Start Planning Early
If your goal is to just throw something together, you may technically have an “event”, but it won’t be nearly as profitable as it could have been. Amazing, profitable events, the kind that attract the best delegates, don’t come about last minute.
As soon as you’re aware of a potential event, you need to start planning.
Form a committee and have an initial brainstorming session – this enables you to start with the end in mind, which is the best way to plan any event! The more time you have to coordinate with venues, connect with speakers, and reach out to your delegates, the more likely it is that you’ll create something impressive.
Know Your WHY
The best way to have an unprofitable event is to wander into it aimlessly, with no clear concept of why it’s truly happening in the first place. How to prevent this?
By starting your event planning process with a strategy session, you’ll be able to consider how the event fits into your business model, as well as how it will contribute to event outcomes. By clarifying these points early on, you’ll be able to make planning decisions that maximise your budget, meet your delegates needs, and put your business in the best possible light.
Be Clear on What You’re Trying to Achieve
If the goal is to attract brand new prospects that haven’t interacted with your organisation before, you’ll need to spend extra time, money, and energy at the front end of your event – your advertising budget and marketing plan are going to be vital!
If your focus is on upselling existing clients, you’ll be able to focus more on creating a high caliber event experience that illustrates the sort of quality partnerships you’re fostering with your delegates.
Whatever your situation may be, everything from location, budget allocations, and invitations are going to be impacted by your goals – don’t get so caught up in planning that you lose sight of the purpose! Any profitable outcomes are sure to be closely connected to your ability to set your sights on clear objectives.
Set a Clear Budget
Lack of budget clarity creates all sorts of issues; fear of “overspending” can cause you to cut unnecessary corners, and finding out you actually overspent in one area can create all sorts of stress and difficulties. There’s nothing like securing a high end venue and having to serve low quality food because you’re out of money!
When you have a clear budget from the start, you’re able to invest wisely in ways that make sense for your event. Profitability doesn’t just come from outside sources; it’s also a result of wisely using your existing resources.
Utilise the Right Suppliers & Vendors
Beyond the obvious impact on your own budget, the suppliers, vendors, and venue you select will make a huge statement to your delegates. A polished event with an excellent location, quality food, and even a few special “extras” is much more likely to bring in the sort of profits you’re seeking – an event that feels shoddy, cheap, or poor quality is more likely to lose you leads, sales, and relationships.
Be sure to vet anyone you choose to work with; check out their reviews, visit them in person, taste the food, touch the linens, and shop around a bit. Be open to trying something new, different, or unusual – you may be surprised with all that’s offered in your area.
Personally, I love to work with suppliers I know and trust – it saves time and energy, establishes quality relationships, and allows me to build off of shared past relationships. However, you don’t have to reuse a supplier just because you’ve used them in the past either! You can make solid collaboration decisions based on what makes sense for your event, rather than solely relying on previous connections.
Find a balance between old and new that works for you!
Negotiate Costs & Services
Many vendors are willing to provide additional services, upgrades, or specialised experiences if you take the time to talk with them (and yes, negotiate!). With the number of events occurring in today’s modern age, you’ll need to set yourself apart if you want to ensure long-term, ongoing attendance from the delegates you serve.
In terms of profitability – overpaying is never a good idea! Make sure you’re paying a fair market rate for top quality service or products that will be a positive reflection of your organisation.
(And while you’re at it – be sure to include a conversation about providing for dietary restrictions!)
Secure Event Sponsorships
Collaborations can be lucrative for any number of reasons! For one thing, the additional funds or resources help you offset event costs. And in addition, sponsorships can add that “extra something” you need in order to increase ticket costs, or, even better, offer a variety of “levels” (see the next point!). Forming event-based sponsorships tends to pay dividends in the long run, so this is definitely the type of profit that will pay off well into the future.
Consider Offering “Levels” of Tickets
We get so used to putting a price on tickets that we hardly even think about it! What if we did though…
Instead of one, single priced ticket, you could create multiple tiers to increase profitability. You could charge a higher rate to include options like:
- Pre-event mixers
- Additional networking options
- Access to a special “masterclass” or training class
- Anything else that speaks to your event’s purpose and would entice your delegates to upgrade their tickets.
Create an Experience Everyone will RAVE About
You may be able to get delegates in the door of a poorly created event once … but odds are, you’ll never see them again. Because it’s so much more expensive to pursue cold leads, you’ll always struggle with profitability if you aren’t creating the sort of events that bring attendees back again and again.
Take care to tailor your venue, speakers, programme, and set-up to the specific needs of your conference and delegates. Be sure to consider extra touches that will add personality, charisma, and professionalism to each event you host. As word of mouth spreads and your guests return time and time again, you’ll find profitability effortlessly increasing.
Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up
Just because everybody’s packed it in and gone home doesn’t mean it’s over! If you’ve just put on a great event, you’ll want to engage delegates with personalised follow up.
Whether you were pitching a new offer, creating new contacts, or upselling current clients – you’ll want to keep in touch and let them know how much their presence meant to you. Send a note, make a phone call, or craft a compelling email; anything to show that your commitment to excellence carries beyond a single event!