Have you ever thought about turnkey events? It’s a step beyond hiring an event planner or handing your event over to a chamber event committee. A turnkey event company brings the event to you and handles (almost) everything.
Many parent teacher associations (PTAs) are embracing these kinds of events as lucrative, low-effort fundraisers. Here’s how you can leverage this trend to grow your chamber offerings and bring in non-dues revenue without adding more to your plate.
What Can Your Chamber Expect from a Turnkey Event?
A turnkey event, just as it sounds, is done for you. Often it’s run by an event company that does these kinds of events all over the area (or country). They have the ideas, plans, and resources in place to create and run an entire event.
While you’ll need to check what an individual company offers, most turnkey event companies will provide:
- Marketing materials and instructions on the most effective ways to use them
- Staff to run the event/on-site management
- Communication pieces to attract people and sponsors
- Recording/capturing on video, go live platforms, or on camera
- Polling and engaging activities at the event
Many of these event companies focus on engagement and since they’ve run many of these types of events before, they know what makes them successful.
During our research, we found event companies that are using “turnkey” in their company name or services title but were simply event planners offering to help you run an event.
That does not mean they aren’t good at what they do. But for clarification’s sake, when we refer to “turnkey” we’re writing about turnkey event planners that offer pre-branded, pre-planned events where you have to do little to no setup or planning.
One of the biggest differences is that while they may receive some flat payment, they are largely paid through splitting what you bring in. Think of them as franchisees of events. They have a pre-established event that could be co-branded with the chamber. More about that in the next section.
The Pros and Cons of Turnkey Events
The largest benefit of running a turnkey event is that most of the planning, designing, scheduling, administrative work, setup, and coordination is done for you. This can free up your time for other matters where your expertise is needed; things that can’t be assigned to others.
Turnkey event companies also often bring in people to work your event. This leaves you with more time to enjoy and network, not print name tags. Some event companies will also take on the pulling of permits or any arrangements that need to be done before hosting. They may even come into the event with helpful apps, games, and other exciting technology that you wouldn’t have for a chamber event.
Turnkey event professionals also usually handle the event from planning to clean-up, taking it completely off your plate. With turnkey event professionals, you want to make sure you know exactly what is included as there are many variations in included services.
You will sacrifice some things with turnkey events. For instance, you’ll be giving away a portion of your proceeds and their event may be branded to them with the Chamber branding as a secondary part of it. Plus, many true turnkey event companies sell a choice of events. They may not be able to turn your existing event into one of theirs.
For instance, if you’ve always hosted a chamber 5k, choosing a company with a pre-branded Fun Run and morphing your chamber 5k into the Chamber Fun Run is easy. But in some situations, you may find that your turnkey options mean creating a new event altogether, not getting them to take over one of your existing events.
The reason these turnkey events are lucrative for everyone is that they are “prepackaged” in some instances. There’s a perfected framework. That means that professionals running turnkey events may be less flexible than you would be when planning your own. They are looking for the most efficient way to run a large number of events. You could be locked into certain choices and be less agile.
Turnkey a la Carte
What if there are aspects of your event that are eating into your time but you’re not ready to give it over to someone else? There are companies that are willing to come in and take over a certain part of the event or event planning process off of your hands. These companies will have different compensation rates than a turnkey event planning company that would subsidize their salaries by receiving a share of your proceeds.
With that in mind, if you didn’t want to go for a full tunrkey experience, you could hire people to:
- provide sales support in selling event tickets and merchandise or answering questions
- conduct necessary research to make your event bigger and better
- market the event (this could include creating the collateral and disseminating it as well as handling social media or buying a list)
- host or emcee services, among others
You can create your own by working with groups who are willing to do the heavy lifting for you. For instance, working with a group (like food truck owners) and bringing them in to host a rally may not involve much on your end.
Creating hosted lunch and learn or networking events at a member business could also be turnkey outside of the marketing time and resources.
Ideas for Turnkey Events
There are some events that lend themselves to turnkey options. Here are a few ideas that you might work with a company on:
- wine tasting
- chef’s table, Taste of, or farm-to-table event
- wine or cooking class
- movie premiere, movie under the stars or feature (this is a great idea if a movie was filmed in your area)
- food truck rally
- mixology class
- fun run, marathon, or mud run/field day challenge
- walking tours, bar crawls, storytelling events
- “best of” contest
- scavenger hunt
- TED-talk style programming
You can also use turnkey event planners to host your annual board retreat or other business meeting ensuring you get the most out of the function because you’re not worrying about production problems.
Is a turnkey event right for your chamber? Only you can say. But before you become incredibly excited about all the cool events you could be doing, remember every event should tie into your chamber’s mission.
If the events are not helping you meet your goals, walk away. It doesn’t matter how interesting it is or what the expected potential is. Leave it for someone else. Instead, concentrate on those things that will mean a lot to the chamber and its members. Events are too labor intensive to do them just because they sound fun.