Month: March 2017

Improve Your Meetings by Focusing on Quality

quality over quantity

Can you create a distinctive event on a smaller budget?

As the demand for immersive, out-of-the-box experiences continues to influence meetings and corporate events, the opportunities for creativity and innovation are exciting. Yet there’s also an ever-present need to keep an eye on the practical side: namely, the budget. If you find yourself wedged between cost constraints and elaborate event plans, take a deep breath. You’re not alone. And if you focus on quality and strategic impact, you’ll likely find you can host a memorable, engaging event within whatever budget constraints are the current situation.

Findings in the American Express 2017 Global Meetings and Events Forecast show that tighter budgets are, in fact, influencing meeting frequency and size.

“With property and other related meeting costs rising, many organizations appear to be adjusting the number and size of their meetings to stay within their budget constraints,” according to the report. “Holding fewer meetings with more attendees or a more targeted attendee list is one option, as is using multiple local meetings to replace a larger meeting that requires significant travel.”

Part of the general challenge of meeting and corporate event planning isn’t just staying on budget while delivering an optimal experience. It’s also discovering that magical combination of the number of meetings—and the size of those meetings—that delivers the most value to your company.

But as the saying goes, quality matters more than quantity. If you have a limited number of meetings to reach your objectives, and who doesn’t, the focus should be on the quality of the event. Is it interesting and entertaining? Are attendees engaged and informed? Does the content align with company goals, messaging and branding?

If you find yourself struggling with your meeting or event budget, consider these additional tips that can help you prioritize quality in the face of less quantity.

Consider meeting length

This is among the simpler solutions. Can you create shorter, more impactful meeting segments that gain flexibility without losing results? Before you make this sort of decision, review your strategic event plan, which provides the critical framework that not only guides your event, but also ensures it’s connected to (and drives results toward) your company’s business goals. Is there a way you can adjust the content and agenda to allow for a more creative format? With our ever-shortening attention spans purposeful, short content is necessary. This keeps an audience from becoming fatigued or even tuning out. It can also adapt to your budget while also ensuring attendees stay engaged from start to finish.

Review your attendee list

In some ways, corporate meetings and events aren’t much different from weddings: it’s tempting to invite any and everyone. Instead, this is an ideal time to review your attendee list in conjunction with your strategic event plan. Would the messaging and experience resonate more with a targeted audience? Who are the essential people that you most want in attendance? You’ll likely find names on your list that don’t necessarily make sense for a particular meeting or event; better to remove them and look for other, more relevant involvement opportunities. Consider perhaps a separate, more targeted event for that audience as well. Getting more targeted towards a specific audience has many positive results including better natural engagement.

Don’t skimp on creativity

Staying within budget doesn’t mean you need to eliminate fun and creativity from your corporate event or meeting. With quality firmly in mind, creativity is actually more important—you want to ensure attendees are not just informed, but also excited about what’s happening. Try an unexpected venue or evening entertainment, for example. Or look for ways to mix things up in regard to content: an out-of-the-box keynote speaker, or a different way to offer information aside from a standard presentation. You could even take a page out of Google’s book and experiment with the meeting format. They turned their I/O developers conference into a festival-like gathering, which makes for a more entertaining and immersive experience.

Working within a tight budget is a challenge, especially with large-scale corporate meetings and events. Yet it might also be the push you need to closely examine your company’s events and how you can shake things up in a way that benefits all involved. And if you find yourself stuck on how to best move forward, we’re ready to be your sounding board.

Keep Pace with the Key Shift in Meeting Management

Meeting Management

Changing times in meeting management

Ah, the good old days of meeting and event planning. The kick-off typically involved gathering the event planning staff for some time spent brainstorming, followed by the creation of one big to-do list. Venue? Check! Speakers? Check! Food and drink? Check! Branded swag? Done and done!

