Event Planning Strategy Guide

Aventri is privileged to work with thousands of event and meeting planners each year. We interviewed thought leaders from around the world and listened to customers at events to help us create a guide that combines all we know to identify key trends. This guide contains best practices from technology, banking, higher education, and other industries that can be used in your company.

Four themes are common to meeting and event professionals as they plan their events every year. These themes help them connect with customers and attendees better.

  • Automate event-related tasks with the event management process
  • Optimized on- and offline event experiences can improve events
  • Using expense planning and cost savings to optimize your spending on events and meetings, you can maximize your spending
  • Align meetings with corporate marketing, sales, or marketing strategy
  • Aventri’s Event Strategy Framework was developed based on these best practices. This comprehensive guide was created to help you create the 2021 Event Strategy Framework. It outlines four levels of connections that are required to make the best events and meetings teams.

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Event Strategy Framework

These themes all have a common thread: gathering and analyzing event data in order to improve outcomes and events. Follow the data and KPIs as we break down these four themes to learn why they are important and how understanding them helped improve decision-making.

These four best practices were derived from conversations with event and meeting planners who tried to understand the customer’s perspectives on their events. You should be able to identify the gaps in your event strategy plan and have the framework to create a roadmap to address them. These tools will make it easier to run events that are more profitable, efficient, and focused on your business’s goals.

Event Automation Makes Events Easier

“Event automation” is the use of connected solutions to automate manual tasks and make it easier to manage meetings and events.

Today’s event teams are using best practices that combine connected solutions, fewer manual tasks, and easier management. This is how each element plays an important role in event automation.

Connected Solutions

Event automation is about how multiple solutions can be used together to improve a company’s overall event company Manchester. To ensure event management solutions are in sync with all departments, planners work with finance, marketing, IT, and sales. To provide a better view of customers, constituents, and the market, they are linking their solutions to marketing automation platforms, CRM systems, accounting software, as well as other tools from the technology stack.

One prestigious university in the UK was using several small systems to call for papers and register delegates for its year-round conferences. To simplify the user experience for conference attendees, the university decided to consolidate all of its systems. The university created workflows to automate business processes using their event software. These workflows were offered platform-wide for all conferences or events.

Data leveraged: Data from the delegation journey

Best Practice: Consolidate multiple systems to one central event system, which stores all delegate journey information. This will allow the events team visibility and improve the delegate experience.

Reducing manual tasks

Event automation frees events teams from low-value, tactical tasks. This allows them to spend more time on the events.

One of the most important global providers of employee benefits and insurance offers thousands of workshops to corporate employees all over the globe. Automating email and website templates will ensure that each workshop and communication with employees is consistent, clean, and consistent. They are now consolidating reports from multiple sources into one dashboard. Instead of spending large amounts of time pulling them out, they can track attendance, no-shows, convert attendees to appointments, and monitor waitlists. Their resource coordinator has been able to save around 1,500 hours over the past year.

Data leveraged: Attendance data, no show data, and conversion rates for appointments

Best Practice: Website and email templates, centralized reports and automated tasks reduce manual task burdens. This will free up thousands of hours for event teams.

Management made easy

Each person has their own way of completing certain tasks. This can lead to confusion in a team if the person responsible for a task isn’t available on a particular day. Automating your event tasks can be done in a way that is easy to follow, regardless of who is doing them.

Multinational cybersecurity provider organizes hundreds of meetings each year across the globe in many languages, currencies, or departments. It was difficult to manage all these meetings. There were many employees involved and groups that had to coordinate across different systems. They were able to consolidate their marketing and registration into one platform through a custom-designed solution. This global events calendar distributed the information. To find the perfect event, visitors can search and sort this calendar by topic, date range, language, or location.

Global executives and department heads can now track global metrics and receive reports automatically on registration numbers by type and location. This allows them to identify the best performing events and make adjustments to their meetings and event strategies.

Data leveraged: Data about events, including languages, currencies and departments, dates, locations, or topics

Best Practice: To manage all details of events globally, automate them through a central hub.

Designing and Improving the Attendee Experience

Making the attendee experience better will lead to better experiences in the future and develop a team that is more experience-focused. These elements can be used to create different experiences.

