Are you tasked with organizing your company's next corporate event?
We get it: planning an event can be a headache. Not only are you tasked with managing a million moving parts, you also have some serious challenges to overcome.
Let's dive into some of the key hurdles that professionals in the industry face and the potential challenges that you might come across.
Challenge 1: Budget
Budget is always the biggest challenge those managing events face.
Whether it’s knowing how to allocate correctly or handling last-minute adjustments, there’s always something on that Excel spreadsheet poised to stress you out.
Common Budget Challenges in Event Planning
You’re not alone: budget challenges are something event managers often face, as they may need to make last-minute adjustments or adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
And we get it – dealing with budgets is a constant hassle, especially when prices aren't on your side.
Learn more about how to stay on budget when planning your next event.
Finding cost-effective solutions in events can be challenging. We all know how much costs have increased over the past few years.
You're not alone in this. In fact, according to Hire Space, some event costs have gone up massively - sometimes by as much as 40%.
The 2023 Incentive Travel Index reported that 76% of people indicated rising costs and inflation as a challenge. While event program budgets are increasing, prices are often rising at a faster pace.
We've seen this with our clients as well; costs aren't quite the same as they used to be. Everything from food to hotel rooms costs more than it did in 2019, and budgets can’t keep up.
Unfortunately, dealing with rising prices isn't just about cutting things here and there. You need to take a close look at your event and budget to make sure you're spending money where it really matters, instead of just skipping something like a business trip to save a bit of money.
How do you counteract inflation and rising costs? Check out our article on budgeting for your conference.
Challenge 2: Attendee Engagement
Attendee engagement is always a difficult challenge when hosting an event. Everything is vying for attention these days: emails, social media, texts. Unfortunately, attendees’ lives don’t pause while they’re at your event, so you have to reckon with the distractions they’re inevitably going to face.
Engagement is more than just offering fun activities for attendees. It’s making sure they have meaningful interactions and receive value from your event. Plus, you want to make sure your speakers and sponsors get value out of the event as well. Let’s look at some areas where you can focus.
Enhancing Attendee Interaction and Participation
Sponsors expect a lot out of your events, and they want attendees to interact with them. But the same old same old tends to lose its shine over the years (who actually wants a tabletop in a hallway anymore?).
Passport books have been a staple of events for years, and even though they get a negative reputation, they can still be a very effective way to drive interaction between attendees and sponsors. We implemented this in a recent event and saw an impressive increase in participation among attendees.
We've also seen immense success with integrating "Expo After Dark'' events to help attendees interact with vendors in a more casual setting. Dimmed lights, live music, and a chatty atmosphere create an ideal setting for attendees to network in a relaxed climate.
Think through different ways you can drive interaction between your sponsors and attendees – in ways that both parties actually enjoy. Fun activations throughout the event? Yes, please.
Innovative Ideas For Engagement
As the host of your event, you likely feel the need to constantly generate innovative ideas to engage your audience.
In fact, according to Bizzabo, 80% of event professionals report measuring event success based on attendee engagement and satisfaction.
So, as the host, you’ve got to come up with fun and interesting activities to keep your attendees interested. It’s not just about giving them information; it’s about making the entire experience enjoyable and memorable.
You can plan interactive workshops, Q&A sessions, and incorporate AI technology into activities to make them more exciting.
To do this well, you need to know what your audience likes. The goal is to make sure people aren’t just sitting there and listening but are actually participating and having a good time. Polling prior to the event can help steer you in the right direction for what your attendees want.
Check out our article on attendee engagement for more ideas.
Challenge 3: Meeting the Travel Challenge
Whether it’s a million canceled flights or doors flying off midflight, travel today seems like more nuisance than fun. When it comes to planning flights for others? Might as well make that your full-time job.
Trust us, everyone managing events struggles with managing travel. Let’s take a look at a few challenges below.
Ever feel like you're engaging in a complex jigsaw puzzle when booking multiple flight schedules and hotels?
Putting together this travel puzzle is like playing a strategic game, similar to the game of Tetris. You must assemble all the pieces to craft a smooth journey for your attendees.
This means dealing with things like making sure people arrive and leave at the right times and have backup plans when travel gets delayed. Which can get overwhelming when you add 50, 100, 500 more people to the guest list.
Not to mention staying on top of ever-changing travel regulations. Travel restrictions continue to shift, although Europe’s postponement of the launch of the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) until 2025 is welcome news (IRF 2024 Trends Report).
With so many moving parts, ensuring everything goes smoothly for everyone requires a careful balance of planning, coordination, and flexibility.
Personalizing Travel for Attendees
Customizing the travel journey can be an excellent strategy to elevate the overall event experience for attendees.
But it comes with its own challenges.
Whether it’s simply ensuring everyone has the best flight path or getting key attendees upgrades, customizing flight itineraries can be challenging.
Additionally, there is the challenge of correctly awarding flight points to the users, which may not have been something you expected to organize, right?
Just like the puzzle of managing logistics, it’s important to keep a thorough log of each attendee’s preferences (window or aisle!), airline memberships, upgrades, and more, to elevate their experience. Like we said, full-time job.
Challenge 4: General Health and Safety Concerns
The world is much more aware of how illnesses can impact events, and that adds a bit of pressure on event managers.
You have the challenge of making sure both staff and attendees stay safe by putting in solid safety measures.
You're the guardian of good times, armed with hand sanitizers and safety plans. You're the one making sure attendees have a blast without any unwanted event crashers (aka germs).
