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Fresh approach to experiences doubles events, not budget

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Budgets are often the driving force behind an event’s planning and execution. At Augeo, we work with clients on budgets both large and small. Yet what unites our clients, regardless of their budget, is a desire to efficiently manage costs. And when one client needed to keep costs in line without compromising the attendee experience, we seized an opportunity to introduce a new approach.

Challenge

The client, a nationally recognized organization that helps entrepreneurs achieve success, hosts two separate conferences each year. One conference unites civic leaders and entrepreneurs for discussion, problem solving and action, while the second conference helps community stakeholders empower entrepreneurs by building ecosystems.

The conferences are typically held in different cities. Yet when the client realized that both events would happen in Kansas City, the focus turned to delivering more value to attendees while also keeping costs efficient.

That’s when the Augeo team helped introduce a new approach: host both events in the same week (and venue), which would not only help trim costs, but also give attendees more opportunities to connect, learn and engage, which is what both events are all about.

“The two audiences for these events aren’t the same,” said Callie Motz, account director, Augeo. “Yet historically, our client noticed a missed opportunity in connecting these two groups, which often share similar priorities and concerns.”

Solution

Combining two events that were previously hosted not just in separate venues, but also in separate cities, might seem like a logistical dream. For example, the Augeo team spotted opportunities to cross-utilize resources, like the AV team.

Yet the team also needed to be mindful of the boundaries of each event, ensuring that attendees enjoyed distinct experiences.

"The two events utilized the same general space, so we got creative with how we arranged it," Motz said. "For example, the first group of attendees was smaller, so we used pipe, drape and dividers to make the space feel more intimate while using the same stage and AV set-up."

In order to be mindful of costs and avoid unnecessary expenses, Motz said the planning team started the process by asking a key question: What do attendees want?

"For these events, we knew our attendees cared most about interactions with other people and intentional networking, plus the environment in which they were learning," she said.

As a result, the team placed more emphasis on the venue and how it was arranged while scaling back the creativity in areas like food and beverage. Motz added that the team maintained a focus on what they called “the human aspects of the event,” including making it easy for people to connect with each other face-to-face, as well as online with tools like an event app.

"There are all of these human elements to putting on an event that don’t require a bunch of money," she said. “Instead, they simply require connection and a space that allows for those connections to happen."

Results

Not only were both events successful on their own; they also allowed attendees the chance to mingle and network with people they might not have otherwise met.

The Augeo team had a prime opportunity to showcase how polished and effective events can be even when costs are top of mind. And the new format of the combined events also gave the client a chance to leverage the capabilities of a true strategic partner.

"People might be overwhelmed by planning events back-to-back, especially as you’re thinking through content and programming," Motz said. "That’s when it pays to engage a company like Augeo that can help plan and keep everything organized. You also have the benefit of someone on the outside looking in to make recommendations based on what your attendees want."

And when the events concluded, the client realized another key takeaway.

"It’s possible to put on a great event on a budget and make it special and meaningful," Motz said.