It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Or so the phrase goes in Charles Dickens’ book, A Tale of Two Cities. That’s how I often felt in my days as the event director for a small non-profit when the thrill of a great event would send me soaring but often the pain of getting there would make me so stressed and miserable that I would question “why am I doing this?!”
You get that roller coaster ride too? What are some of these “pain points” that we share as event professionals and what can we do to make it the best of times… at least more often.
What I experienced, and what other event professionals I know considered their biggest pain points of event professionals include: shrinking budgets and controlling costs, shorter lead times, not enough event staff, rapidly changing technology demands, continuing with time consuming event planning practices, and demonstrating the return on investment – ROI – to the “powers that be.” Not saying this is a complete list but this blog can only discuss so many at a time. So here we go…
The Incredible Shrinking Budget – WHAT Budget?
Shrinking budgets and controlling costs are almost enemy #1. OK you can’t hate the reality of working within a budget and controlling costs – it’s important for any company or organization to have a budget framework to work against. But it appears most event planners agree that shrinking budgets competing against rising expectations of company management, clients and attendees is a painful experience.
The “traditional” cost structure for events and meetings also has permanently disappeared in the last several years shifting the focus toward smaller gatherings of shorter duration, scheduled regionally or locally to reduce travel and expenses for event staff and attendees. Sponsorships usually geared toward large sit-down dinners and elaborate event signage often is used for less extravagant but more necessary and functional event needs. And this is just spending for the actual event itself. What if there is the need for additional event staff to plan and execute? Coffee and donuts at the local coffee shop anyone?
As event professionals we are faced with this reality so must set the tone for management, clients and attendees to reign in some less important expectations while creating memorable meetings and events. You can cope with these challenges by making small, often easy changes which appear natural and planned for the attendees.
I’m Late! I’m Late! – Shorter Lead Times
Isn’t it great to come into the office each day feeling you’re already behind the 8-ball? It isn’t fun. Event professionals invariably mention shortened lead times as one of the big pain points of event professionals. I remember thinking “this should only take a few months to make it happen” I also recall when things got crazy with all the numerous moving parts going sideways on me asking myself why I didn’t start planning sooner.
Not to make excuses, but shortened lead times are a challenge of modern event planning. Given that many organizations and companies don’t know their meeting and event budgets until the most recent fiscal results are available, the planning cycle has shrunk (along with those fun event budgets). One or two years has been reduced to a few months or weeks for event professionals to plan everything. No fun, lots of pressure, lots of pain.
However, as an event professional, you still have to work within the given time frame. So let’s shake hands with some of your challenges – like venue availability, caterers, sponsors, event personnel resources, attendee lists, marketing for attendance, competing events. The list goes on but you get the picture; you may have lived it.
Good Today, Better Tomorrow – Keeping Up with New Technology Demands
This is not a “keeping up with the Joneses” frivolous concern. Incorporating the latest and most event audience engaging technology has grown from being a novelty to critical necessity. The use of mobile devices has conditioned attendees to expect information, interactivity, and connectivity to be constantly available. A well thought-out event website now has the essentials including apps, mobile sites, and the use of the familiar social media channel buttons to enhance event and meeting attendance and attendee experience.
And now the most current disruptive technology change happening on social media with important ramifications for the event industry – live streaming. If I may quote Julius Solaris, Editor of the Event Management Blog: “The live stream revolution is happening. In the space of a few months, what used to be written is now live video. The social networks’ mantra ‘tell us what’s up’ has been replaced by ‘Show us what’s up.’ (Italics added)
And have you noticed the Pokemon Go craze? If you thought this was just a game for people with too much time on their hands, think again. This is the use of augmented reality to play a game but with wider implication for us as event professionals who want to provide attendees with the best attendee experience. Both live streaming and augmented reality are slow coming to events, but to ignore their importance – at some level in your event – is to lose out on a great engagement opportunity and a better attendee experience.
