Business News

New Sourcing Tool Tempts Corporate Planning Teams

Skift Take

Planners must pay to play for the latest venue and vendor sourcing platform. Investors are betting on slick technology paired with proactive human support will prove popular in a competitive market.

The Vendry, a professional network and marketplace for event professionals, has released a significant upgrade to its venues and vendor sourcing. The Vendry Pro is the company’s new premium offering aimed at corporate teams of planners.

The platform’s main differentiator: it is entirely planner-funded, with no commission structure on the venue and vendor side. In fact the platform only offers a simplified request for proposal (RFP), meaning all contracting happens elsewhere.

A planner-funded model is a bold and contrarian move in an industry where planners are so often pampered by venues and destinations.

The Vendry CEO, Daphne Hoppenot, doesn’t believe the commission model — so prevalent in the business events industry — will be around much longer. “[It’s] something that doesn’t sit right with me when people say that they’re offering their clients something for free, and somebody else is paying them,” said Hoppenot. However, she is confident planners will appreciate the transparency and recognize the impartiality in the offering.

In addition to venues and vendor-sourcing, the main selling point is that teams can share their notes and comments. This concept of creating a dynamic and customizable private database is appealing, but is it worth the asking price? The Vendry Pro’s introductory pricing — set to increase in the new year — is $3,000 for ten users.

Regular users that opt not to upgrade will continue to have access to community features including the popular inspiration section. However, non-pro users only have access a basic version of the RFP tool with limited search and collaboration options. 

The Vendry’s story begins just before the Covid pandemic when it raised $1 million to build a venue-sourcing platform. With no venues required, it pivoted to create a community platform and Slack channel for event professionals. The 25,000 event professionals that form this community seems to have turned some heads. In September 2021, a group of investors led by Peter Boyce of Stellation Capital signed a check for $6.5 million .

The Vendry Pro combines automation with human concierge service as part of its RFP tool. This human touch helps onboard venues and vendors. It also helps cut down on RFP spam that is all too common with eRFP tools.

The human touch starts in the onboarding process as users are guided through the platform. There is even an option to import existing client data from spreadsheets into the tool at an extra cost. “People sign up and they’re off to the races. People are living in the platform. They were always doing this in spreadsheets. And so that’s why you see that we replicated a very spreadsheet-like experience, so that the behavior is really the same,” said Hoppenot.

The largest venue sourcing provider is Cvent’s Supplier Network, which boasts 290,000 venues globally. In comparison, the Vendry has 15,000 venues and vendors in 15 markets. It says it will be adding two markets every week.

The Vendry is looking to compete on something other than numbers. Its approach is different, involving more human curation and interaction. “We have the most robust database of venues in the world,” claims Hoppenot. The Vendry programmatically scrapes the internet for its list of venues and vendors. In addition, a team works behind the scenes to build relationships with those listed.

The Vendry Pro was in beta mode this fall, when a dozen customers put the tool to the test. With an average session time of around 55 minutes, the team is confident the platform is working well. 

The engineers behind the Vendry are keen to release new features soon. The site lists a venue and vendor-focused news aggregator tool and a chrome extension for note-taking and file-uploading.

“To advance this industry we need to make things like this easier,” said Hoppenot, explaining that this is the team’s ethos behind the scenes. Venue and vendor-sourcing tools are not new, but the bet on powering internal knowledge bases for corporate planners is a novel approach, particularly as planners will have to pay to play.