By Les Selby, CMP, CMM
In April, I attended the MPI National Meetings Industry Day in Toronto, and thought it was interesting that Doug Bolger, of iLearn2, included in his Meetings Industry Influence Award acceptance speech several remarks about how meeting professionals must be better at communicating the business value of our events.
Why is it that so many professionals often fail to talk about what our events achieve in business terms?
Do we think costs and revenue are not as sexy as the great destinations we want to use for our next meeting or incentive?
Or do we really think that our executives will be more interested in the new leading-edge gifts we want to distribute or the latest food trend we want to try?
Doug Bolger and his team have watched our industry evolve over the past 10-plus years, from the early days when most planners contacted him for fun team-building activities, to today, when his company’s specialty is achieving results by ensuring they understand their clients’ objectives.
Doug and iLearn2 certainly deserve the recognition they received for their contributions to our industry, and their strategic approach should be held as an example to emulate.
What I find strange is that so many event professionals are unable to describe what we do in a way that resonates with the corner office.
The recent GSA scandal in the U.S. has sparked several new government initiatives to reduce American government meetings and events spend and make it easier for Congress to track expenditures.
Government, and event stakeholders, believe that lowering costs is the main problem.
The real issue that meeting professionals should be addressing is the need to prove that our events drive business and organizational success in measurable ways.
I find it strange that this incident, occurring so soon after the recent recession that encouraged so many event pundits to demand more event justification, still finds so many professionals avoiding the call for better measurement and reporting on ROI (return on investment) and ROO (return on objectives).
We all know that each event is held for a reason, but many planners still fail to relate what they do to the objectives of the sponsoring organization.
Even worse, I think that many suppliers, like Doug at iLearn2, are way ahead of many of their clients when it comes to proving the value of their services.
Why are planners less focused on results than many of the suppliers with whom we work?
I think we are our own worst enemy, still hoping that the ‘good old days’ will return, when executives simply saw events as a necessary evil and a cost that the organization had to incur, without relating the expenditure to achieving objectives.