“EG Tips” – 10 Ways to Get a Fast Response from Your Event Supplier

“EG Tips” – 10 Ways to Get a Fast Response from Your Event Supplier

Is one of your suppliers taking too long to respond? No matter what you do are they ignoring your requests? Here are some ideas to get them to respond in a speedy manner.

The event industry moves at a fast pace and deadlines and lead times are often short, putting pressure on the event planner to gather information in next to no time. Whether it is putting in a fee proposal, sharing ideas with your client or confirming final details with the venue quick responses are often vital.

If you’ve ever spent significant time with a child you know one of the ways they get attention is by calling your name over and over until you’re so frustrated you scream “WHAT IS IT?” While this isn’t the way to deal with your suppliers, it is an effective way to get noticed.
But what do you do when your suppliers “aren’t paying attention” to you or prioritizing your requests?

Call their names over and over? Not likely. Here are a few better options:

  1. Place Read Receipts on Your Emails or Texts
    When you place a read receipt on your emails or texts, it underlines the seriousness of your message. This is something you want to make sure they received so you place a read receipt on it. You’re telling your supplier, you can bet I’ll follow up on this one.
  2. Don’t Make Vague Requests
    Often out of politeness we talk about what should be done but not who will do it. For instance, we might say or write, “We’ll need to circle back on this and see where we are in a week.” This leaves the supplier in a passive role. Who will circle back? Who will see where we are? How will we get there? The supplier doesn’t have an assigned role. If you expect something to be done, you need to give assignments or ask for them.
    This is especially true when your emails are sent to a list of people. Recipients will assume someone else on the list is getting you what you need, so be specific about what you need from whom and when.
  3. Stress It’s not a One-Off Working Relationship
    If you present the relationship as one of “we’ll have to see how it works out” you may not give the supplier much cause to be interested in continuing things in the future. On the other hand, if they see you as an event planner who will provide them with future work, and lots of it, they may be quicker to respond.
    If it is a supplier you work with regularly one of the criteria of this relationship is probably that they are reliable, respond quickly and help you out in times of need, such as urgent deadlines.
  4. Get the Details Right
    If you’re communicating via email or leaving a phone message, make sure you have your supplier’s name right. In a business relationship, they should still answer even if you mix up an “a” and an “e” in their name but it makes them feel less important and speaks to your inattention to detail.
  5. State What You Need in the Subject Line
    If you’re sending an email request, tell them what you need or the info contained in the email in the subject line. For instance:
    “Final headcount for Smith Event 5/20”
    Not only does that tell them why they should open the email, it will also make it easy for them to find if they need to reference it again. If your email is about information you need from them, use an email subject line like:
    “Response needed for final headcount by May 8.”
    If you’re calling and leaving a message, give the important info right after you identify yourself and repeat it again at the end. If it’s info you need, tell them what it is and when you need it by. Reiterate the info at the end again.

  1. Give a Reason
    If you’re familiar with the old copier study that people were more likely to allow someone to “cut” in line for the copier if they provided a reason, even if it was a nonsensical one, then you understand the power of the word “because.” In order to drive action, try giving them a reason such as,
    “I need to know your pricing because I’m putting together the budget.”
  2. Don’t Add a Lot of Fluff
    Fluffy niceties are nice but people don’t read anymore. The more words you put in an email, the less likely the recipient is going to read the important stuff. Don’t let your request get lost in the words. Get right to the point.
    Think about emails like the old telegraphs where you paid per word. They were brief and got right to the point. No one wanted to pay for: “Hi, How are you?” Keep your emails short and they’ll be more likely to notice the important stuff.
  3. Practice Strategic Follow Up
    After your initial email, set a tickler to ensure you’ve received a response by a date that is in line with your deadline. If you haven’t heard back by the date, send a reminder email with “reminder” added to the subject. Copy or forward your original email along with any necessary attachments. Make it as easy as possible for them to respond to you. Don’t make them hunt for the info even though you know they have it. Email productivity tools can help you keep track.
  4. Call
    Emails only go so far and if you’re not getting the needed response it’s time for a call. Make sure your call comes after you’ve given them adequate time to answer your email. Adequate time is 24 hours unless it’s an emergency. (and if it is emergency maybe you should have called in the first place!)
    When you call and leave a message, be brief about your needs and let them know (again) when you need the info. Leave your phone number (again) even though you know they have it. People pick up their messages from all sorts of places when they’re in the middle of other activities. Providing all of your information each time you call or email may seem excessive but you want to make it simple for them to respond.
  5. Make Someone Smile
    Okay, so I advised not to clutter up emails with niceties but there is one exception in emails and phone messages – humor. When you can make someone laugh, they are more apt to help you out. In a 1981 study conducted by O’Quinn and Aronoff, they divided participants into buyers and sellers and asked them to negotiate the price of a painting. Half of the sellers were told to use the line, “My final offer is ___ and I’ll throw in a pet frog.” The buyers who heard that line were willing to pay significantly higher prices than those who were part of traditional negotiations. Humor breaks down walls and helps people trust and want to help others.

