Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 20 2015

3 Lessons That Will Save Money On Your Next Meeting

Mary Reynolds Kane

It’s the word that keeps you up at night. It’s the subject of countless meetings and conference calls. It’s on every meeting planner’s mind.

The budget.

No matter the size of your meeting, chances are you’re always looking for opportunities to rein in your expenses while continuing to connect with more attendees. I caught up with JR Sherman, President and Chief Strategy Officer at Lanyon, for insights into some key areas where meeting planners can make adjustments. Here are three lessons that will save money on your next meeting.

1) Your sourcing process can be a source for cutting costs.

Is your RFP process leveraging the power of competition?

“Some organizations will debate which registration system to use over pennies of difference, but they’ll often just accept a venue’s pricing estimates without much comparison,” Sherman says.

Sherman says that some of Lanyon’s clients have seen cost savings between 10 and 40 percent when using the company’s free sourcing tool. However, saving money doesn’t always mean stashing it in the organization’s bank account. As event technology continues to advance, those extra funds can play a critical role in shaping a more compelling convention. From beacons to second-screen tools to virtual reality and more, planners will want to consider which elements can elevate the experience.

“By simply using free sourcing tools to send RFPs to hotels, you can save enough money to be able to invest in the technological innovations that can drive on-site engagement,” Sherman says.

SEE ALSO: 55 Percent Of Your Meeting Budget Should Be Spent Here

2) You don’t have to pay that next big invoice for web design.

Should you hire an outside firm to build that impressive conference website? Should you consider paying for an employee to master HTML? No and no.

While web design used to feel overwhelming, the days of confusing code are long gone. Now, building a professional website to impress your prospective attendees is easier than ever. Inserting dynamic background images, creating an interactive user experience, experimenting with alternative fonts and more — the list of what anyone can do with today’s web design templates and tools goes on.

Sherman points out that there is one essential ingredient on that list: making the website mobile-ready.

“It’s not just about creating a nice website for the meeting,” Sherman says. “It’s about providing a streamlined experience for participants as they switch from their mobile devices to their desktop computers.”

For example, a prospective attendee might register for a meeting via a computer, browse educational sessions via tablet, book a hotel room via the computer, engage with attendees on-site via a smartphone and return to the computer to complete the post-meeting survey. No matter how the audience members are engaging with the website, Sherman says that they expect content to be easy to access.

SEE ALSO: 5 Tips To Enhance Your Annual Meeting Website

3) Managing your data can start with a more manageable price tag.

Big data is a big point of discussion in the meetings industry. How can you help exhibitors measure ROI for their booths? Are you doing enough to track attendee behaviors? Are you connecting the dots across all of your organization’s meetings and events? Do you understand which marketing tactics are influencing registration and purchasing decisions?

If you haven’t embraced a data collection and management strategy yet, it’s important to remember that the first step can be small. Rather than paying for the most expensive data solution available, Sherman recommends outlining your objectives to find a platform that meets your needs.

“Know what you want to do with data and how extensively you want to engage with data before you begin your program,” Sherman says. “It will determine the technology you need right from the start.”

“No matter where you start, you can always scale up to meet the needs of broader data analysis,” Sherman adds. “You can start simple and adapt as your data management needs grow.”

For more insights into reducing costs and improving efficiencies, check out “How To Initiate A Successful Strategic Meeting Management Program.”

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