Event ROI: How to Create an Event That Drives Business

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When done right, events are a successful technique for marketing, engagement and networking. The problem is that so many organizations settle for outdated, unimaginative and boring events, that the reputation of events has suffered.

Last year we commissioned a National Harris Interactive survey that revealed 75% of executives are looking for greater ROI (return on investment) from corporate events. That is a huge figure, but not to worry – there are ways to increase that ROI. These include paying attention to the behaviors that drive happiness, such as the surprise factor and engagement.

Below are five specific tactics you can apply to ensure your attendees will have a ridiculously good time, which will increase the ROI of your events.

Valet Lounge

Make it memorable

Daniel Kahneman, who wrote a book called “Thinking Fast and Slow” says, “We don’t choose between experiences. We choose between memories of experiences.” It’s important to deliver on that.

For instance, when people leave the event to get their car, you don’t want them standing in a long disorganized line as that is what they will remember the most about the event, and not the awesome time they had. For example, we created a “valet lounge” for one of our client events where attendees could relax on couches and continue that wonderful experience while waiting for their cars, to create and elongate a positive memory.

At another event we managed, we had baby tigers and it was a hit! That is what people remembered the most, was the most Instagrammed photo that night, and people are still talking about. It provided an unusual, exciting and memorable experience.

Understand how the brain works

Research shows that the human brain can work well for about 90 minutes then it needs a break. That’s why the best speeches are 18 minutes or under. Every 7-10 minutes there should be an incorporation of a change at your event – a song, a video, something interactive to allow the brain to do something else.

Cool it

Literally, keep the temperature cool in the room. Warm/hot temperatures make everything feel like it’s going slow and will put your attendees to sleep. Have refreshing ice cold drinks at hand too and everyone will feel rejuvenated.

Refresh or die!

Sometimes you aren’t gifted with an increased budget for your event, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be refreshed. At TCG Events, we re-invented a “ribbon cutting” at a biotech center where we had the ribbons fall from the ceiling on a grand scale with a kabuki drop. The audience wasn’t expecting it and it incorporated an element of surprise!

We also had a different client hosting an awards show where bringing in new elements wasn’t an option, but they wanted a refresh. We infused new life into it without costing a dime more by featuring a runway in the ballroom and placing the audience chairs on either side. No more podium at the front of the room. We shortened the speaker sessions, added really cool music, and made it like a fashion show. Everyone loved it and the energy was through the roof.

Interactive Dessert Station

Make it interactive

We changed up the dessert experience for a client event by making it more engaging, inspiring and interactive. Alinea in Chicago makes desserts right on the table as a form of art. We replicated that experience with the caterers, and the attendees at our client event interacted with the chefs, the desserts, and each other. They had a unique and amazing experience and it put attendees back in a mood to converse with each other.

Once you incorporate any or all of the above, you’ll have a stronger sense on your ROI. Here are five steps and questions to ask yourself to help you figure that out:

1. Reaction:  You want attendees to have a good time, and come back again. Poll their reaction to something, whether it be the silent auction that took place, or participating in an event activity.

2. Learning: Determine what success looks like to your client. Do they want attendees to learn more about their company, visit their website, donate to their nonprofit or learn a skill? You need metrics in place before you even start the event. If you want them to go to a website, do you have the systems and data in place before your event so it can be measured afterward?

3. Implication: What happens when attendees leave? How do they apply what they’ve learned?

4. Impact: What is the impact after you measure the first three items above?

5. Financial: This falls into place once you have all of the above in place.

To keep your attendees coming back to your events, remember to keep an innovative mindset, change it up from year to year, and keep a pulse on the feedback. Happy event-ing!


Get Cassie’s full presentation from the 2014 Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow (session ES163) in the On-Demand Webcast Library to learn more about increasing your event ROI.

About the author : Cassie Brown

Cassie Brown

Cassie Brown is the chief experience officer at TCG Events, an award-winning, full-service event planning company whose work includes milestone, nonprofit, and corporate events, as well as grand openings and more. TCG Events specializes in planning and executing corporate events with the company’s proprietary EventSmarter™ approach, which includes a detailed pre-event walk-through that covers every facet from the perspective of the attendee, to ensure absolute success. Eventwithtcg.com

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