• Assess talent. Assign your temps strategically by strengths and skills. If they're tech-savvy, don't relegate them to handing out welcome packets.
• Ask "rock stars" back. Be on the lookout for top performers who catch on quickly and fit in well with your team. Keep these standouts in mind for future events.
The event industry is a closely-knit world: On-site staff could be working for your competitor a week after your event. In cases where proprietary information is handled or disclosed, consider requiring on-site staff to sign privacy or nondisclosure agreements.
As companies and associations expand their event portfolios, the head count of in-house planning teams might not be keeping pace with that growth. Manpower shortages can be felt most acutely on-site.
Any event that is too large for your department to adequately staff on its own, or one that requires specific outside expertise, such as VIP security, justifies hiring on-site staff. Following are guidelines for finding and working with temporary help.
Make a Case For It
Think about your needs in the early planning stages, and include supplemental staffing costs in your initial budget. If circumstances require additional funding during the later planning stages, you will need a solid business case to back up your request. Present decision-makers in your company with a simple staffing grid that emphasizes the shortages, along with a list of job descriptions and functions that require hiring external staff.
Also provide a minimum of three cost estimates from vendors. Be prepared to discuss the pros and cons for each with your stakeholders and make a good case for your preferred vendor. If you have successfully hired temporary staff in the past from this firm, be sure to highlight positive outcomes.
Use Your Networks
The best way to find professional, qualified event personnel is by getting recommendations from colleagues and planning counterparts.
You also can locate event and convention staffing firms through local destination management organizations; many DMOs offer registration personnel and other temporary convention staff workers as part of their meeting services. Or try contacting industry associations such as Meeting Professionals International and the Professional Convention Management Association.
The size of the firm doesn't really matter: Local and regional companies can be more affordable than larger ones, and some can offer finely tuned specialties, while big firms can provide multiple turnkey services on a global scale.
Brief New Hires
Your on-site staff should be a seamless continuation of your own team. Be sure to give them the tools and information they need to understand the event objectives and the corporate culture and values. Include them in the pre-con meeting when possible.
Plan For the Future
Consider your full portfolio of events when hiring on-site staff. You can save 25 percent or more if you contract staff for multiple events rather than for a one-off program. If you are working in multiple cities or even globally, compare and evaluate firms that can give you volume pricing. is an event producer and writer who specializes in strategic global event marketing. She is based in Pacifica, Calif.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is an event producer and writer who specializes in strategic global event marketing. She is based in Pacifica, Calif.