Earlier this year, the AMEX Global Event Trends Forecast reported "booming optimism and focus on in-person meetings and events". As our panel of business event organisers told the audience at 'The Events Outlook' in May, with tightened budgets and higher expectations, corporate event planners are more stretched than ever.
Event procurement, exacerbated by issues such as longer response times and smaller teams, has been one of the key challenges for corporate event planners in 2023, and looks set to continue into the next year. Read on for our insights into the hurdles that contribute to the procurement predicament and how planners can overcome them to ensure that this year's events calendars are delivered seamlessly and successfully.
Table of Contents
1. Complex procurement processes that interfere with project timelines
2. Tighter budgets piling pressure on planners
3. Longer response times and shorter lead times
4. Smaller teams and more responsibility
5. Event formats are constantly shifting
Complex procurement processes that interfere with project timelines
Many corporate organisations insist on complex internal supplier onboarding processes which require in-house planners to go through both legal and finance teams for approval. Not only this, but event procurement costs on average over 5 times more than other types of procurement costs, with an average of up to 6.9% total spend dedicated to search, contracting and payment.
This makes event procurement a frustrating, costly, and time-consuming process that often delays project deadlines and results in last-minute stress for planners. When it comes to large events such as conferences and exhibitions which could require tens or even hundreds of suppliers, the procurement process can become a living nightmare.
It's becoming clear that with tightened budgets and heavier workloads, event planners should take the time to reflect on their adopted procurement model in order to look for areas where they might be able to ‘trim the fat’ or outsource to specialists. There are typically two sourcing models; bundled (where one supplier is onboarded and manages all the other suppliers) and unbundled (where each supplier is onboarded separately, which is likely to be more time-consuming).
Hire Space Top Tip:
To help circumvent lengthy procurement processes, we use a master service agreement. This means that when a company onboards Hire Space 360, every single supplier we work with (including venues) for corporate events automatically becomes onboarded too. This means that event briefs only need to be provided once and are consequently open to less misinterpretation. This 'bundled' procurement model has proved to be an invaluable tool for saving planners time, whilst effortlessly bypassing red tape that stands in their way during the procurement process.
As well as identifying the right procurement model for your team, guidance published by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) recommends that planners:
- Establish a formal internal event buying policy to eliminate inefficiencies, with buy-in from senior decision-makers and stakeholders. This policy should be in a 'best practice' format and should establish benefit vs cost expectations, as well as help identify whether there are any areas that can be streamlined or outsourced to save on costs and resource. You could also start building a list of preferred partners within this policy that every team member can use to refer back to
- Establish a budget to be spent for event purposes that is justifiable and available to be used by the events team during procurement. Expectations also need to be set here; smaller budgets will likely result in a smaller return on investment than larger budgets, so it's important to ensure senior leadership is aware of this. When it comes to getting the best value for money, we can negotiate with suppliers for you using our industry relationships in order to gain the best deals
- Develop and agree on a detailed specification of supplier requirements for each event, in terms of which specific event suppliers you need and what you need them for
- Work with verified suppliers and make sure to meet them in person to gauge an impression of their professionalism and to discuss their past work. Provide an informative brief that includes your budget, deadlines, expectations, preferred communication method as well as your brand values and objectives of the event
- Carry out a detailed post-event evaluation for each supplier to improve the procurement process for the next event
Tighter budgets piling pressure on planners
It's estimated that the average cost per attendee will be 32% higher compared to 2019 levels, so it's inevitable that budgets are having to be significantly tightened. Cost vs return remains a large concern for the sector amidst the cost-of-living crisis, which is adding more pressure on generating tangible ROI from events. In turn, this has meant that many businesses have started to question the value of holding events in the first place. This is despite the fact that events have long proven to be a core marketing channel and that 60% of business leaders believe that events are critical for company success.
Sasha Frieze, founder of The Business Narrative, notes in our article on how the cost-of-living is affecting business events that “In the past [businesses] might have run an event because they always have, but now they’re looking for clarity and focus around what part the event plays in the bigger picture and what the measurable returns are on it.”
What this means is that planners need to deliver events that align with their company's goals and that can simultaneously prove value, demonstrate ROI and provide solid lead generation opportunities... all without being a significant drain on resources. So, the question is, how?
- Save money where possible during the planning process, so that you can do more with less and scale your events programmes without compromising resources. Budgeting is one of the biggest challenges for event planners and it can be easy to overspend, especially when procuring venues and suppliers.
- Create genuinely valuable events that generate positive cost vs return. To do this, consider outsourcing content creation, speaker sourcing, and audience engagement, to ensure every single event delivers on its objectives and brings in valuable attendees.
Hire Space Top Tip:
With our strong industry relationships, we are able to negotiate the best deals with venues and suppliers, including event technology. Our consolidated billing and digitised contracting makes the payment process as smooth as possible, and we also offer advanced payments to take the strain off a little, whereby we cover all costs and businesses simply repay in instalments. Find out more.
