Building the Business Case for Conference Attendance
Conferences are a fantastic place for networking, professional growth, relationship building, thought leadership, and education. However, they can be extremely expensive—both for the registration as well as the associated travel. If a conference isn’t budgeted at the start of the year, you may find yourself needing to build both a cost proposal and a business case to attend. In this post, we’ll highlight ways to build value in conference attendance, how to justify the expense, and tips to construct a budget proposal for your supervisor to review. We will also highlight considerations from managerial perspective.
Highlighting the Benefits to Your Organization
When it comes to getting approval for conference attendance, we suggest setting yourself up for success right from the beginning. You can do this by providing your manager with key details in an easy-to-digest format.
An email to your supervisor requesting approval to attend a specific conference is a great place to start. In the body, be sure to outline the anticipated business benefits to help justify the ROI of your attendance. Some ideas include:
- Align the conference to your organization or department’s strategic plan.
- Propose a post-conference recap or lunch and learn to showcase relevant highlights.
- Provide insights on competitors, innovative technologies, exhibit hall trends, and other pieces of information that may help your company’s event strategy in the future.
- Schedule meetings with clients, prospects, and partners. This is a fantastic way to build rapport and keep your organization top of mind.
While conducting your research, consider contacting the conference organizer to see if they have a request letter template available. As an example, for TravelBank’s annual Altitude Conference in September, we provide a justification page that can be used by employees to get approval from managers. The template will help you build the business case for event attendance and even assist with budget calculations.
Creating Your Budget: We Can Help Predict the Cost
At the end of the day, the cost will more often than not be the determining factor for any significant expense. If you can provide your approving manager with as much detail as possible, the decision making process should run more smoothly. In addition to the registration fee for the conference, your proposed budget should also include airfare (if needed), hotel, ground transportation, and food estimates.
Fortunately, TravelBank can make the process completely seamless. Our Travelator feature will calculate airfare, lodging, ground transportation, and meal expenses based on real-time data for your destination on the dates of your proposed trip. We even take into account what is going on in the area and anticipated surges.
For instance, the week of Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce conference, flights and lodging are at a premium due to the influx of travel to the San Francisco Bay area–our app takes this into account when predicting your trip costs. For more detail, read our blog outlining the power of the predictive budget.
TravelBank’s support doesn’t stop at cost predictions. We support travelers every step of the way–from booking, to approvals, expense documentation, reporting, and reimbursement. Our app enables you to snap pictures of receipts and add in notes later. Talk about simplified expense reporting on the go!
Once you’ve returned from the conference, compiling your expense report is a whiz, with everything being buttoned-up in a PDF, ready for your manager to review and approve.
Supervisor’s Corner: What to Consider
As an approving manager, you’re often faced with the not-so-pleasant task of denying requests from employees. We get it, budgets are tight and it’s important to stretch your dollars to gain the maximum ROI. However, giving an employee the green light to attend a conference is a great way to show that your organization values them and is invested in their career.
It’s important to carefully review the proposal and see how the conference aligns with your company’s goals, the networking opportunities present, and if in fact you can swing it from a budgetary perspective. To take the guesswork out of the required information you expect an employee to present, consider building a template for employees to follow when submitting a conference request.
Congratulations, Your Attendance is Approved!
Whether you are the approving manager or the employee submitting the request, it is gratifying to see that conference attendance is a go. Managers and employees should work together to discuss workload coverage, event expectations, and next steps in the process. We hope this post has armed you with the tools you need to maximize the value from the upcoming fall conference season. If you have questions about how TravelBank can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Upcoming Event: TravelBank’s Annual Altitude Conference
When: September 26-28, 2019
Where: Las Vegas
Event Overview: Hosted by TravelBank, Altitude combines community, commerce, and connection through social experiences. Altitude is an invite-only gathering designed to connect, educate, and inspire our community of customers, partners and teams. This year’s sessions will address topics like creating a travel policy that fits your company culture, the future of managing business travel, and an exciting announcement about our product.