When the going gets tough, the tough cut costs—at least in the financial and insurance conference sector, where budgets often are more likely to come under the scrutiny of regulators. Given the pressure to raise the bar year after year—and especially during crises such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—planners have to think creatively to find ways to deliver memorable experiences without breaking the budget.
“The regulated nature of the industry often handcuffs creatives who tend to present the same thing over and over again,” says Joe Panepinto, senior vice president and strategy director for Jack Morton, a brand experience agency. “We see it as an opportunity to help these clients see their business in a different way.”
According to Fall 2019 Pulse Survey, conducted by Financial & Insurance Conference Professionals (FICP), the majority of planners were keeping their budgets in check and considering a wide range of options for trimming costs. Faced with an economic slowdown—which has since been significantly exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic—37 percent of planners said they would cut their spending on amenities and gifts; 35 percent would change up their venues; 33 percent would reduce the number of participants; and 20 percent would focus on shrinking their food and beverage costs.
Managing risk is particularly important in the financial and insurance meetings sector, and meeting planners play a key role in this process. The FICP Fall Pulse Survey reported that roughly one-third of meetings professionals lead the development and implementation of risk management protocols related to meetings and incentives, and more than half indicated they play a contributing role.
Developing risk management plans and protocols is a “big and important question,” Panepinto says. “You’re bringing lots of people together, and any time you do that, you need to plan for a wide range of contingencies. The planning team is helpful in this process, but they shouldn’t be in the lead role.
“Operations and risk management should be involved to bring to the forefront the best practices for dealing with outages, disruptions [natural and otherwise], threats and threat preparedness. Production knows the venues, and the processes and procedures they already have in place. Account services needs to convey to the team the client’s expectations on adherence to their policies and more. Risk management is a team challenge and should be approached from every angle.”
Read more in Chuck Kapelke’s story, “Doing More with Less: Meetings in the Financial and Insurance Sector Require Outside-the-Box Thinking,” in the April issue of Smart Meetings.