5 Questions for Qualifying Event Planning Clients
When you are a growing event planning company, you might think that every lead that comes your way is a good one. That’s probably true most of the time. But, there are situations when a potential client is not a great fit for your company.
If you want to be sure that you and your client are a match made in heaven, consider qualifying event planning clients by conducting a fit assessment. You will learn what your potential client wants and decide if you are the best event planner to help them reach their goals.
5 Questions for Qualifying Event Planning Clients
1. What are your objectives?
This question might seem obvious, but a lot of clients are not really clear on their event objectives or why they are having an event. All they know is that this is something they do every year or that the sales team said they wanted to have a meeting. We understand that meeting planners can get very focused on executing the details, but understanding your client’s goals and objectives will help you design a meeting that meets their needs.
Different strategies need to be deployed depending on your client’s objective. Are they looking to drive awareness of a new product launch? If so, then you want to design a meeting that builds anticipation and excitement. Or, your client needs you to plan a Board of Directors retreat with social activities and formal meetings. The strategy here may be to find a resort that offers multiple activities combined with top-notch business facilities. Without building a strategy based on objectives, you cannot design a successful meeting for your client.
2. What is your budget?
We have all heard the expression “champagne taste on a beer budget.” That is especially true in the event industry. Lots of clients want all the bells and whistles at an event while their budget allows for the bells or the whistles but not both. Understanding the client’s budget upfront allows you to plan a meeting that meets their expectations.
We recently worked with a client who wanted to have their annual meeting in Beverly Hills. The challenge was that he had the same budget as the previous year when the meeting was in Houston. To accommodate our client’s request and stay within the budget, we scheduled the meeting during a slow period at the hotel. The property needed the business and gave us a great room rate. We were able to accommodate our client’s request for a Beverly Hills meeting on a Houston budget.
3. Who is the ideal attendee for this meeting?
Once the client decides what the objective is for the event, you need to understand the ideal attendee for the meeting. Depending on the profile of the ideal attendee, will determine the best strategy to reach them. For instance, there is a lot of discussion in the meetings industry about how to communicate and build events for different generations. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
The best strategy is to understand your ideal attendee and speak to their specific needs. How you communicate with a millennial generation attendee may be different from a Baby Boomer. Spend the time to truly understand who will be attending this event and then you can successfully determine the best approach to reach them.
4. What are your constraints?
Every event has constraints that need to be taken into consideration. Often times the constraints deal with time, quality and cost, but other factors do come into play. We once planned a President’s Club meeting in Mexico where attendees came from all over the world. Managing the transportation logistics for this was challenging but not impossible.
Fortunately, we were able to work with a transportation company that provided 24-hour service. All the meeting attendees enjoyed a luxury ride to the hotel regardless of when they arrived at the airport.
Another constraint could be weather.
Have you ever tried designing a team-building session in Las Vegas in July? It’s not easy. Try an indoor scavenger hunt to minimized the amount of time spent outside. This proves to be a great solution when planning an event on a 100-degree day.
5. What are your competing priorities with timing, budget and management attention?
I once worked with a marketing firm that had a sign on their wall that said, “You can have high quality or low cost but not both.” I often wonder if that is true.
For many events, the timing is only impacted if the client comes to you last minute about the event. Then you are in a situation where you need to scramble to put on a high-quality event, which typically costs more money. The biggest challenge in this situation is when you need senior management approval.
As we all know, C-level executives are very busy people.
Getting their attention can be challenging, especially when you are under tight deadlines. However, if you understand the client’s priorities upfront you can manage their expectations. Then you can work your magic to pull off an event that everyone will be proud of.
Not All Clients are a Great Fit
As much as we would all love to take every piece of business that comes through the door, the reality is that some clients are not a great fit. Ask a few simple questions by conducting a fit assessment to decide if this client is right for you. This will help ensure your success in planning an event that meets your client’s needs.
Are there questions you would add to a fit assessment that are not covered above? We’d like to hear how you go about qualifying event planning clients, so let us know in the comments below!
Guest Post by Jennifer Collins of JDC Events