Nothing has been emphasized more during Cvent CONNECT than the need to understand and utilize technology. From implementing new products to capitalizing on data, technology can turn a basic process into a magical experience. And if you want to grow your group business and maximize its value, you need to leverage marketing solutions and digitals tools. In this session, Cvent’s own Francesca Vereb, Senior Director of Product Marketing, showed you how.
The Planner Sourcing Journey
In order to truly grow and own your group business, you have to start by understanding how planners buy and use that knowledge to entice them to consider you. It all starts with a walk in their shoes. Their journey is best expressed in four primary stages, better known as the planner sourcing journey.
During this stage, you want planners to be aware of both your brand and your specific property well in advance of the event. Here are a few ways to generate awareness:
- Search engine marketing: If you aren’t searchable, you won’t be found.
- Industry events: Face-to-face interactions are a very effective way to get your name out there.
- Content Marketing: Nothing can dethrone content as king. It’s the easiest way to gain awareness. Write with your planner in mind and share on all of your content channels.
- Retargeting: Re-engage with the leads you have in the funnel.
Planners enter the research stage when they’re still deciding on destinations, searching for venues, and identifying the criteria by which they will evaluate options.
- Your Website: We all know a well-designed, mobile-friendly website is a necessity, but make sure to think about the tools and information planners might find useful on your website. Remove any barriers between the planner browsing your website and submitting an RFP request.
- SpeedRFP White Label: This simple plug-in tool from Cvent allows you to convert planners when they’re in the right state of mind. In 2018, hotels generated more than 250,000 RFPs with SpeedRFP, accounting for 12.5 million room nights.
Decision (RFP Submission and Booking)
The decision stage starts when planners narrow down their options to a short list of venues and hotels to which they want to send an RFP. At this stage, they’ve vetted criteria they consider important and are essentially ready to place a product in a shopping cart. To make sure you stand out and grow your business:
- Target your competition with an Overlap Report by Cvent to find out who planners think your competition is.
- Change your selling behavior by turning down less and bidding more.
- Once you have earned the business, upsell all the way until the event using Cvent’s Passkey tool.
You want to win repeat business. After the event, it’s incredibly important to sustain your relationship with planners so they’ll use you again and recommend you to others. To increase retention:
- Leverage the Power of Live to meet and network at events.
- Take advantage of your Customer Relations Management System (CRM), such as Salesforce, Eloqua, Marketo, etc.
- Continue content and brand marketing, which doesn’t stop at awareness. Again, content is key.
- Take surveys to find ways to improve your service and offerings.
- Know your high-value planners and target them to build relationships.
Final Takeaways on Growing and Owning Your Group Business
- You have lots of digital tools and software solutions to help you grow your group business, maximize the value of that business, and operate efficiently.
- Use these tools more creatively earlier and for longer throughout the journey to stand out.
- Change the status quo and be a thought leader at your organization.
- Ultimately it all starts with YOU thinking differently and being an ambassador for changing how your organization generates leads and wins more business. Don’t just survive — get ahead of the pack and thrive!
There is a lot to understand about the different types of planners and the challenges they face, as well as the meetings and events ecosystem and the tools you can use to navigate it better. To find out more, check out Growing Your Hospitality Group Business For Dummies.