Whether circumstances have caused you to pause your events program, adopt a hybrid approach, or go virtual, you’ll be in need of a venue sourcing strategy as you plan for the future of in-person events. Planning ahead and having the right tools in place to aid you will help immensely, even during times of great uncertainty.
In this post, we’ll share the ways that technology will make re-scheduling your in-person events in late 2020 and early 2021 less time consuming, more streamlined, and ultimately more successful. Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned professional, efficiency and working with venues will be critical to sourcing the right venue (or destination).
Equip Yourself Now for the Race for Space
The fact is the race for venue space is already on. In spite of cancelled or postponed events, planning professionals have still been working feverishly to prepare for the inevitable when in-person meetings and events return. There is good news; however, the basic guidelines for successful venue sourcing still apply. It’s just going to be a bit more competitive, and time will be more precious than ever.
While there are many traditional paths to finding a venue: browsing through a crowded in-box or list of personal contacts and emailing event requirements or time-consuming Google searches are viewing individual hotel websites, utilizing venue sourcing technology is the quickest and easiest way to set yourself (and your events) up for success.
Evolve Your Venue Sourcing Strategy
Here are the 6 best venue sourcing technology features that will help you get back on track and begin finding event venues efficiently in our current environment.
1. Destinations and Venues at Your Fingertips
While “perfect” may seem relative in our “new normal,“ using technology when sourcing venues will get you closer to your goals than a more manual approach will. The narrowing process, however necessary, can quickly become overwhelming without the aid of tech. At the end of the day, you need to find the destination that meets your group needs and will promote maximum attendee satisfaction. Venue sourcing technology provides a truly effective online marketplace, giving you massive sourcing power. With a powerful database at your fingertips, the exhaustive (and exhausting) process of manually searching from dozens of windows open on your browser disappears.
Pro Tip: When searching for venues, your software should allow you to filter search results to show cancelled space at the top so that any event planner using your account can see the credit available to take advantage of over the next 6-12 months.
2. Narrow Down Your Choices in Seconds
Venue sourcing technology provides all the information you need, all in one place. Critical information like average hotel room rates, average daily meal costs, the total number of sleeping rooms, activities and entertainment, star ratings, promotions, and pictures of venues are all available to review and dissect, with just a few clicks of your mouse. For example, if you need a Northeast United States beach destination that has 200+ sleeping rooms and at least 10,000 square feet of meeting space, within seconds, your options will be narrowed down to three locations: Atlantic City, New Jersey; Long Island, New York; Portland, Maine. What could take hours just took seconds.
Pro Tip: We expect hotels will be slammed with business later this year and into 2021, so make sure to strengthen your relationships with preferred suppliers and hotel contacts by copying them on any/all RFPs you send out through your venue sourcing technology.
3. Send Your eRFPs in a Flash
If you’ve reached this point, you’ve done your homework by narrowing down one or two destinations and a handful of hotels and conference centers that fit the bill. By doing your research you should have limited your shortlist to a handful of venues that really fit your needs. As we mentioned previously, tech can make this faster and more efficient when you need those qualities the most. Now it is time to issue an electronic Request for Proposal (eRFP) to the venues and see what sorts of responses come flowing in. Another upside here is that venues realize that when they receive eRFPs via sourcing technology, that they’re competing for business with other venues, so their response time is much quicker than usual. By making your eRFP as complete as possible, you’ll get a more detailed response, eliminating rounds of back and forth with the venue
Pro Tip: Create a library of custom questions and require responses from hotels, so you know who has agreed to your terms and conditions and mitigate risk by including cancellation clauses on all your eRFPs.
4. Evaluate Your eRFP Responses More Efficiently
If you don’t use an eRFP tool, hotel proposals can come in a myriad of ways, some easier to read than others. In times of uncertainty, the added stress of assembling various proposals and different formats can be time-consuming and confusing. Using a digital solution will ensure that not only hotels send proposals formatted for ease of understanding, but they also provide ways to help you compare them side-by-side.
Pro Tip: Remember to also work with your Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). They are experts on the destination and can answer many of your questions.
5. Virtual Site Visits with Real-time Collaboration
In these ever-changing times, new rules and regulations may vary by state, venue, etc. While sourcing tech can give you the hotel data you need (when the venue was built, total meeting space, nearby attractions), site visits are important. But now, site visits may not even be possible in the traditional sense, due to travel constraints, venue policies, and tighter budgets. Working on floor plans with just photos as reference could be impossible. Work with your prospective venues to collect floor plans and diagrams and collaborate to maximize space available, virtually. You can ensure your shortlist of venues can accommodate your size event and set-up before ever seeing the space in-person.
Pro Tip: You can also use 3D event diagramming tools to make this easier, including the ability to collaborate in real-time about setup, seating, and more. As is the case with in-person site visits, always have all your critical questions ready beforehand.
6. A Centralized Hub for All Your Venue Data
A significant benefit of digital sourcing is the ability to store all of your historical data in a single system of record. This allows you to easily access all the information you need to make informed choices in the near and distant future. Use your technology as a place to store all previous bids and contracted rates that you can use as leverage when you are negotiating with your suppliers – this will be even more important to your bottom line!
Pro Tip: Venue sourcing technology is more efficient than the other paths to finding a venue because it cuts down working hours and puts you in a position to find ideal venues and secure rates that fit within your budget.
Because of the impact of new rules and regulations, leaving anything to chance is not a best practice. Streamlining the way you venue source, one of the most important aspects of event planning, is essential. With venue sourcing technology, you can put a lot of the stress that comes with manual sourcing to rest.
The Cvent Supplier Network Helps You Source and Secure the Venues You Want