Meeting Planner Preferences in a Digital World
By Tracy Fairman Co-owner and CEO , EproDirect | June 07, 2015
It's no secret that hotels are experiencing an increase in overall business. Over the past 5 years hotel occupancy in the United States has continued to grow at a steady pace from 54.6% in 2009 to a current average occupancy rate of 64.4% in 2014 according to statisca.com. Hotel marketers concentrate much of their marketing resources on targeting leisure and business travelers but sometimes struggle with how to shift their marketing from a leisure focus to content that inspires and engages the meetings community.
EproDirect recently released a report, which surveyed meeting and event planners on their preferences of how they are utilizing digital channels to uncover and research meeting destinations and what digital marketing they find are impactful to them. The report outlined the responses of 892 professional meeting and event planners from key group markets consisting of 32.97% association, 39.46% corporate, 9.73% intermediary, 4.86% education, 5.41% government, 5.95% religious and 1.62% sports. The purpose of the report was to give hotels and other meeting suppliers insight on how to enhance their digital marketing programs, increase engagement and overall return on investment.
58.38% of meeting and event planners use the hotel's website as their PRIMARY source of information during the site and selection process. However, they stated that most websites are designed for the leisure traveler and not robust with information that is tailored to their needs or the information is hard to find. A meeting and event planner's needs are different than a leisure guest.
They must analyze potential meeting sites based on the overall needs of their events and their attendees, including ease for attendees, hotel amenities, meeting space capacity and functionality, ADA accessibility, and overall costs for budget management. Meeting planners usually research a property or destination to make sure it would meet their needs BEFORE contacting and submitting an RFP to the hotel. The top 3 types of information meeting planners first access when starting to research a meeting site is meeting space capacity and layout, location, and costs/rates.
Information about meeting space is the first item that a meeting planner will access when on a hotel's website. They are looking to make sure that the property meets their needs in terms of size and layout. They may also be looking for unique meeting space options (i.e. – outdoor space), non-traditional meeting room sets, and technology capabilities.