As a small meeting planning company, we specialize in meeting and conferences of only about 100-200 attendees. The scope ranges from local industry conferences to charitable fund-raising events and international conferences. Given that our clients are primarily within a targeted industry, we are hopeful for 2011 remaining steady.
For example, one of our conferences which brings in attendees from around the world, saw the highest attendance rate ever in 2010 (January) and are looking at meeting or exceeding it in 2011 (January).
We are seeing more e-packets as a cost saving measure, with pdfs provided online in advance of the conferences and flash drives or DVDs at arrival. We are also marketing and communicating conference information nearly exclusively through electronic means such as e-newsletters, websites, and with the use of online registration. This has been true for the past several years and continues to grow as a major component of the marketing of our client events.
We use Constant Contact for e-marketing as well as event registration and payment is usually through Paypal accounts. The event system in Constant Contact interfaces with Paypal for online payments by credit card so you don’t have to have a system in-house for taking credit cards. As far as media, we are making DVDs for attendees and are currently pricing doing them in-house and shipping vs. having them done on location through a local Fedex/Kinkos.
The technology just keeps improving which keeps it exciting and fun!
Here’s a list of the resources I rely on regularly. Hope you find them helpful:
- e-Newsletter/Event Registration – www.constantcontact.com (insert in all emails so that clients can spread the word easily through social media sites)
- Fundraising events- Kintera Blackbaud Sphere (http://internet.blackbaud.com/site/c.owL8JoO7KzE/b.1485573/k.77D0/Blackbaud_Internet_Solutions__Online_Events_and_Marketing_Solutions.htm) Blackbaud Kintera has their own mechanism built in for payments.
- Athletic events- www.active.com (more flexible than Kintera and free), you can post your event and take registrations and payments through it. I believe there’s also fund-raising options through this but I haven’t used them. At least around here runners and cyclists do subscribe to this to find out about upcoming races, etc. so it’s a great way to build a 5k, 10k run or a bicycle race or something as a fundraiser.
- Blogging – WordPress
- Disc creation/Copying Services – Fedex/Kinkos (use national account at local meeting sites and save shipping costs with delivery to your hotel)
- Meeting supplies – pc/nametag
- Office supplies – W.B. Mason (tends to be a bit cheaper than Staples).
- Technical supplies – www.newegg.com
- Nonprofit work- www.techsoup.org (free software – it’s worth looking into). You have to qualify (provide Tax ID and proof of non-profit eligibility) but you can get deals like MSOffice for $25 or Adobe Photoshop for $30 or Act for free, etc.)
- Surveys and evaluations – Survey Monkey
- Social Media-Facebook and Twitter (link to all e-marketing, use Twitter hash tags for each conference/event)
Hope these resources are helpful to you and your staff in 2011.