For millions of people, the current state of the economy is a source of concern and fear. Small businesses and large corporations alike have begun implementing aggressive cost-cutting measures in an effort to survive. For event organizers, the economic crisis presents an unsettling challenge. As businesses in every sector take steps to control their spending, casualties on the chopping block include lavish meetings, conferences, and other events.|
Over the past year, tax authority Deloitte, AIG, and Wachovia have canceled hundreds of affairs that had been planned for the coming year. AIG alone has cut over 160 conferences. And they are but a microcosm of a widespread trend.
Below, we'll explore how the economic climate is affecting event planners. I'll also describe a few ways in which experienced, savvy organizers are coping with the challenge and planning their future success.
The Importance Of Customer Service
It has never been more important to cater to your customers' needs. Not only does that mean being responsive to their requests, but it can also involve fulfilling a consultant's role. Remember, the businesses for whom you plan events are looking for solutions. While their objective may be to organize a trade show, conference, or meeting, their true aim is to have a package delivered to them that perfectly suits their preferences. If you can fill that role, lowering your costs in the process, your clients will be more likely to move forward, despite the troubled economy.
Increasing Registration And Attendance
Even as businesses are cutting back, event planners must direct more of their attention toward increasing the number of registrations and attendees at their affairs. Start with advertising channels that won't require a significant investment. For example, create a system that markets your conferences, meetings, and seminars through an automated email campaign. People often need constant reminders before responding. Sending a number of weekly, personalized emails that encourage attendance will prompt a higher level of response.
Also, keep in mind that you can suggest that your clients take a lower-cost approach to an event rather than simply canceling it. For example, if a large client usually holds their annual conference at a luxurious hotel in another state, recommend that they change the venue to a regional alternative. It's less expensive and provides your client with a feasible option that makes canceling the affair unnecessary.
Reducing Your Cost Structure
Planners should also be taking cost-cutting measures themselves. That may include negotiating more aggressively with caterers and venue operators. But, it can also involve small changes, such as replacing disposable cups and plates with china, or making handouts available online before a meeting or conference. Also, if you're organizing a conference that spans several days, consider shortening the sessions. That may allow you to cut the number of days while delivering the majority of the content. By using several strategies to reduce your costs, you can enjoy a substantial aggregate effect.
Moving Forward In Uncertain Times
Your job as a planning professional requires the ability to juggle and manage a myriad of small details. That's one of the reasons why your clients are depending upon you. However, in a difficult economic environment, you need to expand your value. That means focusing on the level of support you provide your clients, including the development of packages that suit their needs.
Remind them that planning events is still important to their businesses. Top salespeople need to be recognized and rewarded; opportunities to network with customers and leads need to be created; and employee team-building retreats can still yield immense long-lasting value. The savvy event planner who uses this approach in order to increase their registrations while lowering their cost structure will be well-prepared for the softening economy.
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Article Added on Thursday, January 22, 2009
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