Industry veteran, Gary Grimmer, outlines how event professionals can better communicate value of meetings.
Re-thinking legacy goals may help event professionals gain the support they need from government and local hosts and, ultimately, win more bids.
He proposed: “If we can prove the value of business events with a more compelling proposition, we can get more industry support, we can get more policy support and we can then win more bids.”
Lobbying for government buy-in
Many industry professionals still grapple with the challenge of convincing their politicians of the value of meetings. The reason? Grimmer observed that industry members were still advocating business events ROI in the old-fashioned way — listing delegate numbers, delegate spending and job creation.
This leads governments to perceive business events as only a small component of the tourism industry.
Grimmer proposed a different narrative to convey the value of business events — as a contributor to every sector of a country’s economy. In this line of thinking, Grimmer suggests business events should be positioned a “global trade and intellectual engagement strategy”.
He explained: “Business events are connecting our countries and our cities to global networks, building our know how, developing our local networks, and driving growth in every part of the GDP pie.”
Winning more bids
Focusing on legacy gives destinations the edge when bidding for events, and Grimmer urged event professionals (especially convention bureaus) to re-frame how they approach associations.
“Associations who have legacy models are spending their biggest single expenditure on meetings… but they are still thinking of meetings as a logistical thing,” he said.
And this where event professionals can steer the conversation away from logistics coordination, and instead focus on how a meeting in their destination can maximise legacy goals.
By doing so, decisions will then no longer be based on debatable points, but on concrete outcomes the destination can deliver.
Grimmer also emphasised the difference between meeting outcomes and meeting legacies.
“A lot of what people think legacies are really just meeting outcomes,” he explained. “Legacies are longer term and bring permanent improvement to an economy”.
Meeting outcomes include immediate pay-offs like local product showcase and knowledge exchange, while meeting legacies are the benefits gained over time, such as increased trade exports for the economy and improved health outcomes for the society.
Grimmer said that the industry needs to make this distinction clear in order to present a stronger case when pursuing bids or seeking government support.
He advised: “Think about legacy before you’re even at the bid stage. Think about how a meeting in your destination can have a greater impact in what the association is trying to accomplish. Be creative about what you’re offering up as a value proposition.”
He urged event professionals to strike while the iron is hot: “Everyone is at the beginning of this legacy thinking. Everybody has a chance to be the vanguard.”