If you have social media, you might be guilty of uploading images of latte art or an indulgent dessert from a restaurant or hotel. But, what if we told you that this is how businesses create buzz, and in turn, demand from not only guests but also corporate event planners. Utilising Instagram for the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) industry is critical for brand exposure and attracting new business.
The more visually appealing your venue is, the more guests and corporate event planners will share images, the bigger your digital presence will be. That’s the power of social media.
Generating buzz among corporate event planners
When you are wooing MICE planners, generating this buzz around your hotel is essential. That’s why, in the age of the curated selfie, your venue must be photo-ready – from the largest conference room to the smallest meeting room.
The reward? Images of your picture-perfect venue splashed across Instagram by happy event guests.
The benefits of maximising your venue to engage Instagrammers might need explaining to key stakeholders in your company. Here’s how the channel can make a positive impact on your venue:
Instagram has over 1 billion active users and in the UK specifically, almost 24 million. That’s a vast audience for your venue, providing you’re using the right tactics.
Digital marketing and social sharing can be a low-cost, effective method through which to engage your audience and expand brand recognition. According to eMarketer, the average Instagram user spends 27 minutes on the app. “Social commerce” has also become a trend with a third of users making buying decisions based on a marketer’s content.
Guerilla marketing is essential, which is why venues must have an Instagram page, and post regularly. Ensure that your guests and corporate event planners are inspired to share your spaces on social media by using eye-catching decor aligning with your brand.
“In this day and age, everyone is capturing special moments and sharing them with the rest of the world,” explains Suzanne Halperin, vice president of catering and banquet brand operations for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “One person posting can result in hundreds of people viewing it, so imagine if multiple people are posting!”
Halperin discussed this strategy during her presentation at Cvent CONNECT in Las Vegas. Here are her top four actions for curating socially sharable spaces:
1. Use unconventional set-ups to create warm, welcoming spaces
“Make yourself at home” is a phrase you shouldn’t need to say. Guests want to feel comfortable, welcomed and at ease from the moment they enter your venue.
- Appealing to the senses
Your lobby is the first point of contact for a guest. It needs to be attractive and spacious, but it’s not just about the visual aspects of a room. Halperin says that hotels need to add soothing or venue-appropriate music, set the thermostat to the perfect temperature and adjust the lighting to appeal to their other senses.
Provide small bites, water or tea and coffee to appeal to their sense of taste too.
- Seating and comfort
Give your conference rooms a dynamic arrangement. Round, oval or square vignettes work in this regard, encouraging guests to sit down, relax and absorb their environment. This set up also aides networking as it allows guests to move around easily.
Halperin mentioned that she recently managed an event using sofas and over-stuffed chairs in round and rectangle spaces to inspire comfort.
2. Don’t Underestimate the Power of Audio-visual
Entering a conference room with one screen at the front of the conference room would likely cause you to yawn before you’d even sat down. Boring powerpoint ahead, most likely.
But what if that room was instead filled with uplights and video mapping (projecting video onto objects)? Guests would be engaged from the moment they entered.
Bringing it back to the importance of social media sharing, what if you included a screen where guests could live-tweet or post about the event, using relevant hashtags?
The more options you provide, the happier your planners will be. Work with your in-house video team to build a menu of options for planners. Research ways technology can amp up your offerings. Become a favourite for corporate events.
3. Offer unique food and drink and engaging presentations
Food trends are constantly changing. Depending on the country and audience, guests will have different wants and requests when it comes to catering.
According to Finder.com, the number of vegans in the UK is about to rise by 327% by 2020.
But it’s not just about providing meat and dairy-free options. Guests are looking for Instagrammable food as well as spaces, so thought into how you can provide attractive, unique food offerings is critical. Corporate event planners will know their audience, and they will look for options to suit.
For instance, cultural and ethnic food is trendy as well as gluten or dairy-free options.
The discovery engine, Pinterest, can give you great ideas. Search for keywords such as “catering display” or “catering ideas”.
Don’t forget the basics, however. Even the tried-and-true dishes such as sliders or deli buffets can attract social media attention if the presentation is attractive.
Halperin suggests that unique crockery, vessels and equipment can elevate the dining experience.
4. Sprinkle Fun, Unique Experiences Throughout Your Meetings and Events
Interactive, educational and immersive experiences are no longer an exception – they are the rule, according to Halperin.
Her venues are seeing great success with options such as chef-led pasta-making classes, cocktail classes, wine tastings, and wellness offerings, including yoga and chair and hand massages.
Envision how each of these experiences could be an Instagram moment. They are sharable because they make it all about the guest. If you can bring a “unique activation to life” to your property, there’s a good chance it’s going to make its way to social platforms, reaching a whole new audience of potential customers.
To find out more about how to maximise your MICE revenue and attract more corporate event planners, download our on-demand webinar, Maximise your MICE Revenue- Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices