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Flevy Management Insights Case Study
Strategic Growth Plan for Sustainable Event Management Firm

Fortune 500 companies typically bring on global consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture, or boutique consulting firms specializing in Strategic Planning to thoroughly analyze their unique business challenges and competitive situations. These firms provide strategic recommendations based on consulting frameworks, subject matter expertise, benchmark data, KPIs, best practices, and other tools developed from past client work. We followed this management consulting approach for this case study.

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Consider this scenario: A forward-thinking sustainable event management firm is at a crossroads, requiring strategic planning to navigate a decrease in market share by 15% over the last two years, amidst growing competition and evolving client expectations.

The organization is confronted with external challenges, including a shift towards digital and hybrid events accelerated by the pandemic, and internal challenges such as resource constraints and the need for digital transformation. The primary strategic objective of the organization is to redefine its service offerings and operational model to capitalize on digital event trends, enhance client engagement, and secure a competitive edge in the sustainable event planning industry.

This organization, after a thorough analysis, identifies a lack of digital integration and innovation as primary contributors to its stagnation. As the industry moves towards more hybrid and fully digital events, the company's traditional, less flexible offerings have become less appealing to potential clients. Further examination suggests that enhancing digital capabilities and adopting a more agile operational approach could significantly improve its market position.

External Analysis

The event planning industry, particularly in the sustainable niche, is undergoing rapid transformation, influenced by technological advancements and changing client preferences towards more eco-friendly solutions.

To understand the competitive landscape, we analyze the primary forces shaping the industry:

  • Internal Rivalry: Competition is intense as firms vie for market share, with a notable increase in new entrants specializing in digital and sustainable event solutions.
  • Supplier Power: Moderate, with a growing number of suppliers specializing in sustainable materials and digital event technologies.
  • Buyer Power: High, due to the wide range of choices available to clients and their increasing demand for customized, sustainable event solutions.
  • Threat of New Entrants: High, facilitated by low barriers to entry in the digital space and the rising trend of sustainable events.
  • Threat of Substitutes: Moderate, with virtual events and in-house planning by corporations as the main substitutes.

Emergent trends include a surge in demand for hybrid events combining physical and digital experiences, and an increased focus on sustainability. These changes present both opportunities and risks:

  • Increased demand for hybrid events opens avenues for innovation in digital event platforms and services.
  • The emphasis on sustainability attracts clients looking for eco-friendly event solutions but requires significant investment in green technologies and practices.
  • The rise of in-house planning by corporations poses a threat, necessitating differentiated offerings to retain market share.

Our STEER analysis highlights significant social, technological, environmental, economic, and regulatory factors influencing the industry, such as the growing societal emphasis on sustainability, rapid technological advancements in digital event platforms, and evolving regulations around waste management and carbon footprint reduction for events.

Learn more about Competitive Landscape External Analysis

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Internal Assessment

The organization's internal capabilities are anchored in its deep understanding of the sustainable event market and its reputation for delivering eco-friendly events. However, it faces challenges in digital event execution and innovation.

SWOT Analysis

Strengths include a strong brand in the sustainable event space and long-standing relationships with eco-conscious suppliers. Opportunities lie in expanding into the digital and hybrid event market and leveraging technology to enhance event personalization. Weaknesses are evident in the limited digital capabilities and resistance to change within the organization. Threats include increased competition from new entrants and shifting client preferences towards more innovative and flexible event formats.

Jobs to Be Done Analysis

Client needs are evolving towards seeking not just sustainable event solutions but also innovative and flexible formats that integrate digital experiences. Addressing these needs requires the organization to rethink its service offerings and operational model to deliver value beyond traditional event planning.

Value Chain Analysis

A review of the organization's value chain highlights inefficiencies in service design and delivery, particularly in integrating digital solutions. Streamlining these processes through technology and training could enhance operational efficiency and client satisfaction.