Some strategies you can incorporate could be providing sanitization stations throughout the venue, particularly at entrances, exits, and high-traffic areas.
You can implement contactless solutions for check-ins, payments, and other interactions to reduce physical contact between attendees and staff.
Ultimately, you can always encourage individuals to stay home if they feel sick, and to practice good hygiene throughout the event.
Challenge 5: Ongoing Shifts in Consumer Behavior
After the challenges faced in 2020, event managers are now navigating the shifts in consumer behavior.
People are rebounding into regular activities so much that they might be feeling burnt out.
Also, if pandemic times taught us anything, it's that our time is valuable, and many are reassessing their willingness to attend every event.
That means you have to adjust your strategies to get people to attend (AKA you have to show value).
Challenge 6: Securing Engaging Speakers and Entertainment
You want to make your event engaging, educational, and memorable. We get it.
The success of your event often hinges on a fundamental factor—the selection of a solid speaker lineup.
Importance of Selecting Dynamic Speakers
The last thing you want is for your audience to be bored or, even worse, spread negative sentiment about your event.
To address these challenges, you should seek vetted speakers who are experts in their fields and have an engaging presentation style.
Learn more about how to find the best conference keynote speaker for your next event.
Locking in Crowd-Pleasing Event Entertainment
When planning an event, it is important to captivate and engage your audience in new and exciting ways.
Long gone are the times when event attendees are willing to endure lengthy 4-hour presentations without any breaks.
How can you transform your event from a data marathon to an enjoyable experience?
Consider getting attendees involved in the conversation. Whether it’s breaking up sessions with activities or simply having attendees participate in the presentations, you need to re-evaluate your agenda so as not to leave everyone fidgeting in their seats.
Remember, the more memorable and enjoyable the experience, the more likely your audience will leave with positive impressions and eagerly anticipate your next event.
Challenge 7: Handling Unexpected Issues or Emergencies
Thinking about what could go wrong at your event before it happens might seem like a negative mindset, but it’s one of the most vital things you will do in the planning stages of an event.
A 2023 Capterra study revealed that only 49% of U.S. companies have a formal crisis communication plan. Too many businesses are overlooking the importance of thorough preparation— let’s make sure yours isn’t one of them
Wondering how to begin? Create a flow chart of your event timeline and develop scenarios. Try mapping out the possible outcomes or consequences of each risk.
Next, consider the worst-case, best-case, and most likely scenarios for each risk. Once you have these scenarios outlined, you can then plan how they might impact your event.
It's also important to identify key decision makers -– those individuals who have the authority and responsibility to act on each scenario – and what their roles are onsite.
Challenge 8: Social Corporate Responsibility
Events, conferences, and meetings can have a significant impact on the environment, from travel emissions to waste and food production.
This is a large concern on a global scale, and can often feel futile when planning individual events. There are certain things that feel necessary at any event – signage, napkins, badges. And more sustainable options can often equal higher costs.
There are ways to reduce your carbon footprint at events, though. For example, you can incorporate energy-efficient technologies, go paperless, and reduce single-use plastics and waste. Check out our article on ways to introduce sustainability into your events.
Feeling overwhelmed? Try not to stress too much. It's nearly impossible to have a completely carbon-neutral event. But by taking steps to reduce the carbon footprint of your event, you can make a positive impact on the environment, while also creating a more responsible and sustainable image for your brand.
Challenge 9: Customizing Menus for Diverse Dietary Needs
Now, more than ever, it's crucial for event menus to accommodate dietary restrictions.
According to Statista, more than 4 in 10 Americans now follow some kind of nutrition rules or have dietary restrictions.
You may be wondering, how many rules or diets should you be paying attention to?
Here are some of the most common dietary restrictions according to MedicineNet to consider when designing the menu for your next event:
- Food allergies (peanuts, nuts, eggs, milk, fish, soy, wheat)
- Celiac disease and gluten-free
- Vegetarian and vegan diets
- Lactose intolerant
- Kosher or Kashrut
How should you go about accommodating all your guest's preferences and allergies?
First, you should ask your guests in advance about any food allergies or dietary restrictions to make sure you’re prepared to serve food they can enjoy.
Second, utilize display cards on menus to let guests know what they can and cannot eat at events. For example, you can simply note (GF, VG, V) in the corner of each card for gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options to signal to guests what they can choose from.
Third, try to have a wide variety and simple options for guests to choose from. And work closely with clients who may have multiple food allergies to have special meals made just for them.
Challenge 10: Visibility
One of the keys to a successful event is ensuring the right amount of visibility.
Where numerous vendors, hotels, and decor elements are involved, clients sometimes express concerns about access to information (or even too much information!).
It’s important to consider what information you need to know from your event manager, and how you prefer to see that information. Make sure you clearly communicate that up front so you don’t run into frustrations or confusion throughout the event planning process.
Some areas we typically see clients needing visibility:
- Upcoming project needs
- Who is working on a project
- Overall timeline
- KPI tracking
- Venue insights
If your event manager can’t offer visibility into the entire planning process, it may be worth asking why.
In preparing for your upcoming event, you're bound to encounter most, if not all, of the challenges mentioned earlier. With a bit of luck, it might just be a couple.
Above all, if you choose to collaborate with an event management agency, you won't have to navigate the solutions to event challenges on your own.
Consider working with a professional event management agency to help lighten the load and allow you to dedicate more time to critical tasks. They can help alleviate your stress and prioritize what matters.