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The Strategic Meeting Planner

In an age of slashed budgets, reduced corporate travel and a growing trend away from costly meetings and events, meeting planners are being forced to prove to their bosses that they can be strategic assets to the organization.

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By showing increased revenue, customer retention and satisfaction from a cost efficient, streamlined, automated meeting planning program they can do just that.

Consider these statistics from Successful Meetings Magazine's 2003 State of the Industry Report:

  • 52% use online registration
  • 89% predict that cost control requirements will increase
  • 60% promote meetings/events on the web

And most importantly:

  • 36% (the largest percentage) say their biggest challenge is showing tangible value from meetings/contributions

In other words, most meeting planners feel that they need to become more strategic to the organization and show real ROI, or for the event marketing industry, what Cvent likes to call ROE - return on events. There are several steps you can take to prove your worth to the organization as a strategic asset that is concerned with both the top and bottom lines.

Automated Event Planning and eMarketing

With slightly more than 50% of meeting and event planners using online registration today, many have come to the realization that the Internet is crucial to their efforts. Today, nearly every facet of business is done on the Internet. Nearly everyone today has an email address. Email is fast becoming the preferred method of business communication. If you are not using email efficiently and effectively to market your events, products and services consider these facts:

  • According to the American Management Association, email has overtaken the phone and fax as the preferred method of communications of North Americans
  • Jupiter Communications estimates that paper campaigns typically get a 1-2% response rate, while email campaigns average between 5-15%
  • Forrester Research predicts that marketers in the US will have tripled their email marketing budgets by 2004
  • According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 75% of executives say that email will be their primary source of information by 2005
  • With email you can get up to 90% of results in 48 hours. Regular mail can take days or weeks. The importance of using email to market your events is obvious and the cost savings can be tremendous. But automated event planning is more than just sending electronic invitations instead of paper ones. You need a back-end system that will monitor responses, trigger reminder emails, track important customer/invitee information, monitor and manage payments, and give you the business intelligence you need to make better decisions about your events so you can better market them in the future

Benefits for Every Stakeholder

The advantages of an online registration and eMarketing system are clear:

  • Online registration is faster and easier for your invitees
  • Personalized, targeted email marketing messages increase attendance
  • Automated confirmations and reminders reduce event attrition

But how do they make you more strategic? For any given event, there are three primary stakeholders: the invitee/customer, the event planner, and your boss. To be strategic you need to satisfy all of them. Here's how an automated online event registration and eMarketing system benefits all three stakeholders:

Invitee
  • Simple convenient registration
  • Instant confirmation and updates
  • Access to real-time information
Meeting Planner
  • Greater response rates
  • Higher productivity and efficiency
  • Quicker data collection and reporting
The Boss
  • Higher revenues/attendance
  • Decreased costs
  • Improved attendee satisfaction

"Monetizing the No's"

One of the most innovative ways to show ROE is what Cvent calls "Monetizing the No's." With traditional snail mail invitations to prospects, if someone can't attend a particular event, they simply throw the invitation away. With online regret surveys, not only can you find out why someone can not attend an event, you can ask if they would like more information or a personal follow-up.

With our own marketing efforts, we typically can add an additional 2-3% to our response rate by identifying customers that cannot make the event, but want more information. These potential leads would have been lost with traditional marketing efforts; but with email marketing, you can turn a "No" into real revenue. It's a marketer's dream not only to find out why someone buys but also why some didn't. This is a perfect example of how you can become more strategic to your organization.

Showing ROE

The cost savings and return on investment for a typical meeting planner is substantial when using an online registration system. Not only do you save thousands of dollars on paper-based invitation packets and mailers, but you also receive the benefits of better and faster response rates. While results vary by event and registrant volume, any organization can benefit from these efficiencies.

Case Study Nasdaq

Take a look at how one of the world's best-known stock exchanges used Cvent's online event registration and email marketing tools to improve their ROE:

ROE Indicator Before Cvent After Cvent
Attendance Flat, no change Response rates doubled, attendance increased
Cost Reduction Expensive traditional marketing expenses A total savings of more than $220,000
Time to Market 6 weeks 48 hours
Speed/cost of data entry and fee collection Registration and payment were manually processed Automated online registration and payment freed up 50% of staff-related processing time
Overhead Reduction In-house system only met 50% of requirements No IT implementation required

Conclusion Institutionalize Marketing 101 Concepts

Hopefully by now you understand the importance of automating the online registration process and using proven eMarketing concepts to improve your attendance and save time and money. To summarize, some of the key concepts included the following:

  • Personalize your emails -an absolute must when conducting an eMarketing campaign
  • Segment the marketing message. Target the right people with the right message
  • Use pre-registration questions to deliver a better event. Don't wait until after the conference to find out what your attendees want - it's too late. Ask them before the event!
  • Monetize the "No's." Use surveys to determine if someone is still interested in your product even if they can't attend your event
  • Analyze target markets by response rate and perform cross-event analysis - use surveys and reports to uncover what your customers need the most
  • Send strategic reminders and communicate with attendees to improve attendance, lower attrition rates, and build relationships

Most importantly, recognize that you can't do all of this yourself. Find a strategic partner like Cvent that has experience in all of these areas and we can help you become a strategic meeting planner.

To find out how Cvent can help you maximize your return on events contact us.

Cvent Solutions

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