Publishers confront challenges in growing events

Events have become a go-to revenue source for publishers, but growing a profitable business is not without its challenges.

Publishers are not just competing with other events companies, but any content provider or brand that claims to have a route to consumers. Making money from events often requires a dedicated team and a different set of skills when selling event sponsorship packages.

The Telegraph, which is selling off four of its consumer events including fitness event Be:Fit, the London Bike Show, Triathlon Show and luxury watch event Salon QP, appointed Ruth Carter as managing director of its events business in October. “We want to make sure we’re focusing our time and energy on shows that fit really well with The Telegraph and its community,” said Carter. The Telegraph said it plans to launch other consumer events next year that are more core to its brand, though it wouldn’t give details.

While publishers can charge ticket fees and sell sponsorships — some publishers claim events make up 20 percent of their revenue — events also have a lot of fixed upfront costs such as venue rental, speaker or performer fees, as well as multimedia and branding. In March this year, the Guardian, which continues to run events, diverted funds that were to be spent developing its events space, The Shed, to other parts of the business that promised more sustainable revenue streams, like its membership scheme.

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