The event industry is rapidly transitioning to in-person offerings, but for many, there is still uncertainty about how many attendees will ultimately buy tickets. Could there be an upsell opportunity in offering conference attendees extra rooms for C-suite meetings?
A recent EventBrew podcast speculated about the possibility of combining C-suite and senior leadership team meetings with out-of-town conferences. The argument was that this kind of two-in-one approach could cut down on the travel burden, both in terms of the time required from staff and the budgetary expenditure on flights and hotel bookings.
Could this solution be a win-win for both corporate registrants and event planners? Conference organizers often have to book large room blocks, and this commitment inevitably entails some risk — especially with the uncertainty around turnout levels as we begin to reopen. Even with attrition clauses that protect against a set portion of cancellations, conference organizers could benefit from an opportunity to upsell confirmed registrants.
With all the advantages taken into account, could hosting corporate events at pre-planned industry conferences help safeguard room block ROI against uncertain turnouts?
The Argument for Merging Conferences and Corporate Meetings
Last year, we wrote about how some destinations were marketing themselves as host cities for sporting bubbles, in this way securing multi-game deals with a single contract. Bridging corporate meetings with conference attendance could be the next step in this all-in-one model. This approach meets new market needs while also providing greater security for event hosts.
Gone are the days when travel was largely considered a perk of work trips. While many may be craving international adventures, would-be travellers still face more barriers to entry than in the past. Variants of concern mean that cross-border travel still presents a health risk that will likely be managed with Covid status verification systems, at least in the short term. Mandatory quarantines could potentially be set up at any time. In many ways, planning for a longer stay at a single destination makes sense for any kind of traveller.
For business events, there is a clear incentive for combining corporate meetings with an industry conference that many employees will already be attending. Any risks associated with work-related travel are a corporate liability, and merging two trips into one eases some of this burden. Further, although environmental concerns might have taken a backseat during the pandemic, less travel also means a smaller carbon footprint, and now is the time to rebuild with sustainability as a focal priority.
But while there may be more reasons than ever to avoid travel, the demand for corporate retreats may actually be higher. With many businesses now working remotely, some employees have moved out of town and many offices have scaled back their office spaces. This means that corporate meetings may increasingly require travel, and businesses may have greater need to rent meeting spaces on a one-off basis, so being able to avail themselves of those in existing conferences being organized by an external planner could be a major time saver.
EVENT ORGANISER ADVANTAGES
The savvy event organiser should see this as an opportunity. Anyone who has already purchased a ticket has shown a willingness to travel and attend in person. Why not make the most of this existing relationship?
With the quick pace of the event industry’s recovery, organisers are now faced with faster turnaround times than in the pre-pandemic era. Hosts may have to book room blocks before tickets are sold and without a reliable benchmark for attendance in this transitional period. Beyond extra hotel room bookings, a two-in-one upsell could allow event planners to monetize conference rooms and other smaller meeting places that are often thrown in for free with their large room bookings.
Further, this approach could translate to more ticket sales for the conference itself. The addition of a corporate meeting could mean that more employees will be travelling to the destination, and with their flights and room accommodations already covered, conference tickets would be an easy upsell.
The pandemic ushered in a new era of ingenuity for digital events, and the transitional return to in-person events may be equally conducive to innovative solutions. Considering the advantages involved for both attendees and event organizers, the idea of combining corporate meetings with conference attendance may be the way of the future.
BY Angela Tupper is a writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. Her writing for the events industry pairs an interest in current affairs and technology with a background in B2B events, and she has contributed to a range of editorial pieces and research projects in wide distribution. She also holds an MA in English from the University of Toronto.