a professional event planner may include:
- Understanding your meeting location needs, preferences and budget
- Presenting the venue options that best match your requirements
- Assisting with venue contract negotiations
- Trouble-shooting venue issues during your event
There are many organizations that handle site selection, and this is often an area where there may be zero to no cost to your organization. Some site selection companies are paid a commission from the venue, so there is little or no risk to the client. Other event professionals will build site selection into a larger contract at a set project fee or hourly rate. Both instances are useful and both methods will provide you with a well-conceived, well-negotiated contract for your venue.
Understanding and executing the perfect production is another challenge, especially if you do not fully understand the audio-visual aspect and how to script an event. Production management services may include:
- Understanding your program and the messaging that you need to relay to your attendees
- Working with audio-visual suppliers to create the best technical setup, with the best service and fees for what you need
- Creating scripts for speakers and scripts for the technical team
- Creating visuals so that your screens are never blank and have a consistent look and feel that matches your branding
- Managing the event so that it is seamless (i.e. your speakers are onstage when they should be, and off when they should be)
It’s hard to manage your plenary session when you have 10 people complaining that they’ve just run out of coffee, a new person who wants to register and a boss who wants to set up an important meeting with a new supplier who has also just arrived. Outsourcing the production management allows you to focus on the myriad other details of your event while knowing that your ballroom is being well handled.
This is an area that is increasing in popularity and can be intimidating for in-house event professionals. Outsourcing digital events to an event professional could include the following services:
- Developing a digital strategy for your events – before, during and after
- Determining what type of digital event you require – live streaming, webinar, hybrids, live on demand, etc.
- Determining the best technology to meet your needs
- Working with your speakers to meet the needs of a virtual audience
- Monetizing your virtual event
- Moderating a virtual audience
Many events are now incorporating a mobile app, but planners don’t have the extra hours in the day to learn how to best develop and execute the mobile app. This is an area where you’ll benefit from event professionals who have “been there, done that” and know the ins and outs of a mobile app. Services for outsourcing an app may include:
- Sourcing the best mobile app for your event (beyond just features)
- Building the content for the app
- Monetizing the app
The whole event: Event management companies can be used for pieces of your event, or they can be there from site selection to evaluation. You may find the most value in this strategy, especially if you need advice and assistance in a multitude of areas.
When hiring an event planning company:
- Ask colleagues for a recommendations: Word of mouth, referrals, professional organizations and satisfied clients are your best resources for hiring an experienced event planning company.
- Provide information on your event and budget: An event professional can do a better job of “pitching” for your business if they correctly understand your event needs.
- Interview several event planners: Understanding the industry and meeting your candidates will help you find a qualified event professional that has the right personality and fit for your business. “Fit” is a critical factor when partnering.
- Check references: Don’t just rely on recommendations, after selecting a preferred event planning agency ask for references. A professional will be delighted to share customer names and provide testimonials.
- Verify expertise: How many years has the event planner been in business? Have they had professional event planning training? What professional organizations do they belong to? Have they received industry recognition such as awards, certifications, or nominations?
- Negotiate and put it in writing: A contract with specified milestones, payment terms and dates and clear event goals and expectations assures that both partners have a clear understanding of your agreement. Make sure you understand how your selected event professional is going to be paid. Most will work for hourly or project management fees, but others work on a variety of commissions. Be sure you are clear with your expectations and what your budget limits are for the services of the planners.
- Ask how suppliers are paid: Are they paid by you, with original invoices being sent to you, or are you paying the event planning company and they are paying the supplier? If an event professional is also making money from up-charging supplier services, you have a right to know before you sign a contract.
Event professionals are ready to help your organization. They have the skills, expertise and experience to create strategic events that create a good return on your investment. In today’s challenging times, consider bringing an event professional to your table to make your next event more cost effective, more engaging and meeting more of your goals.
About the author
Niesa Silzer, MHA, DES is President of Details Convention & Event Management, a full-service event planning company with over 27 years of experience based in Calgary, Alberta. A strong history allows their team to know what works and what doesn’t. An ongoing commitment to learning means they bring the latest and greatest ideas, technology and tips to the table. For more information, visit www.detailsinc.ca or contact Niesa at [email protected] or 403-277-7377.