A Seat at the Table


Business events exec Ivo J. Franschitz offers a look at ways to fix the cost/value conundrum.

Ivo J. Franschitz

Ivo J. Franschitz, managing director of Vienna-based ENITED Business Events, says event planners face several “hot” issues. But one particularly sticky problem for corporate planners across Europe is having to deliver event value while having no say in the event budget. He shares insights on how to address that, such as having planners be included from the start of discussions.

What’s the most important issue that corporate planners currently face?

There are several “hot topics” in the world of business events. However, for me, one of the most obvious, is the ongoing dilemma that most corporate planners are facing and struggling with: It’s the cost vs. value discussion.

Most of them are not part of the corporation’s overall strategic decisions to use business events as tools for marketing/communication tasks and efforts. Hence, for the planners, the value arguments and creation are not of their concern. They are forced and driven by limited resources to get the most out of it (the more for less formula). Everything must fit into the given budget, and the cost discussion is leading the way for all operational decisions.

If all the content and requested services do not fit into those overall numbers, the elimination games start, and mostly with operational priorities. This approach leads many times to copy-and-paste solutions, without regard for the authenticity and the value-proposition of the event.

Can you suggest an approach that would promote value over cost?

Business events are first and foremost about creating and designing marketing and communications solutions. To break the current vicious circle, the demand side of our industry must finally realize this. They must accept that our field of business is more than just operative project management.

Consequently, this would mean that our knowledge and expertise are invited to the table much earlier in the decision-making process, rather than being involved very late. When building a house, you get the architect involved from the very start, not after the design and plans are done, the foundation has been laid, and the first floor has already been built. This is how it should also be in events.

However, there is an onus on the supply side too. We need the supply side to stop behaving like commodity traders, selling their services for any price depending on the day of the week, like at the fish market. We need to learn to step-up to our clients, to have a relationship based on mutual trust and respect.

When we have all the necessary people at the table from the very beginning the result would be a truly joint and competent effort, creating the best value propositions and solutions for the defined tasks and goals.

What’s the view from Vienna on the business events industry?

As a mature business events destination, Vienna has created a great brand in the international business events industry and continuously develops the necessary local network and tools (e.g. ambassador programmes and the like) to successfully promote and attract international events. The city is especially successful at attracting international knowledge and learning events. The medical and science industries are prominent examples of sectors that see Vienna as a natural destination for their international business events. Indeed, the international records and statistics from the likes of ICCA and UIA have shown for some time that Vienna is one of the top players in this field.

Additionally, the city has successfully established a series of public signature events (such as Life Ball, Opera Ball, marathon, and a number of festivals) which provide the stage and structure for experience and engagement events, such as incentives.

Furthermore, through its long history of being an important geopolitical player in Central and Eastern Europe, Vienna has been acting as the gateway to the east for many global corporations. Combined with its cultural attractiveness, this creates many reasons for business events to be held here.

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