It’s no secret that meeting and event planners are busy people — and they’re getting busier.
In the Australia edition of the 2019 Cvent Planner Sourcing Report, over 70% of planners surveyed said they manage 11 or more events per year. They’re organising more events with more attendees — and larger budgets. These event professionals have more to do, and in turn, they expect more out of hoteliers and venues.
That’s because, despite the heavier workloads, there’s no room for a decrease in quality. Planners are still under pressure to make every event compelling and financially successful.
Help them out by being a partner. Hotels that build strong relationships with planners can help them craft memorable experiences and meet their financial goals. To make sure your venue is selected, consider these hotel manager tips that influence a planner’s decision, so you can maximise your hotel’s approach, respond to RFPs more accurately, and ultimately convert more group business.
Hotel manager tips you need to know:
#1) LEVERAGE VIRTUAL TOURS, WIN WITH SPACE AND LAYOUT
Today, the event planners may be restricted to their homes, but they are still sourcing venues for future events. Help them explore your venue digitally with the help of virtual tours. Online technology tools such as Cvent Social Tables can be used to showcase the event space layout and other benefits your venue has in store to offer. Planners expect hotels to provide more flexibility and greater transparency in space design and decision-making. Cvent Social Tables enables the creation of 3D diagram and layout of your event space which can be customised as per the needs and requirements of the planners.
With virtual and hybrid events becoming the norm, the visual element has emerged as a crucial part of the whole event experience. While planners may not be searching for an overly luxurious and expansive venue for a purely virtual event, they do need to find a venue with the basics such as a podium stage and audio / visual equipment to give the broadcast a polished feel. In case of a hybrid event, the venue becomes even more important.
Venue tip: You can win the game by showing the planner the unique value your venue brings, as well as how your space will make their event a resounding success. Consider a 3D model of the space, or supply additional, personalised photos so the planner can visualise their event in your space.
#2) HIGHLIGHT YOUR VENUE’S ABILITY TO HOST HYBRID EVENTS
In a post-COVID world, most of the events are expected to be hybrid in nature. Hybrid events require venues to have technology capabilities and technical infrastructure in place to support them. For hoteliers, having exceptional Wi-Fi is not enough. Hoteliers need to emphasise on upgrading their venues’ technology to ensure a robust digital infrastructure to stay ahead of the competition and be able to deliver seamless live streaming of such events.
As hybrid events are a combination of in-person and virtual elements, providing flawless onsite support is also crucial. Make sure to highlight all of the necessary information that a planner’s AV and streaming partners will need to know. Tell them clearly how your venue is well-equipped with state-of-the-art technology and a technical staff capable of guiding through anything that would be disruptive or noticeable to a remote audience.
Venue Tip: Since planners are looking for ways to provide unforgettable experiences at their events, consider leveraging online tools such as 360-degree videos, live-interactive video tours of your site, to promote your venue’s hybrid event technology and support your venue is capable of delivering.
#3) PROVIDE A SEAMLESS BOOKING EXPERIENCE AND BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
Getting the booking process right and nailing the planner experience is crucial to securing group business — and setting yourself up for repeat business.
It’s in your best interest to make sure that every interaction with planners is highly professional and that every step of the sourcing journey is as seamless and easy as possible. Proving yourself as an indispensable and integral partner in their event could be the extra push the planner needs to choose your venue, whether for the first time or as a repeat customer.
Sourcing, researching, and comparing proposals are the hardest parts of the venue selection process for planners, because of the time and effort involved. While planners do appreciate prompt responses to RFPs, a speedy reply isn’t everything — it also has to be accurate and thorough. Planners want increased attention to detail, so pay attention to their specific requests and try to be proactive in offering solutions to potential needs. A complete and accurate response is better than a fast one that leaves a lot of blanks to fill in.
In addition, the increase in “simple meetings” provides even more of an opportunity for hoteliers to build relationships with planners. A Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) study found that 50% of corporate meetings are “simple” ones — with basic and replicable requirements.
Because these simple meetings are typically organised by planners who either aren’t formally trained or don’t normally book these kinds of events, hoteliers have an opportunity to position themselves as partners throughout the entire process and establish a relationship with the planner. If you make the booking process as smooth and easy as possible, it could lead to winning future group business from the same client later down the line.
Venue Tip: Experience is everything — not just for attendees, but for planners, too. Close to 60% of planners say they won’t return to a venue because of the sales staff’s lack of professionalism, so focus on creating an easy and polished experience for the planner all around. And besides, it’s just good customer service.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Planners are looking for more than just the venue with the right price tag. They need a partner in event experience creation. They’re looking for venues in out-of-the-box and unique locations or near transportation and attractions, with fun offsite activities. They want a smooth and streamlined booking process with a professional and prompt staff.
By focussing on improving and highlighting these areas, hoteliers can set themselves up for current — and repeated — success in booking more meetings and events.