Hosting a successful large event: advice from the best in the business
Large events, such as conferences and tradeshows account for one-fifth of all planned meetings across Europe, according to American Express. Couple that with the fact that 84% of leadership – Chief Executives and board members – believe that in-person events are a critical component of their company’s success, and it’s clear to see why it’s so important for hotels and event destinations to get it right when it comes to hosting large-scale events.
Here, Laurie Nicol, Chief Operating Officer at De Vere looks at some of the key points event venues need to consider when marketing their space to ensure that they harness this opportunity and, ultimately, increase revenue.
It’s all about the space
Flexible space is important for many event organisers so venues need to demonstrate how different spaces available can be used creatively. For example, highlight how to make use of underused spaces, such as lobbies, terraces or communal areas, with easy access to a bar, which are ideal for networking.
Consider the venue’s grand spaces. It may be that the room lends itself perfectly to wedding ceremonies, much like the restored 19th-century Chapel at De Vere Beaumont Estate, with its impressive decorative ceilings, mood lighting and stained-glass windows, but, in fact, it makes an equally impressive setting for a corporate awards dinner or partnership event.
As the weather warms, outdoor spaces can offer a great alternative for networking, teambuilding or even meetings. We know from our own experience that having a strong outdoor offer is often a real selling point for organisers. It gives them more flexibility with the event design and often offers the opportunity for fun bolt-ons, such as laser quest or high ropes activity available at De Vere Wokefield Estate.
If you are going to promote outdoor spaces for meetings, make sure delegates can still access all the mod-cons they’ll need to remain productive. For example, we’ve installed super-fast Wi-Fi which can be used up to 100metres perimeter around the hotel, allowing delegates to access the internet for free during meetings, even if it’s being hosted on one of our properties’ lawns or terraces.
It goes without saying that first impressions count, both for event planners and delegates, so make sure your spaces stand out from the crowd. With more than a third of event attendees claiming that they would post about their experience on social media, according to EMI & Mosaic, meetings spaces that offer quirky areas, props or Instagram-able backdrops will harness the potential of being shared beyond the attendee group and reach other prospective event bookers.
With the average B2B event taking between 5-8 weeks to plan, according to Forbes, and with over half of B2B organisations spending a fifth of their annual marketing budgets on events, it’s understandable that event organisers want reassurance that they are in safe hands when it comes to the operational side of their event.
Hotels and event destinations need to be able to demonstrate that any meeting, conference or event will be fully supported by the inhouse customer service team, and that the right technical support will be in place. In our experience, offering a dedicated conference host and on-hand tech-savvy support calms event organiser’s nerves and gives comfort that all is under control.
Outstanding menus feed fantastic events
Event destinations need to react to the growing consumer trend of eating healthier and becoming more aware of sustainably, if they want to remain relevant. In addition, many event organisers want to invest in nutritionally-balanced conference menus that encourage greater levels of concentration and energy from their attendees. We brought on a Group Nutritionist, Wendy Martinson OBE, to create menus that are well-balanced and full of nutrients, which has proved popular among event attendees.
According to Comparethemarket.com, the number of people turning to veganism has soared over the past two years to nearly 3.5million. Five years ago, we didn’t pro-actively cater for vegans, unless we had a specific request as there simply wasn’t the demand. However, now approximately 10% of our food sales are vegan, with the actual percentage differing across the portfolio.
Customer experience is key
The customer experience should remain at the heart of all event planning. As a rule of thumb, keep revisiting whether each change or suggestion will improve the customer experience.
With a third of event planners claiming that they would use additional budgets to invest in enhancing attendee experience, according to AMEX, hotels have a prime opportunity to up-sell their offering to include more experiences for attendees. For example, could a round of golf or group yoga session be built into the delegate’s day to incite excitement and reinvigorate attendees’ attention?
According to Bizzado, 84% of event marketers look at attendee satisfaction to measure event success, so providing feedback forms, and continually improving the current offering against this is essential to continue to meet customer expectations.
In a competitive market, standing out from the crowd can appear difficult, but it’s important for venues to look inwardly and consider what unique selling points they have, or could have, over competitors.