Positioning for Profit – Protect your budget and drive event profitability

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Stop spending so much money on things that don’t matter – When was the last time you conducted a post-event budget analysis looking for leaks in your money bucket?  From those that we’ve spoken with, they do a formal financial review after every single event and not just from a ‘how much did we spend and how much did we lose’ perspective.  Instead, they conduct a formal ‘waste analysis’ looking for areas both large asmall that don’t materially contribute to the event bottom line.  They look for things that compare how information is distributed (paper vs. electronic) and calculate the overall impact.  How about F&B guarantees? Did you over purchase, under deliver and spend more than you had to?  How about some of your other vendors that walk away from your event with more money in their pocket than is necessary?  What we heard wasn’t focused on being penny-pinchers but instead, being wise about what impacts your event most and then spending wisely around that.

Start spending money on the things that DO matter –  Specifically, those things that make the biggest impact on the goals for your event.  If yours is a conference that is driven by speakers, then spend some cash to make sure you’ve got the best in your field. But, along with that, make sure that your speakers are doing double duty, before and after the event.  Engage their social following, have them contribute to the overall conversation and maximize the spend they’re earning by helping your event grow.  And while a great deal of focus is on reducing paper (typically a good thing), don’t forget the paper that’s needed like impactful signage, badges that are packed with information (front, back and on the inside folds) and other areas that make a difference.  A good example of this is how Disneyworld does things.  Their laser focus on customer service isn’t cheap, but it also makes an impact and it’s why ‘The Disney Way‘ has become the gold standard throughout the hospitality industry.

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Use an event technology that gives you meaningful information – The events industry brings in a lot of money, and now, more than ever, event producers have the ability to tap into that revenue stream by using technology. Terry Sutherland makes some great points in Unravelling Event Industry Statistics for Corporate Event PlannersHe states that “One of the most telling event industry statistics points to the increased use of technology as a crucial tool for event planners.”  But it isn’t enough to know what’s going on. . . you can also monetize that data by tapping into the concepts around Return on Actionsm and providing your exhibitors, speakers and sponsors with information they value and will purchase that unlocks your event’s profitability.

Make the event worth while for exhibitors – One revenue source is exhibitors at a trade show. However, exhibitors will pick the events to attend that they see the most value in or that are the most budget friendly.  But most of all, your exhibitors are selecting their spend based on the results they get from your event. By using technology, you can offer a Virtual Booth for exhibitors and can offer them valuable data about their booth visitors- another significant source of revenue, opportunity and profitability.

Here’s an obvious one. . . Listen to your attendees – By utilizing attendee feedback and adjusting your event in real time, as well as utilizing that information to enhance your next events, you are working to keep your attendees happy and showing them that you value their input. When attendees are happy, engagement and attendance go up– which are both good for profits.

Save money by looking at the little things – In an example by Associates Now, the publication states, “Look for the little things. One association with a 1,000-person meeting served continental breakfast every day, including fresh fruit, which was included at a single board member’s insistence. Not surprisingly, removing the fruit from those breakfasts could have saved the organization $27,000, plus.  “And that’s a meeting for 1,000. Imagine a meeting for 5,000 or 6,000,” says the author. “I’m never saying you want a cheap meeting … you want a wow meeting. But you want to look at everything and see, can you still put on a great breakfast without the fruit?”

Draw from Internal Resources – A really great article written by BizBash summarizes a number of ways to be money smart: Whether you’re working with a nonprofit or a corporation, look at the client’s resources. “You’ve got to really analyze the existing partners or collaborators on a project. What type of resources do they have that can help benefit an event? Do they have extra money? Do they have extra hands? Do they have equipment?”  For one event, that author used a literary nonprofit’s books to create eye-catching centerpieces. For another, it meant avoiding nearly $11,000 in rental and sound fees when he discovered his corporate client had an inventory of 20 televisions that he could use for free.

Gift Bag, Schmift Bag…do you know how expensive those things are? – If you look at all of the frivolous spending that goes on at your event (ala the post-event financial waste analysis), you’ll quickly see that in the opinion of the event professionals we spoke with, the gift bag is the most expensive and least impactful aspect of any event. Their suggestion, why are event producers providing people with bags that either end up at the beach or in the land fill?  Do away with it and instead, award your attendees with goodies once they’ve contributed back to the event.  For instance, each month’s #eventsTOM has a winner based on their thoughts and contributions.  How about rewarding attendees for participating in the session live poll or completing the evaluations? And, while we’re not big fans of scavenger hunts (since they incent the wrong behavior), we’re big fans of social content that drives the goals of your event and awarding attendees with special gifts, or invitations to receptions and parties.

Don’t Shade Your Eyes. . . . – Since the events industry, in general, has some of the most creative and innovative people working in it, one of our best sources of knowledge and information can come from, you guessed it, each other. And, while this article talks about observing your compatriots and competitors in the realm of social media, that can certainly hold true in terms of innovative approaches to budgets and profits.  Did someone in your company utilize an innovative event technology that not only saved money but also generated profitability? How about the venue manager, what did they learn from the last event that you can apply to yours?   There’s a lot to know and even more to consider so by all means, watch your competitors and borrow the best.

Nicolette Anderson for Busyevent.com

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