As meeting venues contend with rising costs, supply-chain issues, labor shortages, and other challenges, they should not lose sight of opportunities to increase efficiency through automated solutions and win more business by marketing efforts toward diversity, accessibility, and sustainability.
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This edition of “Industry Insights” features an interview with Patrick Smith, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Cvent.
According to Smith, meeting venues looking to drive business in the face of rising costs, staffing turnover, and privacy concerns can start by building relationships with event planners and leveraging the right technology. Heading into 2024, Cvent aims to pave the way for industry improvements and growth by connecting event planners with hotels and venues through its vast Cvent Supplier Network (CSN) and robust event management platform, offering more ways than ever for buyers and suppliers to engage, collaborate, and deliver bigger and better experiences.
Here’s our conversation.
SkiftX: What are the biggest opportunities in the industry in 2024?
Patrick Smith: Building relationships with event planners and deeply understanding their needs is one of the best steps venues can take in 2024 to bring in more business. Event planners have said they would be more likely to book an event at a venue if they have a relationship with the staff. Having the right technology and integrations also helps to facilitate those relationships.
For example, embracing digital tools — such as immersive visual tours and 3D floor planning technology — to showcase your space helps planners visualize how their event will look and feel without needing to travel.
In addition, our polling data shows that for simple meetings, 85 percent of planners are more likely to choose a hotel or venue that offers online booking.
Diversity, accessibility, and sustainability also represent major opportunities for venues. Marketing your venue’s efforts to reduce your carbon footprint, crafting more accessible and inclusive event options, and building a more diverse staff will attract more events to your venue.
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) will have a massive impact on how venues compete in 2024 as well. Hotels and venues that use AI to streamline manual processes, improve operational inefficiencies, and enhance their sales and marketing efforts will be better positioned to win more business.
SkiftX: What are the biggest challenges or watch-outs?
Smith: Rising costs remain a top challenge for the meetings and events industry. Venues are dealing with higher supply costs, from food to building materials. Meanwhile, event planners are dealing with budgets that are not rising at the same rate as inflation and are facing the same supply crunches as venues. Venues and planners will need to work together to find creative ways to reduce costs without impairing attendee experiences.
Staffing turnover and labor shortages also represent a major challenge, particularly for venues, and underscore the need to build effective relationships between venue staff and event planners. High turnover rates among sales and marketing staff may lead to less institutional knowledge and experience, leaving planners wary of the venue’s capabilities. Developing strong interpersonal relationships can mitigate this hesitancy.
Finally, with cyberattacks on the rise, privacy and security concerns remain top of mind. It’s critical that the same care and attention that is put toward in-person safety is also given to the digital space.
SkiftX: How will your brand push the industry forward in 2024?
Smith: Cvent sits at the center of the meetings and events ecosystem. Hundreds of thousands of event planners, marketers, hoteliers, and travel professionals use our technology to deliver incredible experiences and accelerate their own success.
We connect planners and marketers to more than 300,000 venues on the Cvent Supplier Network so they can easily research hotels and venues, view 3D floorplans and immersive room designs, and send requests for proposals — all in one place.
As such, we are in a unique position to power the events ecosystem and help people in the industry better understand each other and collaborate. We will continue to innovate in areas such as event diagramming, 3D technology, AI, and integrations that help streamline and enhance the sourcing, management, and delivery of amazing event experiences.
SkiftX: What’s your secret travel hack?
Smith: If you live in the United States and travel internationally more than a few times a year, Global Entry is a great idea. It saves time both before and after your flight and eliminates the need to fill out documents upon returning to the U.S. They also have a handy app that helps further streamline what was already a very expedited process. The only remaining hassle is waiting for your baggage.
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