Is A Third Party Event Management Firm Worth the Cost? (Hint: Not Always)

In conversations with our franchisor clients, we are we are frequently asked when might be the right time to engage a third party event management firm.  One of our valued partners, Actio Marketing recently posted a great article about just this topic and we thought it well worth sharing.  Actio’s extensive experience working with many franchise and dealer brands including Choice Hotels, Overhead Door, Invisible Fence, and Oxi Fresh give them great insight into how to: create an exceptional experience for franchisees; decrease stress on existing franchisor staff; and ultimately measure the impact and effectiveness of the event.  Here’s what the pros at Actio have to say about when is the right time to outsource your franchise event… 

Is A Third Party Event Management Firm Worth the Cost? (Hint: Not Always)
By: Stacey Ruth, Co-Founder, Actio Marketing 

When a third party agency like Actio Marketing answers the question about the value of their cost, you might assume the answer would always be yes.  But the correct answer is – it depends. 

Organizations that are just launching large-scale events can resemble a start-up company advertising for the first time. They don’t have ready financial resources to pay agency fees – even if they believe it will improve the results. It is a cart and horse conundrum. 

Unlike advertising agencies, however, there is a certain point in the growth of an organization, and its highest profile events, where the expense for an event firm’s services actually reduce costs.  The key is knowing when that point is reached – and what the cost/value formula should look like. 

Whether your organization is already using an outside event partner, or wondering if you should for the first time, here are some straight-forward, simple considerations to make your decision one you feel confident about:

  1. Are you already using free resources? As much as most organizations do not believe it – third party venue sourcing does not add any cost to your bottom line. Hotels pay commission fees that do not hit your budget as hidden costs, and are paid at the same rate, regardless of the venue, thus avoiding favoritism. It also means your contracts reflect the maximum amount of concessions and savings possible for your group.
  2. Is your event growing? As your audience grows, so does the role of event manager. Outside resources, quite simply, help you do more, and faster.
  3. Are you experiencing unexpected challenges? Speakers and entertainment that don’t live up to their videos, food and audio visual costs you didn’t anticipate, glaring errors on a supplier’s part – all are avoidable using the expertise of an event professional that saves both stress and waste.
  4. Are you spending enough time interfacing with your customers (attendees) both before and during the event? If your staff is consumed in the planning and execution of the event, and not able to either perform their daily functions or be the hosts to attendees, then you are both stressing your system, and leaving your attendees feeling slightly under-appreciated. The cost of this grows as your audience size increases.
  5. Does anyone responsible for planning your meetings/conferences have venue, menu planning, entertainment, speaker and audio visual contract negotiation background? Substantial cost-savings exist in each of these categories, and they are not about “beating up” your suppliers. In fact, most cost-savings also make life easier for the suppliers on your event. Simple things like travel buyouts, switching from buffet to plated meals – all have noticeable impact that increases as the audience size increases.
  6. Have you shopped your event? Shopping your event through an RFP process helps you get clarity on what others like yourself are typically doing, what agencies charge for their services (there can be a lot of variation) and get ideas for a fresh approach.  We are not suggesting you shop for creative this way, but that you gain a clearer understanding of agency rates and strengths.
  7. Do you know the business impact of your event? Companies that measure the dollar impact of an event for their bottom line are more likely to embrace outside resources to help them than companies that perceive the event as a necessary action but with intangible impact.

In summary, the time to engage an outside event firm is when you already know your event, and have a handle on what is and is not working. Leverage a firm with a proven track record of success and their expertise to improve the process as well as your bottom line. 


Many great nuggets in this article that we’ll surely be passing along.  Hope you find it useful! 

More soon… 


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