Pressure has been mounting for years on meeting planners, who are routinely tasked with stretching budgets and spending long stretches of time finding the right venue for their event.

Now, more evidence shows the problems causing friction in the ecosystem are here to stay.

The latest Annual Cvent Planner Sourcing Report polled 2,650 meeting planners around the world on the challenges they face sourcing meeting venues in 2019 and the challenges they face navigating the complex task of partnering with the right event space. Of those polled, 69 percent plan 11 or more events or more while 16 percent plan more than 100.

All planners, except those setting up board members, saw an increase in attendance over the last year.

“This trend toward more attendees across a large portfolio of managed meetings underlines the importance hoteliers should place on making every interaction with a planner quick and service-oriented,” states the report. “Planners simply do not have the time to waste on inefficiency or miscommunication. In fact, 44 percent say that they have lost interest in a venue because of poor communication.”

So what’s making life miserable for meeting planners? Well, everything. Four-in-five planners said one or more elements of the process is a challenge for them and eats up their time.

Difficulties With Sourcing
Researching Venues18%
Negotiating18%
Choosing a Venue17%
No Difficulties17%
Comparing Proposals15%
Compiling Proposal Responses12%

Source: Cvent

The sourcing and negotiating process remains difficult despite the variety of digital tools available to help them sort through the mess.

There’s the additional problem of stretched budgets, which more than half of planners expecting the key elements of an event to grow more expensive through 2020.

Expected Budget Increases
Food and Beverage55%
Travel54%
Housing/Rooms52%
Event Management Technology52%
Venue52%
Client Entertainment51%

Source: Cvent

Despite the budget pressure, just 43 percent of planners said their company’s finance department is involved in the event-planning process.

“The results… suggest that other departments have influence on budgets and spend,” finds the report. “This may reflect the continued evolution of group business as a diverse marketing and communications tool for companies. Events play an increasingly
important and cross-departmental role in a broad assortment of corporate objectives – all of which may mean that more groups have more to say about event planning budget decisions.”

Venue cost, branding, and room rates are the most important factors considered by planners sourcing an event, showing the continued importance of hotel room blocks to the overall event ecosystem.

Once venues have been sourced, the layout of the event space and cost are the most influential features guiding a planner’s booking decision.

Top Features Influencing Booking Decisions
Event Space Layout45%
Venue Cost45%
Location of Venue42%
Availability of Preferred Dates41%
Existing Relationship With Venue28%
Unique Atmosphere23%

Source: Cvent

In order to choose their second choice venue over the first, 72 percent of those polled said a 6 percent discount was enough to make them switch their selection.

Planners also said that hotels need to do more to personalize responses to their inquiries. In fact, the lack of a professional sales staff has led 59 percent of planners to choose another venue for the following edition of an event.

So, it turns out there still is a place for a quality on-property sales staffer in the modern world.

Check out the full report below.

Download (PDF, 2.07MB)

Photo Credit: Cvent Connect 2019 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cvent / Flickr