Event planning is a demanding gig. Consistently ranked as one of the most stressful jobs in the U.S., it's a high-pressure role — and one that’s getting busier.
Cvent, a market leader in events and hospitality technology, recently released the global edition of its 2019 Planner Sourcing Report, exploring the nuances of this complex job and how event planners are adapting to keep up.
“It’s a well-known fact that event professionals are extremely busy," says Chris McAndrews, vice president of marketing for Cvent Hospitality Cloud, in a press release. "But this year’s Cvent Planner Sourcing Report offers more in-depth analysis as to why this is the case, and helps us understand exactly what meeting and event planners are looking for when planning and organizing their events."
According to McAndrews, the destinations and venues that are able to adjust to meet the changing needs of event professionals are the ones that will reap the benefits.
The fifth annual report gathered insights from among nearly 3,000 professional planners. From volume and budget to venue selection, here are some of the key takeaways.
More Events, Bigger Audiences
If there's one overarching theme from Cvent's report, it's this: Companies are continuing to invest in meetings.
And it should come at no surprise. American Express stated in its Annual Global Meetings and Event Forecast that we are settling into a new normal as an industry — with consistent positive increases in both spend and attendees.
"Planners sit at the forefront of a growing industry, a reality that translates into busy days, long hours, and extreme multi-tasking," writes Cvent, in its report. And the numbers to support the claim are staggering. According to the survey, nearly 40 percent of planners surveyed say they organize more than 50 events per year — and 16 percent plan over 100.
In addition to the heavier meeting load, Cvent finds that event planners are managing expanding audiences, too. Half of event planners surveyed say attendance this year increased for fundraisers, trade shows, and conferences.
Budgets and Expectations Rising
On top of handling more event volume, and more attendees, event planners also tell Cvent that budgets are increasing, and that they expect continued growth.
The report shows that the increase in budgets is predominately associated with external, revenue-generating events — with the biggest boosts going to the same event types that are seeing increased attendance: fundraisers (56 percent), trade shows (55 percent), and conferences/seminars/conventions (54 percent).
Of course, increases in volume and attendance don't allow for a decrease in quality — or expectations, says Cvent. Especially with budgets up and more stakeholders involved.
"Planners are under pressure to create compelling, tightly managed, and financially successful event experiences," says the report. With more on the line, event planners increasingly leverage experiential elements, including live entertainment (56 percent), digital touchpoints like social media (46 percent), and creative alternatives such as pop-up events (35 percent).
More budget is being allocated to food and beverages, too, which also impact the audience experience.
How Venues Can Help
Faced with an array of expectations from their own organizations, event planners turn to venues and destinations for help. Here are a few tips for venues and hoteliers to help you stand out, starting at the search and proposal process, as highlighted in the report.
- Communication is valued. According to Cvent, nearly half of the planners surveyed cite communication problems as the reason for not pursuing a venue. Be sure to make communication prompt and efficient. The time you save a planner by quickly answering questions, and being transparent from the beginning, may be rewarded with an increased chance at winning their business.
- Attention to detail is necessary. Venues can level up the experience they provide event planners in the proposal process, by providing a careful and thorough review of all details. Busy event planners are focused on the big picture, as the report outlines. If you catch a missed detail, or prevent a mistake, you can show added value against other hoteliers.
- Cost isn't everything. Yes, cost matters in your bid to win the business — especially if you're a second-choice venue. But other factors matter more, says Cvent. Highlighting your space layout and location, exceptional customer service, unique capabilities, and other details that play into the overall audience experience can influence decision making.
- Third-party relationships have impact. Event planners will often seek out assistance from external resources to help scale their efforts, such as hiring a third-party planner for added support or working with a convention and visitors bureau for local expertise. Having reputable relationships that you can wield in the right moments can have a big impact — and leave a lasting impression.
The Era of Millennial Planners
Overall, today's event planner is managing a multitude of tasks, people, and budgets.
But, the report reflects a group of skilled professionals who are accustomed to planning corporate events as their primary role — and are doing so within a small, scrappy, and hands-on planning team.
They are getting younger, too. Of the respondents to Cvent's survey, close to 80 percent of respondents are aged 44 or younger. And a slight majority are millennials, with 12 percent belonging to the youngest generation in the workforce: Gen Z.
Planners: Need help executing your event? Contact us to learn how we can help create a unique experience for your audience.
Anna Jasinski was a content marketing strategist at WSB. Prior to her time here, she was a content consultant for Fortune 500 brands, and a magazine journalist. When she's not busy writing and creating, you can find her hanging out with her two new puppies.