Smart marketing, flexibility, informed negotiation skills and even last-minute risks are among the tactics and tools necessary to craft successful business in today’s market.
MPI’s latest Meetings Outlook survey, found that the seller’s market is changing, with hotels and venues getting clearer on the sectors of clients with whom they want to do business and more precisely targeting their marketing to reflect this.
“What we’re seeing is hotels and venues becoming more sophisticated in their target market definition and doing a better job of tracking their target market customers and accepting the types of business for which they are best suited,” says Bill Voegeli (MPI Georgia Chapter), president of Association Insights, the Atlanta-area research firm that conducts the survey. “You’ll find hotels and venues turning away customers with whom they used to work in favor of customers for whom they can do a better job or possibly enjoy a higher yield.”
The trends could ultimately benefit the meeting and event industry overall, according to Voegeli. “It bodes very well for the industry long term because the hotels and venues are taking time to better define and understand whom they want to work with and better understand whom they serve the best,” he says.
Barry Jones (MPI Brazil Chapter), who does strategic meetings management for the nonprofit organization FamilyLife in Little Rock, Ark., has found that in the current climate, venues are asking more of organizers.
“This is forcing us to negotiate certain points harder, try to suggest different options that are lower-cost and help our clients determine how their budget can support a reduced program,” he says.
With venues charging higher prices, meeting organizers are having to adjust their expectations, too, the survey found.
MaryEllen Parmer, CMP (MPI Middle Pennsylvania Chapter), who coordinates and oversees conferences for PWW Media, commented that one of her current challenges is “going to a seller’s market and trying to still meet the needs of the attendees.”
Suppliers, too, are feeling the squeeze. “Events and meetings are still very last-minute in regards to signing off and planning details,” says a supplier, who sought anonymity.
“Dates for meetings and events are normally planned in an acceptable time frame, but confirming and planning details are often last minute and prevent suppliers from delivering their very best in customer service and pricing.”
Nonetheless, some planners are making the most of the seller’s market, pursuing last-minute bookings when and where rooms are available and getting multiple venues to compete for the business to get a lower rate than would be expected, the survey found. Suppliers are aware that this is being done and are actively participating in it.
TECHNOLOGY MARCHES ON
In a trend that continues to gain momentum, technological innovation continues to disrupt meetings, with planners increasingly expecting new technology to be part of the mix. For instance, the survey found that 55 percent of respondents expect virtual attendance at meetings to rise. In keeping with this trend, some industry professionals are looking for budgets not simply for technology, but for experimenting with new approaches.
One factor that is driving this is demand from organizers and attendees. “Everyone wants all information electronically using Dropbox for handouts, sending evaluations electronically and [having] schedules easily accessed on smartphones,” says Barbara Louis, CMP (MPI Minnesota Chapter),CEO at Best Meetings Inc. in Bloomington, Minn.
Buhl is seeing more use of technology, videoconferencing and webstreaming to reduce travel and increase attendee participation.
“For these meetings to be successful [the technology] needs to become an integrated part of the meeting, not an add-on,” she says.
Though many meeting organizers are putting technology front and center, providers say they still have some educating to do, when it comes to integrating it successfully into meetings.
ZIKA FEARS REMAIN IN CHECK
Although Zika and terrorism fears have been cited as major concerns, they were not having a major impact on destination choice. Sharon Schenk, CMP (MPI New England Chapter), director, conventions and event management at CCA Global Partners Inc, said: "Safety is the most important concern to our team. I try to keep up-to-date on the virus and build our contingency plan accordingly. I’m taking the media hype with a grain of salt. It’s a very delicate balance. You have to look at the odds."
According to the report, around 30% of respondents are avoiding destinations that have laws prohibiting universal restroom use, while 19% refuse to visit with regions with liberal handgun or weapons laws.
Download here the full report. The MPI in Europe Team