Dave Lutz, CMP
Is a Strong Asset
When you understand and
follow the money trail for your
conference business model, you
find that strong attendance from
leading companies usually has
a trickle-down effect. If you are
successful in earning team participation from the major players
in your profession, consultants,
contractors, smaller companies,
and major sponsors/exhibitors
will often participate as well.
Carefully track attendance and
revenue contribution from your
top 25 to 50 companies, and
make it a goal to move that
needle each year.
ON THE WEB
Check out the National Science
Teachers Association’s “Teaming
Up for STEM” group package. I
love that they focus on soft benefits and leverage scarcity: convn
One way to mine attendee data is to scrub and normalize com- pany names based on the URL
domain from email addresses entered
by each attendee. Exhibitors, staff, ven-
dors, and speakers are eliminated from
the list in order to base the analysis on
“true” attendees. It takes time, but once
done it’s much easier to study atten-
dance and revenue by company. Four
out of five times, this analysis is gold.
Here’s why: Association A’s top 25
attending companies have represented
41 percent of the attendance and 39 per-
cent of registration revenue for the past
three years. Top company participation
trended down in 2014, to 36 percent and
34 percent, respectively. This explained
the entire conference’s registration rev-
enue decline from 2013 to 2014.
Association B’s top 30 attending
companies have represented 37 percent
of the attendance and 19 percent of the
registration revenue for the same three-
year period. The trend is stable, but the
top 30 companies vary greatly from this
association’s top 30 member companies.
These examples may be a bit on the
high side, but I’ll bet the Pareto prin-
ciple (roughly 80 percent of the effects
come from 20 percent of the causes) is
part of your conference business model.
A growing number of conference
organizers are on to this and are devel-
oping improved strategies for group
registration, including more-aggressive
discount packages and customized
conference experiences. Here are four
approaches to consider.
1 Group Discounts — It’s not new, but
more organizers seem to be decreasing their definition of a group from 10
to five, because it’s really hard to take
I really love analyzing conference-attendee data and revenue.
I know, pretty nerdy. But stick with me on this.
advantage of an offer that is difficult
to organize. The most common offer
seems to be buy five, get one free. Some
organizers add other stipulations,
including that those five must register
and pay together and that the free person must hold a certain title or position.
2 Special Access — This could be as
simple as giving a suite upgrade or
private meeting spaces to the first 20
group takers. Some organizers are
arranging VIP group gatherings or
receptions. Others are developing and
bundling in pre- or post-conference
experiences to help the group achieve
their participation objectives.
3 Group Concierge — In this high-touch approach, a dedicated person
(whose email and direct line are distributed to all group takers) attends to the
group leaders’ needs. If you do this, be
sure to plan for some proactive touches,
too. Consider taking this to another
level by deploying a key account strategy for acquisition of target companies.
4 Organizational Learning — Most
groups take a divide-and-conquer
approach — sending one staff member
to each concurrent session, so they
don’t miss anything. What about flipping that around so that co-workers
attend the same critical sessions and
collaborate on how best to implement
those learnings at their company? The
likelihood is greater that they will apply
a specific strategy they learned together
than if only one person heard the strategy and tries to influence others. .
Dave Lutz, CMP, is managing director of Velvet
Chainsaw Consulting, velvetchainsaw.com.