How do you make events contribute to the bottom line? QS firms invest significant sums of money, time and energy on their client events. With the summer corporate hospitality season around the corner, here are some ideas on how to make your event a truly great one, one that actively contributes to the bottom line.
Making events contribute to the bottom line
Clients are becoming more selective about where they invest their time and the events they attend. The more relevant an event is to a particular issue they have, the keener they are to accept. So adopt a quality over quantity mentality. Consider running fewer events, but ones which tackle front of mind issues in your clients and add real business insight or value to them in some way.
For this, you will need to target your audience very carefully. Aim not to have lots of people, but the right people for the right event and its theme. Your audience will have a direct impact on the overall experience of your event. Bringing the right individuals together can create a buzz, facilitate valuable networking and prevent potential conflicts/disappointment. Over time, clients will begin to regard your events as a ‘must do' in their diaries.
The solitary invitation?
Just like you, clients are very busy. Even with the latest time management device, it is easy for events to take second place to everything else in a person's day. The more personalised you can make the invitation, the greater your chance of a positive response. Sending a brief interim communication to wet appetites is also a good idea. So too is calling guests a couple of days before the event to remind them of its time and location. This can really reduce last minute cancellations.
The importance of stage management
The more you can plan, rehearse and stage-manage the event, the more likely it is to be a great experience for all involved. This includes thinking hard about your people. Use your best ones for this event and its theme. If people are less confident, then train or help them to build experience in this area.
Consider having an ‘event director' in charge of the whole thing. They should understand the event's aims and set the necessary plans in place. Ideally, they should be empowered to ensure:
- There are full ‘dress rehearsals' or briefings in advance (so tweaks are made to any content to make it captivating and stimulating)
- There will be plenty of the firm's professionals on hand who best understand the theme and the target audience. (A rough guide is one firm representative to every four participants)
- Each QS is briefed on which guests they are playing host to, what intelligence the firm has about those guests, and possibly the questions that he/she should use as discussion openers with the people they will be meeting.
A word or warning - if your guests will be ‘roaming' around the room, give each QS two or three questions that they ‘own'. This prevents guests being continually bombarded by everyone with the same question.
On the day
If the event involves a presentation, then allow time for a dry run to ensure that all the technical equipment works and that sound, sound-proofing, lighting, ventilation, heat are all comfortable for the audience. Ideally your venue will complement the message of your event and add positively to the experience. The property sector is notorious for this, often selecting great venues to create a particular atmosphere and mood.
For the duration of the event itself here are our top 10 tips of event best practice:
- Ensure that your firm's representatives arrive well in advance of the guests. Give a final briefing before the guests arrive so everyone knows the plan
- Give guests a copy of the guest list in advance to help with their own networking (and motivate them not to drop out at the last minute)
- Allocate a secure area for people to leave their coats, bags. This will free them up to give you their undivided attention during event
- Make sure that the typeface of name badges is large enough so people can read them quickly and easily
- After registration, have people available to take each guest to their receptive host - who ideally is positioned at a fixed ‘station' and looks after them for the remainder of the event
- If you need to introduce other members of the firm to specific clients, have them rotate around the hosts in a pre-arranged sequence or timeframe so a client is never bombarded
- If the event involves a presentation, ensure the hosts sit in to understand exactly what went on, what messages seemed to gain greatest audience interest, and which guests had specific questions (this can help to create a valuable follow up)
- Respect the time that your guests have invested. Don't over-run and be clear about the timescales so expectations are not confounded
- Use any discussion time to get a feel for the issues affecting the guests and their organisations - particularly in relation to the event subject
- Where the issue needs greater time and effort to explore in the course of a discussion, then encourage the hosts to suggest to a guest that they will drop them a line on the subject
After the event
The best firms see the end of the event as just the beginning of a longer journey. They set time aside for the hosts and support staff to share intelligence on what has been discussed with different guests. The information is turned into a follow up plan for each guest. This can take many forms, for example a standard letter adapted to include a paragraph relating to subjects that were raised in discussion with the guest. In all cases each guest is usually thanked in some way for their attendance and given some material of value, which further builds on the theme of the event or its content. The really successful firms monitor the outcome of these activities. This enables them to stimulate further actions to ensure the event really does generate a great return on investment.