Plain and simple, I think we can all agree the meetings and events industry has changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With these changes come policies and guidelines that will be the new standard for hosting events moving forward, and this begs a few questions. Just how are people venue sourcing in this new world? How and where do you start your sourcing journey? What resources are available to you to make sure your plans meet current guidelines, including social distancing, so people feel comfortable being at your event?
In this blog series based on the newly released eBook, Sourcing in the New World, we will guide you, step-by-step, through the evaluation process of your organization’s venue sourcing program to help you optimize your program and ensure your policies and standards are sufficiently up to date.
Step 1: Evaluating Your Event Program Footprint and Sourcing Safe Venues
The first step of your sourcing journey is looking at your events program “footprint,” meaning a full review of your upcoming event.
One thing we have learned during the pandemic is that localities, states, and countries are not running on parallel paths in terms of restrictions, re-openings, travel limitations, social distancing, etc. Therefore, the first thing you need to decide is where your event will be taking place. If you have decided there will be an in-person component, we recommend building a great relationship with the venue to stay connected as new changes are implemented, as they will likely be the first to know.
Next, you need to establish the scope, or full picture, of your event. No matter what type of meeting you are planning, there are a few key things to consider when deciding how to structure it.
- Intent – what is the purpose of the meeting?
- Participants – who will be attending?
- Group size – how many people will be attending?
Building out your goals and preliminary project scope enables you to frame your event and get buy-in from leadership. If your organization is already on board with the event, your goals and scope help move you along into the next stages of planning.
Prior to the pandemic, a significant amount of a meeting or event budget was normally spent on the venue. However, with the rise of virtual and hybrid events, this has changed, and what once might have been outside a planner’s budget may now be a reality thanks to lower venue expenses.
The needs and deliverables of your event types will vary, so make sure to account for the differences inherent to each type. Event types can be categorized as corporate, private, or charity. Corporate events focus on business development and consumer growth and engagement, whereas private events are more recreational, and charity events are hosted solely for philanthropic purposes.
The best corporate events have concrete and achievable goals associated with them, which makes sense given the cost and amount of planning that goes into each one. If you’re new to corporate event planning or you’re just looking for more inspiration to help you achieve your business goals, we've got you covered.
The size of your meeting also plays a key role in your event’s scope. Now that you know “why” you’re planning the event, it’s time to figure out “who” will be in attendance. That’s usually a question of who’s going to benefit from the purpose of the event or who needs to be present to work toward a goal.
For small events where you know your audience, putting together and reaching a guest list can be simple. But for larger events like a conference or a community-wide event, the attendee pool is likely to be a lot more dynamic. If you’re planning a large event, your potential attendees likely have different preferences, desires, learning styles, etc. So, applying the same formula across the board at any stage of the event funnel would mean watering down how effectively you’re engaging any given person.
Step 2: Aligning with a Venue on Requirements to Fit Your Needs
Historically, the relationship between planners and their venue partners has never been a seamless experience. As we mentioned above, the events industry has changed, and now there are even more even variables that need to be considered in order to hold an event, including location, travel capabilities and restrictions, meeting size and space, attendee behavior, and even higher standards for safety. In your master agreement contract, we recommend paying particular attention to these inclusions:
- Negotiated Rates
- Terms and Conditions/Re-Book Clause
- Canceled Space
- Health and Safety
Venues are more prepared than ever to accommodate your requests, so ensure that you state up front what you need on-site.
Sourcing in the New World
This post is the first in a series of three blogs that will assist you in venue sourcing in the new world as you navigate the changes to the events industry brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The next blog post will focus on dealing with new corporate policies, venue requirements, and creating new RFP templates.