More Experiences

The attendee experience maps offline touchpoints to ensure that each one is optimized for a specific outcome. This requires a deep understanding of your constituents, their preferences, and their needs. It can lead to emotional connections between a brand and its constituents when done correctly.

A university in America wanted to make the annual basketball tournament more enjoyable for alumni, students, staff, and fans. The mobile app was developed by the university to manage pre-game celebrations, donor events, Sunday church services, and other details. The university’s development team was able to track invitations, monitor participants, and send the appropriate resources to the right events based on the location of alumni and donors. They received 3,000 downloads in the first year.

Data leveraged: Event attendance, donor lists, and fan engagement metrics

Best Practice: An event mobile app allows college sports fans to engage during sporting events. It provides real-time updates about events and notifications.

Better Future Experiences

The attendee experience captures offline information such as session attendance, session quality, business card contact data, and session quality. This data is not just aggregated and reported. Great event and meeting leaders use this information to make better events in the future.

A leader in cloud infrastructure and digital tech, Australia holds events for customers around the world that aim to empower their clients to use emerging technology. They used RFID and smart tags technology to track more than 200 sessions in order to better understand their customers. They were able to build more intimate relationships with their customers after the event by linking conversations back to sessions and programs attended. They were also able to iterate sessions based upon feedback and attendee activity. This resulted in an average of one more opportunity per customer per fiscal year and 10% less churn.

Data leveraged: Metrics of the attendee journey, session quality, pipeline, customer satisfaction

Best Practice: To improve customer experiences, track customer preferences and activity.

More empowered teams

When team members have the right information about the attendees at the right moment, it improves the attendee experience. Marketing and sales can position themselves and their services using the information they have about prospects and customers to generate business opportunities.

One global asset management company holds investor conferences in different parts of the globe. To track which sessions investors were attending, they used session monitoring. The session data was immediately shared with the sales team. A member of the sales team would contact an investor within five minutes after a session was over. This allowed them to know what sessions they attended, the subject matter they studied, and how long they stayed there, which resulted in a 10% increase in assets for each investor who attended.

Data leveraged: Attendance at sessions, follow-up time, revenue growth

Best Practice: Within five minutes of the session’s conclusion, Sales contacts session attendees to collect feedback and offer additional opportunities.

Optimizing Meeting and Event Spend

Each meeting and event planner receives a budget. CFOs look for tangible returns on their investment. Planners who are savvy understand all the costs, both direct and indirect, that can be cut, replaced, or eliminated. They can negotiate event costs for teams of planners, speed up venue sourcing processes, and provide insight and analysis on event spend.

Cost savings for venues that are negotiated

Because major hotel chains have reduced their commissions, business models are changing. The sourcing landscape is also changing. Travel and sourcing agents must be able to show their impact on cost savings. This is crucial for their survival. Finance often requires that internal sourcing teams be able to justify technology spending.

After recent commission cuts by suppliers, an international meeting solutions company wanted to keep its business book. To review the impact of negotiated cost savings, they scheduled quarterly business reviews with 100 top accounts. They broke down savings by meeting space costs, room rates, and concessions. They were able to prove that clients had saved 12x on average. Their venue sourcing solution allowed their team to negotiate more efficiently and easily report on the results.

Data leveraged: Rates for rooms, meeting spaces, meals and beverages, and concessions

Best Practice: Your team can negotiate better rates and show the cost savings achieved.

You can find venues faster

Sourcing venues can be a time-consuming task for large groups of meeting planners. This results in backlogs of meeting requests and less meetings being held. Leading planning agencies are increasingly looking for solutions that include RFP fulfillment.

Multinational computer technology company holds thousands of events both for internal and external audiences. They encountered a bottleneck during the RFP process which limited their ability to plan and executes each event properly. They hired a venue sourcing service that employed sourcing specialists who were committed to following up RFPs and ensuring strong quality and quantity bids. The time it took to implement an RFP process was cut by 20% after the first year, leading to 10% more customer events.

Data leveraged: RFP Process length, response time, and response rate

Best Practice: To ensure fast response and high response rates, follow up on all requests for proposals within 24 hours.

Event Spend Oversight

A large group of planners can manage a high number of events and meetings. Having different processes can lead to cost increases. Leaders in the planning industry have complete control over all bids, negotiations, and dollars spent. They can make real-time decisions about spending based upon trends and forecasts with this data centralized in a dashboard.

