events

Repositioning your event management business for the world post Covid-19

Rajeev Bector

October 8, 2020

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7 min read

You and your company have proven expertise in event management with a client base who has trusted you for a long time. You help create unbelievable brand experiences for your clients and their guests, while also advising them on the strategic topics of brand building, positioning, and messaging. The question then is - 

In this challenging environment, how do you continue to be not just competitive but also plan to gain future market share?

Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times. - Niccolo Machiavelli

Planning across two-time horizons 

Nearer-Term

Let's face it - for a lot of companies in the space, the near-term is all about cash-flow and making payroll. Some are even leaning towards pivoting to keep surviving.

  • Helping companies with virtual events certainly seems to be one opportunity. There are plenty of resources on the web to help with that. Pro-Tip: Content is king. In a virtual setting, your content is your event. Powerful keynotes and engaging sessions tailored to your attendees are critical. For further such expert  insights, I suggest starting on this excellent page put together by the amazing folks at Cvent 
  • Of course, there are a ton of resources on the Web to try to secure additional funding from places like SBA

Longer-Term

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity - Sun-Tzu

Investing in optimizing your processes to reduce your costs AND overhauling your products and offering -  has the potential to leave you better positioned with your clients than your competition. This is part of strategic planning to prepare you for when life gets back to normalcy post covid-19 and something that we’ll focus on in this article.

Key Questions For the C-Level or Owner

Unquestionably, as a leader you have to juggle and make progress on both the short and the long end of time horizon!  In this article, we focus on some long-term opportunities for you to consider.

As a business owner or a strategic leader, some of the strategic questions you need to be always asking yourselves:

  • How can I enhance my value to my clients without necessarily increasing my costs?
  • What are my competitors offering that I don't?  How are they doing it? 
  • How are my competitors keeping their costs low?
  • How do I differentiate myself from them? 

If you are not regularly asking yourselves these questions, you stand to lose business to your competitors

Let's explore some concrete ideas

When conducting events, corporate marketeers and event planners care about the experiences they can offer to their valued attendees. After all, it costs significant time and money to plan and run these events. Experiences make the events extra memorable for everyone. Every opportunity to offer a highly personalized and unique experience builds your brand. Whether it was

  • In your attention to detail for their dietary restrictions, 
  • Your understanding of their taste & desire for the event decor and entertainment,
  • Creating a super simple registration process
  • Helping them feel special when they were being picked up at the airport or checked into the hotel

Every detail matters. Taking care of these details is not just the right thing to do but every guest at your event is a potential future client. If they are impressed by the uniqueness of personalized interactions, they are likely to bring in new business to you. This word of mouth approach is obviously a significant benefit!

Experiences are (just about) everything

As an expert in your field, you knew that already. The question you are probably asking yourself - How do I offer these amazing delightful experiences? Won't it cost me an arm and a leg? 

The desire to gather with others in flesh and blood lives in all of us. Not simply to claim we were present in life, but truly connect through a shared live experience. Events aren’t just for attending. They exist to fulfill a desire to leave different from when we walked in: to be smarter, wiser, happier, more engaged, more excited, more thoughtful, more in touch with yourself, with your community, with the world. They offer the possibility to have transformational moments and be part of something bigger than ourselves. - Julia Hartz, cofounder and CEO of Eventbrite, [interviewed by Forbes]

Food, Entertainment, Decor, Technology, Destination Management, Travel - there's a lot of detail to get right in each of the areas. If you don't do this already, consider partnering with domain experts, who can help offer the best of breed experiences to your clients and their guests. 

But - this is easier said than done. You need to make upfront investments in picking domain experts who are super specialized and know their trade well. 

Choosing domain experts has the potential to offer your clients differentiated unique experiences - that will keep your clients talking about you and your event for months after!

How do I go about choosing the best domain experts as my partners?

Well - to begin with, you might know a few providers directly who you trust.  Or other people in your network might have worked with them in the past.  While trust is great and very important, it's worth asking yourself a few questions

  • Are my domain experts able to offer state of the art experience to my clients? 
  • How are they doing it?  What's their unique selling point?
  • Am I working with the most effective suppliers? 

Tech Enabled Domain Experts

Technology is moving very fast. Consider finding domain experts who are heavily tech-enabled. 

There are a few reasons for this advice

  • Fully Manual operations are likely to be more expensive. Let’s face it - we humans are not cheap.
  • Fully Manual operations are error-prone - to err is human.  We make mistakes; we have a limited memory and we always seem to have too much on our plate. It's almost impossible for anyone to offer a delightful experience without help from technology.

But what about a fully automated software tool then? They are usually cheap and do the tricks, correct?

  • While tools may suffice to help you automate certain workflows for part of your business, tools are seldom sufficient as a service. They are neither personalized nor unique. After all,  machines are good for handling 70% of the common repeatable tasks, they are not that great  at offering truly personalized interactions! Every time you get a tool, you will likely need to hire people to use them and train them. That's an additional cost for your business.

Key Takeaway and Next Steps

A Tech-Enabled service has the potential to be hyper personalized, cost effective,  and uniquely differentiated. Moreover, tech-enabled services can offer modern experiences to the contemporary attendee who is social media savvy and spreading the word about you.

Meanwhile, I invite you to help share your perspective by answering a few questions. This will help us better understand who you are and your point of view.

Hope some of this made sense and is food for thought. In a future article, I’ll share some examples of what I mean by Tech Enabled Experiences and How do you evaluate a fit for your needs and setup. I'll also talk about some timing considerations in light of Covid-19.

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