Cvent, the market leader in meetings, events, and hospitality technology, today unveiled the results of recent research which looked to uncover areas of opportunity within the £18.1 billion conference and meetings sector in the UK. The research, conducted in partnership with independent research agency Atomik, was based on the input of more than 2,000 executives across the country, and specifically highlighted the opportunity that exists for enhancing networking events across all industry sectors.
UK executives were asked about the thoughts they had before attending a business networking event, and only one third of respondents said that they were ‘looking forward to the [networking] opportunities,’ offering deeper insight into how networking events can be improved to maximise attendee engagement and professional impact.
More than a quarter (28 percent) said they often felt disinterested in networking and used the time to make business calls or review work emails on their mobile devices. 20 percent were happy to be going for the food and beverage offerings and not the networking, whilst 16 percent felt added stress to attend and engage with their industry peers. Despite these findings, two thirds of business executives in the UK believe their manager would expect them to return with a business lead or convert an existing opportunity as a result of their time spent networking at the event. In short, organisations that send their employees to networking events are looking for tangible results from the time that was spent. They want to see a return on their investment, whether that is through a new sales lead or a new professional contact who can add value to the business.
“Business owners across the country invest incredible amounts of time and money for their employees to attend business networking events. Networking plays a vital role in growing a business – nothing is better than meeting face-to-face to get business done. Yet our research reveals that while employees are aware of the overarching expectation to either generate new leads or make valuable professional connections, there is a disconnect between these expectations and the ability to actually execute on them,” said Patrick Smith, Chief Marketing Officer at Cvent. “Overcoming these obstacles requires the active participation from both event organisers who are planning these events and business owners who are sending their employees.”
“Event planners need to be prepared to think about engaging attendees prior, during and even after the event so the connections made onsite can be cultivated into long term business relationships. Our survey results illustrate that there is a desire for this kind of offering and it can be facilitated through the use of mobile event apps and other digital platforms. In addition, event organisers should be prepared to consider how they could change a potentially tired format, so attendees feel enthused and inspired to connect with other attendees.”
Other highlights of Cvent’s research include:
· There is a desire for “how to” networking training.
o The majority (52 percent) have not been provided with training within their company on how to be a better networker. More than a quarter (29 percent) would be interested in training.
· Preparation is key.
o More than a quarter (27 percent) said that when organisers had provided a list of attendees prior to the event, they found engaging easier, while 20 percent sited the value of using speed networking sessions and mobile event apps to help them connect with new or existing prospects.
· Mobile and digital are the way of the future.
o 23 percent of attendees suggested the event could be improved if organisers had created a digital platform for attendees to more easily connect before, during, and after the event, while 23 percent cited mobile event apps and social media as untapped opportunities to further engage with other invitees outside of the event.