BIRD’S EYE VIEW: Series 002

Strategy & Budgeting

Event budgets have a direct impact on an organizer’s ability to execute on a strategy. How do budgets – and the ability to be innovative – look in a post-COVID world?

The Theory

Budgeting for 2022 is going to be f*cking hard.

So… Why do we think it’s going to so difficult for event organizers to accurately forecast a budget for 2022? Three things:

The Comeback Kids

Brands (sponsors & exhibitors) reinvested in their traditional event channels and sponsorships to preserve their existing marketing budget and, because of that, events are seeing a strong comeback in their sponsorship and exhibitor revenues. But, like, what happens when the event they came back to sucks? 

Measure Twice. Cut Once.

Because there is no benchmark for what success in a post-COVID world looks like, brands will be taking the time to reassess value and spend because there are LOTS of options across physical, virtual AND hybrid. This will mean that organizers must prove more than ever before that they are worthy investments. 

Don’t Leave Home Without It?

Sure AMEX but, what happens when people aren’t leaving home?  T&E budgets aren’t coming back at pre-pandemic numbers. This means that after a year of proving that people can work from home just fine, an attendee is going to have to JUSTIFY SPEND to attend an event. It’s not an assumed anymore.

Why does it matter?

This means that events and sponsorships are going to have to prove that they are worth the investment for exhibitors, sponsors and attendees. If events do not actively make space, and actively invest, in innovation and an optimal experience they will enter into the vicious  cycle of budget-cutting midyear, which we all know is that fastest way to kill an event, demotivate employees and ruin a brand.

The Evidence

The entire premise of Bird’s Eye View is to gather different views to either prove, disprove or modify our theory. With so many opinions in the market talking about the future of events, a world of fake news and uninformed voices talking nonsense, we wanted to take a realistic and unobjective look at our theories (aka our gut feelings) before using our voice. 

We looked at three views below. 


The Corporate View

We spoke with Randy Giusto, VP and Lead Analyst at Outsell about the realities of forecasting a budget for 2022, and the trends that organizers need to keep top of mind.

Spoiler alert: The way the C-Suite is looking at T&E budgets in the future isn’t pretty. 


The Brand’s View

So, what’s happening on the brand side since they are the folks who sponsor and exhibit. To test our theory, we did a 3 question Q&A with big brands, smaller brands and, of course, agencies to see where and how they are thinking about spending in 2022. 

TL:DR There is still so much uncertainty on spend and the measurement behind it to determine a definitive trend. The value of events (physical and virtual) is still there, but expect to see new trends emerge on where they will spend and what type of activities they will spend on moving forward. Sponsors are sitting on A LOT of data right now which will either totally help or completely kill their activity with your event. 


The Attendee View

It’s important to explore the perspective, willingness and potential limitations of the actual event attendee including their companies (since they fund the T&E for events they attend). Because, you know, having an empty event will get you nowhere fast in 2023.

Sirkin Research aggregated the stats out in the market now, so you don’t have to. 

The Conclusion

Is accurate budgeting for 2022 going to be difficult – absolutely. Will it be impossible – no. 

Did marketers spending money in 2021 to save their future budgets? Some did. Regardless of why they spent, the expectation is that they receive value and that friends is the tricky part of the event comeback. If the right attendees are in name badges, brands will continue to spend at some level. Just because they always sponsored isn’t a reason anymore though. They are looking for new ways to measure success in a post-pandemic world so beware.

There is plenty of research above that shows T&E budgets are not coming back at the levels they were pre-pandemic. Companies added to their bottom line with these T&E savings and employees who want to travel will have less money to do so with. The research indicates they are going to attend fewer events – 50% fewer. 

P.S. We love giving advice.

Like we said, budgeting sucks, but guess what, you aren’t alone. For the month of September and October we are offering complimentary strategy sessions to get through the crazy.

Sign up, pick our brain, just rant, whatever you need, we got you. 

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