In Conclusion

Getting urgent responses out of suppliers can be difficult but if you construct your emails and phone messages strategically, you’ll have more success. If these things don’t work, you may have to contact a higher up or someone who has some influence on the person. But if you’re going to go this route, it likely will affect your future relationship so keep this in mind before escalating to that extent.
Still, if you have a supplier who fails to yield a response, your future relationship is in jeopardy anyway in the fast moving world of events. Walk away from them and don’t involve them in future events. But ensure they know why you’re making that change.

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – 5 Wrong Moves that Could Derail Your Corporate Event

“EG Tips” – 5 Wrong Moves that Could Derail Your Corporate Event

Some of the requests that corporate event planners receive can make us feel as if we’re entering The Twilight Zone. What is disturbing is the lack of a practical focus. Some client organizations appear to be particularly resistant to following the advice of professional event planners that are familiar with specific destinations. Instead, they seem to be interested in engaging firms that will work as order takers to implement their plans no matter how flawed. Even if they are considering an event in the wrong location, during the wrong season, with the wrong geography, and the wrong timeframe, some client organizations are not open to modifying their plans.

As the recession deepens, this seems to be increasing. It will become easier for prospective clients to find your competitors that are hungry enough for business to deliver exactly what they request. As an event planner who is interested in growing their business, it can be a challenge to walk that fine line between pleasing your client and giving them your best professional advice.

Here are 5 wrong moves to avoid no matter how much pressure you are facing from clients or prospective clients.

  1. Wrong Location
    When planning an event, transition times and traffic patterns have to be taken into account. No group will thank you if they end up stuck in gridlock or stuck on a highway because predictable inclement weather has caused a 30 or, heaven forbid, 200 car pileups. It’s much better to encourage clients to plan their arrival and movements for low traffic periods. It’s also a good idea, to split the itinerary between hotels in different areas to give the group more comfortable access to certain attractions and activities.
  2. Wrong Season
    Do some initial checking to determine if the requested activities are appropriate for the season in which your client will be having their event. Make sure that you give them a realistic picture of what is and isn’t doable in certain locations at specific times of the year. Never compromise group safety just to please a client. You could be held liable if someone suffers illness or injury.
  3. Wrong Geography
    Make sure that you give your clients solid advice and point out things they may have missed. It is important for you to have the integrity to advise clients that their preferred activity is a poor fit for the season or location and encourage them to either change the activity or change the date of their event.
  4. Wrong Timeframe
    This is such a regular occurrence that examples are probably not needed. Suffice it to say that many organizations insist on subjecting employees to wall-to-wall speakers well into the afternoon. Then, they try to cram team activities into a short timeframe when everyone is exhausted. No amount of input from the event planner or facilitator will get them to modify their plans.
    When groups feel rushed and pressured and they are too tired to enjoy the event, this will reflect poorly on you as the event planner. To avoid making a wrong move, encourage your clients to either cut content or increase the length of their conference or program to realistically incorporate all desired activities. They may end up spending a little bit more money but you’ll end up with attendees who are pleased instead of frustrated and resentful.
  5. Wrong Budget
    A regular occurrence in the event planning industry is awarding business to firms that low ball their quotes. This usually happens because their budget is just too low.
    It’s time for a reality check. As a general rule of thumb to give your clients, let them know that the smaller their group, the higher the price per person they should expect to pay. If a group is small, they should not be expecting to pay any where near under $100 per person.
    Let your prospective clients know that, when their budget is unrealistic, they are setting themselves up for something similar to the bait and switch technique used in retail. It gets played out in 1 of 2 ways:

