The meeting sales package is dead

Closeup of upset businesswoman's hands holding stack of folders

There, I said it. Although the printed glossy folders with picture brochures, menus, venue specs and offers still exist, meeting sales packages have outgrown their usefulness – according to most planners.

Blame it on the nomadic way we work today. On any given day our “office” can be our home, the car, Starbucks – work is the thing we do, not the place we go. Those of us who do still work in physical offices are noticing an evolution in office design. We work in shared spaces and communal pods. Gone are storage rooms and filing cabinets. Space is maximised for humans instead of dead trees. More of us are hoteling (where temporary desks are booked in advance and are used for one to several days).

I recently moved to a modern office and in packing, unearthed cabinets full of venue meeting sales packages that had been collected by colleagues in decades past. This got me thinking… in the age where storage has gone from cabinet to cloud, are these printed packages still relevant?

So I asked planners. Then I asked suppliers.

Planners were unanimous – they no longer find value in printed glossy packages. Universally, planners expressed that their most preferred communication vehicle is a comprehensive website. This eliminates tasks of having to file information (digitally or manually) and is available on-demand.

Convenience is key

A very close second choice is receiving information digitally by email or on a USB key. Although most convenient for both planners and suppliers, as it allows for good follow-up and relationship building, some businesses impose email box limits or are under tight security and do not allow unencrypted USB devices on company systems.

Although the ‘digital is best’ message was strong, planners do largely appreciate a hard copy of the venue capacity chart and detailed floorplan. These allow planners a bigger perspective on the venue while touring a facility real-time. Bonus points for printing on a matte paper stock which allows for easier handwritten notes.

Suppliers were not as unanimous in their responses. Many venue sales people admittedly enjoy having a “cheat sheet” when conducting site visits. Glossy venue packages also serve as leave-behinds at the conclusion of a site visit or client drop-in visit. Suppliers felt that the planners appreciated the physical package upon parting, although the planners themselves admitted feeling obligated to take packages. Planners are increasingly more direct in declining paper and asking for email copies instead.

Changing work preferences

With our changing work preferences come new opportunities. Planners still want information, and suppliers still want to build relationships. Here are suggestions from both sides that will make venue information more accessible AND improve communication between planners and suppliers.

  • The most preferred vehicle for communicating is an up-to-date website, which is well designed and makes information easily accessible, as needed, 24/7. Ensuring menus (and pricing) are posted and up-to-date is key.
  • Text and images on websites should be optimized for copy and paste so that planners can leverage venue collateral in their own presentations to their stakeholders. Many planners are currently taking screen-captures and editing images for this purpose. Saving them a step is appreciated.
  • Include comprehensive contact information for the sales team on the website, including direct phone numbers and email addresses. An impersonal “Fill out the fields and we will contact you” form is no way to build relationships.
  • Set your website to easily print menus, floorplans, and capacity charts as easy, printer friendly PDFs – black text on white background greatly preferred.
  • Consider that planners may have email box size restrictions. Rather than email an entire package, ask specifically which information they need and send as separate (small) files.
  • Suppliers – get creative with leave-behinds. There are many opportunities to make a statement when visiting clients. Instead of leaving brochures, try a promotional item or a clever direct marketing piece. A few years ago one Canadian venue had a promotion where they sent a can of Spam to clients with a clever postcard that explained why. The can sat on my desk for months and had sparked conversation with my colleagues. Several years later, I still remember both the promotion and the venue.
  • Other innovative approaches include utilizing social media and involving planners in a conversation. An example of this is the newly launched Meetingsimagined.com platform from Marriott which engages planners by providing ideas and inspiration that move beyond typical floorplans, capacity charts and menus.
About the author:

Micki Lubek, CMP  is a corporate event planner in the financial sector in Toronto. She was voted “Planner Member of the Year” by MPI in 2016.  She is a passionate session presenter at industry events and continues to be an industry mentor. She believes that in this fast-paced world of digital innovation, face-to-face interactions and meetings are still the best way to build relationships and trust. Her articles centre around communication and overcoming communication barriers to building trust.

This entry was posted in Event Operations, Site Selection.

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