After experiencing two years of drastic change, our industry is now faced with new emerging challenges that are keeping most venue sourcing consultants on their toes. Here we speak to Gerry Manuel, leading expert at BCD M&E, about what customers and agencies need to do to improve the success of their programs. Read the full interview to find out Gerry’s secret to being a successful consultant and how he stays ahead of the venue sourcing game.
Overcoming the biggest challenges in
What is the number one challenge that venue sourcing teams are facing today?
The biggest challenge for us at the moment is, without a doubt, the lack of availability. A lot of hotels are simply unable to meet the current demand, as our clients needs continue to grow. It’s great in a way, because it shows that meetings are truly back and that the industry is ramping up again. COVID-19 forced 2021 meetings to be pushed to 2022, so 2022 meetings have been bumped to 2023 and so, naturally, availability is limited.
How does this impact the sourcing process?
These days, it takes a little more time to source the right fit, and we often find ourselves having to think outside of the box. For example, a client who had recently approached us about a resort-style program had prepared a handful of named hotels across the US which they were familiar with. I already knew that those hotels had no availability but, as a consultant, I was able to look at the specs suggest Phoenix, Arizona as an alternative – a location where venues had the right caliber and threshold of guest rooms required. A lot of people are not familiar with the expansive resorts that the Phoenix/Scottsdale area offers, and this was a chance to help that particular program find the perfect fit.
How can working with an agency help to overcome availability challenges?
At BCD M&E, we get to know each of our clients, along with their requirements and preferences, which simplifies the process and allows us to come up with new ideas and innovative solutions. As industry experts, venue sourcing consultants are always one step ahead of the game – We know the ins and outs of the current trends and our hotel partnerships offer us access to a whole host of special offers, as well as insider updates. Working with an agency also means that clients have the opportunity to benefit from a global team of consultants, with experience sourcing both regional and international programs.
In what ways does working with an agency impact the success of an event?
One of our clients had a large meeting scheduled in Florida, right about the time news of Hurricane Ian broke out. Typically, sourcing this type of event in the current sellers' market, with limited availability and with two days' notice is impossible. But once the decision was made to relocate the event, we needed to make it happen within 48 hours.
It was by no means an easy feat, but BCD M&E’s relationships with hotels and our teams’ connections meant that we were able to fulfil the client’s needs by rebooking everything within a very tight timeframe and at no extra cost. My colleague Jamie Oakley, who was responsible for the success of the relocation, was also able to work with both hotels (the one we cancelled and the one we relocated the event to) to ensure that everyone was happy. I believe the reassurance of having a team of experts at their disposal in these instances is something our clients value.
What can companies do to improve the success of their programs?
Companies can help themselves by ensuring they communicate all the information they have about the requirements for their programs. The more information we get, the more successful we will be at fulfilling those requirements within the sourcing process.
I always begin by setting up a discovery call with the client so that I can get to know them and their program better. I look for key decision factors in the RFP and I ask the question 'why'? This helps me to build a deeper understanding of my client’s needs and priorities, and enables me to respond to changes with a lot more agility, be they from the client’s side or the industry.
What’s the secret to being a good venue source consultant?
Relationships are the key – whether it’s in regards to the client, the hotels or your internal team. If you can maintain good relationships with everyone you come into contact with in this job, then you’re bound to succeed.
Originally published Dec 5, 2022 10:01:00 AM
Last updated on Dec 21, 2022 2:40:14 PM