5 Things to Consider When Selecting An Event Management Agency
The Full Suite of Services
All sorts of companies purport to offer event management. From wedding planners to agencies that produce small meetings to global entities like GPJ that offer a broad range of services, there are a lot of options out there. You should begin by determining just what your needs are, and how many of those (if any) you’d prefer to handle in-house.
For example, if all you require is help with registration, or assistance with booth setup, a smaller event technology provider or logistics contractor may be best. However, if events are, or are becoming, a larger part of your marketing mix, then an agency that offers a complete list of services is best.
Full-service agencies offer a wide variety of services, usually as a package that is billed via project management hours. The list of services should include account management and at least the following:
- Location and Venue Scouting
- Location Setup & Planning
- Start to Finish Logistics – Shipping, Warehousing, Set up, Breakdown
- Registration Services
- Contact/Call Center Management
- General Session Design
- General Session Production
- Team Scheduling
- Special Event Planning and Production
- Speaking and Session Planning
- Safety and Security Planning
- Road Show Planning
- Event Timeline Planning: Who, What, Where and When
- Venue Sourcing
- Hotel and Booking Management
- Virtual Participation Planning
- Virtual Conferences
- Virtual Events
- Corporate Event Planning
- People Traffic Flow Planning
- Attendee Gifts and Giveaways
- Speaker/Artist Booking and Management
- Post-Event Attendee Follow Up Planning
Ideally, the agency you choose should also have other event marketing expertise such as:
- Event Strategy and Experience Design
- Creative Ideation and Design Personnel
- Content Creation Services
- Digital Engagement and Integration Abilities
- Live Production Capabilities (including stage design, lighting design and broadcast streaming)
- Analytics and Data Science Personnel
- Fabrication Facilities
- Engineering Expertise
- Global Events Experience
Those lists are daunting, yes. But they have to be in order to create, deliver, execute and measure your event marketing campaigns. The administration of an event portfolio, whether it’s three annual events, or thousands of events each year (as we do for IBM), requires the same focus on all of the details to get it right every time.
Last, keep in mind that a global event provider is going to have significant buying power, saving you money on hotels, shipping, venue rental and much more.
A History of Success
Don’t risk the success of your event on a newcomer! Just consider the list above, and imagine the experience required to execute across all of those disciplines. Find an agency partner that can show a long history of success in different industries and with events of various sizes.
Your agency should have many case studies, client references, and event attendee testimonials to share to prove that they can do what they promise. Better yet, attend an event they produce, particularly if it’s a complex one, so that you can see them in action. GPJ regularly invites potential clients to watch us execute Dreamforce, the largest software conference in the world with more than 170,000 attendees. If your agency can execute highly complex events, the chances are good they can deliver for you.
Long Relationships with Clients
Another indication of a good agency partner is how much authority they have in the experiential marketing arena. Do your colleagues know about them (assuming they know any agencies in the event space)? Have you seen their thought leadership? What about their social media accounts – do they appear to be a leader?
That said, perhaps the greatest signal that an agency will be a good partner is how long they maintain relationships with clients. GPJ has had many of its clients for more than 10 years. That’s years, not months. We have several relationships that span more than two decades and one that’s in its 78th year. You only achieve that kind of longevity if you consistently deliver – for those on the client’s event marketing team, in their executive suite, and for their customers.
While you might not immediately require global capabilities, there are two reasons to consider this an important element. First, as previously mentioned, the buying power of agencies with a worldwide footprint can save you money event if you’re using their services domestically. Second, you may need to expand, and already have an agency that can seamlessly enable you to do so is a time and cost saver.
Event Technology Expertise
Often overlooked in an initial evaluation of event management expertise is an agency’s ability to develop, work with or integrate technology. Registration technology is an obvious one, but can your agency create a mobile app that meets your specific needs? Can they work with your other technology partners to integrate various tools so you have actionable analytics during and after your event? Do they understand how to create content that engages your target audience in a digital medium? Again, do they have case studies they can show you?
Dig deep to find out if they outsource digital work. If they do, they should not be marking it up and making a profit. They should either pass through those services, at cost, or enable you to make your own arrangements with that particular technology provider.
Finding the right event management agency can be complicated. You can simplify the process by choosing a partner with a complete selection of services, a solid resume of successful activations, a longstanding and growing client roster, a worldwide footprint, and proven comfort with delivering technology solutions to enhance events.