• August 2010

Avoid Risk: What You Need To Know Before Booking An Event

By Roxanne Rukowicz
Behind the Scenes Events

I’ve met a lot of people who get lost in day-dreams full of black-tie gowns and tuxedos — a car service dropping them off at the entrance to a stunning museum, the beginning of a long night of heavy hors d’oeuvres, dinner, dancing and fun in sequins or a flashy bow-tie.

It’s easy to imagine just how enjoyable it would be if your organization was the one hosting the bash.

But the truth is, just because you can throw an event, doesn’t mean that you should.

Hosting an event of any kind for event planning’s sake is simply not a practical idea.

The cost to produce such functions is more than you might imagine and, in this economy, the sponsorship dollars are not as strong as they used to be.

Couple that with a decrease in overall attendance and an increase in pressure to show ROI from your constituents, and you can tell why organizations are taking a step back and re-evaluating how their time and dollars will be invested.

So should you, or shouldn’t you?

What considerations should be reviewed before taking the plunge and booking an event? It’s best to start by answering these questions:

1. What is the intended purpose of the function? Does it fit with the mission of your organization? The answers to both these questions will dictate the content, programming, target audience, potential sponsors, and more.

Corporate events will often be experiential or business development focused; associations will emphasize education-based programming and networking opportunities; non-profits will often utilize special events to increase cause-awareness and to fundraise; and others will wish to organize for more social-based reasons.

2. Do you have the support of key stakeholders? Without C-level buy-in, Board of Director support and/or a positive nod from your go-to donor base, the likelihood of a successful function should be re-evaluated. These constituents, with the bottom line on their mind, are a necessary sign-off.

3. By what Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Objectives (ROO) will your organization judge the success of the event? ‘Success’ might be defined by the overall profit margin, the event’s contribution to the organization’s business plan, or the benefit experienced by the audience member. Defining success from the start, and deciding how the ROI and ROO will be measured, will help to create an effectively designed, planned, and executed event.

4. Can you afford to fund the event? Do you have a financial backer(s) to under-write or sponsor the program? And what will they receive in return for their participation and support?

Create a budget. Include all expenses you expect to incur and revenue from ticket sales. Estimate your potential (and realistic) sponsorship investment needs.

You may have some success in soliciting donations from cold leads but if your event requires a large under-writing effort, it is best to work your existing relationships – be those strong supporters of the organization, those business acquaintances of your event committee, or otherwise. Your strongest support will always come from those with a vested interest in your organization’s cause.

5. Do you have a ready audience and have they indicated an interest in this programming? Do you have a solid database to advertise to? Will you be partnering with another organization to market this to a larger group of constituents?

6. Do you have the experience and administrative support to manage the event workload? Do you have the resources for follow-up? Hosting an event will serve your organization well through increased visibility and product understanding, expanded membership offerings, large-scale fundraising, and more. It is also beneficial if the program is complimentary to your organization’s mission, is supported by both financial backers and audience interest, and success can be measured.

Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions before taking the plunge.

About Roxanne Rukowicz

Ranked one of Washington, DC’s top Meeting and Event Planners for 2009 by the Washington Business Journal, Roxanne Rukowicz’s Behind the Scenes Events, opened its doors in July of 2008 with a single concept in mind: to offer organizations access to an affordable full-service meeting and event planning solution.

Having worked in the Washington, DC meeting and event industry for over a decade, Roxanne started her career at the Greater Washington Board of Trade in 1999. Her experience with this influential regional network of business leaders allowed her hands-on training from the start. What began as a mere temporary work assignment, later progressed into a position as General Manager, as she excelled at each advanced meeting and event planning position she held.

Her extensive association and nonprofit planning skills are accented by experience working in the social and entertainment markets. Positions with The Walt Disney Companies and as a freelance wedding and special event coordinator have featured opportunities with A-list celebrity clients and top ranking government officials.

With a commitment to excellence and focus on the customer experience, Roxanne Rukowicz and the Behind the Scenes Events team create and produce exemplary meetings and events that drive an organization’s mission and goals.

For more information, visit Behind the Scenes Events.