    • corners are cut and the event is watered down significantly (e.g. a scavenger hunt is provided when an Amazing Race was booked).
    • once planning is well underway “unforeseen items” that jack up the budget are identified and it’s too late to switch event planners.

    At the end of the day, when the event doesn’t work well and they’ll be the ones who will be embarrassed every time they have to face their co-workers

Event Planning: Let’s Get Real
Especially in this economy, there will always be competitors that will take a company’s money and give them exactly what they ask for…. even if it isn’t realistic or practical. It’s great for a client to have ideas and a vision for their event but a reality check from you, an event planning professional that knows your destination, is vital.

How can you avoid the embarrassment of a poorly executed event?

How can you greatly reduce the likelihood that you will be “ripped off”?

You’ll greatly increase the likelihood of planning a successful event if you don’t automatically cave into pressure and tell clients and prospects exactly you want they want to hear. With your next event, keep these 5 wrong moves in mind. Take the time to identify pitfalls and raise a flag of caution when they are considering options that are not advisable. Then, really encourage them to consider taking the advice for which they are

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – 7 Clients Every Event Planner Has

“EG Tips” – 7 Clients Every Event Planner Has

Event planners get to work with some really amazing event clients, and some really crazy clients! At the end of the day, it’s what makes event planning fun and keeps you on your toes. Here are 7 clients every eventprof will be able to identify.

As an event planner, you have probably started to notice the various types of event clients you run into and have to work with. Some may be super nice and helpful, and others may very well be a nightmare to work with. It’s important to understand all types of clients, and know when to push back or step away from a bad relationship before it happens. Event planners should keep in mind the types of event clients you may end up working with, and how to deal with them whether things are going great, or seem to be narrowing in on a fuzzy line.

There are several types of clients event planners work with. Below are only a few that seem to pop up more than often.

  1. The Referral
    It’s pretty common that event planners are referred by previous clients, people in their network or vendors to new clientele. It’s always exciting and refreshing to work with new people, but not knowing their background, how they work and what they are looking to accomplish are always stepping stones to make sure you pull off a successful relationship with the new client, and the event you are planning.

    Some referrals may have never worked on an event before, so take the time to walk them through the process. These types of clients may have worked previously with other event planners, so they may only like or know one way of planning techniques. As the event planner, it’s your job to step up and explain to these clients your process – walk them through your routine and see if they have any questions. It’s a lot easier to let them know upfront what you will be doing, rather than seeing half way through they are confused or not enjoying the process.

  2. The Overachiever
    Event planners are already super happy, (sometimes OCD), exuberant people. Working with a client who is also type A can sometimes put a damper on the relationship you form with them. Two people (event planner and client) with over the top personalities may be a recipe for disaster, unless you remember as the planner to stay professional, and always meet the client halfway. Listen to what they have to say, what their ideas are, and always provide quality service, even if the client thinks they know better than you do.
    Some overachieving clients tend to text, call, email, and sometimes show up at your door at all hours to ensure things are running smoothly. You will usually see these types of clients in the wedding event area – they are of course just triple checking that everything is running smoothly for their perfect day. And can you blame them? Being an overachiever is a great quality to have, so long as you don’t butt heads with others around you.
  3. The Ideal Client
    Then of course, there is the perfect, ideal client. As an event planner these types of clients may only pop up every now and then, so we have to keep in mind that in some way all clients are ideal to work with. The ideal client is usually very open to communicate with, takes direction well, and comes to the table with ideas of their own. They immediately give you their full trust, and openly appreciate your time, skills and knowledge as the event planner.
    Ideal clients are usually easy to transition into loyal clients who come back to you time and time again. Create a long-lasting relationship with them that is open, trustworthy and caring. If you do your job well as the event planner, you should be able to secure a lifelong business client and possibly a great friendship as well!

