Workplace blogs

Money-Making Meetings

When we last met in this space I offered up some extremely helpful tips on how to cut costs at your meetings. So now let’s look at the other side of the equation, shall we? We shall. (In case you had any doubt, I just thought I’d ease your mind right away.)

The other side of the equation is of course: How can we turn our meetings into epic profit centers so that everyone, save the meeting participants, leaves richer than when they started? After all, Happy-People-Celebrating-With--4086764isn’t the goal of meetings to enrich our lives? So here are just a few ways you can make sure your meetings turn a profit that would make Donald Trump’s hair blush.

Borrow from the Airline Model. Airline passengers have become accustomed to paying extra for, well, pretty much everything. “Oh, you want to sit during the flight? AND you want access to the washrooms? Let me just add those on to your bill while you print out your boarding pass and luggage tags, attach the tags to your luggage correctly, schlep your luggage over to the conveyor belt, purchase your bag lunch for the flight, load your bags onto the plane, and help us clean out the aircraft before an on time departure.”

This is a highly successful model for one critical reason. It defies all reason and yet…it works! So why wouldn’t the meeting industry look into a similar money-making model? You could start charging extra for everything from the meeting agendas to the table mints. Better still, how about a “meeting space improvement” tax? And – we’re on a roll now – a premium charge for attendees who want to bypass the registration line and premium seating where “business seating” gets you a front row seat with only 5 other participants per table, while “coach seating” leaves you languishing in the back bowels with 14 sweaty participants sandwiched around a table.

Meeting Fundraisers. If you’re a parent then you are more than accustomed to getting involved in car washes, raffle ticket drives and assorted money laundering schemes in order to pay for the heating at your child’s school. It’s a textbook case in how to raise money to purchase cases of textbooks. So take that same “we have no choice because you have us over a barrel” attitude and get your meeting participants involved in raising money for their own education and enlightenment.

Maybe it’s a casino night to raise money for the meeting planners’ salaries, or a dunk tank to raise funds for the printing costs, meals, or in-room heating. Maybe it’s selling off raffle tickets where the winner gets to emcee the meeting – in which case you not only raise funds you save the costs of bringing in a professional emcee!

Make the Speakers Pay. Speakers are being trained to speak for free through such high profile outlets as TedTalks, so why not take the next natural step in the evolution of the speaking business and ask them to pay for the privilege of being able to share their opinions in front of complete strangers. There are a number of different models that might work, for example, a price per word fee – the longer the speaker speaks the more they have to pay.

There is also a huge opportunity for speaker levies, taxes and surcharges. For example, an overtime charge levied against any speaker that runs over their allotted time. This alone could raise untold thousands of dollars.

Or, how about a “Toastmasters’ um tax”: Ding the speaker for every “um” they interject. Or an “ego tax” for every time the speaker wastes the audiences’ time sharing self-gratifying epic stories about just how epic they are.

And, although it might be controversial (as all new taxes are), a pseudoscience or “BS tax” on speakers (BS of course standing for, “bad science”). Think of it as a “carbon offset tax” – the more the speaker strays into hot air territory, the more they must pay, not only to reduce the impact on climate change, but as a penalty for lowering the intellectual standards and discourse in society. Common phrases to tax might include, “the Law of Attraction,” “quantum thought vibration,” “the universe wants you…,” and “you too can be a millionaire in only 5 days if – and only if – you buy my book today.”


If you have a meeting money-making idea, please drop us a line. (Just be sure to include the $500 “reading fee”.)

Michel Kerr is a Canadian Hall of Fame business speaker and very funny motivational speaker. His latest book is called The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.






























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