By Kate Vasiloff, GBTA Foundation
A new GBTA Foundation study revealed the most valued and most desired features when it comes to site sourcing technology. Conducted in partnership with Lanyon, the study is being released during a Lanyon Live breakout session. Meeting and event planning starts long before anyone sets foot onsite, of course, and many factors can greatly contribute to or detract from the success of an event.
A majority of planners (57 per cent) use events or meeting management technology or software when planning events and nearly all who do (96 per cent) find value in using technology to manage their meetings and events. Additionally, almost six in ten (58 per cent) of those who do not currently use it see the potential for technology to improve their processes and programs.
“Technology has made it easier than ever to be a smart shopper,” said Anthony Miller, Chief Marketing Officer, Lanyon. “That’s because we now have access to loads of up-to-date information on nearly everything we buy — from curtains to used cars. Why should shopping for an event venue be any different? If we can provide planners with more, high-quality information, then they’ll be able to choose the venue that best meets their needs — in less time and with fewer hiccups.”
Deciding where to host an event
Location (27 per cent) and cost (26 per cent) are the top factors for choosing a property to host a meeting or event. How does technology play a role in selecting a location? Currently only two in five planners (43 per cent) have access to technology that automatically populates city specs including everything from proximity of the venue to other hotels, restaurants and airports along with hotel rates to food and beverage pricing or even a city’s crime rates. Half of the planners who use this type of technology find it very valuable to make more informed decisions as would 45 per cent of those who don’t have access to it. Some planners even said this feature would top their wish list if they created their own meeting and event planning product.
Another valuable tool when selecting a city and event site would be a Yelp-style site for meeting planners. This formalized approach to consulting industry experts would only work with a few important caveats however, planners say. The site would need to be limited to experienced planners, populated with up-to-date information and shielded from supplier’s eyes to be seen as a credible and useful resource.
Once the city is chosen, RFPs are often sent to a number of venues to collect additional information before making a decision. Four in five (81 per cent) planners currently use technology that allows them to send a single RFP to multiple properties and allows properties to respond directly to the RFP within the platform for easy comparisons – both highly valued features. Seven in ten (70 per cent) planners use technology to compare property details side by side and nearly all (88 per cent) find this feature very valuable.
Planners would also like the ability to track each venue’s pricing from the initial bid to final negotiated price, which becomes very helpful when companies place an emphasis on budget tracking and cost savings.
Site visits, lead-up prep and the event debrief
Planners find site visits to be an invaluable aspect of the planning and success of meetings and events, however, many still take a low-tech approach to them. Seven in ten (70 per cent) say they use pen and paper to record information gathered on site visits. While many planners prefer their pen and paper method, others are showing interest in moving to electronically recording the information gathered on site visits including the ability to record notes or upload photos electronically.
The planning and communication does not stop after choosing the venue. Two-thirds of planners use (63 per cent) and value (67 per cent) meeting and event planning technology that allows for two-way communication with vendors. Making this portal mobile friendly would be a great improvement for many planners. Additionally, seven in ten planners use meetings and event technology to help them load and track budget info along the way, and while only one-third (33 per cent) currently have technology that allows planners to survey their venue and vendors post-event, many express interest in having this option as a part of their meeting and event management technology.
Education is key as many planners express frustration with not knowing where to go to learn about products in the marketplace that could address their specific needs. With a plethora of technology already available though, it is imperative that planners look to industry trade publications to learn about the latest features, attend industry events to see new technology in action and talk to their peers to learn about the most current offerings.
Methodology: This study used both a qualitative and quantitative approach. The qualitative side is based off of nine one-on-one in-depth interviews conducted with individuals with significant event-planning responsibilities. These took place in both April and August of 2016. The quantitative side consisted of a survey completed by 94 North American individuals with mid- (25-500 attendee) to large-scale (500+ attendee) event-planning responsibilities who were at least “somewhat involved” in planning or overseeing of meetings and events at their company and “involved” or “very involved” in the site sourcing process. This survey was fielded between May 18 and June 2, 2016.
Read the full report: The study, Site Sourcing Technology: Valued and Desired Features, is available free of charge exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here and non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing [email protected]. View a free preview of the research now.
Learn more: A webinar featuring industry experts from Lanyon and the GBTA Foundation will discuss trends and technologies when it comes to venue sourcing. Take a deeper dive into this research on November 10 at 2pm ET. Complimentary registration is available now.