Monday, June 28, 2010

Are Venues Listening to Event Planners?

communication technology
If it seems that change is accelerating you’re not alone. Every aspect of our lives appears to be going faster. Especially in communications technology.

It used to be simple. Attractive brochures, stylish advertising, and managed site visits defined the marketing approach to event planners by most venues.

Then came technology. The internet. Cell phones. Search engines. Online booking. Lap tops. Wi-Fi. iPhones. iApps. iPad.

Which changed marketing and communication methods. Advertising. Direct mail. Telemarketing. Email. Banner ads. Google ads. Search engine optimization. Blogs. Twitter. Facebook.

As change occurs people’s attitudes change as well. No longer passive consumers of marketing messages, today’s buyers are smart, informed, and engaged.

And event planners are getting more sophisticated by the day. They’re demanding more fluid and consistent communications from venues and are quickly frustrated when those demands aren’t met. Planners now expect real and personal interaction with venues, whether in person, on the phone, by email, or online – both internet and mobile.

To reach them you must know them and communicate in an open and honest way. The new media shapes communication. Planners who use Facebook and Twitter daily value clarity, speed, and directness in their communication. They have no time, and low tolerance for BS.

It is a venue’s responsibility to listen to Meeting Planners and give them the tools that intersect with their preferred method of communication. A cursory look at a few venues Quickly demonstrates that now everyone is listening.

From convention centers to large chains to individual properties there is no consistency in what planning information is available and where it is located on a website.

Some venues limit their information to a simple capacity chart. While others (see the Westin Charlotte -- a MeetingMatrix customer by the way) offer a dynamic interactive experience that takes you into configurable meeting diagrams.

I do believe that we have very good products at MeetingMatrix – but that’s beside the point. Venues owe it to themselves to find ways to meet event planners in ways that planners prefer. Sure there’s a cost associated with that. But I submit there’s a bigger cost if you don’t.

Technology changes expectations. People expect companies or venues that want their business to keep pace with technology. When a company meets or exceeds those expectations it wins more often than not.

Keeping up with technology also adds reflected value to your company. When you add an iApp you get associated with Apple and its branding. It’s a form of positive reinforcement.

There are many ways to improve your planner interaction. The easiest is to make sure that whatever information you have is easily found on you website. A bare bones capacity chart that I can find and get to easily is, in many cases, better than high end graphics buried deep within multiple layers of web pages.

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A well kept secret -- MeetingMatrix Hospitality Educator’s Program

hospitality education
While MeetingMatrix is the well known developer of interactive floor planning for hotels and convention centers, we also have another less well known aspect of our company.
MeetingMatrix software is used in the curriculum of 40 colleges, universities, and hospitality schools. We provide free software, support, and online training to schools that choose to participate in our Hospitality Educator’s Program.

Professors at these schools use our software in a variety of ways. Some use it as part of technology discussions while others use it as a broad teaching platform that touches on all aspects of event planning.

I think that’s testament to the quality of our software and if that were the extent of our program it would be a good story.

But there is more. Because our CEO, Jmîchaeĺe Keller, believes strongly in education, we’ve taken our program a step further. We provided a grant to Queen Margaret University to establish the world’s first meeting and event technology laboratory.

One of the primary objectives of the lab is to develop a curriculum for free use by universities and colleges that use MeetingMatrix software as a teaching tool. The curriculum will include areas such as online venue research, computer assisted design and drawing, social media optimization and evaluation and other emerging areas related to information science in meetings and events.

So while it’s not extremely well known – yet -- our Hospitality Educator’s Program adds that something extra that helps make MeetingMatrix an interesting place to work and a good company to partner with.

Jmîchaeĺe link

QMU link

Don Basler
Sr. Marketing Manager

Monday, June 7, 2010

Space: The Final Frontier

event setup
It was a few years ago when I was asked by a fellow colleague in the Air Force what I do in my civilian life. A multitude of descriptive sentences, hand motions, and diluted terms and processes were used in my synopsis. After about ten minutes of my rambling I concluded. Without hesitation the apt pupil merely replied: “You sell space!”

Although he didn't get it right, it summed up what our industry is all about.

For meeting and event venues, space is at a premium. Not only does every inch count, but also how objects are utilized in that inch. This is the main factor in how effective a function is. Case in point – look at your desk. It may be very clean and organized. But, at least one person reading this will have papers stick to their elbows whenever they move from one position to another. Better still, it's quite possible that you or someone you know is being held captive by at least one of many usb or power cables that reside in the surrounding work area. The most efficient workers know where everything is because their area is clean and organized.

These are probably the individuals in your office who are able to accommodate every request in a timely manner and who also know the answers to most every question that is directed their way. In most cases, they are probably enjoying a great amount of success in their career as a result of these and other organizational practices.

Take this idea of space optimization and apply it to the meeting and event arena and one can realize just how important a setup can be.

It’s easy to see why venues that know their space and seem to offer the perfect answer to any setup query are on the short list of options for top meeting and event planners around the globe.

Want to hear from the planners themselves?

(LinkedIn account and i-Meet group membership on LinkedIn are required to see thread. Both are highly recommended and free!!)

Scott Sanker
Graphic Designer