As destinations work to attract group business, it looks like the majority of meeting planners prefer electronic introductions. In a new survey from New York-based destination marketing consultant Development Counsellors International, 67 percent of planners indicated that they want CVB representatives to connect with them via email.
In-person interaction lagged behind significantly with only 17 percent of survey respondents indicating that in-person visits at conferences and expos were effective ways of connecting with them.
"Planners are busy people," Kelly Peacy, CAE, CMP, senior vice president, education and meetings, PCMA, says. "With so many daily responsibilities, it's not surprising that many of the respondents prefer communication that allows them to respond on their own time."
"Rather than answer phone calls and block out time on their calendars for personal visits, email gives planners an opportunity to familiarize themselves with a destination and digest introductory materials," Peacy adds. "Then, they can decide if they want to know more about the location."
Taking the Next Step
While email was the preferred method of connecting with meeting planners, planners are continuing to find value in face-to-face interaction with CVBs. Both association and corporate planners ranked trade shows, hosted lunches and dinners and educational workshops among the best techniques for actually reaching them.
"Email can't accomplish everything," Peacy says. "Choosing a city or a country for your next meeting really requires a conversation that digs deeper into what a destination can deliver for a group of attendees. Planners should always look to answer the most important question: what can you do for my group that no other city can offer?"
Making the Final Call
Regardless of who receives CVB emails or meets with them one-on-one, the decision on a meeting's location ultimately lies outside of the planner's hands in many organizations. For corporations, 32 percent of respondents indicated that they survey participants to choose their location.
"As more and more people spend time on Facebook and LinkedIn, companies are recognizing the value of crowdsourcing," Peacy says. "Putting your meeting's location in the hands of prospective attendees provides a clear opportunity to show them that their wants and needs are your top priority."
Associations tend to put their decisions in a more select group of hands. Forty-eight percent of respondents answered that the Board of Directors is responsible for the final decision.
Find out more about how the rest of the meeting planning community feels about destination marketing here.
How do you prefer to interact with destination marketing representatives? Who makes the final decision on where to host your meeting?