John Gallery founded LateMeetings.com, the first online booking tool for meetings and events in 2005. The business was acquired in 2010 by Expotel (now part of Capita). John works with venues and event organisers in the sector to help them maximise their meetings and event revenues and return on investment through his consultancy Great Potential. He is chair of the research group for the Business Visits and Events Partnership and chair of the Tourism Society in Yorkshire.
LAND OF CONFUSION
With a myriad of Apps and software applications out there able to help find a venue and plan a conference, it can be a confusing minefield for any event booker. Does this brave new World spell the end of the RFP? Will technology help better quantify a return on event investment and what does the future in this fast-changing world hold?
John Gallery, founder of LateMeetings.com is a person well qualified to answer these questions in his exclusive blog for meetingsclub.
Making the Most of Meetings and Events Apps.
For planners of meetings and events, whether in a large corporation, a specialist event or meetings booking agency, one-man or one-women business, there’s a lot of different ways to search and book a venue, plan an event or organise a conference.
This is a time of confusion, a time of uncertainty and also a time for complexity as we all try to get to grips with the myriad of software applications available through our various devices.
As the number of applications grows, it’s easy to get into the area of confusion as you work your way through them and wonder which ones can be of benefit to you and your business.
If you do a Google Search for ‘event and meetings booking software’, after bypassing the paid for listings, you’ll find three market leaders, notably Cvent, Whova and Eventbrite which are clearly providing people with services that help with planning and managing events.
But, take a deeper look and you may find that there’s another 30 or 40 or more options that could provide the same or similar services as those three. Some are diary systems for internal meetings, some for ticketing, event delegate registration and others for searching for and booking venues. Many have multiple capabilities and some are tailored systems for the organisation and not available publicly.
Automated Meetings Planning
If you consider the way that automation is happening in so many areas of our life, it will be no surprise to learn that it is now happening on a very large scale in the meetings and events sector. This is partly due to the propensity for meetings to be called at the last minute, driven by many factors including:
- changes in the dynamics of business decision-making
- business meetings are only held when necessary
- urgent needs for meetings caused by external events – e.g. the volcanic ash cloud (Eyjafjallajökull) incident of in 2010
- meetings needed due to poor management decisions
- over-capacity in the venue sector giving bookers of meeting space more choice and therefore a tendency to leave it to the last minute
In addition, the expectation of instant access to everything is part of the issue of deciding what systems to use and how best to fit them to your own business.
The End of the RFP?
Requests for proposals have been around a long time and have their place in the market when setting out on a competitive tender for businesses. Some of these arcane systems are very tedious and long-winded and can be off-putting for people expecting instant solutions.
The new breed of software is answering this issue with ‘instant booking solutions’ that deal with the tedium of search, quote and feedback by getting all of the information that a booker needs in one place so that the decision to book can be made quicker and more easily. If you have the location, capacity, availability, price and the ability to book instantly in front of you it is more efficient for your organisation when booking the event.
Using automation, marketing data and internal metrics to drive business and better quantify return on investment for events is important but tracking the outcomes from an event is probably more important than the mechanics of the booking process.
Among those outcomes are motivating and retaining employees, strengthening product knowledge, expanding user networks, growing sales, and driving brand awareness. Planners today must be able to demonstrate positive return on investment in every area.
So, what to do about that decision-making? The event technology space today is complex, with organisers often using a variety of different services for the different pieces of event management. Getting the different pieces to talk to each other, and produce actionable insights, is a challenge. As data between the different services gets put to use, planners will be armed with not only the tools to prove they’ve put on a productive event but the information to improve their events, attract more attendees and make the event truly return on the investment.
Planners really need an overhauled way to organise and control all the aspects of the event lifecycle. Soon, someone is going to deliver this and truly disrupt the space.
John Gallery – 2019
For more information please go to: www.greatpotential.co.uk