Reach Young Event Planners: how to Get It Right...

Millennials and Gen Zers are leading the technology charge with their widespread adoption of smartphones and social media. More than 9 in 10 millennials own a smartphone, and 86% of millennials use social media. For Gen Z, 95% have a smartphone and 55% use it for five or more hours a day.

So as millennials and Gen Z enter the workforce, they’re not just changing the way we interact with each other; they’re also changing the way we work and do business, too — especially in the meetings and events industry. This means that coming up with a strategy to reach young event planners is as important as ever. 

In a previous report 47% of planners surveyed were either millennials or Gen Zers. This generation of younger meeting planners is serving a growing number of younger professional attendees — and both groups demand that events and venues offer innovation, interactivity, and social media shareability.

It’s not enough anymore for hotels just to provide free Wi-Fi. To attract this younger generation of planners and business travelers, venues need to step up their game across the board in a variety of ways. But hoteliers don’t need to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel. Let’s take a look at how some other venues and hospitality brands are catering to these experience-hungry and social-centric guests — and how you can do the same.

Examples of how to reach young event planners:

One area where hoteliers can play an integral role is in experience creation since millennials especially have an affinity toward experiential trips. Airbnb has led the experience curation trend with its evolution from a simple home-sharing site to a full-fledged vacation monger. It now sells whole packages and trips, specially crafted to appeal to various interests and activity levels. Handmade pasta classes with grandma in Italy or desert adventure tours with a local guide in Oman are just a few examples of the unique, local experiences that Airbnb now offers.

The hotels will offer meeting planners the option to infuse Headspace content and experiences into their meetings, helping them check the wellness box that their younger attendees are looking for. Hyatt is also launching a new meditation experience exclusively for meeting and conference attendees, also powered by Headspace content. Hyatt guests get complimentary in-room Headspace content and access as well.

Take the swanky, sophisticated, and just plain cool Radisson RED, with its playful twist on the conventional meeting, event, and common spaces. Every room and space is treated as a work of art and is designed for the wow factor, with an eye to elements that reflect the local style. With Instagrammable statements throughout the property, this fashionable hotel caters to business and leisure interests alike — and to the social-media-savvy millennials and Gen Zers who are always on the lookout for the best photo opportunity.

Radisson RED’s Hotels vibe shines through in its social spaces and hangout zones, with art installations, games, and mood music — perfect areas for mixing, mingling, or co-working. RED also provides spaces to meet any meeting needs, equipped with high-tech capabilities and connectivity. The fun, out-of-the-box rooms are designed to stimulate the imagination and help ideas come to life.

Add Instagrammable and social-media-friendly elements into your common areas, such as statement furniture or wall art installations. It’ll get people sharing and taking photos, and it’s a great addition to your property’s social media accounts. Design creative coworking spaces with quirky, eye-grabbing elements to stimulate collaboration — and social sharing.

Use these examples to reach young event planners!

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Hotel Manager Tips: How to Influence a Planner's Venue Selection

In the 2019 Cvent Planner Sourcing Report, 37% of planners surveyed said they organize 50 or more events per year. They’re managing more events with more attendees — and larger budgets. These event professionals have more to do, and in turn, they expect more out of hoteliers and venues.

That’s because, despite the heavier workloads, there’s no room for a decrease in quality. Planners are still under pressure to make every event compelling and financially successful.

Hotels that build strong relationships with planners can help them craft memorable experiences and meet their financial goals. To make sure your venue is selected, consider these hotel manager tips that influence a planner’s decision, so you can maximize your hotel’s approach, respond to RFPs more accurately, and ultimately convert more group business.

Hotel manager tips you need to know:

1. Start with cost, win with space and layout.

Planners look at multiple considerations when selecting a venue — and money isn’t everything. Space layout is equally as important as the venue cost. In fact, in Cvent’s report, each of these factors was cited by 45% of planners as the biggest influence on deciding who wins their business. Budget is important to planners at this stage, but they also want a venue that will create a compelling experience for attendees.

While ranking lower than other factors, things such as activities outside the venue and photography point to the growing importance of creating a memorable event experience. Planners expect hotels to provide more flexibility and greater transparency in space design and decision-making.