Yet you know the saying: the times, they are a-changing. As event and meeting planning continues a fundamental shift toward a strategy-first approach, meeting management is undergoing a similar change. According to the American Express 2017 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, the change centers on a shift from the granular to the big picture.

“Meetings strategies now go beyond sourcing, event planning, and travel to include creative communications, attendee management, data gathering, reporting and analysis,” according to the report.

What does that mean for you?

In a nutshell? There’s much more to meetings and events now than logistics and an event agenda. Meetings and corporate events are more complex, both in the details of the event itself and in the impact that meetings and events can play in helping a company fulfill its business goals.

Take, for example, annual automotive dealer meetings. We work with several global auto brands, and these events play a critical role in gathering dealers and educating them on the year ahead.

Yet driven by increasing demand for experience-driven meetings, auto brands are shifting from an annual meeting to an immersive brand summit that’s steeped in carefully crafted messaging and touch points. These strategic changes help elevate a meeting from a traditional tradeshow feel to a high-level executive meeting, an experience that proves more engaging and memorable for attendees.

A brand summit is undoubtedly more complex than a typical annual meeting, and it’s an ideal example of why meeting management now requires a focus on the bigger picture. All parts of the event need to be cohesive and thoughtful, starting with identifying business goals and developing strategic messaging. Those critical themes must then be woven throughout the event, encompassing everything from the venue and agenda to the food, entertainment, and swag. And equally important? Post-event management and follow-up to keep attendees engaged and gather feedback and insight that can help refine and improve future events.

Change to be excited about

If it all seems a bit daunting at first, that’s a natural reaction. Take a deep breath, and then let yourself get excited about the possibilities. The meetings and corporate events landscape continues to change—there’s no doubt about that. But we’re in the midst of a period of excitement, of opportunities, and of the chance to make a meaningful, lasting impression on your attendees, all for the benefit of your business. It’s time to start thinking of the big picture. And if you need a little help stepping outside of your comfort zone and exploring what’s possible, that’s why we’re here.

Strategy as a Top Meeting, Event Trend

Are you starting with a great event strategy?

Trend forecasts help drive changes and decision-making in a variety of industries and meetings and events are no exception. In addition to providing a spark of inspiration, trend reports can drive action supported by tactics and results provided by industry leaders. And in this year’s American Express Global Meetings and Events Forecast, one finding is clear: strategy is at the top of the trends list.

Driven by factors including evolving attendee expectations and a growing millennial audience, meetings and events have made an integral shift to experiences that tell a story and help drive business results. Add in the typical and pervasive challenges of meeting planning, and the need for a strategic event plan becomes an imperative.

“As meeting owners and planners work with short timelines, tight budgets, increasing compliance requirements and an ever-changing meetings landscape, meetings professionals agree that thinking strategically with regard to meetings and events is more crucial than ever,” according to the American Express forecast.

Moving from traditional to strategy-first

Creating a strategic event framework has now emerged as a top trend across all global markets—and at Wellington, we’re glad to see this sort of worldwide consensus. We’ve been working with clients to move from a more traditional, checklist-driven planning to a forward-thinking, strategy-first approach. When you start with strategy, you begin not with a focus on the event itself, but instead of identifying your business challenges and goals.

We recommend envisioning the next 6 to 12 months in your business. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • What does your company want to accomplish?
  • What do you need to overcome?
  • How can your event attendees help you achieve these goals?

After all, your corporate meeting or event is an invaluable opportunity not just to gather people, but also to inform, excite and engage them. These are your employees, your customers, your brand ambassadors—and by giving them an option to participate in driving your business growth and other goals, they’ll leave the event feeling as if they have not just a say, but also a stake in your company’s success.

What next?

From there, you can continue to build your event strategy to define specific event objectives such as messaging and takeaways. Finally, you can plan and finalize the logistic and aesthetic details that bring your event—and your event strategy—to life.

Have questions about how you can create your own strategic event plan? Feel free to reach out to us and we’ll schedule a time to talk!