Budget Increase? Keep on Dreamin’!
Director of Conference Focus, Max Turpin is sharing his insights on a range of topics with a regular column in BEN. Topics include new generation events and making events effective and valuable.
ANOTHER new year is upon us and not for the first time my thoughts go to corporate event budgets and their continued scrutiny, stagnation and reduction. It’s a serious issue for the industry and one I find very frustrating, mostly caused by blinkered, naïve or ignorant thinking. From my experience, here’s the problem, and solution….
Events make up part of an organisation’s sales & marketing or travel & Entertainment budget. As with all company expenditure, their costs and value are regularly reviewed. Just as the value of an advertising campaign might be reviewed, events are too. But the benefits and ROI of most events are never put through the same measurement rigours as a marketing campaign. There are various reasons for this – often, no clearly defined goals are set in the first place (so there’s nothing to measure); participant satisfaction levels and feelings are measured but not post-event results; effectively measuring event ROI is often difficult and time consuming; the skills and techniques of measuring ROI are not taught in event management courses (budget v’s actual does not count); most event organisers focus only on logistics (and fair enough since this is the only criteria on which their competence is measured), the list goes on. Overarching all of this is the quite normal and accepted practice of the internal event owner – the ultimate decision maker, often a department head and nonevent expert – controlling the budget and making most of the decisions relating to the core elements of the event, including their objectives, their format and design, key messaging, content, speaker selection and mentoring, etc. Without the value of events being methodically measured and ROI determined, budget increases become a dream.
The solution is to properly measure event ROI and prove their value, thereby having the justification to seek a budget increase if warranted. But this very seldom happens. Many organisations spend thousands on an event website, guest and motivational speakers, team building, award nights, entertainment, impressive lighting displays, etc. – the impact of which might only last till participants return home – but are not willing to invest any time or money on meeting design and ROI tracking to achieve better outcomes and much longer lasting benefits. Lazy, blinkered, naïve? Whatever, I don’t get it. And as for their budget increases…. just keep on dreamin’!