Events and tradeshows reigned for decades as a dominant force in marketing budgets. Frost & Sullivan’s ongoing research with marketing executives recorded the dramatic—if unsurprising—shift in budgets that accompanied the start of the 2020 pandemic: our data shows events went from being the top cost and ROI generator across marketing teams to being cut drastically by 67% of businesses.[1]

The events picture continues to shift, promising a future that will be as full of options as it will be difficult to predict. In-person customer and company events are on the uptick, encroaching on pre-pandemic levels. Remote and hybrid options also remain strong, and will expand into cutting edge metaverse, “phygital” (physical + digital) and extended reality experiences that we are only starting to envision. At the same time, event teams that were cut during the lockdown era face challenges in expanding and upskilling to meet new demands.

Event complexity, small teams, and rising customer expectations are not the only mines in the field.  Costs related to venue, food and beverage, and travel have risen across the board. Hotels in major business hubs such as Chicago, Boston, and San Jose, and other global cities, are expected to experience double-digit price increases for business travelers in 2024.[2] Airfare, which rose over 40% from 2021 to 2022, has continued to trek upwards as well.[3] Success for marketing teams today hinges on innovative events, engaging experiences, and a laser-focus on costs, value, and ROI.

Keeping costs in check may always involve some level of savvy human negotiating skills, but technology can also play an increasingly important role. For example:

Strategic venue sourcing shows planners what similar events cost across hundreds of vendors, enabling negotiations to be backed by real, current data and informed by aggregated benchmarks.

Event automation tools that attach sourcing, contracts, and actuals to the event record can allow for real-time budget vs actual spend analysis. Along with tracking costs, this can help show where negotiations drove reductions from the initial quote.

Dashboards that track labor, material production, swag, and other costs provide full visibility into event spending.

As noted earlier, the Frost & Sullivan research showed that events were not just cost centers, but top ROI generators as well. As budgets tighten and competition intensifies, justifying spend becomes ever more critical. The right tools and platform can actively tie event data into downstream sales and marketing systems. For example, advanced event platforms can integrate with CRM and marketing automation systems and prompt sales teams to engage in timely follow-up. For internal company events, corresponding metrics might show an event’s effectiveness at motivating employees, improving retention, or educating sales teams.

Real-World Event ROI Potential

Businesses invest in different types of events for a variety of reasons. In most cases, advanced technologies harnessed by digital platforms can enhance these events and improve ROI. Some examples include the following:

  • Event Objective: Stakeholder engagement

Industry Example:Controlling costs is important for any marketing department, especially in a high-cost industry such as the bioethanol market. A business such as CropEnergies could use investor, shareholder, and employee events as an efficient way to inform operations, showcase sustainability alignment, and engage stakeholders on shared goals such as reducing emissions and advancing energy efficiency.

Technology Angle: Tools can be used across in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, such as live polls/Q&As and post-event feedback surveys, to increase participant engagement and create quantifiable feedback on the business’s strategies.

  • Event Objective: Reaching large and varied audiences

Industry Example: Reynolds and Reynolds, a software provider for auto dealerships, holds the multi-day Reynolds Retail Summit: Amplify every year. An event such as this can provide customers with networking opportunities, help them learn about new products and services, and gain insights from industry experts. Reynolds and Reynolds is also known for participating in many community-minded events.

Technology Angle: Integrated mobile event apps, live streaming, and scheduling tools can create cohesive and engaging customer events.

  • Event Objective: Thought leadership

Industry Example: Leading investment management firm T. Rowe Price holds numerous events to promote its thought leadership and demonstrate its use of advanced technologies. These events can help attract and retain customers and investors and enhance brand visibility, ultimately supporting the company’s growth objectives.

Technology Angle: Seamlessly captures event content and discussions to repurpose for articles, social media, and nurture campaigns that extend thought leadership reach.

  • Event Objective: User education and training

Industry Example: Bruker, a scientific and industrial equipment manufacturer, participates in and sponsors dozens of industry events worldwide every year. It also provides customers with education programs, such as webinars and in-person courses.

Technology Angle: Digital tools facilitate easy registration, scheduling, and delivery of virtual and in-person customer training events through a single platform.

In all these examples, automation takes over mundane administrative tasks, making them more efficient and accurate. Technology also opens the doors for new and more engaging experiences—and higher revenue potential—thereby further improving ROI.

“Organizations have more diverse event types to manage without being able to hire additional staff,” notes Cvent’s Senior Director, Solutions and Customer Marketing, Julie Haddix. “Event teams are finding it challenging to handle the growing workload.” Haddix emphasizes that advanced end-to-end platforms solve this challenge, enabling companies to harness new technologies for innovative experiences and maximize efficiency.

Haddix explains, “Event management has become increasingly complex with evolving tools and required skills, which can be overwhelming. However, the right platform can give event teams a leg-up and increase ROI on their events.”


Event management teams need to excel at creating innovative experiences despite restricted resources and mounting pressure to demonstrate ROI. Intelligent platforms can simplify operations, offering templates and workflows for efficient planning and facilitating seamless content sharing across channels, empowering teams to handle greater event complexity with limited staff and greater ROI.

[1] The remaining 33% either did not engage in events or transferred relatively small budgets to virtual options.



About Roberta Gamble

Roberta Gamble has over 20 years expertise consulting Global 500 companies and communicating data-related value propositions. Her background researching tech, mobility, manufacturing, and other markets helps her translate complex digital solutions into smart business sense for both technical and non-technical audiences.

Roberta Gamble

Roberta Gamble has over 20 years expertise consulting Global 500 companies and communicating data-related value propositions. Her background researching tech, mobility, manufacturing, and other markets helps her translate complex digital solutions into smart business sense for both technical and non-technical audiences.

Your Transformational Growth Journey Starts Here

Share This