Learn more about Service Design Value Chain

Strategic Initiatives

  • Digital Transformation and Innovation: Launch a comprehensive program to integrate digital technologies into event planning and execution, aiming to offer innovative hybrid and fully digital event solutions. The goal is to meet evolving client expectations and capture a leading position in the digital event market. This initiative requires investment in digital platforms, skills development, and a culture shift towards innovation.
  • Sustainable Value Proposition Enhancement: Redefine the organization's value proposition to emphasize its unique capabilities in delivering sustainable and technologically advanced event experiences. This involves developing new service offerings that combine sustainability with digital innovation, expected to attract eco-conscious clients and increase market share.
  • Strategic Planning Process Optimization: Establish a dynamic strategic planning process that allows for continuous market analysis, internal capability assessment, and agility in strategy execution. This initiative aims to ensure the organization remains adaptive and competitive in a rapidly evolving industry. It will involve training in strategic thinking and the implementation of a strategic planning framework.

Learn more about Strategic Planning Value Proposition Strategic Thinking

Strategic Planning Implementation KPIs

KPIS are crucial throughout the implementation process. They provide quantifiable checkpoints to validate the alignment of operational activities with our strategic goals, ensuring that execution is not just activity-driven, but results-oriented. Further, these KPIs act as early indicators of progress or deviation, enabling agile decision-making and course correction if needed.

You can't control what you can't measure.
     – Tom DeMarco

  • Client Satisfaction Score: To measure the impact of digital and sustainable innovations on client satisfaction.
  • Market Share Growth: An increase in market share will indicate successful penetration into the digital event market and enhanced competitiveness.
  • New Service Adoption Rate: To gauge the market's response to newly introduced digital and sustainable event solutions.

These KPIs will provide insights into the effectiveness of the strategic initiatives in enhancing the organization's competitive position, client satisfaction, and market penetration.

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Stakeholder Management

The successful execution of strategic initiatives requires active engagement and collaboration with key stakeholders, including employees, technology partners, and clients.

  • Employees: Essential for driving internal change and delivering on the new digital and sustainable event solutions.
  • Technology Partners: Critical for the development and integration of digital event platforms and tools.
  • Clients: Their feedback and engagement are crucial for refining and validating the new service offerings.
  • Suppliers: Eco-friendly suppliers will be key in maintaining the sustainability aspect of the event solutions.
  • Management Team: Responsible for leading the strategic transformation and ensuring alignment with the strategic objectives.
Stakeholder GroupsRACI
Technology Partners
Management Team

We've only identified the primary stakeholder groups above. There are also participants and groups involved for various activities in each of the strategic initiatives.

Learn more about Stakeholder Management Change Management Focus Interviewing Workshops Supplier Management

Strategic Planning Best Practices

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Strategic Planning Deliverables

These are a selection of deliverables across all the strategic initiatives.

  • Digital Event Solutions Roadmap (PPT)
  • Sustainability Integration Framework (PPT)
  • Strategic Planning Process Template (PPT)
  • Market Penetration and Growth Model (Excel)

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Digital Transformation and Innovation

The organization's journey to digital transformation and innovation was guided by the Resource-Based View (RBV) framework. RBV focuses on leveraging a company's internal resources as a source of competitive advantage. This framework was particularly useful for this strategic initiative because it emphasized the importance of unique organizational capabilities—such as the organization's commitment to sustainability and its innovative culture—in driving successful digital transformation. The team meticulously applied RBV in the following manner:

  • Conducted an internal audit to identify unique resources and capabilities that could be leveraged in the digital event space, such as existing relationships with eco-friendly suppliers and in-house sustainable event planning expertise.
  • Mapped these unique resources against the requirements for creating innovative digital and hybrid event solutions, identifying gaps and areas for development, such as the need for digital event management skills and technology partnerships.
  • Developed a strategic action plan to enhance these capabilities, focusing on training, technology investment, and partnership development.

The application of the RBV framework enabled the organization to systematically leverage its unique internal resources to successfully navigate its digital transformation. This approach resulted in the launch of several innovative digital and hybrid event solutions that were not only sustainable but also highly differentiated from competitors, leading to increased market share and client satisfaction.

Learn more about Digital Transformation Competitive Advantage

Sustainable Value Proposition Enhancement

For the enhancement of the sustainable value proposition, the organization utilized the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) framework. TBL is a sustainability framework that encourages organizations to focus equally on social, environmental, and financial outcomes. This framework was instrumental in this strategic initiative as it aligned with the organization's core mission of sustainability and guided the integration of sustainable practices throughout the digital transformation process. The implementation process included:

  • Assessment of current event solutions against TBL criteria to identify areas where social, environmental, and financial outcomes could be optimized, such as reducing carbon footprint and enhancing community engagement.
  • Development of new event solutions that achieved a balance between these three pillars, ensuring that each solution delivered positive social and environmental impacts while also being financially viable.
  • Engagement with stakeholders, including clients, suppliers, and employees, to communicate the enhanced value proposition and gather feedback for continuous improvement.

Implementing the TBL framework led to the successful enhancement of the organization's sustainable value proposition. This not only strengthened its position as a leader in sustainable event management but also attracted a broader client base interested in hosting events that delivered positive social and environmental impacts. As a result, the organization experienced increased demand for its services and improved financial performance.

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Strategic Planning Process Optimization

The strategic planning process optimization initiative was supported by the Scenario Planning framework. Scenario Planning involves developing detailed, plausible views of how the business environment of an organization might change in the future and how these changes could impact strategic decisions. This framework was chosen for its ability to prepare the organization for a range of future possibilities, making it highly relevant for optimizing the strategic planning process in an industry characterized by rapid change. The team implemented Scenario Planning with the following steps:

  • Identified key external forces that could impact the event planning industry, such as technological advancements, changes in client preferences, and regulatory shifts related to sustainability.
  • Developed a range of plausible future scenarios based on these forces, including best-case, worst-case, and moderate-case scenarios for the industry's evolution over the next five years.
  • Reviewed and adjusted the strategic plan to ensure flexibility and resilience across these scenarios, incorporating contingency plans and strategic options.

The use of Scenario Planning significantly enhanced the organization's strategic planning process, enabling it to anticipate and prepare for a variety of future industry changes. This proactive approach allowed the organization to quickly adapt to emerging trends and challenges, maintaining its competitive edge and ensuring long-term sustainability and growth.

Learn more about Scenario Planning

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Key Findings and Results

Here is a summary of the key results of this case study:

  • Increased market share by 8% within a year, indicating successful penetration into the digital event market.
  • Client Satisfaction Score improved by 15% post-implementation of digital and sustainable innovations.
  • New Service Adoption Rate for digital and hybrid event solutions reached 40%, exceeding initial projections.
  • Operational efficiency improved by 20% through streamlined service design and delivery processes.
  • Financial performance saw a 10% increase in revenue, attributed to the enhanced sustainable value proposition.

Evaluating the results, the strategic initiatives undertaken by the organization have largely been successful. The increase in market share and client satisfaction scores directly correlates with the implementation of digital transformation and innovation, as well as the enhancement of the sustainable value proposition. These outcomes validate the strategic direction taken, leveraging the organization's unique capabilities in sustainability and digital event solutions to differentiate from competitors. However, the New Service Adoption Rate, while impressive, suggests there might be untapped market segments or potential for higher adoption rates with more targeted marketing strategies. Additionally, the operational efficiency improvements, while significant, hint at possible pre-existing inefficiencies that were not fully addressed. Alternative strategies could have included a more aggressive digital marketing campaign to boost the adoption of new services and a deeper organizational restructuring to eliminate legacy inefficiencies.

For next steps, it is recommended to focus on expanding the digital and hybrid event portfolio, capitalizing on the successful adoption rate to capture a larger market share. This could involve exploring niche markets within the digital event space or enhancing current offerings with cutting-edge technology. Further investment in marketing and client engagement strategies will be crucial to maintaining momentum and increasing service adoption rates. Additionally, conducting a comprehensive review of operational processes to identify and rectify any remaining inefficiencies will ensure sustained improvement in operational efficiency and financial performance. Finally, continuous monitoring of industry trends and client feedback will be essential to adapt and innovate the service offerings in alignment with market demands.

Source: Strategic Growth Plan for Sustainable Event Management Firm, Flevy Management Insights, 2024

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