Planners can use all the help they can get, and hotels that make their job easier are more likely to earn their business. That's the conclusion from the just-released 2019 Cvent Planner Sourcing Report: Global Edition, which is based on a Cvent-commissioned survey of 2,650 qualified planners worldwide.
Among the survey respondents, 69% manage at least 11 events a year, and 37% organize 50 or more. Combined with a reported increase in attendance at most types of events, this growing workload underlines the importance that hoteliers should place on making every planner interaction quick and service-oriented.
Communication Is Key to All Relationships — Even With Planners
Bad communication was cited by 44% of planners as the reason for choosing to not submit an RFP to a venue. Even if they do, an incomplete proposal can prompt them to quickly turn down a venue. They don't have time to track down additional information, since they still have to deal with ever-increasing expectations from attendees and executives.
If a response has the wrong name or dates in the wrong month, “clearly you didn't really pay attention to the proposal at all," AxoGen planner Leanna Mosquera told us in our Meet the Planner series. “I don't have time to go through 30 incorrect responses for each program that we do," so venues that provide inadequate information are more likely to get rejected right off the bat.
Our 2019 survey respondents agree: 32% want hotels to improve attention to detail in their RFP responses, while 20% want faster responses.
What About the Venue Itself?
Cost will always be a top influencer on planners' booking decisions, but in this year's report, event space layout was just as important. They tied as the top factors (45%), slightly ahead of location and availability of preferred dates (42% each).
While the bottom line is still a major influence, the results show the growing importance of other considerations. Case in point: Over 70% of planners expect cost savings of at least 6% before they would consider switching to their second-choice venue. That means hotels and venues are no longer likely to win group business solely because they offer the best price.
Hoteliers can also attract planners by helping them create more "be here now" experiences. When asked about their strategies for making events memorable, 56% of planners say they leverage live entertainment such as music, and 35% use pop-up events and surprises.
Great Hotel Space Isn't Enough: Service Helps Generate Loyalty
While appropriate meeting space and unique experiences can get a planner to book with your hotel, service is key to earning repeat business. More than half (59%) of surveyed planners cite a lack of professionalism among hotel staff as the reason they won't return to a venue.
Those results echo the concerns expressed by MeetingAdvice veteran Steve Goodman in our Meet the Planner series. He said he looks for “a level of professionalism from the minute you pull up to the hotel and you meet the doorman, to the front desk, all the way through housekeeping. The level of professionalism that is shown by the staff typically resonates on what type of event you might have at that property."
Get More Planner Insights by Reading the Full Report
Find out more about how planners manage room blocks, expect their budgets to increase, and use external resources such as convention and visitors bureaus by downloading the full 2019 Cvent Planner Sourcing Report: Global Edition.