Encore Shares Insights on Designing for Impact on a Budget

A Sponsored Message From Encore

Author: Casey Gale       

seated people watching large screen that says welcome

Encore’s activation at IMEX America 23 in Las Vegas “was a great example of creating an immersive, engaging experience with choices to save on budget,” said Encore’s Johanna Walsh. (Courtesy of IMEX America)

In 2024, nearly half of meeting professionals expect increased budgets while 35 percent of budgets will remain flat, according to preliminary results from the Q4 2023 Encore Planner Pulse survey of nearly 2,000 meeting professionals. It’s a good indication that stakeholders recognize the value of events for their organization, but planners still face budget challenges, particularly in the areas of F&B and event technology where costs continue to rise. As the events industry rings in the new year, Encore has some advice for planners looking to design an event that will wow attendees without overspending.

“One of our key customers has some great advice here, which is to block out plenty of time to review your proposals as well as [have a] consultative call with your contact to ask questions and ask for alternative solutions,” said Johanna Walsh, vice president of production at Encore, “if it doesn’t fit your budget or your vision.”

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Johanna Walsh

When it came to designing Convening Leaders 2024, strategizing in advance allowed Encore and PCMA to plan for the appropriate resources, both in terms of equipment and the team members needed to execute the vision within budget. As a customer, PCMA was flexible in the technology used throughout the event, which gave Encore the freedom to innovate for the budget. Just one example: The event is using a mix of projection, LED, and reusable printed and hard scenic design to create the environment and display content — a method that is more cost-efficient than using a large LED screen. Where appropriate, PCMA also is using convention center inventory, like staging, in conjunction with custom staging elements.

Here are a few ideas Walsh shared on how anyone can apply Encore’s key lessons from Convening Leaders 2024 to their own event:

Find content solutions within your budget. — Content is crucial to grabbing the audience’s attention and conveying your message. While custom content is always a top-notch experience, there are self-serve and semi-custom creative options from Encore’s Creative Services department that can add professional, attention-grabbing impact within a variety of budget.

Think creatively about LED use. — Using LED panels or totems to create a scenic backdrop instead of a large LED screen in the center of the stage can be a more affordable option. “The Encore activation at IMEX was a great example of creating an immersive, engaging experience with choices to save on budget,” said Walsh. “One example was choosing stacked projection versus an LED wall.”

Make different choices for scenic design. — Leveraging printed materials instead of screens for scenic design can equal big savings. Modular rental equipment that can create multiple designs also is affordable and eco-friendly.

Think differently about intelligent versus traditional lighting. — We often think of intelligent lighting as an expensive upgrade. But when you factor in the labor cost of focusing a large amount of traditional fixtures into a space versus the labor cost of that focus with intelligent fixtures, sometimes intelligent lighting is a budget saver.

Get creative with staging. — Most people think about hotel decking as only being able to form a rectangle, and that anything beyond that involves bringing in a custom staging company. In fact, you can configure hotel decking in a variety of creative ways to get a custom stage look without having to bring in costly outside resources.

Designing for Inclusivity

In 2023, Encore worked with research firm Kantar to conduct qualitative research across business leaders and influencers around the world, as well as in-depth qualitative research among event professionals, to get an understanding on how diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) initiatives are materializing from concepts into real-life actions. The events industry has embraced DEIB into its event programs, and so Encore has been training its teams to ask questions that can result in more inclusive design options, including colorblindness-ready and ADA-compliant creative and lighting packages that complement diverse skin types.


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