During my many years in the meetings and events industry I have often experienced a discrepancy between what the planners want from venues and what venues wish to have from planners. Planners state that the venues never suggest activities or alternative solutions (not facts…solutions!), and venues claim that planners are not open for suggestion.
So, do we have a ‘chicken or egg situation’ here? I believe we do. And that we can only overcome it through dialogue. The relationship between planners and venues are one of trust, and we should use this trust to create spectacular events.
What’s the problem?
Planners need to be open for input from venues. They are the ones who know their property the best and know what is specific for that exact place. However, they have to remember not to dig out the usual list of activities and catering from their bottom drawer. The suggestions have to match the specific event, client, and participant demographics.
Venues need to be open for differences in planners’ situations. Some planners are experienced people who know more about activities and catering than many hoteliers – and they definitely know their participants and their wants and needs the best. Others are new to our business and need more input and ideas.
The Hotelier-Planner Relationship: A View from Both Sides
Last year, The Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) made a study where they explored this hotelier-planner relationship. Their discoveries support my experiences as they found out that planners’ number one value adding element is flawless execution while hoteliers’ number one value adding element is providing a strong vision for the event. Both elements are very important and the one does not exclude the other, but it is evident that there will be discrepancies when you start out your cooperation with a gap like this.
From the planner side the least value adding element was providing a strong vision for the event, whereas hoteliers thought that helping overcome layout/location issues was the least value adding element in the cooperation. Wow…that is some gap in attitudes!
What to do
In the study, planners and hoteliers both rated a number of challenges in the RFP process and the challenges proved to be very different, so IRF described ways to improve the process. The result was that
- the best way planners can improve the RFP process for hoteliers is to provide priorities and be clear about budget targets, hot buttons, and deal breakers.
- the best way hoteliers can improve the RFP process for planners is to fully read the responses and ensure communications are timely, detailed and personalized. By far, this was the most frequent request planners made in the comments to IRF.
The study came up with several different ways for both sides to improve the process – here, I only mention the top one reason.
Furthermore, both sides need to keep an open mind and adjust to the event in question. We planners have to listen to the suggestions from the venue, and the venues need to be aware know their clients well enough to know if she needs input for activities, design, etc. or not. And once she does, venues have to come up with tailor made suggestions, not the same old. Both parties have to go that extra mile.
More than once, I have heard venues complain that they have all these possibilities but no one wants to buy them. I wonder if they have told the RIGHT client about them? Because, in the end it is the planner’s responsibility to design the perfect event, and all the meeting planners I know would gladly accept relevant input to their event.
So, it is definitely a ‘chicken or egg situation’ – or should I say, an ‘Easter Bunny or Easter Egg situation’!
How do you feel about this dilemma? Have you experienced any discrepancies in the cooperation with a venue?