If we’re going to talk about increasing the ROI of an event, we first have to understand in which areas we can make the most significant impact. So let’s dissect your typical business-oriented event and define what attributes the most to their ROI. Events can be split up into two big components:
- The right content: Location, decoration, catering, speaker line-up, entertainment, etc. Basically, everything that is meant to create the right experience.
- The right guests: Everyone who is invited to and/or interacting with the event, through event marketing
Now, for a fairly simple exercise: Which of these two components is your ticket to heaven when it comes to high ROI events? If you guessed “The right guests”, you’re right on the money (quite literally, even). After all, what good is a fully outfitted conference hall filled with absolutely no one? On the other hand, bring a couple of people purposefully together and you have something to work with. Mind you; we’re not saying that the content isn’t important, of course. It has a direct impact on the cost side of your ROI of course, but also a considerable influence over what draws people to a certain event in the first place. Whether it’s the event program, the location, or even the look and feel of the invitation, people’s enthusiasm can be triggered by quite a number of things. So you can never attribute 100% of the ROI potential of your event to the right guests .The right content will always be in service of the right guests and not the other way around. Now, when it comes to the right guests, four key factors define its success:
- Quantity: Is your attendance at full capacity or exceeding it? Yes? Great. No? Hmm.
- Quality: Ideally, you are able to lock in the high-end guests you really want at your event, not just the ones that were “easy to get.”
- Engagement: This is where your business developers come into play; before, during and after.
- Control and cooperation: To achieve all of the above in a cost-effective, time-saving way.
Needless to say, these are all very much intertwined. A lot of quality guests might fuel your sales team to up their engagement game, while more engagement might lead to better quality guests, for example.
The most obvious challenge is filling chairs, of course. You need a full house or exceed your flex goal if you want to call attendance rate a success. But what if a considerable amount of chairs seem to stay empty? Do you have an activation plan in the chamber to fire off when needed? What about no-shows? Do you have an idea of the likelihood an attendee will actually be present? Can you confidently assign a likely no-show’s seat to someone else?
While the ROI of increasing the quantity can be measured in exact numbers, the ROI potential of the quality isn’t so straightforward to determine. What defines qualitative guests? Well, as we covered in the introduction, it depends. As the ROI is subject to the goals of your event, so is the quality of your attendance. You might want your best customers to be present, or rather have your most promising prospects come over. Or both, even. Whatever the desired profiles are, you’ll prefer the top of the list, the tier-one invitees, to be present at all costs. These can change from event to event, of course. Not every event has the same purpose and consequently doesn’t require the same kind of tier-one guests.
What good is having an expensive porcelain tea set when you’re not going to use it? The same goes for your high-end guest list. Getting everyone you desire at the same location, at the same time, is no small feat. It takes a really solid pre-communication strategy to achieve this. So if you then went through all this trouble to get the guests at your event and then leave them at the mercy of your program or entertainment, the missed opportunities will stack up quickly. As we said earlier, the majority of live events are all about strengthening professional relationships and generating new business opportunities. The event in itself can not achieve this for your organisation. You need your people on the floor, making sure your guests feel the value of their presence, and chatting about how they maybe could be of service to one another. Even after the event is over, engaging with your guests (and even the no-shows) is vital if you want to create as much opportunity, and consequently ROI, as you possibly can.
This fourth challenge encapsulates all of the previous ones, in a way. Because while everything sounds perfectly reasonable in theory, it’s the execution that truly brings out the challenges and frustrations. Just as you sit around the table defining the look-and-feel, catering, music, line-up … you need have as much, if not more, attention to your event marketing to ace the three previous aspects: When will you send out the invites? Who’s responsible for what part of the list? How will you keep the overview? What about the no-shows? What role does the sales team play? How do you keep them up to date? How do you streamline their communication towards customers? Who will take care of whom during the event? How will you know if someone has arrived? What will you communicate to who when the event is over? … We can go on and on, and so can you if you think about it for a moment. Too often, these things tend to get overlooked or don’t get the effort they require.