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

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