While it may take a bit more time for in-person face-to-face events to safely re-open, the needs of attendees will not change. Attendees are still looking to be educated, inspired, motivated, and searching for that next product or tool that will further their business objectives. On the flip side, exhibitors and sponsors are still looking to reach attendees. So how do you differentiate your experience by adding value for your attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors? And how do you put a price on it?
In a poll conducted during our recent webinar, Planning for a Successful 2021, we discovered that many event planners consider determining what to charge for their event to be a challenge. Here are a few insights our panelists shared.
First things first, understand your audience, sponsor & exhibitor needs. Knowing what to charge really hinges on understanding what you know about your audience and the environment they are in. For example, whether they are corporate or non-profit can greatly impact your pricing. Or if they are a member of your organization, they may have different expectations. When you know your audience, you can begin to plan how to create your pricing model.
- Survey your audience members, sponsors, and exhibitors. What would they expect to pay for your virtual event registration, virtual booth, or sponsorship opportunities? Share what you plan to offer, and then gauge where you think their budgets may be.
- Partner with industry colleagues to learn what they have charged and how the fee was received. Peers are more open than ever on sharing their experiences.
- Research similar events in your industry to gauge an average price. What are some unique sponsorship opportunities you have seen at these events?
We did a lot of internal surveys and membership surveys to gauge what the appetite might be, what budgets might be, and what people were really looking for so that we could price it correctly while also addressing what the needs were in the industry.
-John Rubsamen | Senior Director of Meetings and Events, Americans for the Arts
Budgets are tight, make sure you pack in as much value as possible. Make it appealing for your attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors. Show them the value upfront. Funding is uncertain, and professional development dollars may be heavily impacted. The more value you can provide upfront, the better, as it can be the deciding factor for those approving the spend.
- Highly promote your education offerings. This is key, as it provides value to those attendees looking to attain or retain certifications. Education at virtual events can be more appealing now since attendees are not having to choose to take this session over another during the same time. Sessions can now be recorded and viewed later. Promote this value.
- Promote your speakers early and their education topics. This will appeal to your audience once they know what a session will entail.
- Spotlight past attendees to have them evangelize the benefits of the education, networking, or professional growth opportunities your event has provided to them. Word of mouth is highly valued, so use it to your advantage.
You cannot afford to give it all away for free, so how can you offset the cost of your event while making it affordable to your attendees? Are there other revenue sources you can tap into? Consider sponsor-backed opportunities to offset costs.
- Have your key partners and exhibitors sponsor scholarships or a discount code that can be sent to your target audience.
- Your marketing outreach such as paid ads, emails, and social can be a great sponsor value because the more attendees you get through your virtual doors, the more sponsors can benefit.
- Attendees love getting swag on the show floor. Put together a package with several sponsors to promote their products and services to send to your attendees pre-event.
Event professionals and our industry peers are having to quickly adjust to planning in a virtual world, so the more ideas we can share with one another, the better and faster we can all adapt. Kindness can go a long way, so be sure you wear your empathy hat when talking to your vendors and attendees about their wants and needs.
If you missed our webinar, Planning for a Successful 2021, watch now for additional insights and lessons learned.