The importance of non-cost factors such as space layout is highlighted by planners’ reluctance to consider switching to a second-choice venue that offers a lower price. In fact, nearly three in four planners would expect a savings of at least 6% before even thinking about switching their venue decision.

Venue tip: If you have the RFP, you know you’re close when it comes to price. You can win the game by showing the planner the other unique value your venue brings, as well as how your space will make their event a resounding success. Consider a 3D model of the space, or supply additional, personalized photos so the planner can visualize their event in your space.

2. Highlight your venue location.

Competition for group business is already tough, and it’s set to get even tougher. With the construction of more hotels and meeting planners casting a wider geographical net when sourcing venues, a hotel no longer competes only with other venues in its city. The competition is now global.

To better target planners sourcing venues, make your hotel location looks glamorous and appealing with photos and videos of available event spaces. Showcase the unique spaces and layouts in your venue and the signature offerings that only your city and venue can provide. Show the benefits of booking in your city and at your location by highlighting proximity to things such as transportation, airports, tourist attractions, and local restaurants.

Venue Tip: Since planners are looking for ways to provide unforgettable, local experiences at their events, consider partnering with your destination's CVB to compile unique packages of activities. It will make for a memorable time that could happen only in your city and at your location.

3. Provide a seamless booking experience and build relationships.

Getting the booking process right and nailing the planner experience is crucial to securing group business — and setting yourself up for repeat business.

It’s in your best interest to make sure that every interaction with planners is highly professional and that every step of the sourcing journey is as seamless and easy as possible. Proving yourself as an indispensable and integral partner in their event could be the extra push the planner needs to choose your venue, whether for the first time or as a repeat customer.

Sourcing, researching, and comparing proposals are the hardest parts of the venue selection process for planners, because of the time and effort involved. While planners do appreciate prompt responses to RFP's, a speedy reply isn’t everything — it also has to be accurate and thorough. Planners want increased attention to detail, so pay attention to their specific requests and try to be proactive in offering solutions to potential needs. A complete and accurate response is better than a fast one that leaves a lot of blanks to fill in.

In addition, the increase in “simple meetings” provides even more of an opportunity for hoteliers to build relationships with planners. 

Because these simple meetings are typically organized by planners who either aren’t formally trained or don’t normally book these kinds of events, hoteliers have an opportunity to position themselves as partners throughout the entire process and establish a relationship with the planner. If you make the booking process as smooth and easy as possible, it could lead to winning future group business from the same client later down the line.

Venue Tip: Experience is everything — not just for attendees, but for planners, too. Close to 60% of planners say they won’t return to a venue because of the sales staff’s lack of professionalism, so focus on creating an easy and polished experience for the planner all around. And besides, it’s just good customer service.

The bottom line:

Planners are looking for more than just the venue with the right price tag. They need a partner in event experience creation. They’re looking for venues in out-of-the-box and unique locations or near transportation and attractions, with fun offsite activities. They want a smooth and streamlined booking process with a professional and prompt staff.

By focusing on improving and highlighting these areas, hoteliers can set themselves up for current — and repeated — success in booking more meetings and events.

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What does this ruling mean for the industry as a whole?

“This win sets a welcome precedent and while it in no way allows others to operate in the same context, it shows that, with ongoing pressure, we CAN successfully amend the regulations,” said SAEC Chairperson, Ellen Oosthuizen.

She said the Council was fighting to retain the headway it had made towards re-opening the events industry before the losses suffered reach a point of no return.

According to her, the African Association of Exhibition Organisers, in partnership with the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa, is now leading an industry move to liaise with the government via its legal team, Mabuza Attorneys.

“The associations sent a legal letter to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to establish a reasonable and workable solution for permitted capacities and recognize business events as organized, professional and controlled meetings. The Minister's legal team has acknowledged receipt of this letter, and we look forward to finalizing a meeting date,” she said.

Oosthuizen pointed out that, for 14 months, the associations that make up the SA Events Council had collaborated on various measures to reopen the industry.

“We have developed a stringent set of reopening guidelines, sent scores of lobbying letters and hosted in-person, proof-of-concept events to show what is possible. We have also conducted awareness campaigns, hosted webinars, organized radio and television Interviews, provided information sessions and engaged with the various relevant government entities in person.”

