Three Big Things Event Planners Say About Planning an Event

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It's only logical that no one knows more about event planning than...professional event planners.

So, when the team at the Chateau Le Jardin conference and event center just outside Toronto had questions about the top concerns, success metrics, and promotional channel for corporate events, they did some research among event planners, and produced this amazing infographic.

The results were a mix of the expected and the curious. Here are three key takeaways from the research.

1) The biggest concern of corporate event planners is...confusing.

Corporate event planners were asked both about their main concerns and how they measure event success. In theory, the answers to these two questions should be highly correlated (e.g., if the biggest concern is attendee engagement, then the top success metric would be some measure of attendee engagement).

In practice, the answers to the two questions diverged quite significantly.

While the highest share—82%—of event planners said that budget is their biggest concern, the top measure of event success (cited by 91% of respondents) was "attendee satisfaction."

And though two-thirds of planners measure event ROI as a success metric, only slightly more than half (54%) identified this as their biggest concern.

In her book, The Strategic Planning Guide for Event Professionals, author and event expert Christy Lamagna makes the case that defining and achieving strategic objectives should be biggest concern in event planning.

According to Lamagna, by embracing strategic event planning, corporate marketing teams can organize and manage live events that consistently deliver measurable ROI and influence what their "target audiences feel, think, say and do."

Yet only 61% of the planners in this study said they measured event success according to specific event objectives. Making budget the biggest concern seems like tail-wagging-the-dog thinking; of course staying within budget is important, but developing strategic event objectives should come first—then a budget established that supports those objectives.


2) Attendees aren't there for the music.

The top two priorities for attendees at corporate events are networking (82%) and learning (71%). Entertainment as a priority is way down at 38%.

This is hardly surprising, as attendees who live anywhere near a major metropolitan area can go to a show or comedy club reasonably nearby almost any time. But the opportunity to mix and mingle with some of the smartest people in their industry is something special.

Given the importance attendees place on learning (event content), event planners logically and wisely put significant effort into developing a conference schedule filled with interesting topics and engaging speakers.

But given the even higher importance attendees place on networking, planners would be smart to also focus on attracting a relevant audience, providing multiple opportunities for networking, and choosing a venue and activities that facilitate networking. Concerts by rock legends from the 80s are fun, but they make conversation difficult.


3) Put your money where your (word of) mouth is.

The largest share of event planners—74%—identify social media as their most important tool for event marketing, putting it ahead of email marketing (66%) and websites (60%).

And yet 54% say they spend less than $200 on social media. Nearly four out of five (79%) spend less than $1,000.

47% of event planners have a dedicated social media team, which is great. Another 10% outsource this function, which can also work well.

But 14% use interns and 30% have no one dedicated to social media, indicating a lack of strategic emphasis on this "most important tool."

The priority placed on and budget allocated to social media marketing will vary, of course, by the size and type of event. But generally speaking, given the effectiveness of social media as an event marketing platform, it makes sense to fund and staff it accordingly.

Check out the full infographic from Chateau Le Jardin for additional insights.