  1. The Promise Breaker

    Clients love to promise they will show up on time; bring checks to meetings, help look for items needed at an event, etc. Event planners all know the importance of making every client sign an agreement that binds them to get items done in a timely manner, provide payment on time, and be respectful to the event planner’s time. Even with a signed contract, a lot of clients fail to adhere to the papers they put their signatures on. These types of clients can manipulate event planners, and sometimes hold things over their head for no reason.
    For example, if you have a client who is hosting an intimate meeting for their company and they show up with more people than expected the day of the event, it makes the event planner look bad and unprofessional for not having the room set up correctly, or not having enough food and beverage for everyone in attendance. Be sure you stay on top of this type of client – if something goes wrong they will point fingers at the planner as their first target.

  2. The Clueless One
    Although some clients may be super on it like the ideal client, you may find yourself meeting a couple of aloof clients. These types of clients can seem confused, closed-minded and indecisive, which is never a good quality to have working on an event. For example, they may agree with your ideas and plans, but halfway through the project want to take a new direction. Or, worse case they forget the plans that were agreed upon and you have to scramble to get the job done.
    These types of clueless clients usually have lots of ideas, and get lost in the smaller, not so important details, which takes up a lot of the planner’s time to sift through.
  3. The Picky One
    You can’t plan an event without having worked with a super picky client. This type of client can be picky and a mix of one of the above types. They love to nitpick every single detail, which doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but can end up being a time sucker when events need to stay on track to meet deadlines.
    Be careful to set boundaries right up front with clients so they know your role as the planner, and their role as the client. You don’t want a picky person complaining about your ideas and details all the way through the event process. It’s not only a buzz kill, but also a creative kill!
  4. The Grumpy One
    Finally, somewhere in the mix of event planner’s clients is always a grump. These are the clients you dread working with – they always have something to complain about, whether it’s the colors of table cloths, or food being served or even the online registration processes. They can never see the good in anything being planned.
    For example, you may work with companies who want to sponsor a trade show, but will only do so at a super low discounted rate. Even after discounts are offered, it’s still never enough to make them sign on the dotted line. It’s all about “free” for these clients – anything they can manage to get a hold of for free is like gold. Of course, these clients usually do not get a lot out of events. Trying to attend or sponsor an event for free is basically not attending at all. We all know it costs a good chunk of change to stand out at an event and show off your brand. You don’t have to always spend a lot, but when you do it the correct way (marketing, booth set-up, product displays, speaking) it’s worth it!

In Conclusion

Every event planner has worked with several different types of event clients. Some may be the best clients you have ever worked with and come back time and time again, and others are instantly marked as a one-time client you will not want to work with ever again. It’s all part of the fun of event planning!

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – 9 Tips for Working with a Difficult Venue

“EG Tips” – 9 Tips for Working with a Difficult Venue

Are your dreams of the perfect venue being dashed by the venue staff? Are you questioning your ability to pull off a successful event because of them? Worry no longer. I have some tips to help you smooth over any problems with a difficult venue.

If event planners could always handpick our teams, life would be a giant meadow full of frolicking unicorns. But sometimes we get stuck. We get stuck with a crew we don’t get along with or a vendor who doesn’t share our vision. Sometimes, we even have a client who is less than cooperative.

But one of the hardest to deal with is a difficult venue. The venue affects every area of our event so it’s hard to ignore differences. Plus, because it has such a huge effect on your event, having a bad relationship with the venue personnel will make it very difficult to have a successful outcome. Here are a few tips to help you improve your relationship with the venue and increase your event’s chances for success.

