Markers of Success

How venues can help event bookers with reputational ROI and demonstrating brand values in a post-Attenborough world.

Children's toy blocks
Photo: Getty Images

Spending big money on an event inevitably means that there needs to be some kind of return on investment (ROI).

This used to be measured rather simplistically and anecdotally, with verbal feedback: ‘the service was fantastic’; ‘we had a lovely time’; ‘the stage and set was of theatrical proportions’; ‘there was plentiful food’.

Then procurement departments got involved in buying meetings and events and, due to their process driven approach, they were far more prescriptive in what they wanted to measure.
Bookers had to quantify ‘what was achieved’, ‘what messages were imparted to the delegates’ and ‘are the messages and teachings still ingrained’. ROI consequently became very formulaic. Businesses sprung up hypothesising, turning knowledge retention into informatics and the events industry into a quasi-space commodity.

Fast forward a decade and we are all in the business of sharing our experiences online. And yes, return on investment remains imperative and it’s a requisite of business; however today’s measurements and success criterion have changed.

The maturation of the events market means that companies have a better understanding of the purpose behind their events – so much so they are a core part of the marketing mix and now less likely to be considered a flighty excuse for bashing expenses. And in being part of the marketing mix it means that better measurements are in place to understand the returns. Return on investment or return on attendance, the success criteria behind events are changing. Today’s success criteria are increasingly driven by both user generated content and the organisation’s desire to fulfil its wider corporate social responsibility.

An image shared, liked and commented upon on one of the social media platforms is now as valuable to marketers as knowledge retention of a delegate. After all, events have become brand experiences and as such enable attendees to live the brand for a short moment. And unprompted amplification through shares, likes or comments is an important part of a marketer’s remit to spread the word.

Equally, being seen as a mindful organisation who cares about the planet and its future isn’t just important to Generation X and Z, it’s increasingly part of corporate governance. Choosing supply partners with a like-minded conscience, considering wastage at events, not overly burdening guests with cheap plastic giveaways and looking at food miles all need to be considered by event managers. And if a budget holder can report back on the considerations and actions taken to reduce impact, then the returns are there.

Social shares are instantaneous and a brand can be damaged quickly by the wrong image being pushed out on social media. The individual plastic bottle that was a former statement for luxe is out, the flash stage and lighting that draws heavily on electricity is getting frowned upon and the buffet groaning with food is plain distasteful.

The harsh realisation that nowadays everywhere is a stage means that planners need to question everything and seek alternatives to ensure that the images of their events that inevitably get shared are a true representation of their company’s values.

As venues and suppliers we should all be helping planners to make more environmentally considered decisions. And while there are no firm quick fixes, it’s bit by bit that we can help.

If success is marked as return on investment, then make sure that every touchpoint has been considered and can stand the scrutiny – not by the procurement department, but the global online public.



Andrew White is MD of Triggerfish Communications, a specialist in helping heritage venues and leisure attractions build awareness and market share in the business of events.

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