Fortune 500 financial investment management and insurance companies host thousands of meetings annually at investor and client sites. Executives can view all meetings in progress and communicate with meeting owners via their venue sourcing software from a single location. Meeting owners are able to review the data and gain insight weekly. This allows them to adjust their processes in an agile manner. The meeting owners have experienced a 10% to 20% increase in the negotiated cost savings.

Data leveraged: Meeting owner data cost savings, and negotiations

Best Practice: Use a central dashboard to track meeting and sourcing progress, and gain insight from the data to improve negotiated cost savings.

Aligning Meetings and Events to Your Strategy

Strategies for global events are strategies that help organizations achieve a greater goal. To analyze the performance against the goal, organizations must have visibility into their meetings. Each event should have a positive financial impact while minimizing risk for the business and ensuring compliance. Meetings and events can be used as strategic tools to move the business forward when they are done this way.

Visibility and collaboration

It is difficult for organizations to have visibility into the data needed to effectively manage meetings and events. Many times data is scattered across multiple systems and workflows. This results in less collaboration because everyone is using a different system and doesn’t know what the other is doing. Centralizing data and bringing systems together can lead to financial efficiency and sharing best practices within an organization.

The campus of a top-ranked American university boasts over 400 planners. The university’s officers realized that there was a way to consolidate their many events and meetings within one platform. The university created an events platform that allowed planners to share best practices and formalize their processes through one platform. The department was now able to view the events that supported it, as well as key metrics, which allowed them to understand their performance and identify new ways of driving the metrics forward.

Data leveraged: Data about event workflow, expenses, class registration, and revenue

Best Practice: You can create templates for events that you can copy into new workflows depending on the number of users using the solution.

Accuracy of Event

Forecasting events and meeting spend can be difficult. There are many moving pieces and many expenses that must be understood after an event has occurred. They are essential for finance, as functional teams depend on them. Shareholders expect them to be correct. It is crucial to have a system in place that limits the possibility of errors.

An event is held by a top data storage and computer company to help with their sales and marketing efforts. Marketing or sales leaders had to determine the cost of the event and the expected return when a request was made. Events can be prioritized according to audience exposure, pipeline expectations, or customer retention. The event platform could allow the leaders to integrate their CRM so they can track their progress towards their goals and meet their targets. After two years of implementation, event expenses and results were within 2% of the forecast.

Data leveraged: Budgeting variance, currency rates, and expenses

Best Practice: Track the revenue from every event dollar and track its impact on marketing and sales goals.

Compliance and Risk Mitigation

Event data is often the most sensitive data within a company. This data is usually captured offsite and shared in public forums. It can also be stored on mobile devices. Prospects and customers must feel secure with their data or they won’t engage with you. Your event solutions should be in line with your corporate policies regarding risk and compliance as you seek to build trust in your market.

A multinational American financial services company manages strategic meetings through its event management software. The program focuses on mitigating and identifying risk, from meeting requests to sourcing, executive review for compliance concerns, and through to meeting requests. A risk diagnostic led to the establishment of a two-minute timeout on the platform with encryption. This was in response to users participating in national meetings.

Data leveraged: Contact data and user data

Best Practice: To reduce risk and ensure compliance across the company, perform a risk assessment on your meetings management programs.

Financial Return

Events and meetings should result in the positive financial performance of the organization. While some events and meetings drive revenue, others can help reduce costs. While some rely on earnings and revenue to prove a return while others rely on participation, engagement, and feedback to measure effectiveness. No matter what metric you use, financial performance can be used to ensure events get credit and support.

One of the most prominent banks in North America hosted investor meetings throughout Canada and served lunch to all registered participants. Their no-show rate was 30% which led to wasteful expenditure on food and beverages. Their financial consultants were able to simplify the invitation process to make it easier for them to manage RSVPs, invitations, and attendees. They were able to reduce their no-show rate by 7%, which saved them 3,000 meals each year.

Data leveraged: There are no hidden fees for food and beverages.

Best Practice: To reduce no-shows, send reminder emails 24 hours before meetings.

Conclusion

Now we have reviewed 13 best practices that will help events and meetings teams connect better in 2021. We hope you’ve found some that you can use in your own organization.

It is crucial to understand the data infrastructure for your events and meetings in order to be successful in 2021. We wish you success in your quest for great meetings and events.

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