Events Market Outlook, Q2 2022

Author: Debra Chipman, VP North America, Collingwood Advisory
Word count: 662
Time to read: 3 minutes

The consensus from the CEOs in attendance at the event industry’s annual gathering was they are seeing light at the end of the tunnel even if the journey through is different than pre-pandemic.

There was plenty of talk of the events market rebounding, and commonalities across all organizers:

1) registration surge in the last three weeks with one organizer saying they tripled registration numbers in the final week pre-event;
2) know your customer or perish – your customer has goals, find them out and create value to meet them;
3) marketing dollars are infinite as long as you can show strong ROIs around inspiration and leads;
4) rebound is strongest where the markets are fully open, Europe/US.

This has largely stood to be true, however with an added layer of uncertainty now creeping back in, of a looming recession.

Hybrid Events

The verdict is in on hybrid events – pick a side for your event but keep a hybrid approach to engaging with your audience throughout the year.  Yes, it’s both.  It was unanimous across all organizers that for live events be just that – live!  Hybrid is confusing to attendees, so sell the content and in-person value; if they are looking for only digital, they will choose one of your digital offerings.  It was also unanimous that your audience engagement strategy needs to be a hybrid approach.  Live events and digital offerings aligned with a yearlong content strategy are the new norm for increasing audience engagement that converts to increased attendee numbers.  

Marketing Reset

A marketing reset is underway post pandemic; you are no longer preaching to the converted. Attendees are more selective in choosing their events; sponsor clients are more focused on seeing ROI on lead generation spend.  In short, your audiences have goals and are seeking education and networking providers who offer solutions to meet them.  

How do you re-engage with your audience?  Yearlong content strategies for building audience engagement and data are now a necessity and a content-focused website is the best lever for attendee conversion.  One speaker put it like this, “Data, embrace the good while chasing the great.  Push those who are engaged with you and not the entire database.”   

The M&A Marketplace

For buyers of B2B event businesses, data strategies and resilience are key criteria. 

  • Demonstrate resilience of revenue. How did you weather the pandemic, how did you optimize the time during and how are you emerging from it?  
  • Show you’re organized to sell.  As a founder, have you replaced yourself so you can step away?  Is there a senior management team in place?
  • Come to the process data ready, it’s no longer acceptable to have weeks of back and forth to get access to the key data.  
  • Know where you are on the customer centricity scale.  Do you know the current goals of your customer and are you creating value through your events to meet these goals?
  • Having your data organized is key.  Being organized around data is even better.  Businesses that go beyond their traditional event offerings and can provide digital content, data, transaction, and other ways to connect buyers and sellers throughout the year are more attractive targets for acquisition.

Pre-Covid multiples are still being realized but the deals have changed.  Sellers need to be prepared for a longer earnout period given the uncertainty around recovery post pandemic.

Scaling your Business

Cassandra Farrington, Founder of MJBiz, gave this advice to founders, “Run your business as if you’re keeping it forever, that’s the best way to grow value for a buyer”.

There is so much truth in what Cassandra says, but running  your business and scaling it at the same time is a major challenge for all founders and entrepreneurs.  You need to take the time to work on your business and not just be in the business.    

If you’d like to discuss the future and how to maximize the value of your own business, please get in touch:

* Quotes and insights from SISO CEO Summit 2022