How to balance commercial event objectives with attendee satisfaction

Last night’s #EventPlannersTalk Twitter chat was about balancing commercial event objectives with attendee satisfaction. The idea to host the chat about this topic came after publishing the article event management career opportunities at associations. In this interview article, I interviewed three colleagues who work for associations to give a greater overview why it’s worth exploring this career path.

Two of the interviewees, Christina Petrova and Amanda Thurlow, touched on the aspect of commercialisations, saying that the “industry should welcome opportunities to support industry associations […] and commercial interests should never be a reason to show low levels of commitment” and that “there is a growing need for associations to become more commercial and events are part of the income strategy”.

This was in the context of associations, but commercialisation of events is a topic not to be ignored by the wider industry.

Thank you to all chat participants @SandeepRaiDrums@ChurchStEvents@AmandaThurlow@EventTutor@Melgaffney14@DetailsQuinn@GParamedics.

What are the commercial objectives of events?

First, make money. Then create awareness of the brand/product.

It depends is the answer! Can be one or many – but objectives must be set.

No.1 generate profit, others include employee retention/recruitment, growth, marketing and PR.

Break even as a minimum, generating income through increased delegate sales and exhibition /sponsorship sales.

Understanding what you’re trying to accomplish. This can avoid wasting resources, remember every decision time and money.

How #eventprofs can commercialise events?

Via sponsorship, partnerships and keeping the audience front of mind (and sticking to your objectives).

Treat events like a business. Don’t see them as one off, create a series to keep engagement.

Ticket sales.


Attracting event partners to reduce costs, increasing revenue streams above the usual sponsorship.

Create VIP packages.

Online advertisement (banner, sponsored posts), push notifications (when have an event app).

Banners online and offline – for larger events, street hanging or window banners can be used.

What role do events play in the overall business strategy?

Providing crucial face-to-face interaction with current and potential client base.

Businesses are increasingly using events to bring brands to life, offer direct engagement with customers and generate ££££.

1 of 2 ways, either as a tool for promoting business or as your main driver for getting/maintaining business.

How to ensure your commercial objectives are aligned with attendee objectives?

Ensure commercial elements add value e.g sponsors to add content or experiences rather than offer a sales pitch.

They are an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the business and drive future growth.

Events are an extension and often times a driver, of the organization’s larger marketing plan and mission.

Make sure you know the needs of both prior. Do some research.

Research your audience, research your topic and be very clear and transparent in your marketing.

Research and make sure the content and objectives match.

Knowing who you organise your event for, is step one. Knowing what your attendee expects, is second.

Know your attendee profile and tailor the content to them with the help of your sponsors.


Engaging event sponsors, International Corporate Event Awards 2016

What are the challenged of balancing commercial objectives and attendee objectives?

Attendee expectations are rising faster than almost can be met. The use of tech is aiding this.

Different expectations. Both parties want it to suit them.

Matching the objectives of sponsors with the event objectives, data protection and not overwhelming with too many messages.

Decipher between a fad or an objective that will increase the ROI for the event.

When it becomes too much! too much content, too much tech etc. Recommend to read this article More, More and More: How The Event Industry Got it All Wrong

Always a tough one. Must have a balance otherwise if event not profitable it may not happen again.

Carefully choosing suitable sponsors, suppliers, vendors and how they all fit with your overall event story.

How can #eventprofs measure attendee satisfaction?

Survey attendees after event either via surveymonkey or printed forms also polling during the event.

Surveys and questionnaires after the Event. Feedback.

“No matter how great we think we are, we are only as good as our last event!”.

Watch how they engage, do they converse with others, are they tweeting/making notes? If not then probably not satisfied.

Forms, surveys, social media interactions, asking them f2f – networking with your delegates helps you learn about them.

Follow social media and blogs, everything is there! And ask, have a focus group, The Council can give feedback.

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