Home > NewsRelease > Two Tensions Keeping Senior Event Professionals Up at Night
Two Tensions Keeping Senior Event Professionals Up at Night
Jeff Hurt -- Velvet Chainsaw -- Midcourse Corrections Jeff Hurt -- Velvet Chainsaw -- Midcourse Corrections
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Cleveland, OH
Thursday, October 26, 2023


According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), the business-to-business exhibition industry is still in recovery mode. The bad news is that full year performance for 2023 participation and revenues is expected to be 9.5% below 2019. The good news is that 2024 is expected to eclipse 2019 results by 3.6%. (One can only hope!)
Whether your results are better or worse than the CEIR index, I think it is a helpful top-line metric for benchmarking and sharing with your organization’s leadership. For most business event professionals, rebuilding attendance and overall revenue is priority one.

Competing Priorities

The CEIR index gives us a good view of top-line performance – participation and revenue. Business event professionals are also challenged to deliver net income to the bottom-line. The two tensions to accomplishing this priority include:
  1. Increased attendee expectations vs. rising costs.
  2. The mandate to innovate the event experience vs. a limited workforce and capacity.
While there is no one-size fits all or silver bullet solution for these tensions; it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

Attendee Expectations vs. Rising Costs

The three expense categories attendees value the most are also the ones that are escalating in cost faster than inflation. The big three include food & beverage, A/V + production and speakers/entertainment. Any cut-backs made in these categories can negatively impact your attendee value proposition. In addition to negotiating and locking in pricing, some of the tactics to consider are:
  1. Decreasing the event length by a couple hours or half-day.
  2. Utilizing industry speakers for one of your keynote slots.
  3. Cutting back on general session staging or optimizing it, by using it more.
  4. Reducing the number of concurrent sessions by 10 – 20%.
  5. Eliminating live-streaming of sessions.

Innovate vs. Limited Workforce/Capacity

Quite a few of our clients are having difficulty filling mid and entry-level planner positions with experienced professionals. Candidate expectations for title, compensation and work flexibility are at all-time highs. This is having a trickle-down impact, creating increased workloads and stress for the seasoned event team members. Event innovation often takes a back seat. Here are examples of how some professionals are working through this issue:
  1. Protect your top performers. Find out what’s important to each team member and proactively improve their title, compensation or work flexibility.
  2. Prune the bush. If you have team members that are underperforming and are unlikely to improve with coaching/training, bite the bullet and make a change.
  3. Bring in a contractor. Good contractors are in high-demand. Tap your network and look for recently retired event professionals.
  4. Swap it out. For every new event innovation to implement, choose one to put on the stop-doing list.

Leading vs. Lagging Indicators

One of the post-pandemic trends we’re starting to see emerge is that event exhibitor and sponsor revenue is lagging attendance recovery. To offset this decline, some associations are re-assessing and expanding their annual partner programs. Top investors often want to be viewed as thought leaders and supporters throughout the year. In many cases, it makes sense to consolidate business development and fulfillment resources and organize them around your customers instead of your products.
News Media Interview Contact
Name: Jeff Hurt
Group: Velvet Chainsaw -- Midcourse Corrections
Dateline: Aurora, OH United States
Direct Phone: 330.474.1047
Jump To Jeff Hurt -- Velvet Chainsaw -- Midcourse Corrections Jump To Jeff Hurt -- Velvet Chainsaw -- Midcourse Corrections
Contact Click to Contact
Other experts on these topics