Planning an event in 2023 is causing a lot of sticker shock. The cost-per-attendee for meetings and events in 2023 is expected to be around 25 percent higher than in 2019, and it’s forecasted to rise an additional 7 percent in 2024 with no relief in sight. To pour salt in the wound, food and beverage (F&B) costs are also experiencing a 70 percent per attendee increase in 2023.
So, how can event planners ensure the best ROI on event objectives and spend in the face of these steeply rising costs? Here are a few strategies: you may want to consider
Plan (and Book) Earlier
Room rates at hotels have increased drastically over the last three years. When you consider the beating these venues took during the pandemic, combined with record inflation and pent-up demand, it’s easy to see why booking far in advance will benefit event planners. In May of 2023, average room rates at U.S. hotels were up 17% from 2019, according to STR data analyzed by Frommer’s, and up 38% from the unusually low prices in 2021 (as travel began to rebound from the pandemic).
If you’re looking for a venue in a popular year-round vacation destination with warm weather, entertainment, and access to the outdoors, a 2023 Hopper report found that booking early is often your best bet. Our advice is to plan as early as humanly possible to avoid paying top dollar or having to sacrifice days of the week that aren’t ideal for your attendees.
If you’ve traveled recently, you know firsthand how hectic it can be. Airports are packed like sardines. Interstates are backed up around the country. Traveling for some can be a nightmare, which is why it’s a good practice to offer a virtual or hybrid recording to attendees who wish to stay at home. Pre-recorded content allows attendes to select which sessions to attend, and it gives event planners more control over what their guests are viewing. Plus, it’s a much more cost effective approach.
Channel your inner Chris Voss and Negotiate for Flexibility
If you’ve never read the book, “Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It,” it’s certainly worthy of your time. One quote that comes to mind, paticularly given the circumstances, is “Negotiation is not about defeating your opponent, but about making them your partner.”
Given the unpredictability of attendance due to factors like the remote workforce, it’s important to negotiate for more flexibility in contracts. We’ve seen our clients block off for maximum headcount and negotiating a flexible attrition policy to avoid running the risk of scrambling at the last minute or paying steep penalties.
By implementing some of these strategies, event planners can better manage the rising costs of meetings and events, ensuring that your budgets are used effectively without sacrificing the experience.