Longer response times and shorter lead times
As discussed at our 2022 Venue Talk event with Anna Fox, former Head of Events at Liberty Global, and Victoria Potter, Global Head of Events at Permira, the landscape of the events industry is ever-changing after the past few years of disruption. This means that stretched venue teams are inundated with enquiries, which increases response times and subsequently shortens lead times for events.
However, another cause for this issue is planners "panic-buying" dates at several venues at a time to give themselves assurance that they will have a space for their event. Many companies hold 4 or 5 venues at a time and only cancel the unwanted options at the very last minute, which may then make it too late for others to use the spaces. This pinch point forces a vicious cycle whereby organisers can't find the spaces they need, and venues lose out on revenue, creating a perfect storm of frustration for planners and venues alike.
- If you’ve got a shorter lead time, you may want to cast the net a bit wider when it comes to venue and supplier sourcing. The most well-known and popular options might struggle to accommodate a short-notice event. (If you need help, search on Hire Space or reach out to our team who can help with some recommendations)
- Leverage relationships you have with existing suppliers and venues. We work closely with thousands of venues worldwide, in order to provide planners with top-tier suppliers for their events.
- Plan your calendar well in advance and allow extra lead time for the venue sourcing part of event planning.
Hire Space Top Tip:
Our partnerships with the best-trusted venues and suppliers on the market means that we get much shorter response times, enabling us to find and lock down the perfect venue at the right price. This gives planners more breathing room, longer lead times, and therefore more time to plan their events. Reach out to our experts at Hire Space 360 to learn more.
Smaller teams and more responsibility
Tightened budgets and company-wide cost cuts, as well as the Great Resignation, have resulted in many events teams finding themselves drastically understaffed, meaning workloads are off the scale and the pressure is piled on to procure the best suppliers for their events. Not only that, but we have observed that the onus of delivering event programmes often falls on people who aren't traditionally event planners, such as PAs and EAs.
We can help these individuals organise outstanding events and scale their programmes by lending our industry expertise and event management service, as well as unlimited access to our extensive network of venues, suppliers, and industry contacts. Our goal is to give corporates their time back by doing all the legwork for them when it comes to procurement and planning.
- Review past events in terms of resourcing. Which areas have taken the most team resources? Do these all need to be internal? Would you benefit from outsourcing?
- When planning for an upcoming event, make sure you fully understand what requirements there will be for resourcing at any stage in the process. If this cannot be handled internally, allocate budget for bringing in help where needed.
- Leverage tools available in the industry to save time and energy. For example, venue search tools that enable you to enquire at dozens of venues with one brief in minutes, instant booking tools for smaller events, integrated registration and CRM tools that enable automation, and event management software.
- Outsource a team of trusted event professionals to act as an extension of your team which can be called upon as and when needed. Our flexible event professionals are all thoroughly assessed and referenced and will be there to assist onsite too as needed. Get in touch to see how Hire Space 360 will become an essential part of your event planning arsenal.
Event formats are constantly shifting
During the pandemic, many event planners were forced to pivot and deliver virtual events to their customers. Once restrictions were lifted, hybrid events came into their own and, ever since, the industry has been in limbo between the demand for virtual, hybrid, and solely in-person events. Keeping on top of the different formats that would work best for their events has proven to be stressful for corporate planners.
Due to increased travel costs and tighter budgets, we've observed that many companies (especially those which operate globally), are transitioning back to incorporating some virtual events into their event programmes. However, industry sentiment also predicts that in-person and hybrid events are very much here to stay. This means it may become more commonplace that planners are required to plan local events in different locations as opposed to one large event in one location as they may have done in the past.
Managing events across continents and timezones means planners face long lead times, language barriers, and limited access to suppliers. All this, whilst staying within budget and delivering on event objectives, can add serious pressure.
This is where we come in. We can slot in to fill any gaps, whether that's helping with supplier/venue liaison, logistics, budgeting, sourcing the best and most innovative virtual and hybrid event technology, content creation, strategic reporting, or simply taking over the entire event management side so your load is lightened. With our expert impartial advice and support, plus significant saving capability, we'll get you in the best possible stead to create unforgettable events for your customers, in whatever form they may be.
We understand the breadth of internal and external pressures that corporate event planners have faced in 2023 and will likely face well into next year. With Hire Space 360, you'll be able to deliver a seamless events programme whilst saving time, money and stress. Book a chat with us below to see how we can help.
For more insights into the current state of the events industry, read our piece on how the cost of living is affecting business events, as well as our article on our top predictions for corporate events in 2023.
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Izzie brings a deep understanding of the events world to Hire Space, and keeps busy by writing lots of Hire Space and EventLAB content and managing the Hire Space social media presence.