Short lead times for event planners, is an opinionated topic. While some event planners and event professionals view this as an opportunity, others view it as a planning risk and a rushed task.
Every topic in the meetings industry have opinions, one contradicting the viewpoint of the other. Let’s hear it from the event professionals, and then discuss the pros and cons of both the angles.
Let’s face it, it has been duly observed that many times, impromptu plans lead to the best events that stand out from the planned ones.
But on the other hand, event planners sometimes are not able to pull off all the settings in the set budget which may lead to a minimization in the event ROI. Short lead times and event planners basically revolve around — compromise, negotiations, and smart decisions.
According to C&IT magazine’s article, here are a few thoughts expressed by the players in the event industry:
Clients, event planners, and venue partners have set the bar at this level collectively by being able to deliver. It’s a game changer. — Ellen Boddington (President, Stellar Conference & Event Management Inc., Toronto)
Lots of people can’t commit to a full day-long event and we are adapting our meetings to take this into account. I think we’ll see a decrease in large-scale global events that require people to travel, but due to the increased pace at Barclays, we’ll have a greater number of events overall, as we react more quickly to change. — Clare Moses (Director, Barclays Personal and Corporate Banking)
Event Planners expect the organisers, event agencies, event management companies or individual parties to at least approach them at least with 6 months — 1 year for the time left to the event. The more the lead time, the better time can be spent on proper planning and management.
But, nowadays, a new crisis is being faced in the events industry with the fact that event planners aren’t getting enough lead time to plan and execute an event. Events taking place at the global level or large-scale industry events generally require a year’s time in advance to prep for the mega event.
With the small-scale and medium-sized organisations and industries coming up with organizing events, they provide event planners with a very short lead time ranging from 3–4 months.
At such short notice period, maximum work has to be done with a fixed budget, and minimal errors or delays. Event planners certainly require a longer time for all the preps and best options for the event to generate maximum event ROI.
Although event planners enjoy a little change and challenges, short lead times can prove to be quite intense for them. So here’s a thought, what exactly are the challenges and complications faced by the planners?
1. Fewer options, no time — With an impromptu conference or meeting planned by event professionals, it gets difficult to book one of the best venues because of highly unlikely availability. With the few options in hand, event planners have to decide on the best venues, yet keeping in mind the approximate number of attendees, space, catering partners, basic facilities, availability of transportation services, nearby hotels and lodging spaces and so on.
2. Minimal chance for negotiations/discounts — The most troubling thought lingering in the minds of organisers is how not to increase the spending by a single penny.
Be prepared to face issues with the No Discount Applicable phrase. A handful of event tech vendors or event suppliers will only agree with negotiable prices that too not up to the expectation and the budget. Chances are that the event planning will incur more cost that the organiser has in mind.
3. Last minute changes — It has been observed numerous times that organisers come up with last minute changes and planners have to re-think many things which put the entire planning process at hold. This is done in short lead time events, planners face many difficulties.
4. Compromise with the budget — Budget may have to be increased if the availability of the options does not meet the requirements cost wise.
Generally, with the short span time for large-scale bookings, event tech vendors also increase the prices. Negotiate with the best venue at the best price or COMPROMISE with what’s available and settle for it eventually.
5. Time Management — One of the major issues reflected in the topic itself is a shortage of planning time, thus enhanced time management skills are needed to pull off the entire event in a go and make the most of it. Lack of time often leads to improper arrangements.
After reading a summarized version of the big bubble formed in the event planner’s mind due to short lead times, here are a couple of things planners can do to minimize their headache.
1. Quick decisions — Event planners have to be smart about making things done with pursuing event organisers at the earliest and making them take big decisions at the beginning to avoid any issues in the further process of event planning.
2. Precise RFP — Request for Proposal must be streamlined and well-prepared so that the e=vendor and suppliers can kick-in their responses in a short span of time mostly in a few days. This must be done in order to lock out the essential options of venues, caterers and so on.
Be very specific with your requirements in the proposal. Do not write stuff that is not worth wasting the time of the vendors. This will cut out the time and give you a time frame for negotiation as well.
3. Minimal Errors — There is no space to commit any mistakes or errors in such a short lead time. Event Planners tend to consume the entire lead time bringing out 100% productive results and minimizing the cost of errors as well. Be precise, state upfront whatever is required and stay up to date with the changes.
4. Use of Event Technology — The tech has made everything easier today. From booking an Ola from the airport or station to the place you wish to visit. From booking OYOs to Airbnb, everything is digital now.
Event technology has also evolved to a great extent making the tedious tasks interesting and effortless for the event planners and organisers. For events which provide short lead time, event management software can come in handy.
Stating from attendee’s registration to creating a website and an event app exclusively for events, to event marketing with in-app analytics; all these tasks can be automated with the use of the software.
5. Compromise and Negotiate — A very tricky and vital part of the short lead time is the part of the negotiation with the vendors. At such a short notice, it is quite difficult for the planners to convince the suppliers to lower the rates drastically. But with some convincing and compromise, few vendors agree. For example, if there is the availability of only one conference room in a venue, a few adjustments have to be made with the time slots and speakers.
6. Assign tasks from the beginning to the team — The moment event planners confirm to handle an event with short lead time, comes countless responsibilities. To deal with the pressure and short lead time, the best thing to do is first form a team and assign them with their tasks. So, at least people will know from the beginning who was handled with what responsibilities.
7. Briefing organisers beforehand — Orgnaisers and event agencies come to the event planners and tell them we need to have an event in a month. Event planners, who are now getting used to the fact that there are going to be several events in a year which will give them short lead time, try to bring out their best and plan well. But the first and the foremost task of the event planners is to brief the client about the pros and cons of the short time span they’ll be getting. Knowing all the aspects of planning an event in 60–120 days event organisers must be ready to extend their budget at the end moment as well. They must also be made aware of the possibility of lack of good venues available or low count of attendees and all the possible risks involved.
With it, they should also know the advantageous side as well. Planners can show them last events like these, that they had planned and turned out to be really well with an increase in the event ROI also.
8. Meeting Deadlines without fail — To be on time, follow the deadlines. Any slight delay can further cause more issues and delays. After all the formal work and documentation have been done, the venue has been finalized and the majority of vendors have been approached.
Time management must be considered giving time for the orgniasers to market and advertise for the event if required.
With the constant hard work, the dedication of the team and staff support, event planners can pull off events with amazing management and decent attendee count. Event organisers may tend to get pushy sometimes, but with the planners being patient enough to handle the situation accordingly.