Reasons for booking your event in advance
There is no question that business travel is back, with pent-up demand for conferences and events as a result of people wanting to reconnect with their colleagues, customers, and the supply chain.
With the return of the MICE industry, the team at Event Travel Management (ETM) shares their insights on booking trends and why booking your event in advance will be vital to not only securing availability but also meeting event program budgets; time to plan, and deliver a considered and meaningful event, and provide sufficient time to promote and increase attendance.
“In Europe, we are seeing a very high volume of inquiry with customers eager to get their teams together for various events, conferences, and meetings,” explains Mike Leeson, General Manager, Europe. “The vast majority of our customers have rebooked their canceled COVID events in the first half of 2022 and as such we are now seeing the second half of the year driven by all new inquiries. It is great to see the return of the MICE industry.”
In Australia, Tracey Edwards, Global Strategic Lead and General Manager AU/NZ said, “The current lead time for bookings is roughly only 8 weeks which is a stark contrast to the 5+ months we would normally witness pre-pandemic.
“Asia has been slower to drop restrictions than other regions; however, the proof was in the pudding when Singapore opened to international visitors we saw a strong return to conference business in particular for the financial sector which was ready to network in a global financial hub. This appetite for collaboration in an international destination has seen hotel rates rise and accommodation and venues at capacity. Anyone that wants to book with short notice may certainly find it difficult to secure their preferred venue.”
Tami Reier, Senior Vice President & General Manager adds “In North America, we are also witnessing a strong return with many focusing on in-person business events demonstrating the value of human connection. Lead times have been very short with an average of 7 weeks’ notice. Recently that window has started to expand which is critical for securing the most sought after venues. Industry suppliers are still building up their workforce so getting in early and securing your venue will gift you an opportunity of choice and ensure your requirements can be met.”
What event booking trends are you witnessing?
“We are seeing some customers miss out due to inquiring with a short lead time, but we are generally able to find an alternative solution,” says Reier.
“The bigger issue that we are seeing is that hotels are not willing to hold space for endless amounts of time for a customer to facilitate their internal approval processes. We’ve had several hotels ready to release the venue space and room allotment if the contract was not signed by the deadline. Further to this, customers need to be ready to make a decision and/or conduct site inspections right away. Hotels will not wait for a customer to decide due to the current high demand.”
Why should customers book events in advance?
“We recommend that customers are booking well in advance to meet their expectations around the destination and budget,” says Edwards. “There are however more benefits to booking in advance, above and beyond securing availability. The ability to plan an entire experience for attendees that makes the most of the chosen destination, building in cultural experiences, and tying back to the purpose of the meeting, incentive, or event will also be important.”
Reier acknowledges that planning ahead is vital. “We are seeing clients getting ahead of the curve and sourcing multiple years at the same time. Heavy tourist locations are the ones that are bouncing back the quickest and are often at capacity. It is important to remember the cruising industry is also back, so this adds to the volume of people seeking accommodation in select locations.”
“Customers should also plan to ensure the key messages align with the purpose of the event, conference, or incentive trip are being heard and communicated clearly to the employees, customers, or resellers,” adds Edwards.
“The opportunity to secure suppliers and services at competitive rates is increased when you plan your event well in advance. Venues and service providers may offer early booking discounts to secure your booking for their base business. Where terms and condition permit, your choice to book in advance may provide the time to consider and compare other offers available to you,” says Leeson.
“Destination choice can often impact the overall event budget. Flight availability along with scheduling may mean an additional night for attendees which in turn may increase costs to a customer’s bottom line. Booking in advance will assist with meeting budget goals and achieving cost savings,” explains Edwards.
Leaving an event to the last minute will also create challenges around attendance. Reier suggests that you can start promoting an event even before you’ve planned it, so there is no need to hold off promotion until your plan is perfected. “Planning early gives you more time to build up hype about your event. The greater the interest, the better your chances of increasing registration and attendance will be. It gives attendees something to look forward to and talk about with their colleagues or customers.”
Flexibility is the key to finding the right location and is also tied to the purpose of the meeting. “Some customers may change their dates but need to be in a specific location; whereas some customers are flexible with the location but not their dates,” says Reier. “We’ve also done some advising on agenda recommendations to align with the timing of airlift into a destination (changing start and end times) or utilizing the hotel space creatively to accommodate all sessions,” Reier explains.
No matter if your event is an annual conference accommodating all employees, a reward and recognition incentive trip, or a quarterly sales planning day, being ahead of the game and securing your location, venue, accommodation, and transport well in advance will not only provide a more pleasant and stress-free planning experience but will also provide you with the best opportunity to secure your preferred option, achieving budget and delivering a memorable and beneficial experience for attendees; maximizing a return on the investment.