  1. Clearly Communicate Expectations
    Your venue coordinator has likely worked with a lot of event planners and events. Some event planners want to be hands-on and others want their event planned for them. Be specific in what you’re looking for from them. It’s possible that your challenges in working with them stem from the venue not having worked with someone with your expectations before.
  2. Have a Secondary Contact
    If your venue coordinator is always busy, ask for a secondary contact. This person should be saved for time-critical questions and issues. But if your primary contact is impossible to get hold of, don’t hesitate to ask for someone else.
  3. Keep Emotions Out of It
    Keep your emotions out of the situation. They will only make a difficult time worse. Instead, try to keep communication short and to the point. Use emails to ensure your needs are clear. Placing things in writing leaves little question as to what they are and provides recourse should something not get done or mixed up. Make sure everything is stipulated clearly in the agreement as well. Do not rely on anyone’s memory.
    Understand that this difference of opinion that may exist between you and the venue staffer is most likely not about you.
  4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    Cultivating a good relationship with a venue is key to your event’s success and it’s important to know that not everyone approaches issues in the same way that you do. If they’re meeting your expectations don’t worry about the hows behind what they’re doing. Know that there will be issues but also know the difference between the ones that matter and the ones that don’t.
    Often with a difficult venue, we compound every little thing that goes wrong as additional proof that they are inept. If you normally would’ve let those things slide with your favorite vendor, continue to do so here as well.

  5. Follow Up
    Most event planners are good at follow up. They make their living ensuring everything is done but when you’re dealing with a difficult venue, it is even more important that you follow up and confirm all the pieces of your event. It’s also important to institute sign-offs in complicated processes. You’ll sleep a whole lot better right before the event if everything has been confirmed, preferably more than once.
  1. Fix It Quickly
    Often we want to give people the benefit of the doubt. But there’s rarely time for this in events. Instead, if a problem occurs be specific about:

    • What the problem is
    • How you would like it remedied
    • The timeframe with which you expect the remedy

    If any of this is not possible, you need to know so you can adjust expectations. If they agree to your wishes and then don’t get it done to spec or in the timeframe agreed upon, you need to escalate the problem right away, rather than days before the event.

  2. Keep Your Mind and Words on the Solution
    Name calling never works. Nor do threats of slamming someone on social media as the person you’re dealing with is often not the one who would be concerned about such things. Instead, keep your mind on the solution instead of the person. Be explicit with what is not working. Limit your comments to what isn’t meeting your expectations and why instead of peppering your email with adjectives to describe the staff or venue manager.
  3. Ask to Work with Someone Else
    If you intend to bring future business to this venue, it may be worth voicing your difficulties with management. Ensure they know your interest in their property and how you’d like to be a loyal customer but something is lacking for you.
    If a new person isn’t available, give them a list of things that are not being taken care of to your standards. Be as specific as possible. They can’t fix what they don’t know is broken.
  4. Know When to Walk Away
    Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from the problem. When it seems personal and you’ve tried everything else, there may just be something about you that the venue manager doesn’t like (it doesn’t have to be something you did. Sometimes people remind us of others and we have difficulties warming up to them.) If that’s the situation, place someone else such as a staff member between you and the venue person. Sometimes it’s just a difference of personalities and introducing a new one can solve the problem.

In Conclusion

You don’t have to be best buds with the venue staff but communicating effectively with the venue coordinator is essential for your event success. Every new relationship involves communicating expectations. Hopefully, by doing so and investing a little time in cultivating the relationship, you can begin to improve the existing strain.

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – 5 Ways To Earn Loyal Event Attendees

“EG Tips” – 5 Ways To Earn Loyal Event Attendees

Many great events rely on repeat attendees in order to maintain success year after year. The challenge is providing a quality experience, while also leaving your guests wanting more.

When someone has a wonderful experience at an event, they can’t wait to return! After a fantastic event many attendees are already pumped to book their ticket for the next opportunity. This is the type of atmosphere you should try to provide at your next event and here is how you can do it.

