Post authored by Randy Depwe, Experient National Account Manager
In order to have a successful tradeshow, meeting, conference, or event, there are many factors to consider, and sourcing the right location is one of the most important. You can create the best educational sessions, tradeshow, and networking opportunities for your attendees and exhibitors, but the bottom line is that you have to get them there. Most attendees want to go where they can see, do, and experience new things and mix in some fun with work.
To give you the best chance of securing your preferred location and dates, you have to do your homework. Hotels have revenue managers that look at maximizing profit, and often your event will be competing with groups wanting the same space. That’s why it’s important to present your meeting in the best financial picture possible. Hotels want to see a detailed history and a breakdown of your meetings and the dollars spent by your group. Of course, sleeping rooms are by far their biggest profit item, but that soft drink your attendee is sipping comes in second place percentage-wise. Revenue managers love to see coffee breaks and in-house audio/visual. Meals are still a bonus, but average only around 20% profit.
Another way to make your meeting attractive to hotels is to be flexible on dates, including arrival and departure patterns. Nothing is sweeter to a hotel than a peak Sunday arrival or peak departure. When researching dates, I like to ask the sales person if I can shift my pattern forward or backward a day. If they say no, then I know that my meeting fits in with other groups and will help bring more value for the hotel and for my meeting.
For example, I recently saved one of my clients $60 per night versus what was originally quoted by shifting the pattern one day. With the client willing to move a day, we fit perfectly between two other meetings. The hotel gave my group a great concession package and I also negotiated with the decorator that was used for the meeting right before us and saved a substantial amount in pipe and drape and labor. I used Experient’s extensive internal system to benchmark what groups had paid in the past, and used this information to the meeting’s benefit.
Here are some things to consider when sourcing your meeting:
• Location, location, location. Remember, you want to choose a destination and venue that is attractive to both attendees and exhibitors. Take a look at data and demographics from your previous meetings and try to determine what location or locations can accomodate your needs and excite your target audience the most.
• Rotation across the map is a good way to keep the cities, hotels, and convention centers competitive. It also benefits membership growth and recruitment, and keeps the destinations new and exciting.
• Get attendee input. Surveys are a great way to put a finger on the pulse of your organization. This will give you a good idea of their likes and dislikes and help you understand what they’re most interested in.
• Take the time to research local activities and things to do in the area and see how they stack up against the preferences of your attendees. For example, do your attendees love fun and sun or are they into fine dining and the nightlife? What about museums, historical landmarks, or sight-seeing? Are there any opportunities to work in team-building or community service as a part or your event? Give attendees something to look forward to during their downtime by providing extracurricular activities and entertainment that are unique to your city.
• What is the city’s travel situation? Is getting in and out of the city a breeze, or does it take a while to get from the airport to the hotel? Is public transportation safe, reliable, easily accessible, and reasonably priced? What about the airports? Remember, fewer airlines in the area make for fewer choices and higher fares.
• Your destination’s weather and climate are another serious factor to consider. Nothing can put your meeting at more financial risk than curtailment of transportation due to inclement weather.
Finding the right location and getting the best deal for your meetings is critical. But if you’ve done your research and understand the value of your meeting, you’re already ahead of the game. Knowledge is power. Use it to your advantage.
About Randy Depwe, Experient National Account Manager
Randy began his career with Experient in 1990 as a Strategic Account Manager and later joined the Experient Sales Network in 2002. In his role as a National Account Manager, Randy helps manage some of the company’s top accounts in the oil and gas industries by providing meeting planning, registration, housing, sourcing and lead retrieval services for their meetings and events. Randy has a highly successful account retention track record and consistently achieving exceptional results for his clients has helped him earn Experient’s Top Producer Award several times.
Prior to Experient, Randy was the Assistant Director of Convention Services for Hyatt Regency Dallas-Fort Worth and amassed over fourteen years of sales and management experience working in the service and hospitality industries.