Tactics for Building Profitable Events
Hiring contractors also helps. Howell says that in-house he employs eight people for marketing and logistics for 40 events annually, but hires outside contractors—including a half dozen for conferences and several hundred for major trade shows such as FOSE—to cover things like labor and catering. Schwartz uses temp services to hire event staff and telemarketers for recruitment.
Although all details are vital to an event’s success, the ultimate detail is the location. And some may be surprised to learn that exotic locations are often not the best choice.
“You really have to consider your audience,” says Howell. “Let’s just say that if we held FOSE in Las Vegas, it would be dead in one year.”
Why? Howell says 90 percent of his attendees live in Washington, D.C., for one. In addition, any government manager traveling on business dollars to Las Vegas would lose his job.
Schwartz adds that places like Hawaii just don’t work anymore. “If you’re servicing busy executives, they don’t have time to spend a week out of the office,” she says. “They have to justify travel, show conference content to powers that be and prove that they’ll be better professionals for attending.”
Many of Schwartz’ events are designed to be close to home for attendees. She does, however, hold an event in Pebble Beach, Calif., each year. In 2005, that show—the CIO Summit—generated $400,000 in revenue.
For Cohen, location depends on the nature of the event. As a consumer magazine publisher, he finds success in unique locales.
“Some of our events are on ships that cater to the LGBT community,” he says. “Our biggest issue right now is to accomplish significant branding for both the advertising trade media and key players in our community within New York City, so we will go there most often.”