  1. Provide High-Quality Customer Service
    Providing a great experience starts with customer service. Do your best to make sure your attendees feel valued and excited to be at the event. From the time guests arrive, to the moment they leave, they should be treated with appreciation.
    Showing attendees that you are organized and prepared is also another form of providing customer service, because you are making their experience more enjoyable. Guests are sure to share their experience and return as future customers, if they feel like the event was well put together and successful.
    A great example of visible customer service is in the welcome you provide at your events.
    For other outings, the welcoming atmosphere might begin when attendee’s step inside the venue. Wherever your first point of contact is, you should be sure your audience feels the presence of your event and sees your commitment to customer service.
  2. Keep Your Event Fresh
    No one wants to attend an event that is exactly the same year after year. Part of the thrill of returning to an event is to see what they have in store for each new year, month, etc. From the decor and theme, to the speakers or entertainment, your attendees will look forward to what you have in store if it varies from event to event.
    Providing a fresh and unique experience each time can be a challenge, but it also gives you a wonderful opportunity to be creative and think outside the box. Utilize your team or volunteers from your event to think of new ideas. You could also try surveying your former attendees to find out what they want to see at the next event. This helps everyone to feel more involved and shows you appreciate their input when you implement their new ideas.
  3. Provide Incentives for Repeat Attendance
    Many events provide a discount code or special early-bird rates for former attendees. This is a great incentive for guests to sign up early and it shows that you value their continued support.
    Another idea would be a gift or physical item for your returning guests. At a small-scale event, you could raffle off a big-ticket item to guests who have been loyal participants. Any type of recognition or additional appreciation will show your return guests that you respect and value their loyalty.
  4. Encourage Engagement
    Engaging your attendees is a very important part of gaining them as loyal supporters. Finding new ways that they can interact with each other, the presenters or the atmosphere around them will make the event more compelling. If they feel connected to the event they will be much more likely to return and to share their experience with other potential guests.
    Big or small your event is sure to benefit by adding an increased focus on attendee engagement and interaction.
    Empower your attendees to connect with others and spread the word about your event. Repeat attendees can become one of your biggest marketing tools by engaging with their friends and colleagues, before, during and after the event.
    I have seen great success with engagement at conferences where the presenters connect with the audience by using live response tools or an interactive social media wall. While speakers are presenting they can ask questions and have the audience engage with each other and the topic being presented.
  5. Provide a Sense of Ownership
    Turning your attendees into advocates who feel deeply connected to your event is the ultimate way to transform them into loyal attendees. When you feel a sense of ownership in anything you want to see it do well and you enjoy being a contributing part of that success.
    This ownership can come through asking for and listening to attendee feedback. Allowing guests to provide input on gifts, venue, presenters, host city, etc. are all a great ways to get your attendees voices more involved. When you open yourself up to listening to the ideas of your guests, you are not only benefiting yourself, but you are making your attendees feel connected and involved in the planning process.
    One of the best examples that comes to mind is some of the large scale music festivals that take place around the world. These events happen year after year and the attendees are what make the events so special, not necessarily the performers. Yes, the lineups are usually amazing, but there are always people who attend no matter who perform. The reason they attend is because they are loyal fans of the event experience and this is what truly makes these outings so accomplished.

In Conclusion

Loyal attendees will fuel the repeated success of your event. Work hard to ensure your guests are happy and satisfied with their experience. When you plan an event, you want to create an atmosphere that your attendees will feel connected to. If you can provide them with a sense of ownership, create a wonderful experience and value their opinions, you are well on your way to success for years to come.

(Social Coup LLC)

“EG Tips” – 6 Things To Do When You Inherit a Struggling Event

“EG Tips” – 6 Things To Do When You Inherit a Struggling Event

Inheriting a struggling event is a challenge or a burden depending on your attitude. But with a couple of steps you can launch a much different, more successful happening.

You hear it in sports franchises all the time–how will the new coach turn things around? You hear it on a company level too. What will the new CEO do to show stockholders larger returns? In both of these instances, the pockets run deep. But what can one event planner do to turn around a struggling event? There might be more possibilities out there than you thought.

