Let’s Use This as an Opportunity to Innovate Our Approach to Services
There’s no question that COVID-19 has severely impacted the travel industry and meetings and conventions greatly. But, with every challenge, there is an opportunity to take a step back and innovate for the better. Let’s take this challenge as an opportunity to enhance how destinations approach convention services.
Prior to 2020, planners indicated during the Destinations International Planner Influencer Board that the role of services needed to change, become more of a focus, and go beyond the basics. Think beyond door tags, welcome bags, visitors guides and think about how CVBs are going to need to connect the dots for planners and their attendees from health and safety protocols, spatial planning, local leadership, and intellectual capital.
For groups to return to destinations, the attendees should feel confident they will be safe and able to meet their goals for the meeting or conference. This is going to go beyond the experiential components of servicing groups. This will need to speak to health, safety, transportation, sanitation, spacing, and experiences, and will also need to showcase why the function is worth the risk. Planners are going to need to be equipped with much more information in order to bring groups in.
While the need for services is increasing, we also understand that many destinations are going to be taxed with doing more with fewer resources. This is where the use of technology will be increasingly important. With an emphasis on developing tools, resources, and information, destinations can do a great deal of the services work upfront and use technology to meet planners’ needs.
This includes developing more website functionality and creating automation tools to service planners. By developing a more robust services section of your website and content management platform, destinations will do some of the services legwork upfront.
Many services sections of websites focus too much on the standards of information versus more detailed insights into the how and why for attendees. Creating a valuable content offering on your website will provide planners with resources and take some of the work off of your internal team.
In addition to building out your website, many destinations have automation technology at their fingertips such as Act-On, Simpleview’s platform for email automation, and other basic email systems like Mailchimp. The key to automation is to build out the “if this, then that” scenarios. These scenarios include if a planner visits your website and downloads or spends a minimum length of time on a particular subject, then you send them an email with more detailed information and additional resources that may be helpful.
Automation is imperative to servicing groups as they get closer to meeting in person and is key to taking the heavy lifting off your now smaller team without impacting your ability to properly service a group.
Build out automations based on key topics, resources, information and details that planners for each of your segment types will need.
Planners are going to need more information in order to convince decision-makers and attendees that meetings can happen. This will include case studies, advocacy information, access to local politicians and governmental organizations, and partnerships to make their meeting financially successful. Those destinations that get a jump start on enhancing their convention services offering will be poised to create more value for groups and drive meetings opportunities.
Those CVBs that think of themselves as high-level advisors who make it possible for meetings to happen and to be successful will be poised for a stronger and quicker recovery.
Convention Services Focus
Here at Digital Edge, we are working to develop more automation paths for our clients to utilize, more content development to provide planners with the tools and resources they need, and more evaluation of how a destination can revamp its services offering to meet the growing needs of planners and groups moving forward. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you innovate your convention services, reach out and let’s talk.