Corporate Event PlanningSo, you’ve been assigned the task of organizing the next national conference for 1,500 staff. You have the management and organizational skills and a small team of creative people to work with. The conference last year had a few problems – double-booked accommodation, lack of transport to get to the venue, technical issues…and the list goes on….

Now is a good time to consider outsourcing the event. Will it be beneficial? Will it cost more… or less? Is there a Rule of Thumb regarding attendees’ numbers, where it is better to switch from in-house to outsourcing?

When should you outsource?

KMA One provides the following Rule of Thumb in relation to company size and outsourcing:

“As a company reaches 1,000 -10,000 employees, the potential need for outsourcing drops dramatically. In organizations of this size, sufficient resources can usually be found in-house to perform a function, as well as having resources to handle backup coverage.”

When should you bring event planning in-house?

So, back to that big decision…

If you can answer the following questions with a resounding ‘YES’, then you should feel confident about planning your major event in-house. However, if the reverse is true, you might benefit from outsourcing the event.

  1. Do you have a key staff member with the experience and skill set to handle the type and size of conference or event you are planning?
  2. Does your appointed staff member have sufficient time over-and-above their normal day-to-day responsibilities to be able to properly manage the conference or event without distractions? For example, is the PA to the CEO able to walk away from her normal high priority duties to focus on the event?
  3. Does the key staff member have the experience, technical knowledge and management skills to lead a team to support the event – Bookings, PR, Customer Service, Marketing, Administration, Liaison with Venues, Accommodation, Travel, Key Speakers, IT, etc.
  4. Does the key staff member have the experience and skills to negotiate with venues, hotels, airlines, transport companies, etc. for ‘deals’?
  5. Does your organization have state-of-the-art technology and software to handle communications and registration for large numbers of attendees?
  6. Does the key staff member have sufficient experience to properly budget for the size and type of conference or event being planned and to keep appropriate financial records?
  7. Are your staff ready to start working on the next annual event immediately following this one or do they have to ‘catch up’ on the work they missed while organizing the event?

So, you’ve worked out if it is better for you to manage your event in-house or to outsource it. For those choosing the outsourcing path, you will be pleased to hear that there are significant benefits to be had.

8 Reasons to consider outsourcing your event:

  1. Lower Cost: People in an events company get paid less than management people in a large corporation who are entitled to superannuation, leave loadings, etc. So if an event is going to need 60 man hours, you are generally better off to go with the event management company on a lower hourly rate than a corporate staff member.
  2. Better Rates: An events company will have already negotiated ‘deals’ with airlines, hotels, venues, etc. based on bulk purchasing. Once again, this will be more cost-effective than a one-only event.
  3. 100% Attention: An event planner focuses solely on your function, not on trying to do their regular job plus the event, so there are no conflicts of interests.
  4. Specialist skills and experience: An events company has specialist skills in all aspects of running a successful event, including venues, accommodation, transport, catering, seating, lighting, music, key note speakers, communication and schedules.
  5. Creative ideas: Event planners can proactively suggest ideas, make improvements to your ideas and fill in the gaps to make your event a stand-out success.
  6. Budgets won’t blow out: You can also set your budget and have the reassurance that expenses will be contained with no nasty surprises at the end.
  7. Technical expertise: When the event is over, you will receive valuable technical data from the events company to assist in working with attendees going forward and for future events.
  8. Consider the cost of running an amateur event that fails: This includes loss of sales, loss of clients, loss of goodwill and loss of future business. The costs are huge!

Regardless of whether you run your event in-house or employ an events company, it’s essential to keep a abreast of industry trends in this dynamic fast-paced environment. Here are a few facts and figures to help with your event planning.

Event Planning Industry Statistics

According to Inside Business, the event planning industry is expected to grow 20% with the median income of an event planner being $42,180 a year. By 2016, this industry is expected to grow to over 60,000 jobs.

Brandon Gaille, Blog Millionaire, states that companies are planning to hire more outsourcers than full time or part time staff in the next 12 – 18 months, which supports the idea that outsourcing is a fast growing trend in a range of industries within the U.S.

Gaille offers innovative strategies on organizing an event; promoting an event; enhancing the live experience; and extending the lifetime value of the event. You can read his full report here 14 Event Planning Industry Statistics and Trends.

Event Industry Trends Report 2015

Julius Solaris, the editor of Event Manager Blog and the Event Industry Trends Report 2015, states in the Executive Summary: ‘The word defining the event industry for 2015 is drench. The event of 2015 will drench attendees. It will make them feel they own the space and the content being presented. The role of technology will be crucial in facilitating this incredibly immersive experience.’

He also states: ‘Most key areas of the event planning process will be impacted by event technology that will be yet again the main change agent of the event industry. Those events able to break the boundaries between attendees, event professionals, performers and venues will thrive in 2015. The opportunity is to make the event experience more personal, pervasive, touchable, overwhelming and unforgettable by using technology to drench all the participants in an immersive experience.’

The first section of the report revolves around understanding the needs of the attendee in 2015. Solaris adds: ‘While most trends’ commentary focus on event planning, focusing on the attendee first will be the real differentiator of the next 12 months. Attendee technology is the real protagonist of 2015. Never before have so many start-ups created exciting tools for attendees to maximize their event experience.’

Click here to read the full report.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board and focus on the people who ultimately pay the bills – the attendees. We need to find out what their expectations are and then exceed them by using state-of-the-art technology such as apps that enhance the attendee experience from the booking right through to the after-event networking and follow up business.

Like to read more about Events Industry Trends?

These reports provide insights into increasing use of technology in event planning.


Where to from here?

There are no RIGHT or WRONG decisions regarding outsourcing or running your event in-house – you have to make the decision that is right for you and your organization.

To be successful with your event, you need to be up to the minute with industry trends and tips from the leaders in event management, such as Gaille, Deloitte and Solaris.

All of these experts agree that you need to focus on your attendees and use technology to enhance their event experience and make it memorable.

The old-fashioned term for this is ‘Customer Service’… the modern twist is ‘Customer Service through Technology’.


What’s your opinion about running events in-house or outsourcing?

We’d love to hear about your experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly. Do you have any tips to help other event professionals who are faced with the same difficult decision?

Don’t hold back – join the conversation here.


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