Following the acquisition of VenueDirectory, Cvent’s Vice President of International Sales, Graham Pope talks to Mike Fletcher about the digital transformation of venue sourcing
In June, event technology supplier Cvent acquired a UK-based venue sourcing platform called VenueDirectory.com for an undisclosed amount.
At the time, the announcement made few headlines. After all, Cvent already has over 290,000 worldwide hotels and venues listed on its Supplier Network and had been at pains to point out that VenueDirectory would continue to operate as a stand-alone product.
In theory then, nothing has changed. Except that Cvent is doubling down on the long-term future of venue sourcing becoming more digitalised, by investing in associated technology that complements its own.
So is Cvent right? Will venue sourcing in a post-pandemic world only be carried out at the keyboard? And what does it all mean for site visits, relationship-building and venue roles?
Increased demand for venue space
Firstly, to predict the future we need to understand what’s happening in the here and now.
According to Cvent’s own data, DDRs (Day Delegate Rates) are on the rise, indicating an increased demand for venue space as planners prioritise the return to in-person meetings, conferences and events.
The problem for hotels and venues is that two years of lockdowns has left many woefully under-staffed and under-prepared for the resumed ‘race for space’.
“Venues have been slow to respond to RFPs as they no longer have pre-pandemic staff levels, while planners are being asked to do more with less resource and without many of the venue relationships they once enjoyed. Technology and automation is the answer to both these challenges,” Cvent’s Vice President of International Sales, Graham Pope tells me.
“From a procurement perspective, planners can conduct multiple online site visits and send out multiple ‘eRFPs’, in order to compare ‘apples with apples’ without incurring the costs associated with travel,” he continues. “Meanwhile, venues able to automate a majority of the responses on each RFP document can save themselves a huge amount of time, which is important as ‘fast response times’ is a key factor to winning agency and planner business.”
Face-to-face interaction alongside technology
Pope himself, however, admits that site visits won’t become a thing of the past and that meetings with hotel and venue groups face-to-face at trade shows like IBTM World will remain a crucial way to do business and develop relationships.
“The pandemic years have already shown us the importance of face-to-face interaction,” he says. “Most events though require multiple site visits to assess the layout, plan the production and make numerous amendments when capacities and other factors change. Online venue sourcing will save the planner time, money and resource in the initial phases but they’ll still need to be onsite and nurture new, in-person relationships with venue staff to truly build a successful collaboration.”
So Cvent isn’t necessarily betting on a complete change to the way future business between planner and venue or hotel group is carried out.
Rather, it’s predicting much-needed, accelerated, and sector-wide digital transformation, to improve efficiencies in the event planning process, help hotels and venues secure more MICE business and improve the climate credentials of an industry currently too reliant on multi-trip travel.
“Accelerated digital transformation of the MICE industry is the single largest opportunity for everyone involved. Planners need venues to have up-to-date technology infrastructure in place to stage more hybrid formats, respond quicker to RFPs, collaborate both on-site and in the Cloud, and provide greater confidence and knowledge of what the future of meetings and events holds. It’s those venues that can meet planner demands and drive accelerated change from within that are guaranteed to win more business in the long-term,” Pope concludes.
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