The First Annual Cardinal
Communications/Corbin Ball Associates
Meetings Technology Survey (Preliminary Report - To Be Finalized by the End of this Week)
©2001 Corbin Ball Associates and Cardinal Communications
By Corbin Ball, CMP, Corbin Ball Associates
Rodman Marymor, CMP, Cardinal Communications
How are meeting professionals using technology to help do their jobs better? Do meeting planners have different expectations than suppliers? What are some of the best ways to get through the sea of emails? The preliminary answers to these questions and more were the goals of this survey.
The survey was distributed in the March edition of Corbin's TechTalk Newsletter (3,600+ subscribers), to the Meetings Industry Mall mailing list, and to IACC (International Association of Conference Centers) members.
274 planners replied to the survey with roughly a third each from associations, corporations and independent planning houses. They were experienced (71% having worked in the industry 5 years or more) and nearly three-quarters ran less than 25 meetings per year with a median total yearly attendance ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 per year. They used all types of facilities, but downtown hotels garnered the most votes. 100% had Internet access and most (82%) were connecting with high-bandwidth Internet access.
153 suppliers responded with half representing hotels and conference centers. They were also experienced (79% have worked in the industry for 5 years or more). All had Internet access, but slightly less (74%) had high-bandwidth, always-on Internet access.
Site Selection – Where Planners Look For Information
The planners surveyed indicated that CVB sites were used most in research facility information (70%) closely followed by general internet search engines/directories such Yahoo and Google
Less than one-quarter of the suppliers report receiving direct business from their Web site.
92% of the suppliers report that they used the web for finding information about planners and other clients with internet search engines topping the list of preferred web sites.
Email and E-marketing:
When asked about the amount of email they receive, only 32% of the planners and 22% of the suppliers replied that it was too much.
59% of the suppliers use direct email for promotions. When planners were asked if unsolicited email from a facility offends them, only 20% replied that it offends them and a full 58% replied that they usually check it out.
Email links to web sites were reported as useful or highly useful to 87% of the planner respondents. The suppliers often provide these links (65% always, 27% sometimes and 8% never).
A surprising 79% of the planners replied that they sometimes or always open email attachments that come with email (despite the recent dangers shown by the Melissa, LoveBug and other viruses). Suppliers report that 8% always, 60% sometimes and 33% never send attachments.
If an email is addressed to planners personally, they are 3 times more likely to read (75% replying yes and 25% replying no to this question). 93% of suppliers state that sometimes or always they personalize their email.
Planners do not have quite as high an expectation of expected response time compared to what the suppliers report that they deliver. With 32% of the planners expecting same day response, and 69% of the suppliers reporting a response time of one day or shorter.
What Planners Want and a Facility Web Site:
When planners were asked whether a Website's content and services influence their buying decision, a full 72% (197) replied that, "yes it does" compared to 28% (76) saying "no it doesn't."
When asked about how important the Web Site content layout, design and navigation were, 89% replied that it was important or very important, and only 1 response stated that it was not important at all.
71% of the planners felt that a posted privacy statement is important or very important.
When asked how important is it to have good facility and destination information on the web, 92% reported that it is important or very important with only 1% replying that it was not important at all. An estimated 87% of suppliers report providing this.
Planners like facility photos on a web site with 93% reporting that is important or very important. 87% of suppliers report providing this.
Floor plans and seating capacity charts are also important (17%) to very important (81%) with only 2% reporting they were not important. 77% of facility suppliers report providing this.
Food and beverage information was felt to be important (41%) or very important (30%), but a larger percentage than the previous felt that it was not very important (26%) or not important at all (2%). 45% of suppliers report providing this.
Others areas that are considered
important or very important included:
Note the several gaps between what planners would like and what suppliers provide.
General Information Request Form:
forms that allow the planner to attach their own RFP:
personal profile area where the planner tell the facility what they are
real-time availability and group rates:
My group to be able to make online reservations from my block:
In the area of “nice to have” but less highly ranked:
Email Subscription (i.e. Hot Dates,
newsletters subscriptions, etc):
Online reservations for facility services
_i.e. restaurants, golf)
Online concierge service
This survey will be the first of a series of annual studies. Your thoughts, opinions and suggestions are most welcome for the upcoming years.
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