When Event Planning Meets MarketingDecember 1, 2016

December 1, 2016

When Event Planning Meets Marketing

Vasiloff,Kate-GBTA-110x140Kate Vasiloff is Research Manager at the GBTA Foundation, the research and education arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). As such, Kate is responsible for developing and managing partner research studies on a variety of business travel-related topics. Prior to working for GBTA, Kate conducted public opinion polling for political, non-profit organizations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Survey Methodology from the University of Connecticut.

One-half (49 percent) of event planners report the marketing departments at their respective companies are always or often involved in the planning and execution of events, and an overwhelming majority find value in this type of partnership. This comes from new research from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), in partnership with Cvent.

The new research report explores the prevalence and types of collaboration between event planners and marketing departments in the planning and execution of company events. Where such collaboration exists, the study explores the origins, structure, benefits and best practices for this relationship. Where it does not exist, the research investigates reasons for not pursuing such a collaboration.

“Collaboration across departments…can help companies enhance the success of their meetings and events.”

The study is based on 10 one-on-one, in-depth, phone interviews with individuals with large-scale event-planning responsibilities who reside and work in North America. In addition, a supplemental online survey of 157 travel buyers in North America who have some level of involvement in planning or overseeing meetings or events for their organization was fielded in February.

Wearing Many Hats

Many organizations across all industries host large-scale events or meetings requiring hours of planning and coordination. While these responsibilities can fall on the shoulders of full-time event planners within a company, more often than not, an employee who wears many hats, such as a travel manager, may take this on. Because event planning is usually not a primary responsibility, stepping into such a role can be challenging and event planners are often forced to come up with creative solutions to close skill or knowledge gaps in order to plan and execute successful events.

Meetings and events usually have a number of objectives set by multiple people or departments within an organization, such as attendee or revenue goals, the number of leads generated or the amount of educational content delivered. It is the event planner’s goal to deliver an experience that satisfies all objectives, which takes careful planning and prioritization.

More than half (53 percent) of event planners feel setting objectives to support overall business goals is the most important factor to consider when planning a meeting or event. About one in five (19 percent) feel planning logistics or thinking about the ROI or event’s objectives is the most important aspect. Looking beyond logistics, only six percent of event planners feel the design and content of a meeting or event is the most important part of planning, but that does not make it any less vital to the success of an event. It is possible this area is less familiar to event planners, its value is not as readily understood or reported, leading them to look beyond themselves and their department to help close this gap.

Event planners and marketers have very specialized, but very different skill sets. While event planners excel at arranging logistics and many other areas of meetings and events, they may not be the best equipped to design email templates, registration pages and the like. Marketing team members may have a better handle on what messaging will attract attendee targets or what look and feel will support or perpetuate a company’s image and brand consistency. Grabbing the attention of potential attendees and ultimately converting that interest into registered attendees is a vital part of any event’s success. This is where collaboration across departments comes into play and can help companies enhance the success of their meetings and events.

Cross-Company Collaboration

Among those currently collaborating within their companies, event planning and marketing teams do so throughout the lifecycle of an event’s planning, execution and debrief. When you look at the opportunities for collaboration, currently the highest level of collaboration (59 percent) is around email communication. During the planning stages of the event, marketing teams and event planners frequently work together to determine the event’s theme (49 percent), logo (49 percent) and color scheme (37 percent). A majority continue to work together onsite with signage (54 percent), but collaboration drops off when it comes to post-event communications (41 percent) and the event debrief (33 percent), showing opportunities to continue collaboration to determine event success.

Like any cross-company collaboration, getting to a good working relationship often comes with challenges along the way including lack of communication, control issues, budget constraints, timeline delays and lack of alignment on marketing event goals with meetings program guidelines.

Communication issues can be resolved by identifying a person from each department to be the main point of contact to avoid any confusion. Securing buy-in from company leadership and formalizing partnerships can help avoid control issues. Tracking meeting and event spend, including marketing materials, allows for greater understanding of the volume of resources used in an event and can set a company up for more strategic budgeting in the future. Setting realistic timelines is vital to successful collaboration, and communicating the needs and expectations of the event early in the conceptualization phase of the event can maximize the use of each team’s expertise, as well as secure buy-in from all parties involved. If both teams do not fully understand the purpose and goals of the event from the start, timelines and communication — as well as the overall event — will suffer.

While there is no single roadmap to successful collaboration between marketing and event planning teams, establishing clear lines of communication, demonstrating an openness to fresh ideas and accounting for time and money spent is a good place to start. By having constant alignment across SMM (Strategic Meetings Management) programs, marketing and communications teams, companies can deliver consistent messaging and maintain the integrity of their brand across all platforms. Above all, team members should respect each other for their strengths and unique talents each brings to the collaboration table. C&IT

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