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Destinations need to provide more services to event planners in an extremely competitive marketplace. Despite the proliferation of online destination information, nothing beats a strong relationship between planners and destinations to help ease the stress felt by event professionals.

One result of the boom times for the meetings and events sector is rising complexity for planners. Many are trying to do more with the same number of staff members and small budget increases, and the challenges are weighing heavily on industry professionals.

Whether it comes to managing a budget or dealing with hotels and event spaces, stress is rising among those trying to do more with the same resources. An increased number of events held by organizations also means more chances for a security or safety issue to occur, putting further pressure on an organization to partner with the right destinations.

Development Counsellors International, a destination marketing agency, conducted a survey of 181 meeting planners, more than half of which have 20 or more years of experience in the role. Having previously conducted a similar survey in 2015 and 2012, the data show that destinations need to do more to make life easier for the planners they want to attract.

“Destination marketing organizations that only offer core services such as room blocks, unbiased advice, site inspections, welcome gifts, and RFP distribution do not provide a value-driven service to their end user,” states the report. “In 2018… these services are the most basic, and destination marketing organizations should supplement them with more advanced and customized services that directly address the challenges facing planners.”

When examining the top pain points for planners, stress over safety and security concerns was most acute among those polled. Dealing with hotel and event spaces came in second, followed by the risk of declining budgets in a marketplace defined by rising costs.

Top Stresses for Meeting Planners
Safety/Security 44%
Responsiveness of Suppliers 38%
Declining Budgets 36%
Increased Workload With Same Staff 35%
Declining Attendance 23%
Source: Development Counsellors International

Planners want to share the security onus with location stakeholders; 70 percent said security should be a joint effort between meeting planners and the host destination, and just 4 percent said a meeting planner should take primary responsibility for safety and security.

So how exactly can destinations work to define their perception among meeting professionals? The research, surprisingly, shows that planners are turning to print media along with television and radio content to learn about potential meeting sites.

The Top Sources of Information that Shape Perceptions of a Destination as a Business Events Location
% of Responses 2018 % of Responses 2015 % of Responses 2012
Meetings with Destination Representatives 67% 67% 58%
Business/Personal Travel 66% 63% 53%
Talking to Peers 64% 60% 55%
Online Sources 34% 31% 42%
Articles in Print Media 40% 18% 22%
Word of Mouth 40% 21% 36%
Social Media 17% 3% 3%
TV/Radio Coverage 32% 12% 11%
Source: Development Counsellors International

Social media has skyrocketed in terms of the effect it has on the perception of destinations, although face-to-face meetings with destination representatives remain the most impactful source of influence. Online sources of information are less important today than in 2012.

Finally, there is some evidence that a slowdown in international delegates visiting the U.S. is a real phenomenon.

Will The Trump Effect Impact the Number of Events held in the U.S.?
Unchanged 67%
Less Likely 19%
More Likely 14%
Source: Development Counsellors International

Interestingly, 28 percent of those polled said they have noticed a decline in the number of attendees at business events held in the U.S., even if two-in-three think the Trump effect isn’t real.

“Since destinations market themselves to meeting planners particularly for events with a large number of international delegates, it is important to offer welcoming messages to overseas destinations as well as assistance in helping international delegates navigate security protocols,” proposes the report.

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Tags: destinations, meetings, meetingsiq

Photo credit: Security at Gamescom. Marco Verch / Flickr

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