Recessions have a history of disproportionately impacting the events industry, and Unbridled is no stranger to these highs and lows that have affected our economy. After all, we founded a meeting planning and travel company just weeks after the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, and since then have endured and grown through The Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Are we truly in a recession? According to Fortune Magazine, economic experts say ‘It’s apt to take at least six months to know if we are likely to bring down inflation without crippling the economy,’ and many are finding this to be the most challenging time in history for economic forecasting. With rising costs and so much economic uncertainty, how might the events industry brace for this new wave of impact?
To answer this question, we’ve devised a list of 7 cost-saving strategies for corporate event planners to keep in mind with a possible recession on the horizon.
1. Start with a strategy-led approach to each event.
When a company understands the why behind their event, outside forces tend to have less impact on the direction that the event takes. By staying purpose-focused in the planning of a program, you can maintain a positive and productive outcome despite new limitations, such as cost-cutting or internal staff changes.
2. Narrow down your audience
Often events can become a catch-all, encompassing different kinds of attendees, across multiple departments. Map out and identify your primary audience based on your event objectives. Who are the most critical players in service to those goals? Consider crafting content and the experience around this core group, while shifting secondary audiences either virtually or in smaller localized events. By narrowing your audience, you can maximize the attendee impact, and keep events focused on key outcome objectives.
3. Determining the format
One of the easiest moves to make for event planners today is to go virtual. Virtual events cost a fraction of in-person events and greatly reduce an event’s carbon footprint. However, for many organizers and audiences, virtual events (no matter how well produced) simply can’t replace the value of in-person connection. Emerging event formats like hybrid events and regional events give planners more possibilities. For example, one of our clients paired a virtual event focused on content distribution with an in-person event focused on operating and interacting with the knowledge distributed in the virtual event. This allowed them to save money on show production and focus more on face-to-face connection.
4. Alter your event duration
One trend that we’ve seen for both in-person events and certainly virtual events is to shave a day off a typical event pattern. So, events go from 4 to 3 or 3 to 2. Condensing an events duration shakes up legacy agendas and forces event organizers to focus on the critical components and objectives of the event. It can also drastically help to reduce the overall cost of the event.
5. Consider your event location
Not all event locations are created equal. While there are some fan favorites, like sun belt locations, there are also so many B-list cities that are well suited and making great efforts to incentivize business events. Consider cities like Indianapolis, over Nashville, or other cities likes Pittsburgh, Omaha, Greensboro, and many more.
6. Optimize your events portfolio
One of the recommendations that we led with after the pandemic cooled down was for event planners to take a fresh look at their total events portfolio. There’s some great advice on how to do this in our ebook: The New Events Ecosystem. One component of this is considering how you can leverage virtual events or new and emerging event formats to envision a new events portfolio tuned to the post pandemic world and new attendee preferences and needs.
7. Look at big ticket items and get creative
Big ticket expense items may present other opportunities to think differently about your event. What about doing away with the massive screens, and moving your general session into theaters with crescent rounds and narrative-rich content in novel format? Another idea could be to cancel one evening event and give attendees more time and freedom to spend an evening as they wish. Do you need a top tier celebrity speaker, or can you look into B and C-tier options? Think about cost-saving alternatives that will still contribute to your overall key goals.
Proven time and time again, the events industry is incredibly resilient and remains to be a vital experience for today’s corporations. Be prepared to put your best foot forward through these cost-saving strategies, in the midst of potential turbulence. For more help on innovative strategies to maximize your bottom line, reach out to us at Unbridled — your full-service event solutions provider.