Two-pronged approach

SAEC's ongoing governmental engagement employs a two-pronged approach with Council representation in both groups. One team is working closely with the Department of Tourism and the SA National Convention Bureau to reopen business events.

The other, the Ministerial Advisory Team (MAT), reports directly to the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture and serves the broader live and sporting events. “The MAT is involved in finding solutions to general industry issues such as our industry members' inability to pay rentals, school fees or loans and the lack of financial and wellness support,” explained Oosthuizen.

“Despite our efforts, business events are still limited to an impractical indoor capacity of 250, whilst shopping centers and markets cater for many more, with no issues whatsoever. We need to fast-track a practical reopening solution with urgency, but with the current focus on the vaccination roll-out and the increasing infection rate, our efforts are again on hold.”

We will continue with more updates....

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Combating attendee “zone out”: strategies to maximize engagement at your next virtual event.

Keeping people engaged at an in-person event was hard enough, but now, as we shift online, with virtual events taking the lead, this has become even more challenging, as we compete with the constant distractions of busy inboxes, social media feeds, and everything that the internet has to offer, being just a click away.

The main struggle is the format itself – which provides attendees with more opportunities to “zone out” – making it easier than ever before to get up and leave mid-session, without any of the usual “walk of shame” you’d have at an in-person event and the embarrassment that can come with that.

So, what can event organizers like yourself do to combat this? What tips and strategies can be included in your event planning and employed to make your events more engaging, making attendees less likely to drop out? That’s the point of this article – to give you several actionable, simple strategies to maximize audience engagement before running your next virtual event.

6 strategies to help keep attendees engaged at your next virtual event

Whatever your event, many of the same rules apply – making the following tips and strategies as useful for a yoga workshop, as for a business seminar to keep your virtual audience more engaged with your content and less likely to drop off from your virtual event.

1. Make content more interactive, with real-time surveys, polls, and Q&A

2. Make content shorter, splitting it into bite-sized chunks

3. Offer a mix of live and on-demand content

4. Whatever you do – no sales pitches!

5. Use messaging and live announcements, prompting real-time interaction

6. Run networking sessions throughout, not just tacked on at the end

Taking your events virtual – or even just adding a virtual component to an in-person conference, using virtual event platforms to turn it into a hybrid event – can create huge opportunity for you and your organization to reach and engage with new audiences, giving you a way to access attendees without the traditional limiting factors of time zones and geographical location.

But just because a virtual event is online, that doesn’t mean it has to be a stripped-down in-person event – your event can be just as engaging as a real-world one. That said, the format does have its challenges, as it will require you and your team of organizers to get more creative to solve these.

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Below we share expert views on the way forward for Hotels, Planners and the industry as a whole.


What buyers are saying:

  • Most planners expect venues to enable safe meeting setups
  • 69% expect for social distancing room configurations or virtual site visits
  • Technology is more important than ever to planners
  • 74% say that their use of technology has increased during Covid
  • Hybrid events are the way forward
  • 40% say they see it as an ideal transition back to in-person events
  • Safety is a top requirement for return to in-person events
  • 80% say that “safe space” health and safety considerations would most influence their selection of a venue

Primary changes for future events:

  • Increased reliance on technology, especially virtual event software
  • Fewer attendees per event, with larger planned space
  • Less distance travel, more drive-to local events
  • Expanded F&B options such as pre-packaged foods and open-air dining


58% of event planners globally highlight the lack of clear health and safety protocols at venues

How venues can provide better support and confidence in 2021:

  • Work on Health and Safety protocols
  • Implement technology to attract more customers
  • Become hybrid-capable
  • Develop partnerships and client-relationships
  • Respond to your inquiries faster

Tips for the future:

  • Planners want a stronger partnership and to collaborate with supplier in finding solutions together
  • Planners will value hotels that are ahead of the curve and offer solutions that meet the new market needs
  • As hotel teams will be leaner, it's important that resources are utilized as effectively and efficiently as possible


Agility is key: what may have worked before might not work now. An agile and adaptable team is imperative.