The trends have been released after the group undertook research with some of its biggest agents and bookers.*
Gill Jackson, Sales Director at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, said of the results: “2015 is set to be an exciting year for the meetings and conferences industry, particularly with the rapid development and emerging impact of social media and multimedia technologies.
“These changes will mean great things for the industry, but budgets still remain tight and so the ability to offer clients great value, flexibility, responsiveness and effective enquiry handling will be more important than ever.
“At Macdonald Hotels we are adapting by undertaking some exciting developments with our [email protected] delegate product, which means we’re starting 2015 with a very positive outlook”.
1. There are green shoots but budgets remain tight
As many sectors are experiencing signs of economic recovery, the demand for conference and events venues is likely to grow in 2015, but the resulting effects of the recession are higher expectations for value and efficiency. Agents and bookers will expect technology and fast broadband to be included in venue rates and to be of high specification. Venues will have to continue to work hard to win business.
2. Added value is not just a focus, it is expected
For agents, added value isn’t really ‘added’ anymore, it is simply expected. Added value offers are set to be increasingly important as clients look to maximise budgets at every step in 2015. WiFi will remain an important trend for added value in 2015. However, personal relationships and service from highly qualified and experienced individuals who understand a client’s business needs inside out remain a top priority for clients.
3. General Managers are an integral part of an event
Having the venue’s General Manager present for a meet-and-greet at the beginning of an event has a significant impact on the agent or booker’s confidence in a venue. 60% of the agents and bookers interviewed by Macdonald Hotels & Resorts said that a meet-and-greet was a positive way to start an event, while 80% said that the larger and more significant the event, the more integral the general manager’s presence.
4. Response times remain crucial for booker satisfaction
Prompt responses and clarity of information were among the most crucial factors affecting bookers’ and agents’ satisfaction with a venue who expect to remain under tight time constraints in 2015. Bookers are expected to turn around events more quickly than ever, suggesting that a key focus for venues in 2015 is to be consistent with communication, enquiry ownership and keeping the agent fully informed at each stage of the booking. Those interviewed commented that each enquiry is unique and should be treated with a high level of attention, ensuring clarity of information to a strict time schedule.
5. Well-sourced healthy food and drink make for satisfied guestsbr/> Client satisfaction is most heavily impacted by well-sourced, high quality food and drink, with 85% of bookers interviewed highlighting food offering as the most important part of the customer’s conference journey. Of the agents and bookers interviewed, some pointed out that when asking clients for feedback, the first comment is nearly always about food quality. With businesses becoming ever more health conscious, sourcing quality, nutritious food will be a key trend for conference and events bookers in 2015.
6. The need for speed in WiFi connection is increasing
Free WiFi is now expected in the conference and events industry and agents and bookers are looking for speedy and reliable services. Fuelled by the increased use of technology in events and the increased number of delegates using tablets and mobile devices, this trend is set to continue in 2015.
*Macdonald Hotels & Resorts conducted research with 50 agents and bookers.