How to Connect with Meeting Planners: Post-Pandemic Insight

April 07, 2022

It’s Global Meetings Day. So what better a day to dig into the topic of the re-emergence of the global meetings market than today!

Shaking hands at a trade show used to be the hallmark of connecting with meeting planners. You would listen to a presentation or stop by a table, meet, exchange business cards, share a coffee, and discuss plans.

My, my, how times have changed.

DCI’s latest edition of “Winning Strategies In Destination Marketing: A View From Meeting Planners” illustrates that in-person meetings are no longer the best way to attract bookings. The 2021 edition of this study includes survey results from Canadian and U.S. planners. Among the takeaways for destinations are the paths to purchase that meeting planners are taking in a world where COVID-19 still influences so many of our decisions.

How to connect with meeting planners and keep them informed is a brand new game, but one that you can master with a dash of insight.

Don’t Call — At All

Another big shift this time around was in how decision makers communicated. With so many trade shows and in-person events put on pause throughout 2020 and much of 2021, the way of doing business has forever changed.

Farewell sales calls. Only 12% of respondents said sales calls are effective, down from 36% in 2018. Add this to the decrease in reliance on trade show appointments and sales visits and the message is clear. Delayed communication is the way to go.

Meeting planners agree that email is the best way to go, among 48% of respondents, while 42% will accept phone calls if paired with emails to schedule them, and 31% are looking to social media to connect. Video conferencing and social media are playing major roles like never before, leaving destinations scrambling to adapt to planners’ needs.

Social Networks for the Win?

If you’re thinking about the best strategy to market your destination for meetings and conferences, be sure you know where planners are looking. A Facebook post won’t be enough to cut it anymore, and the report details the most frequented sources of information among planners in this new reality we’re all navigating together.

This edition asks about social networks like Instagram and TikTok that are increasingly used by meeting planners and suppliers to share and communicate. The numbers confirm that Instagram, more than TikTok, is a major tool among 27% of planners for business. Destinations will want to make sure they are keeping an eye on planners across all platforms, and not just LinkedIn, which decreased in use since 2018 among planners who use it to post about business.

Experience Matters

The numbers are shifting because of the pandemic, yes, but also because planners in the study are shifting in terms of their experience levels. This study saw a decrease overall in the experience level of respondents, with the majority having less than 10 years of experience. In 2018, 47% of respondents had more than 20 years in the bank, but this year only 16% were similarly experienced.

In and of itself, the shift in seniority is interesting, but digging deeper into the numbers, the report illustrates how more experienced meeting planners differ from their younger counterparts. For example, virtual events and meetings are now a new mainstay of the MICE industry, but younger and less-experienced professionals view them more favorably than their more-seasoned counterparts.

Destinations need to be aware of what works and what doesn’t when wondering how to connect with meeting planners across the experience spectrum. A younger event planner may be more digitally savvy or adaptable than an older one, but destinations must cater to both to avoid alienating either.

Get Your Copy

The fourth edition of “Winning Strategies In Destination Marketing: A View From Meeting Planners” is out now and provides the data and rankings that destinations need to bolster their perceptions among meeting and conference planners. Click here to download your copy.

DCI has more than 60 years of experience navigating how to connect with meeting planners and destinations. As the industry returns, it’s time to make sure you have a plan. Get in touch with Stella Tsitsipatis at [email protected] to learn more about DCI’s business events marketing services for destinations and its expertise in creating successful strategies for destinations to attract conventions.