So maybe you don’t need the fanciest dinners or can eliminate that extra reception. Sometimes skimping on the necessary technology may be more detrimental to the attendee experience than that extra ounce of food and drink.
But We’ve Always Done it This Way – Using Outdated Planning Practices
Well this is one of the most painful of all pain points of event professionals. The use of multiple spreadsheets to track attendance and event financials; manual payment methods; malfunctioning databases and CRM systems; manual email invitation distribution; manual check-in (and the long lines); paper evaluation surveys. You name it, I experienced it all. Do. Not. Laugh.
So what are some of your old event planning practices you hang on to? Do you really want to keep them or do you want to move forward? OK, I get it – as event professionals we are always short on time and money and sometimes we rely on tried and true practices as it seems like the quickest or easiest thing to do. Or maybe “we’ve always done it that way” feels comfortable and taking the leap to do things differently fills you with dread.
But it’s really time to stop and reconsider. It’s time to come into the twenty-first century and lose some of those very labor intensive, extra work generating event planning practices. Break those old event habits, or at least the worse ones, and push your boundaries. When you do, you will realize that if you update your tools and choose the best modern practices to support your organization, it can lead to much better event and meeting success outcomes – with more hours in the day for you to focus on creating a better attendee experience. To work smarter and not harder and provide your attendees the best event experience, it’s time to change.
You’re Only as Good as Your Last Event – The Pursuit of Good ROI
When your event or meeting goes well, everyone will let you know and shower you with kudos. If it doesn’t go quite so well… watch out! You’ll DEFINITELY hear about it. Every planning and execution step taken is scrutinized and questioned so being ready for a successful event or meeting is essential. Sure, every event professional experiences hiccups along the way but positive ROI breathes long life into any event or meeting. But what are you measuring to determine ROI?
Proving return on investment (ROI) is the biggest struggle for event and meeting professionals. Sure you can measure the tangibles such as attendance goals met, expenses, evaluation feedback but what about the intangibles? Placing values and determining ROI on the intangibles hinge on measuring a variety of hard to measure facets and quantifying them to determine the overall effectiveness of a meeting or event. Such as how much time attendees spent in sessions, with key board members or partners or clients; how many attendees interacted with exhibitors and became customers; what about tracking social activity and attendee engagement after the event – just to name a few.
How attendees spent their time equates with interest, engagements and relationship building. Knowing this helps you create better events and to guide future action around what has proved interesting and useful to your attendees. In addition to time, knowing how many people actually interacted with exhibitors and engaged with sessions influence event attendees to return again and helps you justify the investment in your event or meeting. All these intangibles are important to ROI and a struggle sometimes to measure. Therein lays some pain for us all as event professionals.
Who Ya Gonna Call? No, Not Ghostbusters
So you’re feeling the pain and at rsvpBOOK, we’re feeling your pain too. Smaller budgets, shortened lead times, keeping up with new technology demands, stuck with labor- intensive event practices, quantifying good ROI and more. So who ya gonna call? No, not Ghostbusters.
rsvpBOOK can’t be your savior on everything. We can, however, provide you a smart, simple online event registration and event management software to save time, save money and allow you to work more efficiently to get things done right and on time in this era of increasing constraints but high expectations. And, the versatility of rsvpBOOK event management software meets your needs no matter the event type or size, from professional training meetings and workshops to large conferences.
Our powerful software brings together all the online registration and event management, marketing, onsite check-in, evaluation and attendee feedback reports, online payment processing tools you need into a single place. We help you streamline your event processes from beginning to end. No need to duplicate information, manually process, and drag huge binders of forms with you everywhere. rsvpBook has you covered so your event can manage itself. Smart. Simple. Efficiently.
So ditch the spreadsheets and reduce the paperwork! Alleviate some of the pain points of event professionals. Save your time and money, so you can use it to take care of more demanding matters and focus on what’s important – creating the best event and valuable attendee experience imaginable.
Come try us at www.rsvpBOOK.com Work smarter, not harder.