Value first, ROI second

The events industry is currently in one of the most crucial stages in its’ relatively short period of existence. Technology (finally) seems to be catching up with our every day events, Social Media is playing an ever more crucial role and there are many challenges ahead with hybrid events and sustainability. And at the core of our exhibitions and conferences is the continual discussion around return on investment. Demonstrating ROI is crucial for our industry and is something we have to demonstrate as often as we can. However I look at ROI in another way. Before analysing what comes out of an event I think we have to look at what is put in.

Exactly who should be adding the value at our conferences and exhibitions

It’s true that you reap what you sow but who should be doing the sowing? Just the organiser? Well if it is just the organiser who is doing the sowing then what everyone reaps will be much less fruitful. Every part of the ‘chain of events’ has to be a bit more involved and focussed on value.

Less will certainly mean more

With all things being equal if every link in the chain puts in a bit more resource – and I am talking time rather than money – then it is inevitable that we can all be involved in fewer events. Organisations organise less; delegates are more choosey; speakers speak at fewer events and sponsors support from a smaller pool of events. But all the while and importantly we add more value to all those involved. Surely this is a good thing? Here’s the chain again.

How to you add and demand true value?

As an example, let’s look at a conference with a small exhibition. Does every link in the chain truly receive and deliver the maximum value that they can? Here are ten important questions that the organiser should be asking of their next event:

1. How do your speakers promote their involvement at your event?

2. Do you ever ask speakers ‘what they want out of their involvement’ and strive to offer that support?

3. Do you ask and receive great relevant content (Blogs / links / videos etc.) from your sponsors and supporters to use in the build-up to your event?

4. Do you ask your supporters ‘what they want out of their association’ with your event or do you just tell them what’s available?

5. Do you have a flexible venue? One that has discussions with you about creating the right environment and experience and do you demand this?

6. Do you set really challenging objectives for your content to make a big impact on attendees?

7. Do you structure attendees networking or just rely on chance to help them make great contacts?

8. Do you curate your audience to ensure you have the relevant attendees?

9. Do you structure your event to continue learning and networking beyond the physical event?

10. Do you ensure that when a ‘hot lead’ arrives on exhibitors stands you have supported and helped make the conversations happen?

Treating our events as services and not products

We should see the back of the production line approach to conferences and exhibitions seek out the events that are tailored and run with passion: organisers who see their events as a service and not an 8hour-pack-them-high-event. That way the future has value.