Are you finding your budgets slim, non-existent, and
efforts wasted when executing an event?
Can’t seem to capitalize upon,
and learn anything from, your past meetings and conferences?
Be it a monthly, quarterly, or annual meeting,
conference, board meeting, event or convention – in a world where
corporate expenses are increasingly scrutinized – it
all boils down to your Return on Investment (ROI).
Even if you are fortunate enough to have a budget when
planning your program; without knowing the goals and objectives
you intend to achieve, you will have wasted your efforts,
money, and the valuable time of your company and work colleagues.
The one sure way to get attention and add fuel for thought
when a company is planning and executing a program is to
ask . . . Why are we getting together?
How do you maximize your ROI?
· First, take a poll from prospective attendees prior to
establishing the venue and program and ask: What are
your expectations? Also review the crucial feedback at
the close of your last program if you should have it
· Via email or “snail” mail,
address a short one-page document to the attendees that
the main points of the program, including an overall perspective
and goals of the program. Even if the intent of the program
is for socialization and comradery, make this clear.
· Once the goals are established,
move into executing and planning your program by researching
match your needs and criteria. After selecting a property
venue, make sure you understand what is being asked of
you from your company and the hotel when working with
a hotel or venue.
· Remember, ROI does not only involve dollars.
A key element of ROI is making sure there is enough time
for networking, and if applicable, allowing your guests
the opportunity to see the area at large. Research shows
that companies are finding more and more that if there
isn’t an element of mixing and mingling, attendees
get frustrated and loose interest.
· If you don’t have the time, or the resources
to plan an event or meeting, hire an expert meeting planner.
When planning a program with any budget, hiring an experienced
meeting/event manager can prevent headaches, and more importantly,
unexpected costs. Look for years of experience, credibility
and programs executed. A “Wedding Planner” is
drastically different from an “Event/Meeting Planner,” so
make sure to ask questions when outsourcing this function.
They are versed in the industry and have probably planned
the same types of conferences and meetings you desire so
you won’t be reinventing the wheel.
· ROI can’t always be measured immediately.
But, a key to achieving this goal is always to record a
history after each meeting, including an evaluation from
the attendees. If there’s not enough time to do so
at the event, take advantage of today’s ever-changing
technology: meeting planners are taking advantage of Palm
Pilot and Blackberry technology to collect immediate feedback
while guests are leaving the property or waiting for their
flights. Develop a pattern of feedback and utilize your
findings to your advantage.
Ways to Save:
Companies are no longer having meetings
just to have them. They are piggy-backing on their existing
programs to get
more “bang for their buck” – saving money
on airfare, hotels and food and beverage. Some other cost-saving
· Knowing your budget (if you are
lucky enough to have one) and what you can and can not
do. And, be
flexible; optional dates can allow your hotel or facility
· Although some shutter at the thought,
it is sometimes common place for corporations to ask
their staff to double-up
in sleeping rooms in an effort to reduce spending if
travel is involved.
· Ask your facility catering manager what companies
are holding their events on the same days or nights and
maybe capitalize on existing menus. Make sure your competition
hasn’t already planned an event on your day or you
may lose your attendees to the ballroom next door!
Words to the Wise:
· Treat your hotel staff and contacts as you would
people in your own workplace – with respect and courtesy.
Remember; they are partnering with you to give you the
best service to your guests. They can be a tremendous resource
for mitigating “damages” you will miss with
the demands on you during the event.
· Roadside construction and other obstacles might prohibit
your guests from getting to the location where your meeting
is being held. Make sure to ask the property about this
as well as inquiring about citywide events that might
inconvenience your guests.
No matter if you’re a Fortune 500 company, professional
firm, association, non-profit, or hotelier; when planning
a function, you want a “win-win” formula for
you and your attendees. The “win” is providing
a cost-effective program with value-added information,
coupled with the “win” of your attendee’s
desire to come back for next year’s program. You
want them to walk away feeling that they have gained information
and are refreshed and recharged with the tools to help
them succeed in, and out of, your workplace.
Todd Schwartz is a certified meeting planner (CMP) and
president and founder of
The Professional Planner Group, a full-service, meeting,
event, and incentive management company. PPG possesses
over 30 years of collective experience in
the industry, and partners with hoteliers and vendors across
for companies seeking to plan and execute a meeting or
event. To contact Mr. Schwartz please contact GCG
Event Partners at 781-279-9887.