Achieving longevity and consistent success is a challenge every event planner faces
Events are not merely one-time occurrences; they should be a strategic investment that yields returns over time. But oftentimes, the importance of a specific event can be questioned every year, to the point that leadership may only see the event as a line item on the budget. So, what can you do to make sure your event is seen as a necessary strategic tool every year?
Let’s explore five key strategies to make your event plan resilient and ensure that your corporate gatherings thrive year after year.
1. Establish Clear Objectives and Communicate Them Internally
The foundation of a resilient event plan begins with discovering the “why” and setting clear objectives. Before you even think about the logistics and finer details, ensure that you, your team and all internal stakeholders have a crystal-clear understanding of why you’re hosting the event. This isn’t just about having a broad goal like “increase brand visibility.” Do you know the real reason why your event is being hosted? Get specific here and set clear KPIs around the event.
For instance, your “why” statement for your incentive trip for your top sales performers “why” could look like this: “We host our annual incentive trip to bring together top sales performers in the company to connect with leadership, engage with each other and drive motivation for the year ahead. Our goal with this program is to retain 100% of our top performers and help increase sales by 20% year-over-year.”
2. Track and Measure Event Value Continuously
One of the biggest mistakes in event planning is assuming that your job ends when the event concludes. To ensure long-term success, make it a habit to track and measure the value of your event. This includes both quantitative and qualitative metrics. Quantitative metrics may include data such as the number of leads generated, revenue generated or customer satisfaction scores. Qualitative metrics, on the other hand, can involve gathering feedback from attendees to gauge the overall experience and identify areas for improvement.
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Once you have this data, it’s also important to be able to clearly communicate outcomes to your leadership team. How does the outcome of the event impact the business? What benefits does the event provides? Framing these metrics in a way that can help leadership see the wider impact of your event will help set you up for long-term success.
3. Foster Lasting Relationships
Events are really all about relationships, so your event plan should prioritize fostering lasting connections with attendees, sponsors and partners. After all, it’s these relationships that often lead to repeat attendance and long-term support. This includes opportunities for networking and engagement within the event, but also connections outside the event that will drive higher attendance year after year. Providing a platform for ongoing communication, such as a dedicated online community or newsletter, can help keep the event relevant throughout the year.
This also includes nurturing your relationships with sponsors and partners. Showing up once a year to ask for money isn’t the best way to ensure you have valuable sponsors each year. Show them the value of being associated with your event not only during the event but also throughout the year. You can take a similar approach here with roundtables, online communities, newsletters and more.
4. Embrace Innovation and Adaptation
The world is constantly evolving and so should your event plan. Resilience in event planning means being open to innovation and adaptation. Don’t stick to the same formula year after year simply because it worked in the past. Attendees’ expectations, industry trends and technology are continually changing. Stay updated with the latest event technologies and trends.
Experiment with new formats, content delivery methods and engagement techniques. Be willing to pivot and make necessary adjustments based on attendee feedback and emerging opportunities. With that said, don’t just change for change’s sake. Make sure the new technologies or formats you add make sense for your audience and event. Consult your event management partners to think through these changes strategically.
5. Seek and Act on Feedback
Feedback is key for event growth and resilience. Actively seek feedback from attendees, sponsors and your team after each event. Be open to constructive criticism and use it to refine your future plans. Create post-event surveys that are concise and relevant. Analyze the feedback received and prioritize improvements based on the most common and critical suggestions.
Sharing how you’ve implemented feedback from previous events can also demonstrate your commitment to improvement and foster trust among stakeholders. Also make sure you continue to communicate feedback and the actions you’re taking to leadership so they can understand why the event may evolve each year and how those changes lead to a more effective event. Try to connect these changes to real KPIs as much as possible.
Building a resilient event plan can help you ensure your event lasts beyond 2024. Especially as budgets come under scrutiny and priorities evolve over the next few years, having a plan in place will help ensure your events continue to occur and succeed well into the future.
Brian Kellerman is the CEO and partner of GoGather, an event management company. Prior to founding GoGather, Kellerman was executive vice president of Vision Event Productions and executive producer of Premier Productions. Kellerman is an expert in audiovisual technologies and has a Strategic Meetings Management certificate.
Kellerman has a degree from San Diego State University and has also served on the Board of the San Diego American Marketing Association. Check the blog for more insights on the industry.