Fifty-two percent of planners saw an increase in their budgets in 2018, according to Cvent’s 2018 Global Planner Sourcing Report, marking a sizable increase compared to 2017, when just 31 percent experienced a significant change and 50 percent saw no change.
This was among the key findings in the report, which covered topics ranging from budgets to technology, based on a recent survey. More than 2,600 meeting and event planners around the world responded to the survey, doubling the size of last year’s study. Half were from Generation X, 36 percent were millennials, 10 percent were baby boomers and 3 percent didn’t reveal their age.
The budget increases could be due to more companies being confident due to the current economic situation, but other companies may still be waiting to gauge the economic impact of key global events, such as the presidential election, before potentially increasing their budgets. Maurice Echevery, global congresses and events projects specialist at Abbott Laboratories, says planners’ budgets rely on “the economic landscape and profitability of companies’ bottom line.”
Budgets are not solely being applied to the venue cost, though that is still considered the most important factor when sourcing. The location and “unique atmosphere” of venues, as well as their customer service ratings, have also risen in importance, the survey showed.
“As a planner, you want your event to be unique and different so that committees and attendees [provide] great word-of-mouth PR,” says Danielle Furnari, event coordinator at Geisinger Health Foundation. “And we are always looking for a vendor with amazing customer service. As a planner, you are so busy with every little detail, having a vendor that you can trust takes a huge weight off your shoulders.”
Millennials are playing a major role in changing the meeting planning game—especially when it comes to technology. While older generations are learning to adapt to the growing technological landscape, millennials grew up in the age of tech advancements.
“Millennials and Generation Z…are more engaged via the use of apps, games and other tools that are now available to keep the audience alert and engaged,” Echervery says.
While desktop and laptop computers still lead the typical sourcing devices, the use of mobile phones has doubled—from 6 percent to 12 percent—and the use of tablets has seen a significant rise, from 3 to 9 percent. The use of computers, on the other hand, has dipped from 90 percent to 79 percent.
“More and more, events are gaining RSVPs through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat,” Furnari says. “Also, being able to track the ROI through views, likes, filters used, etcetera on social media is instant.”
Room for Improvement
Despite increasingly positive developments, planners are hoping venues will improve in some specific areas.
Trustworthiness has risen in importance to planners, increasing by 9 percentage points. This could be addressed by suppliers boosting transparency, responsiveness and customer service. Planner complaints about response times and thoroughness have decreased, but they are still very important. “The timing of responses is sometimes an issue for us,” Furnari says. “Generally, if the venue does not get back to me within 24 hours—within business days—we will not consider them.”
Other difficulties include negotiating and researching venues, and possible resolutions include training sales staff to provide clear and detailed answers to all questions, setting targets for faster response times and ensuring transparent and accurate pricing. Also, respondents cite creating the rising number of proposals as a challenge, with formats and insufficient information being pain points.
Forty-five percent of planners expressed that responsiveness and professionalism of the staff influences whether they will return to the venue. “One of the biggest frustrations planners face today is dealing with personalities, professionalism and responsiveness with the venues they are working with,” Echevery says. “Venues are responsible for bringing profits to their own bottom line, and quotas they need to meet. However, this creates a big issue for the planners, as they are looking for a responsive and more personalized service at their events.”
Sixty-five percent of those surveyed source and plan meetings for their own companies, while 11 percent plan meetings for other organizations, 11 percent source and plan meetings for personal associations, 7 percent describe themselves as social/occasional planners and 6 percent do not plan meetings or events.