Influencing Meeting Planners – Part Science, Part Art, All Ripe For Rethinking

December 11, 2012

As destination marketers, it’s important for us to understand how meeting planners make decisions in order to influence the process and woo business to our destinations. The industry is rich with research that details the features meeting planners are seeking when making a destination evaluation.  The list is familiar – direct air access, high-quality hotels, proximity to well-equipped meeting facilities and lately, a commitment to sustainability and social responsibility.  Cities are well-advised to promote features that meet these needs.

 

Yet destinations who want to differentiate themselves from the wealth of places offering the same amenities need to understand more fully what influences a buyer’s perception of a destination as a viable meeting location. Winning Strategies in Destination Marketing, the result of DCI’s 2012 survey of meeting planners, uncovered which factors are most influential in shaping a buyer’s perception of a destination.

 

Destination Presentations

According to buyers themselves, they are most frequently influenced by speaking with destination representatives. Ever wonder if your marketing efforts are breaking through?  Apparently the really are! Destination marketing representatives who take the time to present their case to buyers  through desk-side presentations and at trade shows are the ones most likely to make a lasting impression. So let yourself get creative with your pitch as you seek to differentiate your destination brand in the marketplace.

 

The Power Of Peers

Dialogue with industry peers is a distant second  – which is followed by personal experience through business or personal travel. Given that I’m personally more apt to trust my own experience – this response could reflect the fact that buyers these days are not able to travel as often as they need to in order to keep up with the changing marketplace offerings.  Relying on the opinions of industry peers broadens their professional knowledge of a destination. So this begs the thought – what destination will be the first to implement an effective peer referral program, so common in consumer drive campaigns?

 

Effective Digital Strategy

While online sources are more slowly embraced in the MICE space than in the consumer realm, they still play an influential role among planners. Buyers no longer need to rely on hard-copy destination guides, which are often costly to print. Instead, destination marketers can reallocate budget once intended for printed meeting guides to re-envisioning their digital marketing strategy for the MICE space. Given that Winning Strategies In Destination Marketing revealed that corporate meeting planners rely more heavily on online sources than do association meeting planners, digital content and SEO should be more heavily weighted toward the needs of the corporate market.

 

With the new year nearly upon us, we look forward to the innovations in the MICE marketing arena that 2013 will bring.

Pam Balakian

Written by Pam Balakian

Pam boasts almost 30 years of experience in the Hotel Sales & Marketing Industry. She joined the team 25 years ago after working for Scott Calder Intl, a hotel sales & marketing firm that specialized in marketing & sales of deluxe hotels worldwide.

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