Destination Marketing: What do event planners want?


By Marine Debatte on 07/10/2016


You might be doing it wrongly if you have been offering product details that fail to go beyond venue spaces and capabilities. 

Information is everywhere: Event planners can easily access online details of event spaces, elaborate floor plans, or visualise room set-ups through innovative 3D customer portals and live video features. Hotels and venues place great emphasis on providing access to information, through marketing efforts or sophisticated tools. But is there a mismatch between the sales language and what planners are looking for?

Most event agencies and corporate companies will already have records of destinations, hotels and venues, says Marine Debatte, Head of Event Solutions Asia Pacific and Japan for BI Worldwide, and Guest Editor for the August-September 2016 edition of Biz Events Asia.

Due to the spectrum of clientele and different business needs, each meeting and incentive programme is unique. Information that is meaningful to event planners include:

  • Destination that fits the event objective
  • Destination accessibility
  • Infrastructure in and around the venue
  • Safety and security
  • Ease of visa requirements

“What grabs an event planner’s attention is the versatility of a destination. How it can be rebranded to sell different concepts of a destination to clients over and over again. For example, Australia has taken the approach to market itself as a country but to also leave room to each region to brand itself uniquely. Planners who do not have the luxury of time to attend familiarisation rely on sellers to deliver the right information that are not on the brochures,” says Debatte.

5 destination details event planners want 

  1. How scalable is the city?
    Is the destination suitable for 50-500-5000 delegates? How scalable is the city, bearing in mind that handling 50 CEOs require just as much attention, if not more, than 5,000 delegates? The airport may be able to handle a million passengers a day, but can they ensure 250 VIPs and spouses get through the fast track promptly?
  1. When are the high and low seasons?
    Understanding seasonality helps with budget planning and management. However, some destinations do not have consistent high and low seasons anymore. No planner wants to have an event in a destination that happens to be hosting a 12,000-delegate incentive at the same time.
  1. What are some different ways to brand the destination?
    Tailoring marketing messages and solutions according to demographic is key. For example, the Australians may prefer outdoor activities in summer whilst Asians enjoy visiting cooler climates.
  2. What are the novelties in the market?
    New venues, experiences, and diverse food and beverage options are important. What will really stand out are experiences that are not the stock-standard ones printed on a brochure. The average tourist experiences are not as appealing as those specially curated for business event visitors. Do not assume that Thai delegates only want to have Thai food throughout their visit. Understanding that Cantonese food is not Chinese for guests is important!
  1. Who has the right connections?
    Event agencies may not be specialists of a destination, especially if they are not based there. They rely on business event bureaux and destination management companies for recommendations. For example, if a planner would like to close a street for a dinner event, they would like to know who has the right connection with the police department and town council to get the necessary approvals.


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