“Kids, we’re going to Disney World!”
These words were pure magic to my sisters and me back in the 1980s.
Little did we appreciate the work my parents had committed to making this vacation a reality. Back then, there was no internet, no Disney.com, no Brand.com, no Expedia, no Booking.com, no TripAdvisor, nor was there any other online travel agency.
It’s true. Back then, before uttering those magical words, my parents had spent weeks planning the trip. They were on the phone or in the office of a travel agent who shared hotel rates and features, Disney ticket prices, and activities in and around Walt Disney World. They called AAA to request a TripTik for the drive so we would know where to stop along the way. They spent hours and days pulling together all this information to plan a great trip for us.
Group travel today is like a Disney trip of old
A phrase I hear often today, in 2016, conjures up a similar vision: “Our convention next year will be held at the fill-in-the-blank hotel!”
While these words may excite attendees at the convention, conference or trade show, the attendees cannot possibly appreciate what the corporate event planner has been through to book the meeting.
In this case, the event planner has waited days or possibly weeks to determine if a desired hotel has rooms available at a reasonable price for the event. The meeting professional has fretted over how they will get their attendees to the meeting, with added stress about whether their boss or procurement officer will like their choice. Planning a meeting today is more like leisure travel in the ’80s than travel in the new millennium.
The event planner’s dilemma
Imagine you are planning a meeting for 150 attendees. Your boss has directed you to find a great destination for the event. She has also given you a particular budget. You need to know exactly where you want to go before you start your search or risk getting lost in a sea of hotels. In fact, in the U.S. alone, there are thousands of hotels that could handle a meeting this size.
Where do you start? There is no source on the internet that can help you narrow down options. Consequently, just like my parents did for my childhood Disney World vacation, today’s event planner is more likely than not on the phone with a group travel agent (a so-called third party).
These group travel agents are like the leisure travel agents my parents used in 1980 but without the critical information needed to make the best decisions. In those days, leisure travel agents could at least gather real-time inventory and pricing. Today’s group travel agent has to use guesswork. They can’t, in real time, help a corporate event planner understand how much each hotel will cost — nor whether that hotel price seems fair — until after a laborious RFP process, which can take days or even weeks.
Don’t event planners deserve more?
Let’s stop shopping for meeting venues like we booked family travel in the 1980s.
Groups360 helps customers the NEW way – with (1) advisors, not agents, (2) value-added technology, (3) real-time pricing estimates, and (4) valuable market intelligence to help you make smarter decisions.
Stay tuned to see how we are improving the meeting shopping experience.