It’s no secret that meeting and event planners are busy people — and they’re getting busier.
In the 2019 Cvent Planner Sourcing Report, 37% of planners surveyed said they organize 50 or more events per year. They’re managing 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 factors that influence a planner’s decision, so you can maximize your hotel’s approach, respond to RFPs more accurately, and ultimately convert more group business.
Start With Cost, Win With Space and Layout
Planners look at multiple considerations when selecting a venue — and money isn’t everything. Event space layout is equally as important as the venue cost. In fact, in Cvent’s report, each of these factors was cited by 45% of planners as the biggest influence on deciding who wins their business. Budget is important to planners at this stage, but they also want a venue that will create a compelling experience for attendees.
While ranking lower than other factors, things such as activities outside the venue and photography point to the growing importance of creating a memorable event experience. Planners expect hotels to provide more flexibility and greater transparency in space design and decision-making.
The importance of non-cost factors such as space layout is highlighted by planners’ reluctance to consider switching to a second-choice venue that offers a lower price. In fact, nearly three in four planners would expect a savings of at least 6% before even thinking about switching their venue decision.
If you have the RFP, you know you’re close when it comes to price. You can win the game by showing the planner the other 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, personalized photos so the planner can visualize their event in your space.
Highlight Your Venue Location
Competition for group business is already tough, and it’s set to get even tougher. With the construction of more hotels and meeting planners casting a wider geographical net when sourcing venues, a hotel no longer competes only with other venues in its city. The competition is now global.
To better target planners sourcing venues, make your hotel location look glamorous and appealing with photos and videos of available event spaces. Showcase the unique spaces and layouts in your venue and the signature offerings that only your city and venue can provide. Show the benefits of booking in your city and at your location by highlighting proximity to things such as transportation, airports, tourist attractions, and local restaurants.
Since planners are looking for ways to provide unforgettable, local experiences at their events, consider partnering with your destination’s CVB to compile unique packages of activities. It will make for a memorable time that could happen only in your city and at your location.
Provide a Seamless Booking Experience and Build Relationships
Getting the booking process right and nailing the planner experience are 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 organized 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.
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 focusing on improving and highlighting these areas, hoteliers can set themselves up for current — and repeated — success in booking more meetings and events.
Want to know how you can build better relationships with planners?