There are three phases in turning around a disappointing or struggling event:

  • Analysis. Figure out what’s wrong, how bad it is, and what you’ll do to fix it.
  • Fix. Plan and change up the event to meet more of your attendees’ needs and recruit new event goers.
  • Cement. Solidify the changes.
1. Analysis

Imagine It’s Worse than Anyone Told You
You can’t rely on your client or previous staff to tell you what’s wrong or how bad it is. Here’s why:

  • The people who are involved might not really know what’s wrong.
  • They may be underreporting the problems because they want you to get involved.
  • They may want to get it off their hands so they don’t bother to do their due diligence to uncover the true problems.
  • They may feel overwhelmed.

When you’re coming in to take over, always assume it’s worse than what you were told. If you’re prepared for it, you won’t feel so overwhelmed from the start.

Identify the Event Problem
Sometimes a board or client will tell you exactly what they believe the problem is, such as not having enough attendees. But that isn’t the problem. That’s the indication of a problem. Think about a romantic relationship that just broke up. If you ask the jilted person they may tell you the relationship is over because the other partner left. But that’s not why the relationship is over. The relationship is over because of some need not being met that caused the other person to leave.
Your event is in peril not because you’re not getting enough attendees. That’s merely an outward sign of something that’s lacking – like attendees not getting value.
You’ll have to uncover the situation on your own. Review past analytics and offerings. See what’s been done and what the results were. Look for areas of weakness and challenge. Don’t forget to take notes on areas for potential wins as well such as improvements introduced through new technology.

2. Fix

Make it About People and Personalization
One thing attendees are becoming accustomed to is personalization. It’s difficult to host a successful event without making it about people, and not just any people, your ideal attendee. Identify that market. Decide on what they want and how you can give it to them.

Create an Experience
Attendees will only remember the food and the exhibitors for so long but an experience will captivate them and cause them to share it with others. After you’ve analyzed the problem(s) with the event and changed your focus to people and personalization, it’s time to think about that experience.
Attendee experience is always important. Even currently successful events need to focus on it to remain successful. What works one year may not continue to work years into the future. Instead of reinventing the wheel each year, look for ways to improve the experience.

3. Cement

Bring in a Branding Expert
If your budget doesn’t support bringing in a branding expert for a consultation, you’ll need to do a lot of that rebranding research yourself. Companies are always in need of rebranding and a failing event will need the same. You can change everything about the event and make it the best event ever, but if it’s brand remains the same, and people think the event is the same as it always was, those changes won’t amount to anything.

Do It Yourself
As Dorie Clark, author of Reinventing You advises, “Rebranding just means changing how others view you.” Consult someone who knows how to rebrand a struggling entity or try the following ideas on your own:

  • Decide on a new brand/positioning based on what your ideal audience will respond to.
  • Rewrite your existing content to follow your new brand and mission.
  • Produce new content that speaks to your new brand.
  • Build a relationship with an industry influencer and introduce them to the new brand.
  • Look for tie-ins with other events that are similar to what you want to be. Movies, TV, and books use this approach. They are always likening their product to others to build off of an existing audience. For instance, many fantasy books liken themselves to Harry Potter. You can use ideas like, “If you want to go to SXSW but don’t have the travel budget, visit the ______ event instead.
  • Use social media targeting to get in front of your ideal audience.
  • Look for write-ups on your previous event (before you took over). Where appropriate respond with how you’re changing things to address concerns or dislikes. For instance, if someone wrote a review on the old event and how its lines were too long, respond back to tell them about the new beacon technology you’re using to mitigate that problem in the future.
  • Get social and have conversations. Explain what you’re doing that’s new and different and invite people to check it out.
  • Live the new brand. You can’t paint your event as “innovative” for example, if you’re still checking people in by hand off of a printed list. Every aspect of your event must support the new image and brand if you want it to ring true for your attendees.

In Conclusion

Inheriting a challenged event can feel a lot like orchestrating a squirrel rodeo some days, but if you break it down into manageable steps, you can begin to turn it around. Take the time to analyze the problems/challenges, assess how deep they run, implement a fix for today’s audience, and make your hard work stick by implementing a rebranding. Then you’ll be on your way to turning that event around.

(Social Coup LLC)