As a savvy event marketer, armed with a budget and mission to improve event ROI, have you ever thought “I’ll just source Event Management Companies!”
Problem solved, right?
If you are responsible for your company's meetings, conferences, trade shows or events, you’ve probably thought about outsourcing this function at one time or another. However, if you’ve walked down this path, you know the obstacles these type of companies present, can quickly take up more resources than intended and fail to deliver on event goals due to frivolous spending.
Let’s face it, although they can help you with strategy, considering the cost of every piece of that strategy can be a game-changer to your bottom line.
So what do you do?
As event marketers ourselves, we are proud to admit that we are cost evaluating, penny-pinching, profit-margin-analyzing geeks to the core. In this blog post, we’ll expose some of the hidden costs associated with event management companies and teach you the key qualification to building a successful in-house events program.
What is the long-term strategy?
Whether you are a well-known enterprise or an on-the-rise startup, a third-party event management company will have little to no knowledge of your internal event processes, organizational culture, or the tools and systems you are currently using to track cost of customer acquisition and return on investment.
Does that mean you can’t get them up to speed? Of course, not! However, consider the opportunity cost of doing so:
- Fully ramping up an outsourced event management company will take hours of training time.
- Based on the processes and systems they will need to use, this may take additional and ongoing training time from several resources affecting internal productivity and possible added systems cost.
- With a little faith and lots of positive thinking, cross your fingers and hope the events management companies will be able to integrate with your systems for accurate ROI tracking. If not, get ready for long nights of data entry and csv. file manipulations.
The opportunity cost of you taking the time to train an external resource vs. setting up an in-house event management software can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of lost revenue. Having the right tools to manage calendars, budget and logistical details that go into managing marketing events can cut down on cost and improve the internal team’s efficiency making you look like an event Superhero!
The hidden cost of using an events management company
There is a closely held industry secret…and we are ready to release it to the world! Dun, dun, dun… Event organizers will make A LOT of commission out of you as a client.
This is a dirty secret of the industry and will occur as a service fee at the end of your next statement from the event management company. For example, hotel, entertainment and other suppliers will give commission to those companies out of getting them as the suppliers to your event. This may force you into using vendors they already have relationships with at not much better cost than if you would have established the relationship yourself. This may not only affect the long-term costs of event management, but also limit the quality control and flexibility you have if logistics were handled in-house.
Set up an in-house system that allows quality control of your event. The cost saving effort at the beginning of the process will enable you to achieve better ROI. Managing vendors internally, time-saving automated reminders, ready-to-use templates and checklists are just a few of the resources that the right event exhibitor software will help you establish to create a repeatable system proven to improve ROI with each event.
How to build an in-house event management system
We’ve outlined 3 key qualifications of successful in-house event system that event management companies can hardly meet without mindlessly spending your event budget (hence affecting your end-of-year bonus money!)
1. Process Management
- Snapshot View: Each event should be able to be managed seamlessly from a single dashboard. This can enable an already busy marketing team to keep track of internal and external resources. Any good software will enable you to automate reminders, eliminate email back-and-forth, and say sayonara to spreadsheets! Event management companies really just report on their own work vs. showing you the project as a whole.
- Budget Planning: Letting an event management company handle your budget can be scary and sometimes wrongly itemized. A good internal system will give you a comparison of the planned vs. actual budget and enable you to give visibility to reporting to your finance team.
- File Sharing: From event vision boards to actualizing your exhibitor sales enablement assets, being able to share what’s in your OneDrive or Google Drive is key to a speedy process without clunking up your email with the confusion of which file version is final or what edits need to be made.
- Logistics Management: Relying on a third-party to manage the specifications of each event attendee can create a lot of back and forth. But managing flights, hotels, collateral and more can quickly spiral out of control. Having a system that allows you to get reminders like shipment tracking from UPS and automated reminders that reach each attendee as needed can give you control over ensuring everything is ready for the event and it is smooth sailing.
2. Sales Tracking
- Lead Capture: Leads, leads, leads! Sales can never have enough leads but who has time to capture them in the midst of a busy event! With lead generation being one of the top reasons to attend events, lead capture becomes crucial. This is where the shortcomings of an event management company are clear as day. Having the right system in place that allows you to scan badges, business cards and automatically enter the information into Salesforce or Marketo is the first step to proving event success.
- Sales Meetings: We’ve all heard the phrase “time kills all deals”. The more we can shorten the conversion time from lead to meeting, the better! But what’s the biggest downfall of getting the “yes” from the prospect at the event? They forget us and the excitement they felt at the event can sometimes dwindle. Not to worry! A good system can help with that. Scheduling meetings, checking on calendar availability, and sending SMS reminders to your prospects can improve your conversion rates and show value.
3. Post-Event Success
- Lead Nurturing: every good marketer knows that data is king. Being able to not only capture data but trigger follow-up marketing campaigns specific to the leads you gathered at the event, can skyrocket the ROI you can achieve from the event. Can an event management company do that?
- Event ROI: Ok, Ok, tracking event ROI really starts at the beginning of your event strategy as you establish baseline metrics. Ensure the systems that you have in place accurately track goals, metrics and benchmarks that tie into your overall marketing strategy. We’ve made this easy to get you started – grab our free event ROI worksheet to start proving the value of your event.
Who needs events management companies anyway?
Don’t get us wrong – outsourcing portions of your event can be beneficial and further maximize your ROI. We are not saying don’t use vendors, we are simply saying don’t fully trust the success of your event to an event management company. Using the right tools, setting the right goals, and being able to keep a close eye on external resources all from one place can prove to be the strategy that is right for you.
Events come in all different shapes and sizes and are walking at many different points along the path to success. But there is one universal truth for every event marketer: more leads = more meetings. More meetings = more sales. How you get those meetings – and keep profit margins high at the same time – is up to you.