In-person visits to hotels are off-limits for time being, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find the perfect venue for your future in-person events. How is that possible? With virtual tours and diagramming tools.
We’re all a little frustrated. Our jobs and lives have transformed over-night and we’re doing what we can to make the best of this less-than-ideal situation. Everything is prefixed with the world “virtual” – virtual meetings – virtual seminars – virtual happy hours – virtual pub quizzes – we’ve even heard about a few virtual weddings!
While it’s easy to feel fatigued by this constant use of tech, its existence allows a large number of us to remain productive and in the loop. Our colleagues are available virtually and our grandparents are a video call away (even if the only thing visible throughout the call is their ear).
Hotels are restarting
Hotels will be restarting their businesses and opening their doors within the coming months. With this will come a change in the way they operate, from supporting hybrid events to updating health and safety protocols.
This is so that when the way you source transforms, they’re ready to provide the best experience possible and ensure a safe, clean, positive experience for guests.
Virtual tour tech and venue sourcing
A key way in which technology is helping during the crisis is by providing a virtual lens into places we can’t otherwise visit. Venues such as Courtauld Gallery and London’s National Gallery are already seeing great success with virtual tours.
In March, Courtauld saw a 723% increase in visitors compared to the week previous, an “unprecedented figure”. London’s National Gallery similarly saw a 1000% increase year-over-year.
It got us thinking – how can planners use virtual tour and diagramming technology to help with the venue sourcing process?
Even before COVID-19, hotels all over the world were adopting this technology to help increase collaboration with planners, ease workloads and bring meeting spaces directly to your offices.
Why is virtual tour and 3D diagramming tech important?
Now, with social distancing measures in place and many working from home, the ability to see meeting space virtually is has become all-the-more critical.
Looking at images, no matter how good the quality, is next to useless in a practical sense. Room size, ceiling height, dimensions, maximum capacity and that awkward pillar in the corner all need to be considered and analysed carefully.
Images, though they might convey how great it looks, just don’t do the space justice. To ensure maximum comfort for guests and a great event, you need to make sure the space is just right for the number of attendees.
When it comes to conducting safe meetings and events, 3D diagramming technology, in particular, is essential. It’s likely that you will need to rethink seating arrangements to accommodate social distancing.
Hotels are currently working out ways in which to apply these new guidelines to their hotels during the restart phase, but it’s also critical for planners to understand how they can use technology to ensure the safest seating arrangements possible.
When sourcing, look for floor plans
When sourcing, the easiest way to figure out a hotel’s meeting space right off the bat is by looking at floorplans. On the Cvent Supplier Network, for example, you can filter by “floor plans enabled” in the “Venue Capabilities” section.
This will show you hotels with readily available floor plans. Here you can input the number of attendees and the seating style and it will show you meeting rooms that are suitable for your event.
Source: Cvent Supplier Network
If a hotel hasn’t got floor plans enabled, you’ll see the meeting room grid instead, which gives you a good amount of information to go off. But for those of us who like to visualise the space, this tool is pretty handy.
Technology to look out for
You’ve submitted your RFPs, received proposals and narrowed down your options. At this stage you’d ideally start visiting the venues and assessing meeting space.
Sadly, this isn’t possible at present and even when hotels begin to open, its likely travel will remain an issue. Here are a few ways virtual tour tech can help you as an event planner source the perfect venue:
- Deliver an unforgettable event to attendees who might be anxious about the changed nature of events
- Satisfy all safety guidelines and ensure set up is in accordance with social distancing measures
- Some technology, such as Social Tables, provides contactless check-in which gives that extra layer of security
- Ensure room is big enough for expected attendance and avoid overcrowding
- Show flow of attendees with arrows
- Figure out where to set up hand santiser stations
So, what technology should you be looking for?
Virtual tour technology
If you’ve been looking for a way to view meeting space virtually, you’re not the only one! According to Google Trends data, searches for “virtual visits” and “virtual tours” are on the rise. What’s more: it’s a great way to get a good view of the space.
Many hotels are already offering the ability for planners to have a 360 view of meeting space and there’s a wealth of venues offering this! This can be done via Zoom or 360 tour technology.
Will banquet or cocktail rounds style seating work best? Theatre or classroom? Figuring this out is done most effectively by visualising the space and using diagramming technology to find out which table set up works best.
This is also the best way in which to figure out your social distancing seating. It’s all relatively new; perhaps you haven’t given much thought into how you can lay out your tables to fit guidelines.
Don’t panic! Hotels will be happy to work with you to figure this out, and many are doing this with diagramming and 3D diagramming.