Technology has made our lives easier in more ways than we can count. That ease extends to venue sourcing. Once a manual and complicated process that largely lived in Excel, venue sourcing tools exist that save time and make the entire process better. But, while you may be aware of some tools, we've made a list of features that exist to help you as you begin sourcing again for in-person and hybrid events - or even if you've already started. We've pulled together a list of helpful tools to utilize when sourcing your next venue.
Venue Sourcing Trends
As the event and hospitality industries continue their recovery, we’re seeing growing optimism throughout the meeting planner community. In Cvent’s recent 2020 Q4 Planner Sentiment and Sourcing Report, 82% of planners expected to feel positive or neutral about the state of in-person events by June 2021. With vaccination efforts underway and in-person events scheduled for later in the year, the shift to positivity in planner sentiment is undeniable.
With that optimism, we’re seeing planners start to prepare for a reality where they can start planning in-person meetings again. This has been proven by the latest venue sourcing data and trends pulled from the Cvent Supplier Network, Cvent’s venue sourcing platform. There was a significant increase in sourcing volume in February 2021, the highest levels since March 2020.
We’re also starting to see a shift towards larger meetings being sourced. Throughout the pandemic, there was a transition towards simple meetings due to restrictions and regulations of large gatherings. The fact that planners are actively sourcing for in-person or hybrid events at higher levels and they are looking for venues to host larger events shows us a readiness to start planning.
It pays to plan now
Our advice is to start planning now. We’re seeing average daily rates grow as we get into Q2 2021. You don’t want to miss out on lower rates for in-person and hybrid events because you waited too long to start planning. Planners are mostly sourcing for the short term versus the long term, both the second half of 2021 and early 2022. We suggest planning ahead, doing your research, and getting those dates secured through your preferred venue sourcing technology.
If you’re using a venue sourcing tool, here are some helpful tips that can help you plan now.
Top venue sourcing tips and tools
1. Source a safe and tech-enabled venue
Venues are partners. Not just partners for an event, but partners in safety. As in-person returns, venues are adapting by making the necessary changes to ensure attendee safety. But how do you know which hotels, venues, and destinations have been making these changes?
Global hotels, venues and destinations from around the world have been showcasing their health and safety protocols through Cvent’s Source Safely resource hub. The hub is an amazing resource as your starting your venue search and starting your in-person and hybrid event strategy.
Hotels, venues, and destinations want to showcase their health, safety, AND hybrid event capabilities to planners. As you begin your search, make a list of what is important to your event. It probably won’t be the same as it used to be. Now, you might need more flexibility from a venue, extra production help, or require safety assurances that you didn’t before. Venues, hotels, and destinations are ready to share their new offerings.
Working with a venue that is flexible and closely aligns with your goals around safety and technology, will ultimately set you up for a successful in-person or hybrid event.
2. Compare bids like a pro
Once you’ve sent an RFP out to multiple venues that align with your safety and technology event goals, you’ll need to compare bids to decide which venue you want to contract with.
The process of comparing venue proposals can be manual and time-consuming. Often bids come through in different formats and with gaps in the data that you need to make your decision. Luckily, there are tools out there that automate the RFP comparison process. No more excel sheets and manual inputting.
RFP comparison tools allow you to customize your reports and drag and drop fields that are important for you to compare. You can even convert currency and localize the language based on who is viewing. This new process of customizing your reports will help significantly as you start to work with venues for in-person and hybrid events!
Looking for an RFP Comparison tool? Check out the Cvent Supplier Network.
3. Find hybrid promotions
Hotels and venues are accommodating requirements for engaging a virtual audience. This includes new on-site audiovisual equipment and creating studio spaces that are exclusively for broadcasting content to virtual registrants.
You can browse hybrid packages and get the best offers from global venues by using Cvent’s promotions hub. Promotions also are available on venue profiles. The Kimpton EPIC Hotel in Miami, Florida is showcasing their “EPIC Virtual Meetings Package” which incentivizes planners by offering credits for PSAV packages the more rooms that are booked.
4. See venue reviews written by your colleague
If you have multiple event planners at your company, you may not know all events that are going on and what hotels and venues are being used for those events. So, you’re probably not aware of the experience others are having when they have events at certain venues.
There’s a simple solution – centralized feedback. Cvent has launched an easy way for planners to centralize the way they give feedback. Planners can now leave reviews on all venues that have been contracted for previous events within Cvent. All planners within your organization can share their thoughts on venues that have already used. They can include information on specific details like safety and cleanliness for the benefit of your organization.
Contracting with a venue that has a great reputation and is known to be reliable to your company can be a great place to start planning.
Plan now to be prepared for in-person and hybrid
Start using these tips and tools now so you can be ready for the return of in-person and hybrid events. Whether your organization is ready to start your in-person events program now, or if you’re waiting for the full vaccination rollout and regulations to lift, finding venues that align with your priorities is a great place to start. See what dates and locations are offering the best rates and promotions for your budget and event format. Start comparing bids and putting together a shortlist of safe and tech-enabled venues that your organization can work with now or in the future.