How Event Planners Choose Venues

Skift Take

Choosing a venue is one of the most delicate decisions that event professionals face. A research found what influences the decision to choose venues.

The largest trade shows in the meeting and event industry are mainly focused about connecting two audiences: event professionals and venues.

If you walk the floor of IBTM or IMEX events you will notice dozens of venues (sometimes through convention bureaus or national tourism boards) from around the world trying to win planners’ favour.

Hosted buyers programs where created to facilitate this connection. Some hosted buyers programs pay for travel and accommodation expenses, give access to VIP lounges and lavish private events if the event professional is able to demonstrate they manage venue budget and are willing to make appointments.

Technology ss Not Standing and Watching

One of the strongest focus of technology providers over the past three years revolved around facilitating this exchange.

Venue search engines popped up all over the place. Websites where event planners looking for a new destination or venue could find all the information about potential candidates.

Some companies automated the Request For Proposal (RFP) process. They collectively got venue owners to reply to event planners’ demands.

Undoubtedly this is one of the hottest areas of technology where innovation could mean multi-million dollar revenues.

Why Is Choosing a Venue So Important?

If you are starting out in the event industry, you will soon realise that the venue decision will have the biggest impact on your budget and overall performance of the event.

To captivate event profs’ preference, venues gained control of catering, audio visuals and technology at large. They offer inclusive packages that cover most requirements associated with events.

Such service convergence makes the bill bigger and the weight associated to the decision heavier.

Choosing a venue is without a doubt a decision that can make or break your event. It is that one decision where event professionals feel the pressure.

What Influences the Decision-Making Process to Choose Venues

I could come up with several factors influencing decisions when it gets to choosing venues. But that would only be my speculation. An absolutely and utterly sound speculation, but still a speculation.

You know how I like to try to be analytical with content that makes it to the blog. I don’t like gossip, I don’t like fashion.

I decided to dig deeper and did a bit of research.

I found an interesting paper on the topic, that I strongly suggest to read. Here it is: Individual and Organizational Characteristics Influencing Event Planners’ Perceptions of Information Content and Channel Choice by Amanda Caroline Alexander, Dae-Young Kim and James Groves in Journal of Convention & Event Tourism – Vol. 13, Iss. 1, 2012 (That is how pros reference articles 🙂

Findings are succulent.

Personal Interaction Is the Most Valuable Channel Affecting Decisions

While as an event professional you may think this is quite obvious, this may not be the case for venue listing websites, search engines, trade magazines, blogs, events, etc.

In fact the research, which was carried among 5500 ISES members, computed decision preference among channels such as direct marketing, printed media, technology (websites, search engines), collateral advertising and personal.

Therefore word of mouth seems to be the channel we rely on when looking for a venue or advice on selecting a venue.

A year ago we published an infographic called How Technology is Changing Events. One of the stats in there is that according to a study, professionals trust online information almost as much as information gotten from in person.

That means that exchanges with our peers online will influence the decision making that helps us choose venues.

Meeting Room Information Has the Strongest Influence on the Final Decision

This is also an interesting one to better understand how event professionals’ minds work. Despite the research has been carried within the International Special Events Society (which I am proud member of), therefore in a demographic who pays extra attention to the venue component, the findings are quite surprising.

The study found that meeting room information is the most important factor in the decision, more than the cost of facility, attractions, exhibit space, food service, previous experience, sleeping rooms capacity and tech support.

Venue cost? For Real? I would have guessed that pricing was going to be the major factor influencing decisions. Apparently not the case.

I am impressed and this gives a lesson to all those marketing their venue or creating technology for marketing venues. Meeting Room information is what matters. Exposing the features of your meeting room is what makes event pros say yes!

In Conclusion

Choosing a venue is surely one of the most delicate decisions an event professional faces.

Research has demonstrated that we trust others’ advice when looking for information about a venue. That has a massive implication for events and trade shows promoting destinations and venues. In fact facilitating this exchange of information through networking or peer-to-peer sessions becomes extremely important for the success of the event.

Another important factor that impacts suppliers is exposing the meeting room information as much as possible. In fact this will be the ultimate influencer in the decision making process.

I’d be interested to know whether this is also your experience or if you have anything else to add. Do use the comment section to express your thoughts.