The Events Business in Ireland – All Graft, Little Reward?

 

Anyone that has ever worked in events will know that it can sometimes be a glamour role if your organising a particularly glitzy event but the vast majority of the time the work is down in the dirt, pressure filled and on continuous time deadlines that never seems to ease up. From an outside in perspective events can seem like a glamorous profession with loads of upside and meeting very friendly people and making connections. When you are hosting or running an event you know that the reality is very different? So why is it difficult to make money from events?

 

People rarely make bookings there and then on the spot. Most events, but not all, tend to be awareness sessions with meet and greets the order of the day. Yes some sales are made and new contacts are formed but in the vast majority of instances consumers whether they are businesses or individuals rarely make quick on the spot decisions, even when limited time special offers are available. This is just human nature. Everyone guards against making a wrong decision and events are no different. People graze, collect information, narrow their choices and then start acting on their purchase needs. As much as every business thinks events are great selling opportunities from 7 years of experience this usually isn’t the case.

 

Getting people to the events is a challenge in itself. Whether its a company specific invitation event that you are hosting (e.g. a 1 hour talk) or an external event that you are paying to exhibit at it is always a challenge to get as many people there as possible. For company own events getting 40-50 people to attend even when its free of charge is a big challenge. Best bet is to tie in with a business organisation as co-hosts (ISME, Local Chamber, Local Enterprise Centre) and split the burden of getting the attendees. In the case of an external event money has to be spent on advertising, marketing, staff, referrals, etc to make attendees aware of the event and its purpose. Getting thousands to a large event is very difficult as competition is high and resources are always in limited supply!    

 

Cost of hosting versus short term rewards. The cost of hosting events varies depending on the nature of the event and its goal. For a nice venue with tea/coffee/refreshment/room hire the cost can start from €250/€300 and go up to €500 for a lunchtime event with all the trimmings provided. For a small business that can be quite a spend and its never easy to get that back. How many new customers will come from an attendance of 50 businesses/people at random? The answer is less than you think! If you got one new customer from the 50 you are doing very well and sometimes it can be just 1 from every two-three events you host. Again the goals must be longer term and don’t expect miracles to happen . Yes follow up with every attendee, arrange to meet face to face with every possible

 

Events are viewed in the trade as a branding exercise as much as a sales opportunity. This is not by choice it is by realism. As previously discussed sales are hard to come by on the day of the event so the next best thing is getting the word out and build up your name awareness at every event you hold. Aim for the most exposure you can get, try and get in some of the local papers, get other organisations to share your event reviews and take loads of photos at the event so that you can pump the follow up campaigns. If you make your money back directly from events over the course of a year you are doing well. Use that as a baseline criteria and work upwards from there.

 

Spending money to make money as the old adage goes and if you are not proactive out there someone else will be. They will be the name that people remember after an event instead of you. There is always the chance you will run into someone at the right time and will create a profitable connection. Sometimes if you are not putting yourself out there those types of connections cant happen. Being proactive is always a good thing but don’t get too down if you don’t see immediate results.

 

So to finish up events can be a good addition to your marketing mix. From experience the best advice would be to keep the costs to a minimum without cutting costs, choose a nice venue (ideally unique) that wants to work with you but don’t go overboard,  spend as much time on your actual presentation as getting attendees to the event, expect 1/3 of the sign ups to drop out if it is a free event, make sure you get every attendees full contact details and follow up with everyone after the event (call all people you have numbers for as a courtesy and email the rest. Add everyone to your newsfeed and if you have time leave a message on their LinkedIn page as a personal touch!

 

Avid Partners – Accountants & Business Advisors. www.avidpartners.ie. 0818 303087. Your Success Is Our Goal!

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