For the events industry, 2011 will be a year of resolutions. It seems the harder times become, the more we resolve to do something about it. And like many New Year’s past, we already know what to do. We just get complacent and forget. This year we don’t have that luxury. The old way of operating an event, expo, congress or trade show will be left behind in the 00’s. Skip the fad diets that promise to deliver quick results and quirky technologies that promise success. Here are our
10 best ways to make your events better, cheaper, faster and greener in 2011 and beyond:
1. Use technology, but only as a tool. There are several technologies that can help create better event communication and connectivity, but you must have a solid foundation of information. It is this information that allows your attendees to come back and connect with people, products and ideas they found useful. People vote with their eyes and mouse clicks and the sooner you can capture this information, the sooner your sponsors and vendors will pay you for the opportunity to connect with the right attendees using the right messages.
2. Knowledge is power. Events are all about information. How many came, who liked the speaker, is this room big enough? What if you could get your data in real time to improve an event in progress? For example, if a speaker is presenting three times and after the first time you get useful feedback, wouldn’t it be nice to make some adjustments before the other two presentations? Your attendees decided to come to your event this year, reward them with the best event experience you can create.
3. A list is just a list. Since when did a list of names constitute qualified leads or interested people? Scrutinize any area of your event that does not return some level of qualification information. Start by looking at how attendees connect with one another and see if there’s a way you can help facilitate those connections. Look at social networking tools. It’s the best place to see benefit from this emerging trend.
4. Eliminate paper and become smarter. The only brochure that tells you it’s being read is the one on-line. Going green is more than saving trees, budgets, and reducing carbon footprints. Electronic materials are a critical component of the qualification process for expo vendors, speakers and sponsors. Look for ways to make it easier to engage with your event without the bag of paper. On-line information tells us who, what and when which leads to why and how.
5. Events are no longer controlled by the event producer. Every attendee and exhibitor has a public voice (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that can turn a small incident into a catastrophe or a nice event into the best conference ever. By being engaged and nurturing the communications going on in the background, you can encourage event participants to help sell and promote “their” event by owning a part of the conversation and creating a more meaningful experience.
6. Content is King. Virtual and web-based events are competing more than ever with live events. Work with the subject matter experts to deliver high-quality content and a unique event experience. Get the speakers involved early and make them part of the online conversation. Invite them to participate in the event social network and set up a method for them to meet-and-greet attendees. And most importantly, make sure you’ve spoken with and coordinated your speaker’s needs to eliminate the last-minute fire drill.
7. KISS (Keep it simple). People gravitate toward simple and easy things that are worth the effort. For example, many people have a LinkedIn or Facebook profile that they keep up to date. Tools that make use of existing information make it easier for people to participate. High levels of participation in social networking lead to better and successful events.
8. CFOs are your new marketing partner. If you can’t prove it, it won’t get funded. You should be able to communicate the types of return on investment created for each stakeholder group. Then align yourself with the venues, vendors, participants, exhibitors and attendees who are looking for the types of ROI you can provide. Solid partnerships based on shared expectations is a recipe for great success.
9. Monitoring other people’s costs. You’ve worked hard to cut costs and be frugal around your event, but what about the vendors? If 300 vendors in an expo are going to spend $300 to rent a piece of equipment that generates a list (and you know how we feel about lists) ask yourself what would $90,000 spent differently do to help the vendors and the event. By eliminating paper brochures you run a greener meeting, but you also trim an average of $5,000 out of each vendor’s costs for design, printing, shipping, drayage and storage the average materials sent to a show. Multiplied by 300 vendors that’s $1,500,000 in savings in your event alone.
10. And now a word from the sponsors. Sponsors are the ones who make up the difference in dollars between the event you can afford and the one attendees want. Those sponsors want many of the same things as the other groups. As you make better habits for gathering real time event information, the opportunity to turn that information into sponsor revenue is the next frontier. Simply placing logos on signage isn’t going to get the sponsors to keep stepping up. They want more of a partnership with the event and a relationship with the attendees. The more you know about your event, the better equipped you will be to offer sponsors the custom programs they desire.