Technology no doubt plays a part in facilitating meetings and events. However, a lot of meetings and events activity is not simply a remote transaction where you can rely on the consistency of the supply chain as you can with transient activity. For example, the variables required to find the right bedroom are significantly less than those required to find the right meeting/event space that meets your requirements for room layouts, sizes, access, turnaround times, quality, catering, proximity to attendees, legal, compliance and so on.
Having the right knowledge of an application and placing it at the fingertips of those contracting your venues on a day to day basis is key in ensuring your venue sourcing programme is highly effective and has appropriate governance. Here, we talk with Andy Cartwright, Director of Product Development, to understand how technology can amplify your venue search efforts.
The Technology of Venue Search:
5 Questions with Andy Cartwright
What would you say is the most important part of a technology tool for venue search?
At BCD M&E we believe the most important part of a sourcing tool is its ability to codify and then cascade the accumulated knowledge of an entire organisation to the point of transaction. This knowledge needs to span from the micro level like venue detail, to the marco level like governance and process. For example, a particular meeting space layed out in a configuration which will result in pillars restricting the view for some of the delegates means its true capacity is reduced vs what the venue suggests. Or, this venue has not completed a specific health and safety standards assessment to include pandemic measures in the last 6 months. This approach applies to every aspect of a sourcing transaction, including service quality feedback, commercials, legal, compliance, etc.
That said, a programme is nothing if it isn’t used. So whatever technology is deployed, the service offering needs to be simple and accessible to those requesting a venue find or other service, recognising online as one channel of access but by no means the only one.
How does an organization decide what tool is right for them?
Traditionally this question was answered by the size of the organisation and programme. For example, for large global M&E programmes there were a handful of tools that would deliver the consolidated management information across a full programme required to run them. While these tools met this need, they fell short in usability, accessibility, utilisation and localisation. Whereas, for a more local/regional programme there was more choice to have a better user experience through local tools.
However, the barriers that created the need for this choice at the global level are lowering, and we see clients moving away from this one size fits all approach to their M&E technology product, looking instead for best in class. This is made possible by the reduced cost of aggregating management information across multiple platforms and the ability to create single consolidated user experiences across them.
When deciding on what tools to build into an M&E programme, we are now considering alternatives to traditional single supplier M&E technology products. Now it’s about creating a seamless user experience to drive adoption and compliance, and using the technology advances to drive an aggregated management information strategy.
What has BCD M&E been investing in within this space?
As part of the continued progress of our platform-based product strategy, at BCD M&E we have spent two years developing and rolling out our Venue Search platform. It exists to support our uncompromising approach to delivering quality, value and crucial agility to clients sourcing programmes. Built in tandem with the evolution of our global operational sourcing process, it’s a perfect fit to deliver at a pace and to a quality not possible without such investments and attention to detail. For our clients this means faster, less resource intense sourcing, with attention to detail and quality you’d expect at the local level delivered globally. Finally, and arguably most importantly, our platform framework allows us to evolve rapidly in response to market and client needs, such as those presented by the current pandemic.
What do you think the next evolution will be in the sourcing space?
I believe our clients will look to expand the remit of traditional sourcing programmes to be more encompassing of higher volume lower value transaction business that are not viable to bring into these programmes today from a speed, efficiency and economic reasons.
For example, there is currently a push for sourcing small and simple meeting space, and some players in the market on a local level are purporting to have self-service, direct online transaction solutions, to procure meeting space. As we see it, however, these tools don’t meet the promise of simple in the majority of cases. This is primarily due to the fragmented nature of the supply chain when making meeting space available online, as well as the differences in process and governance this type of transaction can bring. We believe our clients are looking for the same level of governance and process of a traditional sourcing programme, but delivered at the speed of and convenience of an online transaction.
How is BCD M&E addressing the booking challenge you just mentioned related to small and simple meeting space?
For that you’ll need to stay tuned! I don’t want to give to much away at this point.