Guest column: How to maximise event planning opportunities

For many years, although all part of the hospitality spend category, transient rate sourcing and meetings management have been treated as very separate silos of activity within many organisations. Recently, however, we have seen the lines blurring as organisations realise the importance of taking a more holistic view of this category. As such, travel managers have started to play a bigger role in the ownership of and responsibility for managing events. Judy Elvey, senior marketing manager for Europe at Cvent, offers travel managers some tips on how to embrace these changes and maximise the event planning opportunities.

Understand the objectives of your event and learn how to engage with your attendees.
Make sure you are able to establish the objectives and goals of the event with key stakeholders well in advance of the event and do plenty of research to determine what content and format your attendees and target audience prefer. You can do this research via online surveys, by engaging with attendees on social media, and by using mobile event apps to collect data pre, during and post-event. 

Be more strategic about procurement and budgeting – technology WILL help.
Embrace technology. Online venue platforms can make a huge difference to travel managers by helping them to source a venue quickly and efficiently, rather than spending hours or even days wading through the internet to find a venue that may not be the right fit. Also using an event management platform that helps to consolidate event budgeting will ensure each event stakeholder stays within budget and tracks their expenses – allowing travel managers to have a better view on funds being spent across divisions and consolidating financial reports.

Maximise networking opportunities.
There is so much content available online and through digital channels these days. As a result, there is far less of a draw for people to cut time out of their day for a PowerPoint presentation.

One of the main reasons people attend events is to network with their peers, so it’s important you maximise that opportunity. Take the time to understand the profiles of your attendees – their job title, professional interests, etc, to help connect those of similar interests. When planning the event agenda, make sure to include organised activities and dedicated time for attendees to engage face-to-face. A good thing to note is that not everyone is good at or comfortable with networking, so don’t leave it to chance – help attendees make the right connections and they’ll walk away with lasting relationships that make an impact.

Use mobile apps for impact and longevity.
Despite all the great advancements with mobile apps, mobile technology is still not being used to its full potential – especially onsite at events. Using a customised event app will allow you and event organisers to interact with your audience in a far more dynamic way – whether it’s to present unique content, to facilitate networking, or to give attendees a way to interact with speakers and pose questions during a live session. 

Additionally, a mobile event app will also allow you to extend the life of an event and keep attendees engaged pre, during and post the event.  Research shows emails are read 10 per cent of the time, whereas push notifications on mobile apps are read 85 per cent. Since many attendees will not delete the app after the event, it means you can keep in touch and engage with a much wider audience by sending notifications and updated content weeks and months after the event has taken place.

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